Thyroid problems are skyrocketing. More folks are being blindsided by a sluggish and slow thyroid than ever before.
In fact, thyroid problems have become so prevalent that a stunning 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with hypothyroidism at some point.
But if you’re a guy don’t make the mistake of thinking that means you’re safe. Men who are carrying around some extra pounds are at a higher risk too.
Thyroid problems often go undiagnosed for a long time while they continue to do damage. That damage can lead to what may—at first—seem like unrelated illnesses such as infertility, depression, heart problems, obesity and even nerve pain.
Common symptoms of hypothyroid include:
- cold hands and feet
- weight gain
- infrequent bowel movements
Today’s fast-paced high stress world is like a recipe for thyroid problems.
But that doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to being fat, fatigued and miserable. You can reduce your own risk of ever being handed a hypothyroidism diagnosis.
7 startling culprits for sluggish thyroid problems
Following are seven surprising thyroid-function-robbing thieves you may already be the victim of. Fix these common stressors and you’ll naturally lower your risk for thyroid problems.
Thyroid Function Thief #1 – The Big Rush:
Everybody is in a big rush these days and our thyroids are paying the price.
Technology is great, it allows us to stay connected to those we care about and be more productive. But there’s a down side, too. Twenty-four seven connectivity means we never get a break and we’re constantly experiencing a low level of stress.
Our brains and bodies are stuck in today’s equivalent of “fight or flight” mode, overstimulated and ready to react to all that input. That puts a strain on our entire sympathetic nervous system including our adrenal glands, which react by pumping out stress hormones including cortisol.
When your body produces too much cortisol it can interfere with the production of thyroid hormone. Your thyroid then steps up production to create enough of the stuff. The result is a tuckered out thyroid gland and ultimately thyroid problems.
Your thyroid fix? Slow down, log off and learn to relax.
If you find it hard to relax (don’t worry, a lot of us do!) this simple guided meditation is a great place to start. It’s just 12 minutes long, but it can help you unwind after a hard day.
Thyroid Function Thief #2 – Caffeine Crazed:
Most people now realize that coffee comes with health benefits so we don’t worry about starting the day of with a cup or two. But for many of us that morning cup can morph into an all day long stream of caffeine that goes from good for you to far too much of a good thing.
Our overscheduled lives have us running from one obligation to the next trying to juggle work, family, friends and exercise. It’s really no wonder so many of us burn through our energy stores and find ourselves reaching for a mid-morning coffee pick up, then another caffeine (and sugar) jolt in the afternoon, maybe one more cup of java on the way to the gym and a final slug of caffeine to get through dinner.
The trouble is caffeine hangs around long after your final cup, and it can make getting a good quality night of sleep next to impossible.
In other words the 200 mg of caffeine you take in with your 3 p.m. cup of coffee has only shrunk to 100 mg at 9 p.m. when you should be trying to wind down for bed. And at 3:00 a.m., when you should be fast asleep, there’s still 50 mg lingering in your bloodstream.
As you can imagine that makes for a poor night’s sleep leaving you stressed out and fatigued the following day putting a strain on your thyroid. And guess what we tend to do when were overtired? Yup, reach for MORE coffee starting the cycle all over again.
Your thyroid fix? Put the kibosh on coffee—and other caffeine-loaded foods—after lunchtime. Cutting out the caffeine will allow you to get the deep, body and thyroid refreshing sleep you need.
Thyroid Function Thief #3 – Sleepless in YOUR State:
While trouble falling asleep, and getting quality sleep, can lead to thyroid problems, not getting ENOUGH sleep can do damage too. When you don’t get adequate sleep your body can’t fully recover from the day’s events and you start the following day with a deficit.
Did you know that these days on average we are sleeping about one and half hours less than our grandparents did in their day? The average Joe is fitting in 6.5 hours a night if he’s lucky. But his grandfather clocked in at eight long refreshing.
In one year that means that Joe is losing out on 500 hours of sleep. Don’t be like Joe. If you shortchange your sleep your stress hormones skyrocket and your thyroid function starts slowing down to crawl.
Your thyroid fix? Commit to getting a full 8 hours of refreshing quality sleep a night. From time to time you might not meet your goal, but doing so more often than not will support your thyroid and just plain make you FEEL better.
Thyroid Function Thief #4 – The Blue Light Blues:
These days the first thing most of us do when we wake up, and the last thing we do before turning off the light to sleep, is gaze at a smartphone, tablet or laptop screen. Before hitting the hay you’ll find most of us scrolling through our Facebook feeds, glancing at the latest headlines and checking our emails—and that’s bad news for our sleep patterns and our thyroids.
