Have you been feeling incredibly tired, maybe even borderline depressed lately? Is your memory failing you more often than in the past and have you put on weight despite your efforts to eat healthily and being good with your exercise routine? Do you sometimes envy the yummy mummies who look great and seem to be so naturally on top of the world while you tend to struggle to keep things together?
Maybe you’ve had your blood tested and even though you received four pages of test results, everything looks normal. Not even the smallest hint came up that could point to a reason why you are not feeling like yourself anymore. You know you used to be an energetic, life-loving, fit person and you might ask yourself whether this new you is simply suffering the consequences of ageing. I’m here to encourage you to ask yourself different questions.
Let’s exclude ageing for a moment because there are about 300’000 centenarians (people who are 100 or older) on this planet, many of whom enjoy good health! So if it’s not about getting older, something else must be at the bottom of your body not being in equilibrium anymore and showing symptoms like fatigue, depression, memory issues and weight gain. All of these symptoms could likely point to slowed down thyroid function. Did you know that nearly every single cell in our body needs thyroid hormone to function properly? So if there is an imbalance we can develop a host of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Now, does your thyroid one day simply decide to take it down a notch? Normally this does not happen without a reason and the thyroid values TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) and T4 (inactive Thyroid hormone) from your blood draw were within range, so what’s going on?
Think back for a moment to the time just before you started noticing your symptoms, what happened just before? Did you move to another country and found yourself without family support at your doorstep? Did you go through a stressful period at work? Did your child not sleep through the night or did one of your children have health issues or problems at school? Were you worried about a sick parent or did a loved grandparent die? Maybe it’s not just one but several things that were going on or started around that time. These are all situations that the body perceives as stress and stress is accumulative. One of the body’s reactions to stress is that it releases cortisol, our stress hormone. With chronically elevated cortisol levels, the brain down regulates the thyroid and you also produce less sex hormones. So now you have a perfect recipe for feeling lousy and gaining weight.
Here is what you can do to restore the balance of your body and replace feeling tired, brain-fogged and overweight with feeling full of energy, clear mental focus and optimal body weight:
Getting a vitamin and mineral status especially for the nutrients needed for the thyroid process to function properly can be a good start. It could be that your TSH and T4 values being “within range” are simply not optimal for you. For the entire process, from the thyroid receiving orders from the brain, to the actual production of the inactive thyroid hormone, to the conversion into the active version of the hormone all the way to the absorption of the hormone into the cells, our bodies need certain vitamins and minerals including iodine and selenium.
If you are getting sufficient amounts of these vitamins and minerals from your diet and you still show deficiencies, it might be worth having a food intolerance test done. If you are eating foods (even healthy ones) that you are sensitive too, you can compromise your gut health which can lead to malabsorption of vitamins and minerals. Avoiding foods that you are reacting to (and this is generally not an obvious immediate allergic reaction like with a life-threatening peanut allergy), at least for a period of time, can make a big difference. Supplementing with missing nutrients as well as with probiotics to help with the good bugs in your gut can be another piece to the puzzle.
Adequate exercise (overdoing it can add extra stress to the system!) and stress management techniques like yoga, tai chi or meditation will work on a different level and help bring the cortisol levels down. You may also want to think about how to improve your local support network.
If all of this still does not fully bring back your old energetic self, more detailed testing on the thyroid and possibly adrenal function (the adrenals sit on top of our kidneys and produce the stress hormone cortisol) can shed more light on the situation.
You can see our hormonal system is very much interlinked and hormonal balance is critical for healthy energy levels, positive mood, maintaining body temperature, healthy skin, nails and hair, optimal metabolism for maintaining optimal weight and much, much more. It’s our lifestyle more than anything that can disturb this balance which means it’s in our hands to restore it.
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