POST-BIRTH CONTROL SYNDROME: HOW TO GET OFF THE PILL, DETOXIFY YOUR BODY AND FEEL GREAT FAST

POST-BIRTH CONTROL SYNDROME: HOW TO GET OFF THE PILL, DETOXIFY YOUR BODY AND FEEL GREAT FAST

Birth control pills and other forms of hormonal birth control such as patches, shots, IUDs and implants, can prevent unwanted pregnancies, but make no mistake, they do so by flooding your body with chemicals that change the way your brain communicates with your ovaries and reproductive system in order to either stop ovulation (progestin-estrogen pills) or thicken cervical mucus so much as to make it difficult for sperm to enter (progestin only), where they could fertilize an egg and make you pregnant.

However, birth control pills, especially the combination progestin-estrogen pill, have a bevy of side effects on the body and place you at risk for certain kinds of cancers, especially hormonal cancers like breast cancer, which can be triggered by excess estrogens in the body. Other health risks include vitamin and mineral deficiencies, blood clots, stroke, and an increased risk of osteoporosis. Less serious side effects include weight gain, water retention, nausea, migraines and headaches, increased risk of depression and other mood changes, and eye changes such as a thickening of the cornea of the eyes which may make your contact lenses suddenly hard to get into your eyes anymore. Doctors have also found that birth control pills and other hormonal forms of birth control can cause leaky gut syndrome, and believe this is caused by inflammation the pill causes.

One serious but not widely known side effect that doesn’t occur until after stopping the pill is post-birth control syndrome.

 

The After Effects of the Pill: Post-Birth Control Syndrome

 

 
Post-birth control syndrome arises when women decide to go off the pill and includes a long list of symptoms that arise typically within 4 to 6 months of stopping.
 

Symptoms of Post-Birth Control Syndrome

 

  • Amenorrhea: complete loss of periods or just mild spotting instead of a full period. In fact, for some 3 to 6% of women, their period never returns.
  • Irregular/Unpredictable periods: heavy bleeding, short cycles, or very painful periods with severe cramping.
  • Hormone disorders: thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism, infertility, and breast tenderness.
  • Hair loss: birth control pills cause the hair to move out of the growing phase and into the resting phase too quickly, which is called telogen effluvium.
  • Acne: many women go on the pill to heal acne, only to find going off the pill causes worse symptoms than before.
  • Mood swings and disorders: Anxiety, increased episodes of crying, and depression are just a few side effects of hormonal changes caused by going off hormonal birth control.
  • Hormonal changes. These can include infertility, hypothyroidism, HPA-axis dysfunction, and other changes you may not have experienced while on the pill.
  • Weight gain/difficulty losing weight. Weight gain is common with the pill/hormonal birth control and can make losing weight quite difficult even once one goes off the pill (until you fully detoxify the body).
  • Digestive issues such as bloating, gas, or diarrhea.
  •  

    The Real Issue at Hand: Estrogen Dominance

     
    Too much estrogen in the body: NOT a good thing. Today, many girls are starting to develop breasts and menstruate as early as ages 9 and 10, and it is theorized that this is due to exposure to chemicals in our food and environment that mimic the action of estrogen hormone. Many researchers also believe that accelerated maturation rates in girls could be due to excess estrogens in the environment and medications that reenter the water supply when they are eliminated as waste or disposed of in toilets.

    Estrogen dominance doesn’t only affect females. Male frogs are being turned female by the estrogens in pesticides, a process known as “chemical castration.”
    Men’s fertility is impacted by exposure to excess estrogens and estrogen-like chemicals in the environment such as BPA.

    The symptoms of estrogen dominance are remarkably like those of post-birth control syndrome (hmmm, right?) and include all those symptoms and then some:

     

    Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance in Women

     
    In women, estrogen dominance presents with:

  • fibrocystic breasts (lumpy, bumpy)
  • swollen or tender breasts
  • anxiety and depression
  • irregular periods
  • fibroids (heavy periods, pain)
  • polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • low sex drive/libido
  • PMS
  • migraines and headaches
  • bloating
  • brain fog
  • insomnia
  • thyroid nodules
  • endometriosis (abnormal uterine growth)
  • cancers: breast, uterine
  •  

    Obesity and Estrogen Dominance

     

    Oh yes—importantly, one other cause of excess estrogens, besides hormone replacement therapy and hormonal birth control is obesity. Being overweight produces excess estrogens, which are stored in our body fat.

