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How Do I Help My Thyroid Work Its Best?

When people get diagnosed with a thyroid condition, their practitioner will often put them on Synthroid or some other T4 medication. Theoretically, everything should be good to go at this point — the pills should fix everything, and you should start feeling amazing again, right?

In reality, that’s not always the case, as medication alone does not necessarily fix the symptoms of thyroid disease. In the article below, I offer five things you need to have in check to help your thyroid work its best, but first, let’s look at some of the symptoms you might be having if your thyroid isn’t functioning optimally.

What Are the Symptoms of Thyroid Dysfunction?

If you have a thyroid condition, there could be several symptoms that you might be feeling, even if you’re taking medication. These are the top complaints I hear from people I work with and that I have encountered myself, too:

  • Fatigue
  • Hair thinning or falling out
  • Often feeling cold
  • Irregular female hormone cycles
  • Low libido
  • Muscle weakness
  • Joint pain
  • Anemia
  • Food sensitivities
  • Allergies
  • Tendency to get sick
  • Inability to handle stress

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to find a practitioner who is willing to conduct a full thyroid panel to check for thyroid dysfunction. This includes testing TSH, free T4, free T3, reverse T3, and certain antibodies. Oftentimes, people go undiagnosed because their practitioner told them their labs were “normal,” even though they feel anything but. If you’re struggling to find a practitioner who can help you dig deeper into your symptoms, reach out to me and I can help you find someone.

In addition to checking thyroid hormones, you’ll want to check other hormones, too — including estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and adrenal hormones. Together, these hormones need to be working in harmony for you to feel your best.

Optimizing Thyroid Hormones

Getting your hormones to work optimally may be easier said than done, and I can personally attest to how difficult that process can be. Coming off of thyroid cancer treatment, when we were working to optimize my thyroid hormones, my practitioner recommended I go on birth control pills to balance my female hormones. Desperate for a solution, I decided to give it a shot, despite the associated risk of having my cancer come back. Within just a couple months, my tumor markers went up — the very thing I was trying to avoid.

I know so many women who, like me, are desperate for answers and might resort to medication. And I totally get it — no judgments from me. However, it’s important to understand that even if you’re taking medication, you can support your thyroid with certain dietary and lifestyle changes and help your body feel its best. Here are five strategies I recommend:

  1. Eliminate processed foods as much as possible. Eating junk food can have a huge impact on proper thyroid function.
  2. Consider getting a micronutrient panel. This will tell you whether you have any nutrient deficiencies, down to the cellular level.
  3. Other things to check include levels of iron, iodine, vitamin D, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and copper. Vitamin D is especially important for proper immune system function, and a vitamin D deficiency can show up as anxiety, depression, autoimmune disorders, and other conditions.
  4. Manage your stress. It sounds cliche but working on stress management can have a big impact on getting your thyroid functioning properly. Remember, you can’t control everything that happens in life, but you can control how you choose to respond to daily challenges. Even five minutes a day of mindfulness work or meditation is a great starting point. Also, you might want to add a B complex supplement and eat more citrus as well as good animal protein, as stress depletes the body of B and C vitamins.
  5. Manage your blood sugar. To keep your blood sugar stable, make sure you’re eating high-quality proteins, fats, and carbs every time you eat. (As for carbs, think complex carbohydrates that are unprocessed, low-glycemic fruits, and a variety of vegetables, not chips and crackers!)

If you can focus on these five areas, it’ll have a domino effect in your body — allowing not only your thyroid but also all your systems to work optimally both together and individually for greater health. If you need more help creating a plan for your specific needs, book a free 30-minute call with me so we can talk through your goals, one step at a time.

Using Flower Essences for Stress & Anxiety

I swear everybody is dealing with anxiety. It has ramped up like crazy in the last couple of years. There are a lot of issues that people are struggling with. For example, you may feel stressed having to return to the workforce or return to school.

And mental health therapists are crazy busy right now. Therapists have doubled their caseload as people are dealing with the stress of recent times on top of other daily stressors. So I have been looking for all the ways that I can help support people deal with stress and their mental health.

I often talk about utilizing food and nutrition to deal with anxiety. But flower essences are different types of elixirs, spray, and oils that you can use to help with anxiety symptoms.

What are flower essences?

Most people are well-versed in essential oils to some degree. Flower essences are similar. However, they’re considered safer because it’s a topical application. You don’t have to worry about anything burning your skin as it doesn’t need to be mixed with other oils.

They’re natural flowers that have their own unique energy. All the ingredients are completely natural. There’s nothing nasty or toxic. So you don’t have to worry about some of the chemicals I see people using in supplements or essential oils.

I was first blown away by flower essences when I had Katie Hess on my podcast. In episode 73, Katie had me take the quiz on her website, which left me speechless.

It looked at the different flowers you’re drawn to for whatever reason. Katie then puts together different types of essences that would be best for you and what your body seems to need. And I didn’t know how to respond to the products she pulled from me taking the quiz.

How do you use flower essences?

There are many different flower essences that can be used to treat different needs. From the quiz, Katie suggested I try a flower elixir, spray, and anointing oil.

You simply put a few drops of the flower elixir into your water or on your tongue. I put it in my coffee or whatever I like to get its full effect. Whereas the spray, you can mist all over yourself. Then, I apply a few drops of the oil on your wrist like perfume.

