Month: August 2019

  • Is your thyroid making fat and tired?

    You probably know about fast and slow metabolisms. In part this is the work of the thyroid gland. Facial hair, weight gain or loss, lack of energy and even hot flashes, the thyroid is mighty; it affects many aspects of our health and life.

    Thyroid and perimenopause and menopause issues

    Unfortunately, the thyroid tends to get out of sync and does not produce enough hormones during times of hormonal imbalances such as after having a baby, pregnancy, perimenopause and menopause. That is the reason we are talking about this gland. Many of the perimenopause and menopause symptoms are a result of thyroid problems.

    I am healthy but ….

    I have a few friends, including 2 MDs, who are otherwise very healthy and follow a healthy lifestyle, but they take thyroid medicine, because their thyroids are sluggish. In other words, they suffer from hypothyroidism. I also had the same issue when I entered perimenopause and my weight started to skyrocket although I followed a healthy lifestyle. I took the natural path and it worked.

    Hypothyroidism is very common in women over 35 and it contributes to lack of energy, lack of libido, weight gain and other symptoms. A healthy lifestyle does not always spare you from this condition, because stress and environmental toxins play a role in it.

    Now let’s see the other side of the coin: Hyperthyroidism. This is when the thyroid is too active and produces too much of the hormone. In this case the person tends to lose weight and facial hair may appear, among others symptoms.

    The table below illustrates the most common symptoms of both conditions.

    Hypothyroidism Hyperthyroidism
    Cold intolerance
    Dry skin
    Weight gain
    Puffy face and/or hands
    Muscle weakness
    Elevated cholesterol
    Muscle aches and stiffness
    Pain, or swelling in joints
    Heavy or irregular periods
    Thinning hair
    Slowed heart rate
    Impaired memory
    Enlarged thyroid (goiter)
    Excessive sleepiness
    Thin, brittle hair or fingernails
    Decreased sweating
    Pins and needles
    Decrease libido
    Unintentional weight loss
    Rapid or irregular heartbeat
    Increased appetite
    Nervousness amd anxiety
    Tremor in hands and fingers
    Changes in menstrual patterns
    Feeling hot easily
    Frequent bowel movements
    Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)
    Muscle weakness
    Difficulty sleeping
    Skin thinning
    Fine, brittle hair

    Why should you care for your thyroid?

    Well, it affects your energy levels, weight, libido, skin and hair and your total wellbeing. On top of that the thyroid gets affected by other important organs and by autoimmune conditions.

    We can say that the thyroid is the first one to make noise when something is wrong in the body. That is the reason why instead of just taking a pill (which is necessary in some cases) we need to look deeper at what else needs our attention.

    Causes of hypothyroidism

    • There are many potential causes including:
    • Autoimmune disease
    • Hyperthyroidism treatments
    • Radiation therapy
    • Thyroid surgery
    • Certain medications such as medications to treat certain psychiatric disorders
    • Congenital disease
    • Pituitary disorders. This is rare.
    • Pregnancy. Some women develop hypothyroidism during or after pregnancy
    • Iodine deficiency. This is more common than normal medicine reports
    • Hashimoto’s disease. This is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the U.S. Hashimoto’s disease, is cause by autoimmune issues.
    • Thyroiditis. It can be caused by viral or bacterial infections, an autoimmune condition or following pregnancy.

    For women over 40 the most common causes are:

    • Weak adrenals due to excess stress
    • Liver issues
    • Excess accumulation of toxins
    • Nutrition deficits especially of zinc, iodine, selenium, copper, iron, essential fatty acids, tyrosine (amino acid), vitamins A and D
    • In natural medicine it is also believed that some emotions affect the thyroid
    • Autoimmune disease

    How to know if you have low or high thyroid activity?

    Check the list of symptoms and see if you suffer many of them. If you go to a regular doctor he or she may or may not find the problem. If your deficiency or excessive level of the hormone is way higher than the expected level, it will be found, but if it is small it probably will not be found. A functional practitioner will, however, find it.

