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Month: May 2022

The Thyroid Tests You Need to Ask for Today

Oftentimes when people come to me with symptoms of a sluggish thyroid, they’ve been experiencing thyroid issues for many years — for some, even a couple of decades. They may have visited their primary care physician or an endocrinologist, had some thyroid tests done, and walked away with a diagnosis of “normal” even though they feel anything but.

That’s precisely why I want to discuss the importance of proper thyroid testing. In my experience, people aren’t getting their thyroid disorder properly diagnosed — because different practitioners aren’t actually testing all the parameters that they can test when it comes to thyroid health.

Below, I’ll walk you through the different thyroid tests that are available to you. Hopefully, if you are struggling with some of these issues, you’ll be able to find someone who will conduct more extensive tests, help you interpret the information, and then make recommendations about getting the help you need.

TSH Test

The thyroid-stimulating hormone, or TSH, test is the main one that most practitioners will order. The idea is to establish a baseline and find out how well the pituitary gland in your brain is talking to your thyroid gland — this is what triggers your body’s ability to produce thyroid hormones.

If you are underactive, your TSH level will be high, and if you are overactive, TSH will be low. However, the problem with TSH testing is that there’s such a wide span of numbers within the “normal” range.

In reality, the “optimal” or “functional” range of those numbers is actually quite smaller than the standard TSH ranges that most laboratories use to identify a condition.

T4 and T3 Tests

The next hormone that should be checked when it comes to thyroid testing is the T4, which is considered more of the inactive type of thyroid hormone. T4 has to be converted via the liver and thyroid gland into an active form, known as T3 — which also needs to be tested but often is not.

If you’re lucky, you’ll get the TSH test and sometimes the free T4 test, but not T3. I like to make sure that at a minimum, people are getting a TSH, a free T4, and a free T3 test. This at least tells us if people’s thyroid hormone is being converted into the active free T3 form.

Having that free T3 number is valuable, because oftentimes I’ll see people falling within the larger range of “normal” TSH and even T4 levels, and meanwhile their T3 is on the floor. On paper, it might appear that you have enough T4 to convert, so they just assume that conversion is happening and don’t test for T3.

When Things Aren’t “Normal”

If your numbers fall within the “normal” range but you still have classic thyroid symptoms like fatigue, menstrual problems, depression, anxiety, weight gain, or other issues, this is where it’s important to pay attention to the nuances with regard to those numbers.

When your T4 isn’t converting well into T3, it gets stored as reverse T3, which is basically inactive T3. Poor conversion could be happening because:

  1. You’re having conversion problems in general.
  2. You have nutrient deficiencies.
  3. You have a lot of stress in your life that only makes matters worse for your hormones.

So what happens if you have higher levels of reverse T3? It’s not getting into your tissues or your cells, and it’s basically not helping you at all.

Antibody Testing

If you have the presence of thyroid antibodies in your system, this signifies that your body is producing cells — antibodies — that are attacking your very own thyroid gland.

Remember, the thyroid gland is essentially the captain of your body. Because there are thyroid hormone receptors in every cell and tissue of your body, the thyroid gland affects everything.

As such, if your body is producing antibodies that are attacking your thyroid, you’re going to have symptoms and feel horrible. This is an inflammatory condition and something that can be mitigated with medication and/or lifestyle and dietary changes.

Focus on What You Can Control

While some practitioners swear by medication alone, the truth is, you can optimize your thyroid health by what you put into your body. This includes the food you eat, your stress management practices, and your lifestyle choices. Here are some things you can do today to help your thyroid:

  • Incorporate mindfulness practices like meditation
  • Eat high-quality, whole foods
  • Eliminate processed foods and added sugars

If you feel like you’re struggling with thyroid issues, I want to encourage you to seek out the complete gamut of thyroid testing that’s available to you. I’m here for extra support and guidance if you ever need it.