    On the flip side, excess estrogens also make you obese. Researchers studying the effects of BPA in mice found that when exposed to BPA in the womb, mice were more likely to develop insulin resistance and become obese.

    So, no matter how you look at it: excess estrogens leads to obesity and obesity leads to excess estrogens. Losing weight, if you are overweight, can help you clear excess estrogen from your body (and your fat tissue) more expeditiously.

     

    Where do Environmental Estrogens Come From?

     
    These environmental estrogens that are causing estrogen dominance in both women and men are typically called “xenoestrogens” or “endocrine disruptors.” They are found everywhere but especially in:

  • Plastics (even in the new BPS that was supposed to eliminate the risk of plastics containing xenoestrogens such as BPA)
  • Food: Meats containing hormones and any food-retaining pesticide residue (because pesticides contain xenoestrogens)
  • Cosmetics and creams containing parabens and stearalkonium chloride
  • Nail polish and nail polish remover
  • Chlorine and chlorine byproducts (so filter all water—even shower heads)
  • Birth control pills are prescription synthetic xenoestrogens
  • Perfumes and fragrance of ANY kind—from the fragrances in lavender-scented household cleansers to your favorite J-Lo scent
  •  

     
    Furthermore, as researchers note, “even infinitesimally low levels of exposure [to endocrine disrupting chemicals]—indeed, any level of exposure at all—may cause endocrine or reproductive abnormalities, particularly if exposure occurs during a critical developmental window.”

    So, for women who have been on the pill and not living the most fragrance and chemical-free lifestyle, then you might be especially estrogen dominant and at risk for a long list of symptoms as you try to detoxify your body. Plus, if you keep putting them back in the body, they will be impossible to flush from your system.

    The problem with these excess estrogens is they act as endocrine disruptors. They block the synthesis, transport, binding action, or metabolism of natural blood-borne hormones. They trick our bodies into thinking they are real estrogens, preventing the healthier effects of our true hormones.

    Also, endocrine disruptors act as estrogen mimickers, convincing the body there is too much true estrogen present and consequently, leading to the symptoms of estrogen dominance.

    Certain lifestyle factors can exacerbate estrogen dominance, such as a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, drinking too much alcohol, eating meat treated with hormones or raised on lands treated with pesticides, foods with artificial/harmful colorings, additives, and preservatives, and a diet high in caffeine can all push aggravating estrogen dominance.

    Also, liver function problems and poor sleep quality can affect the way we eliminate excess estrogens from the body. The liver is our main detoxifying organ, which means that a malfunctioning liver means less detoxing and a buildup up excess estrogens.

     

    How to Detoxify Your Body from Excess Estrogen and Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals

     

    Support Your Liver’s Detoxification Pathways

     
    Your liver filters out all dead and excess hormones as long as it (a) possesses the minerals it needs to function normally (b) is healthy enough to do so.

    What can we do to support a healthy liver function and eliminate and filter out excess estrogens from the body safely?

    1. First, optimize stomach acids to ease the job on your liver of producing bile, leaving it more energy for detoxification and elimination. How to do this? Drink one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar a day, morning and night.
    2. Fill your refrigerator with foods that naturally support a healthy liver, such as fresh vegetables and fruit. Ditch the processed food and give your body a diet full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Fiber helps you to eliminate excess estrogens from the body. So, stock up on local and organic cruciferous vegetables, greens like kale, cabbages like bok choy and red cabbage, and other fiber-rich foods such as fruits, beans, nuts and seeds.
    3. Exercise. Exercise may help prevent conditions like breast cancer by helping your body metabolize estrogen in a healthy way, eliminating dangerous cancer-causing estrogen metabolites, protecting you from breast cancer and other hormonal cancers. Aerobic exercise, in studies, has been found to greatly improve estrogen elimination and metabolism.
    4. Supplement with Estrogen-Eliminating Compounds. Some of the most potent and proven estrogen-eliminating supplements are the following:

    DIM

     
    Diindolylmethane or DIM is the plant-based, all-natural compound in cruciferous vegetables. It also helps to maintain a natural, normal level of estrogen in the body and a healthy ratio of good to bad estrogens. It may also be especially effective at preventing hormonal cancers such as breast and prostate cancer.