How do flower essences help with stress and anxiety?

The whole idea is that flowers in the essences have an energy and frequency that helps people. Using them regularly is going to help calm you from stress. It can help with anxiety. It can help with clarity.

Katie’s flower essences can also help with multitasking and crazy schedules that keep us tired and unfocused. I’ve noticed a huge difference in my ability to focus and stay calm even in the busiest times.

If you have symptoms of stress or anxiety and feel frustrated from things being thrown at you. Flower essences might be one of the things that you can use to help mitigate those concerns.

What is a Continuous Glucose Monitor and What It Can Tell You

You can read as many textbooks as you want about proper insulin and sugar nutrition. But there’s no better way to learn then to try something for yourself.

And that’s exactly what Tiffany did.

For three months, Tiffany used a CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) to see how her food and behavior affected her sugar and insulin levels. She used the dedicated app to tap into the data and see how her levels differed throughout the day, how they reacted to certain foods, and how various activities influenced them, too.

Alongside her Aura ring, she was able to find three pivotal parts of life that had the greatest effect on her hormone levels.

1.     Cortisol and stress

The first observation she had was that elevated levels of stress caused her cortisol levels to rise, which in turn elevated her glucose levels as insulin was unable to break down sugar in the body as efficiently.

And as she acknowledges, without the right nutrition and coping mechanisms such as mindfulness to help combat stress:

“Then your glucose becomes higher in your blood. Your insulin doesn’t work as well. And that sets us up for things like pre-diabetes type two diabetes, and chronic disease down the road.”

2.     Sleep

We all know how vital sleep is for basic human function. But what Tiffany learned specifically is that insulin sensitivity decreases at night.

So what does that mean for you?

If you’re a late night snacker, your body will break down the sugars a lot slower than it would earlier in the day, and this is especially true during sleep.

And while it might not always disrupt your REM cycle (although she noted she sometimes experienced this when her glucose levels were higher than usual) it means you often wake up with elevated blood glucose levels, which then becomes a negative cycle for dealing with stress.

3.     Exercise

It’s not all doom and gloom. The main contributor to mitigating higher glucose levels, (after nutrition of course), was doing exercise. Tiffany found that even if she woke up with elevated glucose levels, after a morning workout, it went straight back down, which proves the success of exercise on helping to break down sugars in the morning.

CGM Experiment conclusion

After three months, Tiffany’s takeaway is clear.

  1. Learn to manage your stress
  2. Avoid eating too late where possible
  3. Exercise is a vital part of glucose management so incorporate it in your daily life

Implementing these three simple steps will help you gain regain control of your hormones so you can thrive.

Rock Bottom Thyroid Treatment

Following years of learning how to allow her thyroid to thrive, Tiffany has written a book called the Rock Bottom Thyroid Treatment. It’s an eight-week program split into three phases that help readers overcome the many obstacles and symptoms they face from their thyroid conditions.

If you want to reach out to Tiffany with any questions on her book or how you can start thriving with your thyroid today, email her at hello@tiffanyflaten.com.

What exercise should I do if I suffer from a chronic health condition?

It can be difficult to exercise when you have a chronic health condition. For example, I’ve talked to so many people who have a thyroid diagnosis or an auto-immune disorder, and they can’t lose weight or keep gaining weight. And when they do exercise, they tend to overdo it as their bodies need the extra energy to fight their condition.

Those with a chronic health condition suffer from fatigue, depression, anxiety, joint pain, poor gut health, chronic headaches, numbness, or inflammation. So, when they do exercise, they are putting more stress on their body and end up feeling worse.

As someone who has recovered from thyroid cancer, I struggled to lose weight. I thought if I exercised more and took intense classes, it would help me lose weight. However, because of my thyroid condition, I only felt worse. So instead, I had to find different workouts that benefited my body.

Here’s a look at different exercises you can do if you suffer from a chronic health condition:

 

Stretching

Before you put your body through an intense workout, you should first do simple and easy movements. Focus on stretching at night before you get into bed. Create a mini yoga routine or use a foam roller to relax your body for a nice restorative night’s sleep.

Walking

Another option is to take a good nature walk. You don’t have to go to the woods or hike a mountain. I mean just getting outside and taking in that fresh air. Walk around the block, even if it’s just for five minutes. Walking helps us be more mindful and calms our brains, which calms our bodies.

Strength Training

Next, you should strengthen your muscles with a specific regimen of yoga or Pilates. Yoga can help build endurance and help restore our bodies. Then, once your body feels less stressed, I suggest full body, upper or lower body strength training to keep your muscle mass and composition in check.

Interval Training

Finally, I would introduce interval training into your workout when your body is ready. Short bursts of intense exercise will get your heart rate up and then bring it back down again. It will change your body’s ability to handle stress and helps normalize your symptoms.

Go Back to the Basics

Learn from my mistakes. Don’t push your body with intense workouts to lose weight. Instead, take baby steps to strengthen your muscles and build your tolerance. Then, when you start to get a little bit better, and your body feels more restored, I would increase the intensity or duration of your exercise.

Change your daily walk into a jog or exercise for 30 minutes longer. If you follow these exercises, you should notice a big difference in your body and your weight in no time. Make sure you pay attention to your body. If you begin to feel sore or exhausted, it’s a sign that you’re doing too much.

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.

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