Be sure to sign up for a free guide to fight fatigue with five easy ways to conquer your sleep and banish fatigue for good by clicking on this link.

Freedom Kitchen for Kids with Lisa Jendza

Back when I was a teacher, there was so much I wanted to share with my students about health and nutrition. However, there simply was not enough room in my science curriculum to be able to squeeze in all the lessons I wanted to impart.

Between state standards and the limited amount of time kids actually spend in science or health class, it’s no surprise that we’re not teaching children what they need to know about nutrition. By the time they get to be adults, they may already be dealing with ailments and trying to reverse the effects of their eating habits.

What if we teach children about healthy eating from the start instead of waiting until an illness or disease develops? That’s the thinking behind Lisa Jendza’s Freedom Kitchen Kids program, which offers family-friendly cooking classes. Through the program, kids learn not only how to cook, but also how to take care of themselves and make healthy choices.

As my guest on a recent podcast, Lisa filled me in on the program and how it’s teaching children the joy of creating in the kitchen and the importance of self-care. “When it comes to our kids, we’re having a lot of conversations now about reversing ailments,” says Lisa, “but yet we’re not talking to the kids about preventing them.”

Freedom Kitchen Kids is the program we all needed growing up—and one that can have a real impact on kids’ health as they mature. Instead of teaching about dieting or eliminating foods, it’s about finding healthy swaps and learning the difference between real and processed foods.

Going Beyond the Food Pyramid

If you’re looking for readily available information on healthy eating to share with kids, you might think it’s a safe bet to rely on the Food Pyramid or the more recent MyPlate initiative. However, says Lisa, these dietary guidelines fall short of addressing our nutritional needs.

For example, MyPlate doesn’t account for healthy fats—and, in general, MyPlate doesn’t account for potentially inflammatory ingredients like gluten and lactose that may be problematic for some people.

“So it is up to parents and people like you to educate our kids so that they know that we need to start with real foods,” says Lisa. That means helping your children find real-food alternatives to the brightly colored boxes of processed foods they see at eye level in the grocery store.

The Solution? Get Cooking

So how do you teach your kids about healthy eating? Cook with your kids.

Lisa’s cooking classes offer a fun way to educate children on the health benefits of real foods. Show them that these foods can be delicious, too, and you’ll instill in them a love of eating for their health—so that when they grow up and leave the nest, they’ll carry the lessons with them for life.

Metabolically speaking, you’re doing your kids a great service when you teach them to eat healthily—not only now, but later on down the road. Instead of having to undo years of bad eating habits in middle age, they’ll be set up for success from the start. You’re also passing along generational health to our future leaders, teachers, police officers, and other members of society.

“The beautiful thing to me is that the kids become empowered and they become personally responsible,” says Lisa. “And they’re proud of that. They take pride. They’re not looking then for someone to cook for them or take care of them. They actually want to cook for their family.”

Be sure to check out Lisa’s website at freedomkitchenkids.com to learn more about her virtual classroom and other resources for parents and educators.

How Do Stress and Blood Sugar Affect Your Thyroid?

I consider myself to be somewhat of a data nerd, so it’s no surprise that I recently decided to start wearing a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). I find that it gives me a clear picture of what’s going on inside my body, according to what I’m eating, as well as what I can do to improve my health.

The device itself is fairly unobtrusive. It attaches to the back of my arm and continuously reads my blood sugar, or glucose, using an app on my phone.

For the most part, the CGM has reinforced what I already knew as far as how blood sugar and stress affect the thyroid. That’s the focus of this article, so I won’t go into all the details of this whole three-month process that I’m going through.

The reason I want to focus on blood sugar and stress specifically is that oftentimes, people don’t even realize they’re stressed.

They say everything’s fine with their marriage or their finances, but when you dig deeper, it’s clear they’re impacted by stress in other ways. For example, maybe they’re taking care of an elderly family member or a child with a disability. The day-to-day of handling other stressors has become so commonplace that they don’t even realize how much they’re impacted by stress.