    Resveratrol

     
    Resveratrol is the plant-based, all-natural compound found in 300 plants, particularly in grapes and berries. It is most widely known for its beneficial effects resulting from drinking red wine, which proves, in part, the “French paradox” (the comparatively low incidence of cardiovascular disease in the French population despite regular consumption of a high-fat diet, and may be responsible for many of the health benefits ascribed to red wine consumption. Resveratrol has beneficial effects on the liver, which helps remove bad estrogens from the body.

    Milk Thistle

     
    Milk thistle has been shown to decrease liver inflammation. A healthy liver is crucial for someone with estrogen dominance or post-birth control syndrome. In a recent study, supplementing with milk thistle proved to enhance estrogen metabolism and to speed up its clearance from the body. For this reason, study authors concluded that supplementing with milk thistle could reduce breast cancer risk.

    Maca

     
    Maca is a vegetable in the radish family and is one of the more hormone-regulating supplements known to mankind. It seems to have positive effects across the system for balancing hormones of all kinds by improving functioning of the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. In fact, no matter what age woman you are, maca seems to help women find that perfect balance and to even improve sleep by regulating the pineal gland as well. Improved sleep means improved estrogen metabolism as well. In studies, maca proved to help balance estrogen, progesterone, luteinizing hormone, adrenal hormones, and in alleviating symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, depression, and interrupted sleep. As an added bonus, maca has been proven to increase sex drive in women


    Vitamin B6, B12, and Vitamins C and E

     
    Hormonal birth control methods can cause deficiencies in B vitamins like B2, B6 and B12 and in folic acid as well. Supplementing with these important B vitamins, which are crucial for the liver detoxification pathways, will assure your liver has all the nutrition it needs to excrete these excess estrogens safely and completely.

    Hormonal birth control can also cause deficiencies in the antioxidant vitamins C and E, which are crucial for healthy liver function and in keeping the body resilient in all kinds of ways.

     

    Supplement with Minerals Magnesium, Selenium, and Zinc

     
    In studies comparing blood vitamin and mineral levels of women taking birth control pills versus those who weren’t, women taking hormonal birth control pills showed deficiencies in magnesium, selenium, and zinc. Minerals are especially crucial for the liver’s detoxification pathways, as the liver combines minerals with dangerous compounds in order to make them safe to excrete by the kidneys.

     

    Organic Sulfur

     
    Sulfur is essential for methylation which, in its simplest terms, helps the body to pull healthy hormones in and send unhealthy hormones out. Sulfur helps ensure a healthy liver and detoxification of estrogen by the liver. Sulfur is also called “the beauty mineral” for the glowing, clear skin it yields. So why not get more of it via supplement or through foods like citrus fruits, leafy greens, onions, and garlic. According to John D. Kirschmann in the “Nutrition Almanac,” sulfur is a part of glutathione, the primary antioxidant that maintains a healthy liver and it helps the liver to detoxify a wide range of toxins and pollutants.

     

    What to Eliminate from Your Life to Eliminate Excess Estrogen

     

    Excessive alcohol consumption

     
    Consuming alcohol regularly can raise estrogen levels as much as 22% in the body. Not only this, but consuming alcohol impacts liver function directly, meaning the liver is less able to detoxify the body of excess estrogens.

     

    Non-organic, hormone-loaded meats

     
    When trying to eliminate estrogen from the body, you don’t want to confuse the body by taking in super-doses of estrogen. Today, cattle in America are often given hormone patches to make them plumper and appear to have more meat. As Dan Thompson, MS, PhD, DVM and Jones Professor of Production Medicine and Epidemiology at Kansas State University says, “Beef cattle are treated with steroid implants. The steroids used are estrogen, progesterone and a testosterone analog called trenbolone acetate.”

