How stress can affect Thyroid disorders

All of us can attest to experiencing stress in our lives because stress is a very common disorder that affects our everyday lives. Stress is extremely detrimental to our health and can affect people living with Thyroidism.

This is because the thyroid gland works together with the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are walnut-shaped in size and are found on top of the kidneys. They are responsible for regulating your metabolism, immune system, blood pressure, and stress.

Whenever we stress, it releases a hormone called cortisol that enhances certain bodily functions. The adrenal glands can handle small amounts of stress very well.

Hashimoto’s disease and Grave’s disease are the most common thyroid disorders that are autoimmune. Hashimoto’s disease causes the thyroid gland to produce fewer hormones(hypothyroidism) while grave’s disease causes the gland to produce more hormones(hyperthyroidism).

There are ways stress can affect your thyroid health. The most notable one destabilizing the HPA axis (hypothalamic pituitary adrenal) which is connected to the production of thyroid hormones. When thyroid function slows down, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) hormone levels fall.

Stress hormones weaken the immune system. The body becomes more prone to foreign elements entering the body which leads to autoimmune reactions and can cause an inflammatory response, which may trigger an underactive thyroid. Therefore it is important to manage stress to reduce your chances of hypothyroidism or other thyroid disorders.

Issues of balancing blood sugar levels and insulin resistance can occur alongside hypothyroidism. Increased levels of glucocorticoids lower the levels of TSH(Thyroid-stimulating hormone) in the blood.

A balance must be established between the stress hormone and cortisol for proper thyroid function. If there is an imbalance, thyroid symptoms may increase.

Tips on how to manage your stress

Change your diet – Some of the stress is caused by the food choices we make. Following a good diet is a start. Plan to eat three well-balanced meals full of fruits, vegetables, and protein each day. Start your morning off with a good breakfast, one low in sugar but high in protein and fiber. Reducing alcohol, caffeine, and sugar in your diet will help with your overall energy levels.

Avoid Stimulants –  Examples of these include alcohol, caffeine, and drugs.

Find time to Relax – our gigantic schedules usually leave us too exhausted to do anything else by the time the day ends. And this is bad since we all need some time to relax. The body cannot be healthy if it is being put in a state of high productivity at all times. Taking time to reflect or meditate can help the body relax. In turn, relaxation leads to reduced stress and less impact on your thyroid.

Sleep – You need to get adequate sleep every night. Studies have shown that sleep reduces stress, helps the body restore hormone imbalances, and strengthens the immune system. It is recommended that you sleep for at least 6 hours 30 minutes every day. But do not let this be over 8 hours.  The quality of your sleep matters too. If you keep waking up, that is not quality sleep.

Be sure to avoid caffeine in the hours before sleep. Also, avoid using phones or computers 2 hours before sleep: light from these devices can make falling asleep difficult.

Laugh and have fun – make time to meet up with your friends to socialize. This can lower your stress and boost your mood. It’s why most of us feel so energetic after a good time with friends. Take up some hobbies and engage in some.

Keep a journal – although many think writing in a journal isn’t necessary, several studies have shown that it has so many benefits. Among those are its healing capabilities. Writing things down helps reduce stress. And this, in turn, leads to better health.

Consider taking vitamins – You may want to consider adding thyroid-supporting vitamins and minerals to your daily routine. An iodine deficiency may be a cause of hypothyroidism. In addition to iodine, consider adding other essential vitamins and minerals, such as :

  • selenium
  • zinc
  • iron
  • copper
  • vitamins A, B, C, and E

Talk to your doctor before you start taking these supplements.

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