    The discrepancy is that in functional medicine the range of normal levels is narrower than in conventional medicine and there is also more testing. In functional medicine, normal is not what the majority of people have right now, instead it is the optimal level for wellbeing and health.

    In my case I had many symptoms such as excessive hair loss, dry skin, weight gain, constipation, I had lost part of my eyebrows, and other symptoms. My regular doctor did not find anything wrong in my tests, everything was perfect. But I had the symptoms and I refused to accept that “that is how we age”.

    What can you do to have better thyroid function?

    If you feel that you have too many symptoms you should get tested first by your doctor, and then if nothing is found, you can go to a functional or natural medicine practitioner.

    The standard treatment for hypothyroidism is a synthetic hormone. For hyperthyroidism, there are medications. There are also many natural treatments if you want to try this path.

    With the natural treatments, that also require lifestyle changes, you will solve the problem and the roots of the problem. With the pills you will be taking them potentially for life, they don’t work for everybody and you will not be addressing the roots of the problem. Those roots may manifest later on in other ways.

    thyroid health in midlife

    Improving your thyroid function

    If you only have some symptoms you can try to improve your lifestyle and add some supplements to improve thyroid function. Some of the natural recommendations are:

    • Eat natural, unprocessed foods
    • Try to minimize environmental toxins such as normal cleaning products, normal skin care products etc.
    • Lower sugar intake
    • Increase omega 3 intake
    • Make sure you are eating enough proteins
    • Make sure you are having enough iodine
    • Make sure you are having enough zinc and selenium
    • Take a break from foods that causes allergies in many people such as gluten, dairy and soy. It is just a break to determine if you have an allergy.
    • Take probiotics
    • Eat a lot of vegetables
    • Lower stress
    • Sleep enough hours
    • Make sure you are having enough fats (I had this problem, I thought fats make you fat and I was not having enough fats)
    • Be active and workout. This eliminates stress and helps to eliminate toxins. You need a workout that doesn’t create more stress. Workouts that become too competitive or too intensive are not recommended. Swimming, walking, Pilates, yoga, strength training, HIIT, hiking, outdoor bicycle, dance type workouts and others are very beneficial.
    • You may take supplements for adrenal support and thyroid support if you think you have hypothyroidism.

    Thyroid support with supplements is tricky. If you buy one, pay attention that is does not have any animal gland parts of hormones added, check the ingredient list. Avoid taking thyroid support for more than a few months. Most thyroid support pills have a lot of iodine, it is better to follow smaller doses than the recommended in the bottle to avoid too much iodine.

    If you have hyperthyroidism you have to follow a gluten, dairy and soy free diet. But hyperthyroidism requires more care and a visit to your natural practitioner is better.

    If you need advice creating your perfect menus for thyroid support you may want to take our upcoming program for hormonal balance. Sign up to be informed of its release.

  • Healthy habits for life

    Do you want to sleep more, be more organized, eat healthier, drink more water, drink less soda, less alcohol, etc.? Changing habits is not easy for most people.

    Healthy habits for life in midlife

    Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

    When it comes to habits, most of us are old dogs and some people think that the older we get the more difficult it is to develop new habits. That is not my experience, people of all ages can learn new habits, if they want to.

    There are zillions of books on how to change your habits. They all have good advice, but not all advice works for everybody. There are books about different styles, different techniques, etc. What I have found is that what matters when we want to acquire healthier habits is:

    • Do you really want to do it?
    • Put systems in place

    If you want to eat healthier, workout, have a strict morning routine, control stress, etc. you really have to nail down your WHY.

    Why should you do it?

    Why do you want the results offered by healthier habits? We don’t want healthier habits, we want the results of healthier habits.

    We want to sleep more because it has health benefits such as: more concentration, it makes us happier, more productive, skinnier etc.
    We want to eat healthier because: we want to be healthier, control our blood pressure, blood sugar, look skinnier, put less pressure on our knees etc. and why do we want those effects? Because we want more energy to do what we want to do. We don’t want to spend money, time and effort going to the doctor, taking a zillion pills, lowering our quality of life, we don’t want aches and pains, we want to avoid the “side” effects of drugs etc. We want to keep our bodies young and strong.