You see these devices emit stimulating blue light and Wi-Fi signals. Our bodies aren’t equipped to handle that kind of stimulation in the evening, and without time to recover before bedtime our overstimulated brains and bodies are robbed of quality sleep.
When you have trouble falling into a deep refreshing sleep night after night you end up spending your days in a fog of low level sleep deprivation. One again your body is unable to recover from the day’s activities leading to stress and harming your thyroid health.
Your thyroid fix? Switch off your phone, tablet, laptop and any other Wi-Fi devices an hour before bed. While you’re at it turn off the TV too, which can be overstimulating late in the evening as well.
Thyroid Function Thief #5 – Simple Carb Cravings:
Okay, so we’ve established that chances are, as a modern human being, you’re burning the candle at both ends and not sleeping nearly enough to recover. We’re overtired and stressed out.
The result? Killer “comfort food” cravings that have us daydreaming about sugary treats and simple carb crunchies. If you find yourself reaching for sugary cereals in the morning, fruit smoothies at the 10 AM slump, and snack bars or candy in the afternoon you are not alone.
But those constant cravings aren’t just you running low on willpower. They’re a screaming red flag from your poor overworked and unrested body that your stress levels are maxing out. And that means your health—including your thyroid health—is being harmed.
Wildly swinging blood sugars—brought on by poor simple carb food choices—trigger stress hormones and eventually impact thyroid function.
Your thyroid fix? Slash the simple carbs.
Cutting out carb-filled bagels, candy, sweetened cereals and corn-syrup-filled “energy” bars is obvious. But be on the lookout out for sneaky sugar sources too. Honey drizzled in your morning oatmeal, sugar in your afternoon coffee, a dark chocolate bar for a snack and high sugar fruits throughout the day all add up.
When you find yourself craving sugar and carbs reach for snacks with high protein and fat instead. Nuts, grass-fed jerky, plain yogurt or herbal tea are all great carb taming choices.
Thyroid Function Thief #6 – Overdoing Alcohol:
One glass of wine after a super busy day or an extra-long week? Relaxing. Binging on three glasses in a sitting? An assault on your nervous system.
Alcohol falls into a category known as nervines. Nevines, in the proper dosage, can help relax your nervous system and make you fell less stressed. But in excess they can backfire on you interrupting your sleep cycle and preventing you from entering deep sleep.
Poor sleep means daytime fatigue. Daytime fatigue means skyrocketing stress hormones, simple carb cravings and adrenal system stress. If you’ve stuck with me this far you know what that leads to… yup, thyroid problems!
Your thyroid fix? Go cold turkey on the alcohol for four weeks. If you’re a big alcohol fan and can’t imagine giving up your wine or beer for a full month try slicing your drinking in half instead.
Thyroid Function Thief #7 – Excess Exercise:
This thyroid problem link is the one that tends to surprise people most of all. After all exercise is great for your health, and it’s an amazing stress reliever.
Plus if you’re already suffering from thyroid problems then weight gain is likely among your chief complaints. So why wouldn’t you want to up the exercise to try to work that spare tire off?
Don’t worry, you are right about all those things. And if you aren’t regularly exercising you absolutely should be.
However, if you’re already an exercise fan and you work out regularly, piling MORE exercise… extra hours doing the same stuff you are already doing… into your routine can actually be counterproductive.
Doing more exercise can send your stress hormones through the roof, contributing to your thyroid problems… and besides it isn’t what your body need to shed excess weight anyway.
Your thyroid fix? What you want to do instead is to concentrate on exercising more efficiently. So instead of running another 5 miles, for example, reduce your distance but bump up your intensity. Or if you’re a swimmer slice your 40 laps back to say 30, but push yourself to shave 5 then 10 and then 15 seconds off each of your laps.
Overworked & under-rested leads to thyroid problems
Listen, stress isn’t always the bad guy. Think of the right amount as a training partner that helps you prep your body to be resilient, your metabolism to fire on all cylinders and your thyroid to purr along perfectly.
But things begin to breakdown when today’s fast-paced lifestyle sends our stress levels soaring and our thyroid function crawling. Being over-busy, under-rested, over-caffeinated, over-exercised and hopped up on sugar reads like a recipe for an overworked adrenal system and eventually thyroid problems.
Commit to taking care of your body—giving it the rest and support it needs—and it will take care of you and reward you with a healthy happy thyroid.
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