Causes of an underactive thyroid
When I started having issues with my thyroid, I was never told that there were things that I was doing or things happening to my body that were slowing my thyroid down. Instead I was just thrown on medication.
When I started studying functional medicine, I realized all of the things conventional doctors weren’t telling me.
I’m here to help educate you on thyroid health so you can start getting your sexy back. I don’t want you to go through the same thing I did! So, let’s walk through some of the things that could be slowing down your thyroid.
Stress releases cortisol from your adrenal glands (near your kidneys). It’s your “fight or flight” response and the natural way that your body tries to attack stress.
Your adrenal glands, sex hormones and thyroid all interplay with each other. They're like a triangle and all interacting with one another so if one is off, the others are more than likely also going to be off.
That means, when cortisol keeps getting released like that, it will eventually affect the thyroid. It will affect the conversion of your inactive thyroid hormone, which is T4, to your active thyroid hormone, which is T3.
Not only that, but it can actually put the whole system in reverse. It reverts the T3, your active thyroid hormone back to something called reverse T3. That's not active.... it's inactive.
That's why when people get really stressed out all of a sudden, they're like, "I'm gaining weight" or “my fatigue is through the roof" or "my hair's falling out" - it is because your thyroid is actually being slowed down because of this chronic stress!
Sleep is your rest and repair time. This is when the adrenals are supposed to chill out and replenish.
If you're only getting a couple of hours of sleep, it's not going to help your thyroid. So, it’s very important to try and figure out what's causing the sleep issues, and make adjustments. It could be as simple as making your room darker or cooler, getting diligent with a consistent bedtime, stopping screen use 30-60 minutes before bed.
Your liver is where most of the thyroid hormone conversion happens. If you have a really sluggish liver, it will be hard to keep up with that conversion.
The liver can get bogged down if you have too many toxins coming in and if you're not nourishing it with good food (more on that next!). If your liver is bogged down, your thyroid won’t be able to function properly.
Watch this YouTube video on detoxing your liver for thyroid health for more information!
The gut is directly connected to thyroid health (read my Hormonal Gut blog post for a deep dive on this!). About 20 percent of your thyroid hormone conversion happens in the gut.
If you're eating poor quality food or things like gluten, soy, dairy, and sugar, these can cause inflammation in the gut, which is another stress response. This inflammation and stress will tell the thyroid to slow down, because your body doesn't like it. If your gut is inflamed and not being nourished, this can affect thyroid function.
If your gut flora is off because of something like a parasite, bacteria, or even candida, this might inhibit thyroid hormone conversion.
Also, it's common with hypothyroidism to have something called leaky gut. If you have Hashimoto's, which is the autoimmune side of hypothyroidism, it's especially common to have leaky gut because there's this autoimmune response and inflammatory response, and it just feeds off of it. So, hypothyroidism could be causing some of the gut issues and the gut issues could be causing some of the issues, creating hypothyroidism. It works both ways.
No matter what, your diet has a huge impact on thyroid function!
All this goes to show that some parts of our hypothyroidism can actually be effectively managed with things like diet and lifestyle changes! Changes in these areas and really focusing on what your body needs can boost your thyroid health and bring back a little energy to your daily life.
I have some more great information on all of this in my free guide to some common causes of hypothyroidism. Click here to download it today.