    Find the root, why do you want healthier habits

    You have to nail it down, go to the root. For example: I want to lose 10 pounds. Why? Because I will look and feel better. Why will you want to feel and look better? Because I will feel happier and be healthier. Why do you want to feel happier and healthier? Because I want to be there for my children when they need me, I don’t want to be sick and become a liability.

    OK, that is your why. Your why is your children and your future self. That is huge. That is not feel better and look better as you initially thought. Now you have something tangible. Every time you don’t want to work out, picture your kids and you will feel the energy to workout at least a few minutes even when you don’t want to do it.

    If you have a strong why, you will have a strong will

    Sometimes you are going to discover that you don’t have a strong why for something and it will be your decision to do it or not. For example, running a marathon. It is mostly a badge of honor, but for some people it is about self-determination. This is something optional in life, but your health is not optional.

    how to create healthy habits

    Put your habit changing systems in place

    Now that you know your why you are totally convinced that you have to do it, then comes another important part: put your systems in place. Without systems it becomes difficult to change a habit. These are tips that help a lot of my clients:

    Begin with the end in mind.

    What is the goal? Imagine yourself at the end, how will you feel? Savor that moment, keep it in your mind.

    Plan the way.

    Every goal needs to be divided in small steps to measure success. When are you going to do it, how are you going to do it.

    For example, you plan to eat a healthier lunch, maybe a salad, but you don’t really like salads. What else can you eat? Instead can you bring soup and a healthier sandwich from home? You want to eat healthier snacks, you need to plan it, and in most places the snacks are not healthy.

    You want to sleep more. How can you do it? What do you need to do in order to go to bed earlier?

    Invest in yourself

    Invest time and put resources on it if you need to. Maybe an online fitness membership to workout at home, maybe once a month a meal delivery service or menu planning service, maybe a personal trainer, a health coach (contact me), maybe a life coach, a new pair of sneakers, a yoga class, etc. However be careful, as you know most people who buy gym memberships almost never go to the gym.

    Make it easy

    For example workout at lunch time, if you plan to work out in the morning leave everything ready the night before. If you plant to thoroughly clean your teeth, allow time for it, don’t wait until you are sleepy and tired.

    Take the path of least resistance

    Some people complicate their lives looking for exotic solutions. To start with something, do the easiest thing you can do.

    If you want to be fitter, move more in your daily life don’t wait to have everything you need to go to that famous Barre class. If you want to eat healthier, start by drinking more water and eating more vegetables don’t wait to find out which is the perfect diet for you.

    My niece and a friend wanted to do yoga. The friend spend a year reading about yoga, my niece started to do it right away with youtube videos. The friend goes to classes once in a while, my niece has been doing yoga at home few times a week since the first conversation. Guess who is better at yoga and fitter.

    Doing something always beats thinking about something. You know the term paralysis by analysis, this is a problem for me and for many people. Sometimes it is better to go Nike “Just do it”

    Don’t fear failure

    There is no bigger failure than never trying

    Make time

    We all have 24 hours a day. There is that saying, an activity stretches itself to the time allowed. We can limit the time of some activities in order to do others. We can also prioritize, for example no social media until this or that gets done.

    For some people the problem is not time, it is energy. In order to have energy you need good nutrition, sleep well, and have less stress.

    Eat the frog

    This means do what you dread more first thing in the morning. That way it will be out of the way and you will not be thinking about it.

    Be realistic

    You are wonderful, but you aren’t perfect. Life is beautiful, but it isn’t perfect. Always plan for more time, more effort and more energy than you think you will need. If you don’t do it you may be putting unnecessary stress on yourself and it will be more difficult to reach your goals.

    Find joy in the journey

    Life is a journey and the joy is in living that journey. Be present as much as you can and just smile at life. Tomorrow you can try again. Always be kind to yourself.