    Hormone-injected meats are the last thing someone with estrogen dominance needs to eat.

     

    Clean up your beauty bin

     
    Try to go pure and organic in your makeup, skincare, and bath products as well. As a first rule of thumb, eliminate anything with phthalates and fragrances. And on that note, eliminate perfumes and treat yourself to some 100% pure essential oils such as violet oil, pure rose essential oil (expensive, but heavenly!), or pure lavender essential oil. For help with this, consult the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database.

     

    Ditto for household cleansers and laundry products

     
    You’ll want to take a close look at your household cleaners and laundry products. Either buy form companies who readily disclose all ingredients, which are listed at the Safer Choice
    website. Or, instead of purchasing heavily fragranced, endocrine-disrupting cleaning products, why not create a “green cleaning bin” made up of hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, baking soda, castile soap, and essential oils to make everything smell lovely and even lemon-y if you choose.


     

    Dangerous cooking pans/utensils

     
    Avoid all kinds of toxic cookware. The most toxic, by far, is non-stick cookware. Close runners up are aluminum cookware or those speckled baking dishes. The more toxic your body overall, the less chance you have of eliminating specific toxins from the body, like estrogen.

    Safe cookware equals stainless steel, cast iron, glass, ceramic, or copper—only.
     

    Plastics and canned food (which are lined with BPA)

     
    Both BPA and BPS mimic estrogen in the body, big time. You’ll want to use glass or ceramic water bottles, spray bottles, and food storage containers. Choose fresh or frozen food only. In fact, as researchers note, both BPS and BPA can alter hormones in surprisingly low doses: “People automatically think low doses do less than high doses,” explains University of Texas Biochemistry Prof Cheryl Watson… “But both natural hormones and unnatural ones like [BPS] can have effects at surprisingly low doses.”

     

    Conclusion

     
    Getting rid of excess estrogen in your life will help restore you and your body to complete harmony. It is a dual job of both avoiding what is negatively skewing your hormones into wrong levels and supplementing with liver-enhancing, estrogen-clearing compounds to help restore hormonal balance, especially after the pill

    Good luck and all my best to you!

    I’d love to hear your questions and comments below!

     
     
    Love and Health,

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    You’ll learn exactly how to eat and exercise to get slim, lean, healthy, and confident in your own body. Without sacrificing time, money, or the foods you love.

    This website is about learning how to make the right, easy changes in your lifestyle and get the greatest results.

    Thousands of others have already changed their lives by following the simple, effective principles taught on this site, and you can too.

    BATTLE OF THE BUTTERS: GHEE VS BUTTER

    Gee, I wonder if ghee is better for me? 😉

    With recent health trends, there has been a large focus on fats. High-fat diets that have yielded positive results for many, such as the keto diet, have brought a huge spotlight to the debate of ghee versus butter. Whereas 10 years ago, mentioning the word “saturated fat” had people running for the hills. With all the dieting trends and constantly changing information and recommendations, it is hard to really know what is “good” and what is “bad.” Some sources will tell you to stay away from all saturated fats and others believe that it is not so simple, such as the case of coconut oil, that some saturated fats may be beneficial to our health.

    What is Ghee?

     

    Ghee is butter that has been heated to separate the milk solids from the liquid fat, which is then removed and the remaining product is ghee.

    History of Ghee

     

    Although ghee has more recently taken the spotlight, it has been used for thousands of years. Ghee comes from ancient Indian medicinal practices, such as Ayurveda, an Indian science dating back roughly 5,000 years. Ayurveda believes ghee promotes purification, both mental and physical, through its ability to cleanse.

    Benefits of Ghee


     

    1. High Smoke Point for Cooking

     

    Ghee has a noticeably higher smoke point compared to butter. Butter will start to smoke at around 350 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas ghee will not start to smoke until it reaches about 485 degrees Fahrenheit. Since ghee does not burn as easily as butter, it is perfect for frying and sautéing foods. Rice bran oil, refined safflower oil and avocado oil are the only oils with a higher smoke point than ghee.
     

