Divania Timmal, Contributor
Stress, Gluten And Too much exercise: Factors Negatively Affecting The Thyroid
Having Hashimoto’s Disease, or any autoimmune condition, is a constant fight. We have to be aware at all times to ensure that we are able to effectively listen to our bodies. Stress, gluten and overexertion can be detrimental to our thyroid health. Below are a few tips to feel better and have an improved quality of life while living with Hashimoto’s.
1. Take care of the adrenals
Adrenal stress weakens the body’s natural barriers, causing the immune system to not function correctly. Cortisol, one of the hormones released by the adrenals when under stress, must be balanced in order for our thyroid hormones to work properly.
2. Heal your gut
Many thyroid warriors also suffer from Leaky Gut Syndrome –the intestinal barrier becomes permeable, and foreign substances are allowed to enter the bloodstream, where they do not belong. As a result, the body fights off these invaders with an immune response. Over time, these immune responses can lead to the development of Hashimoto’s, or other autoimmune conditions. A healthy gut is vital to a healthy thyroid. Many factors contribute to leaky gut: stress, food intolerances (especially to gluten) and low stomach acid, to name a few. Luckily, there are many foods we can eat to heal a leaky gut.
- Bone broth – this nutrient-rich broth contains gelatin, which is important for digestive health. There are numerous recipes online for making bone broth. This is a nice, simple one by Fat Burning Man. Adding some carrots and onions to the bone/water mixture adds a great element, too.
- Fermented veggies – for example, kimchi (be careful if you think you have candida)
- Healthy fats – avocados, coconut oil, etc.
- Probiotics – while fermented vegetables like kimchi and sauerkraut contain good bacteria, they might not be very palatable to some people. In these cases, taking a probiotic supplement may help instead, like this one from NOW Foods.
3. Eat foods that are full of nutrients
This might seem obvious, but with Hashimoto’s causing weight gain, many of us may be tempted to cut calories. This will lead to constant hunger and will mess with sugar levels, which has many problems of its own. The healthier option is to choose foods that are packed with goodness, so we nourish our bodies with vitamins and minerals. Some examples include:
- Organ meats
- Natural fats (coconut oil is always popping up, isn’t it?)
- Bone broth
- Grass-fed ghee (much better for you, and so much tastier than regular butter)
4. Try to stabilize your blood sugar
Only eating the traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner often leads to sugar highs and crashes, which in turn activates stress hormones. One of the best ways to keep blood sugar levels stable is to limit processed carbs and sugar, and consume more protein, good fats and veggies.
5. Don’t over-exercise
While exercise is great for us, it can sometimes be harmful to people with autoimmune diseases if we push it. Moderate exercise is recommended: low-impact aerobic exercises, strength training, yoga and Pilates.
6. Be patient
Results take time — with anything in life, be it exercise, healthy eating or one’s overall wellness. Bodies with autoimmune conditions are fighting more battles than they should be. We cannot give up gluten today and expect to feel better tomorrow. Change does not occur overnight.
7. Supplement intelligently
Probiotics for healthy bacteria, Vitamin D (if low), Selenium and Zinc are all important for thyroid health. Over-supplementing can be detrimental to thyroid health, so we have to know how one vitamin or mineral affects another. These chain reactions are really important to be aware of.
This is easier said than done, I know, but it is essential for us to make time to rest and relax. This can help eliminate at least some of the stress in our lives. Meditation is also an amazing stress-relief mechanism.
9. Find a doctor who listens to you
We deserve doctors who listen to our symptoms and work to address them, instead of telling us that TSH is fine, it is all in our heads, and sending us on our way. Yes, doctors have the medical qualifications and knowledge, but the doctor does not know how we are feeling better than we do. If TSH is normal but we are constantly tired and suffering from horrible brain-fog, our doctors need to look deeper. We should not take their word as law, and we should try to be as informed as possible about what tests need to be done.
About the Author
Divania Timmal is an avid writer (and book reader). For any thyroid patients in Korea, in the Chungnam area and surrounding, 단국대학교병원 (Dankook University Hospital) is really great. She sees a lovely doctor who speaks English. He is so helpful, and listens to all of her concerns and numerous questions. Check out her website, DivAndBeanWrite, with her friend Kate (Bean). Click here to check out her typical weekly meals. Be sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!