10 Habits that Contributed to My Hypothyroidism –
When I look back I can easily think of 10 habits that contributed to my hypothyroidism. I had a major thyroid/ adrenal meltdown in 2009 soon after I turned 30. I am still struggling to recover with diet and lifestyle modifications. It is a deep hole I am still trying to dig myself out of with diet/ lifestyle modification, supplements and medication. I am motivated to help others avoid the health challenges that I have encountered.
Many of the things I did to myself are behaviors and habits I see everyday in clients as well as in the media. Please avoid these habits to preserve your thyroid health and in turn your metabolism.
Many people do not realize that a majority of thyroid cases are autoimmune where the body loses its ability to differentiate between a foreign invader and its own vital tissues. When working on correcting thyroid issues it is important to calm down the immune system by reducing sources of inflammation. When someone has a lot of inflammation from a poor diet and other stressors it dramatically lowers the conversion of thyroid hormone into the active forms.
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10 Habits that Contributed to My Hypothyroidism
Low Fat Dieting:
I ate a very low fat diet from the age of 14-30. I had a break in college when I ate anything and everything for 4 years but for the most part I was on a very low fat diet during these important developmental years. Proper amounts of fat are very important for regulating hormones and normal brain function. I can tell you I had unbearable cramps in high school like the kind that make you cry and stay home from school with a heating pad. I also the attention span of a flea and my best subject was starring at the clock which I really attribute to a lack of nourishing fats.
I ate so much soy when I was on a low fat diet and then even more when I went vegetarian for one year in 2009. I thought that it was the perfect food becasue it was low in calories and carbs but what I didn’t know is all the damage it was doing to my hormones and digestion. Iodine is crucial for proper thyroid function but too much soy from milk, patties and tofu can block iodine absorption from food. Read my post: Why I Am Sour on Soy. Unfermented soy that is used in most soy products has a great deal of lectins and phytates which are very hard to digest and lead to a leaky gut.
Long Distance Running:
In 2009 and 2010 I got into long distance running with some of my freinds. I thought it would be a good way to lose weight and challenge myself. I felt tired a lot during that time but I just chalked it up to lazyness. What I didnt realize is that my body was trying to send me a message. I had severe adrenal fatigue at that time and the last thing I needed to be doing was running. The adrenals and thyroid work together in regulating energy and when you are overdoing it they will put on the brakes whether you like it or not. Read my post here about 7 Exercise Mistakes.
Not Sleeping Enough:
As a personal trainer for 7 years I met my clients at 6 am 5 days a week. My body would scream NO but I kept pushing. It was so hard to get out of bed but I would put on a brave face and get there on time. I would try to get to bed early but it still wasn’t enough with all the exercise I was doing.
I love to have fun and make new friends. I want to be everywhere doing all the things. Sometimes I say yes too often and forget about my own need for downtime. I have gotten better about this as I am getting older but it is always a challenge not to take on too much. Take a pause before you say yes. Look at your calendar and see if that plan works for you. It is so important to make time for play, relaxation and mediation. Read my article here on meditation without frustration.
Drinking Diet Soda:
I grew up in the south and it was hot. I knew sugar was bad so I chose to drink Diet Soda to beat the heat. I thought it was great becasue it didn’t seem to make me fat and it gave me energy. What I didn’t realize is that diet soda is full of chemicals that can create a toxic environment in the body. Diet Soda has fluoride which block receptors for thyroid hormone. Aspartame can kill of good bacteria which throws off homeostasis in the body and can speed up the autoimmune process. Read my article 5 reasons to give up diet soda here.
I was a pretty emo-miserable teenager which progressed into being a party hardy college student. I liked to have a few (too many) drinks to take the edge off. What I didn’t realize is that drinking alcohol can cause major blood sugar fluctuations that create a very stressful situation for the thyroid-adrenal- pituitary feedback loop. This repeated assault on the endocrine system can lead to dysfunction where the signaling fails creating a situation where we become fat, fatigued and depressed.
Drinking alcohol also depletes B-vitamins which are the ones that make us feel good. I gave up drinking about 8 years ago and I am so happy I did becasue I am so much more productive and my moods are more stable now.
My mom turned me on to coffee when I was a little too young. I got so hooked on the coffee shop lifestyle and I could drink my non-fat lattes all day long. I used to brag that caffeine didn’t even affect me. What I didn’t know is that when caffeine no longer affects you it is probably a good sign your adrenals are trashed. Drinking caffeine daily can mask the signals you’re body is trying to send you about thyroid dysfunction.
I grew up eating heart healthy margarine, which was a major fail. We had those little white tubs of Mazola on our table all my life. Then later I got into diet spray butter and Pam Cooking spray becasue it was fat free. Is eating no fat better that rancid fat? Who knows, but both are terrible for the thyroid gland which depends on healthy fats and cholesterol to make the proper amount of hormones for the whole body.
Vegetable oils contribute to leaky gut syndrome which allows undigested food particles to get into the blood stream. This undigested food is in the wrong place at the wrong time which over activates the immune system causing chaos. The body starts to attack small organs without good defenses such as the thyroid gland. Read more in my article: 10 reasons to cut the canola
I never had any digestive problems in my life like so many people I have talked to. I grew up eating every kind of sandwich that wasn’t nailed down. I made cinnamon toast everyday after school. I used to mainline a box of cereal everyday for 30 years. I did not know that most people with thyroid problems are most likely gluten intolerant. Tests at the doctor are not reliable and the the only true measure is an elimination diet for 30 days. If you feel better without gluten then chances are your thyroid will be working better too. Read my post 6 reasons to go grain free
This one is pretty obvious and I think most people know that sugar is robbing them of life force. Refined sugar depletes precious vitamins and minerals which are the building blocks to a healthy thyroid, strong adrenals and a humming metabolism. When someone is living on a sugar roller coaster where they eat cereal for lunch, a sandwich for lunch and pasta for dinner they are going to have terrible energy and mood. Also someone who eats this Standard American diet is setting themselves up for thyroid problems becasue highly variable blood sugar fluctuations over time puts extra stress on the thyroid and adrenals. Read my article 8 reasons to shun sugar.
Thyroid problems do run in my family but that is not a scapegoat for me. I believe in Epigenetics which means that a condition can lie in wait but I make the choices which turn it off or on. I am not taking all the blame becasue there are environmental factors at play too such as toxic air and water. I just want to share my story with you so that you can make changes before it is too late.
Great list! I still have horrendous cramps that I have to stay home with my heating pad. I’ve eliminated gluten, dairy, caffeine, grains, sugar, soy, and corn. I’ve been following strict Paleo for the past 3 months but gluten free for 9 months. I supplement with maca, krill oil, evening primrose oil, chaste tree, and a multivitamin. Do you have any suggestions for getting rid of them? Or why they are still bad in my 30’s?
Caitlin Weeks says
I would do a saliva adrenal test to see if you have adrenal fatigue. Then get on an adrenal protocol. Best of luck!
Then why do Japanese people not have the “Thyroid” issues from eating soy that we Americans are told it causes? Please let me know. Makes no sense to me.
Caitlin Weeks says
Because they usually eat fermented soy in small amounts as a condiment.