What if it’s not a thyroid problem?
If you haven’t been diagnosed with a thyroid disorder yet, the chances that you will be at some point in your life are pretty high.
According to the American Thyroid Association (ATA), more than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition sometime during their life.
The ATA also says:
- An estimated 20 million Americans have some type of thyroid disorder
- Up to 60 percent with a disorder are unaware of their condition
- Women are 5-8 times more likely than men to have thyroid issues
- One in eight women will develop a thyroid disorder during their lifetime
- Undiagnosed thyroid disorders may increase risks for certain conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis and infertility
- Women with inadequately addressed hypothyroidism have an increased risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, and severe developmental problems in their children.
This is more than just a U.S. population problem. A recent study out of India showed that 10.95% of the study group suffered from a hypothyroidism, in which 7.48% were aware of it and 3.47% were not.
In my functional health coaching practice, I have personally seen a rise in people coming to me with either known or unknown thyroid conditions. Heck, I was even diagnosed in 2016 with a thyroid disorder myself!
But what if you’ve have been misled to believe that your weight woes, low energy, fatigue, cold hands and feet, hair loss and other “thyroid-like” symptoms were all your thyroid’s fault?
With thyroid conditions on the rise, we have to ask the question- why?
The thyroid certainly doesn’t wake up one morning and decide to stop working.
So what changed? Why are there so many people knowingly, and unknowingly, suffering from thyroid disorders around the world?
Some might say it’s because doctor’s are getting better at diagnosing thyroid disorders or because there is more awareness being created about thyroid conditions, both of which probably hold some truth.
But what about the people who have been diagnosed, prescribed thyroid medication and still suffer from thyroid symptoms?
Or what about all the people who are estimated to unknowingly suffer from a thyroid condition and are yet to be diagnosed?
There’s simply has to be more to the thyroid disorder story.
What if it’s not a thyroid problem at all?
In this week’s video I break down the most common contributing factors to thyroid disorders and reveal why thyroid issues really aren’t the thyroid’s fault at all.
Let’s zoom out and look at the big picture for a moment to really grasp how a thyroid problem could come to be.
The thyroid is a gland and is part of what is called the Endocrine system, a network of glands within the body which produce hormones. Within the Endocrine system there is also the Hypothalamus, which I like to refer to as the Endocrine CEO because it basically runs the show, and then there is the Pituitary gland which I like to refer to as the President of Operations because it takes direct orders from the Hypothalamus.
As the CEO, the Hypothalamus is constantly observing the marketplace, aka the body. And based on the signals and feedback it’s getting, it will give its directives to the Pituitary gland who then tells the Thyroid what to do. Inversely, the Pituitary also receives signals from the Thyroid about how much hormone is being produced.
By simply understanding the chain of command within the Endocrine system, you can start to see how a thyroid problem could simply be a miss in communication coming downstream from the Hypothalamus and Pituitary gland.
Misfirings in communication by the Hypothalamus or Pituitary gland are just one example of why a thyroid condition may not be your thyroid’s fault.
Even then, we want to ask “what causes these miscommunications amongst the glands?”
So what sparks these mixed signals within the Endocrine system and its glands?
The answers are somewhat simple and in most cases the causes are within your control.
Here are the top 3 contributing factors to thyroid disorders and what you can do about them…
#1 – Chronic Stress & Dysfunctional Adrenals
When you experience any kind of stress, whether it’s emotional, mental or physical, our Hypothalamus signals the Pituitary to tell the Adrenal glands to release your stress hormone, cortisol. When cortisol is released, it redirects your body’s resources and deprioritizes anything that is not absolutely necessary in order to deal with the stressor, such as digestion and thyroid hormone production. In this modern day world, we encounter stress on the regular and if we don’t take action to destress, our thyroid hormone will tank.
The reality is, we can’t always avoid stress. Crappy co-workers and unexpected traffic are bound to happen, but we can offset the impacts of stress by taking a proactive approach and having tools in place for when we do encounter it.
Any time you adopt the deep rhythmic breathing patterns of a relaxed person it automatically flips the switch in the brain and the Hypothalamus, and it reduces cortisol levels,allowing the thyroid to return to work. You can proactively support your thyroid by incorporating a deep breathing or meditation practice into your daily routine.
#2- Environmental Agents & Exposures
With over 120,000 toxic chemicals swirling around in our environment, their effects were bound to catch up to us, and according to the climb in thyroid disorders it’s certainly showing. Some of these chemicals have been classified as endocrine disruptors, meaning they directly negatively impact our glands and hormones. Endocrine disrupting chemicals include agents such as chlorine found in our shower and drinking water, BPA found in plastic or canned goods, phthalates found in lotions and personal care products and even fire retardants that coat our walls and furniture.
We can’t always see, hear or feel these chemicals, but they are all around us. You can proactively support your thyroid by minimizing the chemical exposures you are aware of by filtering your shower and drinking water, using glass or stainless steel instead of plastic, buying non-toxic and eco-friendly personal care and home products, installing a HEPA air filter and getting out in nature as much as possible for fresh air and sunlight.
Additionally, you can eat foods and take daily supplements to support your body’s natural detoxification capacity.
#3- Leaky Gut & Sluggish Liver
Your liver and gut convert the largest majority of your T4 to T3 thyroid hormone, hence another reason why a thyroid disorder may not be your thyroid’s fault but actually the result of a faulty liver or leaky gut! The liver can get bogged down and the gut can become leaky due to toxins, excess hormones, medications, inflammatory foods, poor sleep habits and/or lack of nutrients.
The keys for supporting the liver and gut for optimal thyroid function is to address the stress and reduce your toxic load as already discussed, in addition to eating an anti-inflammatory diet, getting adequate sleep from 10pm-2am most nights of the week, moving your body daily to boost its detox capacity and taking supplements for any possible nutrient deficiencies.
When my clients focus on these 3 areas, they frequently see a reduction in their so-called thyroid symptoms and in some cases are able to come off their thyroid medication, never to return to it.
By taking action in these 3 areas, I’ve also been able to manage my thyroid better, get off thyroid medication, and reach remission with Hashimoto’s.
Don’t let the thyroid statistics scare you, or blame your thyroid for not doing its job when it may not be its fault. Take control of your health and take action to support your thyroid in the ways it needs most!
To help more people get to the bottom of their so-called thyroid problems and resolve them for good, I’ve opened up my schedule to help 5 new clients!
P.S. If you have a friend or family member in your life who wants to solve their thyroid problems once and for all, share this to help them finally get back to feeling like themselves again (or for the very first time!).