My Encounter With Acute Stress

I saw this phenomenon in action recently. I had not been feeling well, and I didn’t connect the dots to identify stress as the root cause—because again, sometimes stressors creep in without us realizing it.

With the CGM, it has shown me how different stresses impact my body, even outside of what I’m eating. In my case, I was experiencing a situational stress related to my daughter’s upcoming travels, which would take her to Spain. Even though I was excited and happy for her (I love adventure, too!), I was also stressed about my daughter leaving for another country for four months.

And I know discussed before that when you have a thyroid condition, stress absolutely impacts the function of the thyroid. Symptoms I noticed included poor-quality sleep and cravings for sugary or carby foods. In addition, the CGM reflected how much my blood sugar was affected by stress.

To date, I had had a good blood-sugar response to whatever foods I was eating. A good response means that when you eat, your blood sugar goes up and then gradually goes back down as your body absorbs it into its cells. Well, that process had been a lot slower for me.

And then the anxious person in me started thinking, “Oh my gosh, I’m going to start to be pre-diabetic. And now I’m going to have to worry about that and deal with that on top of the thyroid issues.”

Meanwhile, my blood sugars were way higher the whole entire night when I should have been sleeping. That alone kept me a little more alert, preventing me from getting high-quality, restorative or muscle sleep.

I thought I was managing everything just fine, dealing with this anticipation of my child leaving the country for four months—but biochemically, the numbers told a different story.

Stress Management Is Key

This is why it is so important for everyone to have some kind of daily practice for managing stress. No, you don’t have to wear a glucose monitor if you don’t want to, but here’s what I do recommend:

  • Eat whole foods.
  • Eliminate processed foods as much as possible.
  • Eat at regular times.
  • Tune in to what’s going on in your life and how stress might be impacting your body.
  • Develop a daily practice of mindfulness or calming activities, such as journaling, prayer, meditation, or even just five or 10 minutes of quiet with no phone or television.
  • Incorporate a quick 10-minute walk after lunch or dinner to help stabilize your blood sugar.

I’ll admit it was a little hard at the airport, saying farewell to my daughter when she left for Spain. Although I realized that logically, she’d be back in four months, I also felt emotional in the moment.

Wearing the CGM has helped me be aware of these kinds of stressors, because ultimately, it can manifest as trauma living in the body. With or without a CGM, when you can begin to recognize triggers for your stress, you can develop a plan for mitigating the stress response—both in the moment and the next time a stressor rears its not-so-pretty head.

Be sure to sign up for a free guide to fight fatigue with five easy ways to conquer your sleep and banish fatigue for good by clicking on this link.

The 5 Stages of Dealing with Hypothyroidism

If you feel like you might be struggling with thyroid issues, I know it can be a lonely and frustrating feeling. It doesn’t have to be that way, however.

By shedding light on the five stages of dealing with hypothyroidism, I hope to convey that there is help for your symptoms. It’s possible to come out on the other side feeling healthier, stronger, and more like yourself again.

Stage Zero

This is where there is nothing in your wheelhouse that would suggest you have a thyroid condition. You might feel tired. You might have a little bit of depression or sadness, or just a feeling that all is not right in your world.

You might be a little bit anxious here and there. Maybe your weight doesn’t come off as easily as it used to. And then you think, “I just need more willpower” or “I’m getting older.”

On the other hand, when these issues are happening routinely, there could be something connected to your dysregulated or dysfunctional thyroid gland way before a diagnosis even happens. Note that this stage can last a really long time, and it looks a bit different for everyone.

Stage 1

This is where your fatigue becomes more of a regular routine—to where you actually think, “Gosh, I might be depressed, or I might actually have anxiety.”

You start to exercise more. But you notice you’re still struggling with your weight.

“So, I will just reduce more calories,” you think. You start putting your calories and exercise expenditures into some kind of app, maybe to the point of disordered eating—adding to your feelings of anxiety and depression.

