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thyroid health

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.

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.

Top 5 Issues Thyroid Patients Deal With and What To Do About It

When you’re dealing with thyroid issues, it can be quite frustrating. I’ve talked to so many people who have just given up. We’re told that fatigue, weight gain, depression, anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness are “fine” because there are meds for all of that, and most of us have tried all of them at one time or another.Yet they rarely work in the long term, and it just keeps us on this hamster wheel, a vicious cycle that never gets resolved.In my experience of recovering from thyroid cancer and now absent a thyroid gland, I have no choice but to take medications. I’m grateful I have that option, but meds aren’t the only answer if you have a thyroid condition.Here’s a look at the top five issues you might be dealing with as a thyroid patient and what you can do about them.

FatigueYou might think it’s just normal to feel exhausted all the time, especially if you lead a busy life with a job, kids, household responsibilities, and so on. You might explain it away that you’re tired because you’re constantly running around.The fatigue associated with thyroid conditions is different from feeling tired after a busy day, however. It’s debilitating, like the feeling you might have while pregnant (for those of you who can relate to that). Your body is constantly tired and in pain.
Weight Gain

For someone with a thyroid condition, the typical “calories in, calories out” model of weight loss and maintenance doesn’t work. Exercising to burn calories, tracking every gram of food, and obsessing over calorie counts never worked for me, and I would venture to guess it’s not working for you either.Anybody who’s ever relied on this old model might think they can burn fat either by reducing caloric intake and/or through exercise. This method does not work for all, however, and you might have found yourself frustrated when the weight doesn’t budge even when you’re diligent.Poor Gut Health

Most of the people I work with have major issues with acid reflux, constipation, bloating, diarrhea, or some combination of these issues. It’s common for thyroid patients to struggle with digestive upset and lack of absorption of nutrients due to low stomach acid.Oftentimes, people take over-the-counter medications to mitigate these symptoms. Over time, their body grows dependent on OTC meds, and they’re afraid to stop taking them because when they do, symptoms return.No one has ever advised them to change how they’re eating in order to resolve the underlying issues. Well, let me be the one to say there are better options than taking OTC meds for the rest of your life.

Depression and Anxiety

Also common among thyroid patients is depression and anxiety. Some people present more depressed with low energy and feelings of hopelessness. Others are more anxious, tired, wired, worried, and even panicked.Now, we all know there are times in life when we have reasons to be more anxious or depressed. What I’m talking about is long-term, chronic feelings of depression and anxiety. Like fatigue, it can also be debilitating.

Aches and Pains

Aches and pains could present as headaches or pain in the feet, knees, or just muscles in general. What I see clinically and biochemically is a cluster of nutrients that are deficient, stemming from gut health, inflammation, lifestyle factors, certain foods, and medications. Those deficiencies just lead to more and more of these symptoms.Side note: Some people may try to combat the anxiety, stress, and pain they feel by drinking alcohol, but alcohol makes matters worse and inhibits thyroid function.

Finding Solutions

If you try to resolve all of these issues at once, you may get overwhelmed and quit. So the first thing you can do when dealing with one or all of these issues is to find someone who actually wants to help you get to the root cause of your symptoms.That’s how I work with people. I look at what we can do to support everything underlying so that you can actually resolve your symptoms and come out on the other side, feeling like you were supposed to feel.No, you don’t have to give in to your symptoms as though they’re some kind of “new normal,” nor can you simply order a wellness test online and think you’re going to figure it out on your own. It takes the patience and guidance of someone like me who’s lived what you’re going through or has helped people like you.Aside from that, here are some basics I recommend incorporating into your life:

●     Add meditation into your life. Start with five minutes a day, and stick with it.
●     Move away from eating processed foods, and focus more on whole foods as much as you possibly can.
●     Eat your macros in balance. Start by making sure you get ample amounts of protein at each meal, a good 4 to 6 ounces.

 

If you follow these tips, you should notice a big difference in two weeks’ time. Don’t feel like you have to do it all, but start somewhere, and you will start to regain balance and normalize.Care to get on a call to talk more? Schedule your FREE Thyroid Breakthrough Session today by clicking here.

