These are the factors you will want to reassess and optimise if you are suspicious about your thyroid function. These factors have the (double whammy) potential to dampen your thyroid as well as have the potential to leave you even more vulnerable to a dampened thyroid.
Food intolerances/gut health
Reassess whether or not you have developed (or have been ignoring) a food intolerance, or a poorly functioning digestive system.
The significance of a well-functioning digestive system is imperative to thyroid function; you need nutrients for your thyroid to function, and you need to be able to digest and absorb sufficiently to be able to get nutrients from your food.
If you suspect a thyroid issue, start listening to your body. Really listening. Listen out for bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, reflux, acne, rashes – look for any symptom of a digestive issue. Then listen closer to see if you can spot this link between the food and the issue. This can be tricky to identify. Speak with our Naturopath or Nutritionists for support, if needed.
The stress response is a fantastic and intricate response to a stimuli, with the simple goal of surviving. It is such a great response that it is often done with the low regard for much else – when you are stressed your body doesn’t worry about reminding you to eat, it doesn’t worry about allowing you to sleep and it doesn’t have much regard for an emotional tolerance level. The goal is to survive, and if you use your stress response irresponsively (too often, without rest), you leave yourself open to disease, including thyroid dysfunction. You do this via a lack of food, poor digestion and absorption, and via a lack of sleep and rejuvenation.
Unfortunately, we can flip this around; thyroid dysfunction can contribute to stress, and it can quickly become a nasty spiral.
Thankfully, stress is relatively controllable. A large proportion of our stress is emotional stress, and we can control a large proportion of this emotional stress. Next time you feel yourself becoming stressed, stop, take a moment, and ask yourself whether or not this situation is significant enough to stress about (is this a life-threatening situation). Also ask yourself about whether or not the action of stressing is productive or not – will stress help the situation at all. And finally, recognise that if you are in a stressful situation, and you can’t change that situation, recognise, or realise that you have the power to change the way you respond to that situation. Look for the silver lining and keep looking at it.
Pollution, heavy metals, plastics, endocrine disrupting chemicals, pesticides, moulds, and more. Toxins are extremely present in everyday life, and the experts agree that no matter how great you are at avoiding them, you are still getting exposed. It’s not about avoiding exposure, but about limiting your exposure, and working on reducing the damage. Endocrine glands are particularly sensitive, or vulnerable to toxic damage, and the thyroid is not excluded. Toxins have been openly linked to thyroid disruption and impairment.
If you suspect a thyroid dysfunction, reassess your toxic exposure – eat organic or follow the dirty dozen clean 15, don’t heat food in plastic containers or put hot food in plastic containers, reassess your makeup and hair care, change deodorant, drink plenty of water, and make sure you are passing regular bowel motions.
Nutrient deficiencies are extremely common. Put simply, we get our nutrients from our food. You only eat a certain amount of times per day (i.e. when you are hungry) and what you choose to eat makes a big difference. But also, what you eat does not mean much if you are not digesting or absorbing the nutrients in the food. You can have the best intention and a great diet, but if you have a food intolerance, diarrhoea, bloating or heart burn, you may not be breaking down your food, or absorbing your food like you should be. On top of this, your food may not be as nutritious as it once was. The soil that food grows in is not what it once was. ‘Healthy diets’ are now lacking entire food groups and without proper guidance, may be leaving you with nutrient deficiencies. Your body need nutrients to function. Not only that, but it needs a variety (all) of nutrients, at a certain level to function.
The best way to do your best at getting your nutrients is that eat a variety of foods and eat real foods – or as unprocessed as possible foods. Chew your food and pay attention to your digestive system.
Menopause affects your thyroid and your thyroid affects your menopause.
Oestrogen has both direct and indirect effects on the thyroid gland, and thyroid function. This means that during perimenopause and menopause, when oestrogen fluctuates unpredictably then flatlines, there is a change in oestrogens influence, affecting the overall function of the thyroid. This unpredictable, then removal of oestrogens influence creates a time for thyroid unpredictability then struggle. If the thyroid does not rebalance, it can easily become dysfunctional.
Menopause is a time to reassess everything and ensure that you are doing and giving all good things to your body in attempt to aid it through the transition. Reassess your food, sleep, stress levels, exercise, bowel habits and mental health. Optimise each, to the best of your ability, and set yourself up for an easier journey.
Speak with the team of doctors, naturopaths and nutritionists at the Australian Menopause Centre if you need help.