It becomes a vicious cycle. And you also might notice that you’re getting sick more often.

Stage 2

Now you finally seek out help, because you have some awareness that all of this isn’t normal. Hoping for a thyroid diagnosis, you get tested, and your doctor runs various labs. Everything comes back “normal,” and they brush off your feelings, saying this is just what happens when we age.

Oh, and by the way, there’s a medication for that—antidepressants, anti-anxieties, weight loss medications, medications to deal with blood sugar imbalance. You name it.

The problem, though, is the meds don’t actually deal with the root cause of what is going on, and you’re not even aware of what that might be.

Stage 3

You keep struggling. You become more of everything that I’ve already mentioned: more depressed, more anxious, more dissatisfied with your body composition.

You might crave more. You might exercise more but feel more tired from that. You aren’t able to manage stress very well.

At this point, you might get diagnosed with:

  • A gut health disorder or an autoimmune condition like celiac disease
  • Clinical depression, meaning another antidepressant
  • Anemia, and you start taking over-the-counter iron, leading to side effects like nausea and constipation

Stage 4

You go back to the doctor. At this point, you might be on several medications. Maybe you finally find someone who will actually test more than just one thyroid marker. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a full panel.

You might finally get a diagnosis of hypothyroidism with an option to take medication. Maybe you decline because you don’t want to take more meds. Then your symptoms worsen.

You might end up with an autoimmune thyroid condition called Hashimoto’s. So you start taking the medication that you got from your thyroid diagnosis, and you begin to feel a little bit better. Eventually, it’s not doing the trick because you have not dealt with all of the other things that go into supporting the thyroid gland.

Stage 5

When you find someone like me who will actually help you, this is stage five. Here’s where you will finally get the help you need to overcome thyroid fatigue, depression, anxiety, and lack of motivation.

And whatever you’ve told yourself, you don’t have to restrict calories. You don’t have to over-exercise to get your energy back. You don’t necessarily need to be on an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication.

I’m not saying you should never be on those medications. I’m saying that in order to overcome the symptoms that you’ve been struggling with for 10 or 20 years, we have to dig deep to get to those root causes.

I invested in someone who actually understood what I was going through and told me that what I was feeling was legitimate. Within a short amount of time, the light at the end of the tunnel became brighter and brighter and brighter.

Out of all the things I’ve said, I want you to know that there is hope. With my help, you can emerge feeling amazing and live a full, energetic life once again.

Be sure to sign up for a free guide to fight fatigue with five easy ways to conquer your sleep and banish fatigue for good by clicking on this link.

Ep 17: Why am I so tired?

Links/Guest Contact Info/Freebies:

WEBCLASS: https://www.rockbottomwellness.com/webinar

The 3 Steps to Reclaim Your Health and Crush Your Fatigue w/out Crazy Dieting or Beating Yourself up at the Gym 

 

Get YOUR copy of the Rock Bottom Thyroid Treatment:

https://www.rockbottomwellness.com/book

 

Get your FREE 5 Easy Ways to Help Conquer Sleep & Banish Fatigue Guidebook here:

 

https://tiffanyflaten.click/guide

 

Facebook Group – Nutrition for Thyroid Health

https://www.facebook.com/groups/nutritionforthyroidhealth/

 

Schedule your FREE Thyroid Breakthrough Session today by clicking here:

https://FatigueFix.as.me/

 

SUPPLEMENT STORE: https://rockbottomwellness.ehealthpro.com/

In this episode, I discuss the 7 Reasons You’re Still Tired and what you can do about it.

Reason #1: You are eating the wrong foods

Reason # 2: You are not drinking enough water

Reason # 3: You are reacting rather than responding

Reason # 4: The type of exercise you are doing is causing more inflammation

Reason # 5: You are focusing on the negative

Reason # 6: Your nervous system is not working properly

Reason # 7: Your blood sugar is imbalanced