How Does Alcohol Affect Thyroid Function?

It’s safe to say that over the past couple of years, people may have been reaching for alcohol more often than usual. Whether due to boredom, anxiety due to the pandemic, or the celebration of a return to in-person gatherings, the drinks have been flowing.

Unfortunately, along with that, there’s the potential for anxiety, depression, decreased thyroid functioning, and other health issues.

While drinking in moderation can work for some people, it can also be problematic under certain circumstances. If you’re struggling with autoimmune thyroid issues, for example, alcohol isn’t going to be your friend. It’s also not helpful if you have undue stress in your life, in which case alcohol may make matters worse.

Why Alcohol and Thyroid Don’t Mix

Alcohol directly affects what’s called the hypothalamus pituitary axis, aka HPA. People who consume alcohol on a regular basis are directly affecting this pathway, messing with important brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. In time, because our bodily systems are interconnected, chronic alcohol consumption can negatively impact your thyroid.

So if you’re having a glass of wine as you cook dinner or enjoying a glass among friends, how much is too much?

It depends. If you suspect you’re experiencing the negative effects of alcohol, including anxiety, depression, or an underperforming thyroid, it might be beneficial to cut out alcohol, at least for now. Let’s take a closer look at why.

Alcohol Is a Known Toxin

Alcohol, whose key intoxicating ingredient is ethanol, is known to have a direct, toxic effect on the thyroid gland. Consider for a moment that one of the treatment options for thyroid cancer is ethanol ablation, which can kill off the part of the thyroid gland that is not functioning well.

That should tell you something, right?

So if you are someone who is struggling with getting your thyroid optimized, medications leveled, and symptoms in check, you would do well to avoid alcohol, even in moderation. Although ironically, moderate alcohol consumption can actually reduce thyroid cancer risk, you might want to avoid drinking until you can get your thyroid optimized.

So what can you do instead of popping the cork? I’ve got five tips:

1. Remove alcohol completely to get to the root of your thyroid problems.

When we drink, the alcohol has to be processed by the liver, and in part, so do your thyroid hormones. Your liver will prioritize processing alcohol and eliminating the toxin from your system over hormone conversion. This means your hormone conversion will be put on the back burner for several hours after drinking alcohol.

2. Work to improve your liver health.

Fill your plate with healthy, whole foods, with a focus on colorful, antioxidant-rich plant foods that help with detoxification. Add turmeric to your foods, combined with black pepper to aid absorption. Oh, and drink filtered water.

3. Do a specific liver detoxification/gut health protocol.

I’m not talking about a colon cleanse here; a safe, carefully designed detoxification will help you clean out your body and improve gut health so you can start from scratch. I guarantee if you clean up your liver and the foods you’re eating, a lot of your symptoms will start to fall away.

4. Carefully experiment with alcohol.

I’m never going to be one to say that no one should ever drink alcohol again, because that’s not realistic for a lot of people. Barring any addiction issues, you may wish to experiment with alcohol to add it back.

However, you need to pay close attention to how alcohol impacts your sleep, your day-to-day functioning, and other factors. How did you recover the next day? What kind of alcohol were you drinking?

5. Use better quality alcohol.

Organic wines and clear liquors are slightly better options than, say, non-organic wines that have additives or drinks that contain added sugars. Vodka and soda with lime is a better choice than vodka with a sugary mixer, for example. With sugary drinks, you’re not only processing the alcohol, but also the fructose, putting extra load on your liver.

Really, it’s a matter of trial and error, and then sticking with what makes you feel the best. For some people, drinking a couple of times a week isn’t a big deal, but for others, it’s too much.

In part, it’s a matter of building new habits that support your thyroid and overall health. If you regularly consume alcohol and you’re experiencing signs of thyroid dysfunction, such as brain fog, anxiety, depression, or poor gut health, consider abstaining for a while. You might just find that you feel so amazing, you no longer crave that nightly drink.

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