    2. Safety in Cooking

     

    Since ghee has such a high smoke point, it releases less acrylamide, a chemical that forms when starchy foods are prepared with oils at extremely high temperatures. Though unclear about its effects on humans, acrylamide has been found to increase risk of cancer in lab animals.
     

    3. More Tolerable for Those with Lactose Intolerance

     
    Ghee is prepared by heating butter to extremely high temperatures, which then separates the milk products from the liquid oil, which are then filtered out. Since most of the lactose and casein are filtered out of ghee, it is generally more tolerable for those who have sensitivities to dairy. If one has a severe allergy to dairy it is advised that they stay away from ghee, as ghee is not guaranteed 100% dairy-free.
     

    4. Increases Nutrient Absorption

     
    Ghee will help increase your uptake of important fat-soluble vitamins such as A, E, and K, which need to be accompanied by a fat molecule to be absorbed into the body.
     

    5. Improves digestion

     
    Ghee can be beneficial for those with digestive conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut, and Crohn’s disease. When the digestive system is in distress, it does not absorb the nutrients needed. Ghee can help make that process a little easier and smoother for the body. Ghee is also a great source of butyrate, a short chain fatty acid that plays a key role in the gut health. Butyrate helps to maintain gut-barrier function, essentially lining the guy and reducing inflammation. Butyrate is also produced by the gut when fiber is consumed and the cells of the colon use butyrate as their main fuel source. Reducing pain and improving peristalsis, the contraction of muscles propelling food through the digestive tract, may lead to relief from constipation and/or pain during bowel movements. A healthy digestive system is vital to healthy functioning of many of the other systems in the body.

    Who is the Winner? Ghee vs Butter?

     
    The debate between ghee and butter is a hard one because ghee technically is butter. Butter has a lower smoke point and when cooking at high temperatures, ghee would be the best option to prevent any oxidation and formation of free radicals. Those with sensitivities or intolerances to dairy generally tolerate ghee more than butter, since much of the milk products are filtered out. Ghee contains almost twice the amount of short and medium chain fatty acids as butter. These shorter chain fatty acids are metabolized easier by the body and are not associated with the risk of heart disease. Lastly, the taste is a little different and this is purely personal preference. The flavor of ghee is a lot more intense than butter. Where butter is creamy and sweet, ghee is deep and rich in flavor. So, with all of this information, ghee has a bit of an advantage over butter.

    Where to Find Ghee?

     
    Ghee is becoming more and more common in traditional grocery stores, tending to be located near the other oils. Ghee is not often refrigerated in the grocery store, so head over to the section with coconut oil and olive oil, and ghee will be close by. Due to the recent increase in popularity of ghee, the price point tends to be a little on the high side. Heading to a more traditional Indian or Fijian foods store will result in the best bang for your buck when it comes to buying ghee. If neither of those options suit you, you can always buy it online. I definitely recommend you make sure that the ghee is made from grass-fed cows only, such as Bulletproof Grass-Fed Ghee, which is made from pasture-raised cows.

    How to Cook with Ghee

     
    Ghee is versatile and since it tastes similarly to butter, it can be a wonderful butter substitute. The higher smoke point actually makes ghee a little more favorable to cook with, rendering it a popular choice when it comes to sautéing or frying foods. Ghee can be used in a variety of ways: Melted over popcorn to provide flavor, scrambled into eggs to prevent sticking, mixed into mashed potatoes…. Ghee adds a richer and nuttier butter flavor, making it wonderful for dishes with high flavor profiles.

    Conclusion

     

    Since the nutritional profiles of both ghee and butter are virtually the same in the calorie and fat categories, I don’t think one has a very large advantage over the other. However, for those with lactose intolerance, ghee has an advantage as it is generally tolerated more in those individuals. So, those with dairy intolerances or allergies should choose ghee over butter. Lastly, the high smoke point of ghee compared to butter makes it a better choice for cooking at high temperatures.

     
     
    Love and Health,

    😍  GOOD READ? LET GOOGLE KNOW!

    NEW TO THIS BLOG? START RIGHT HERE

    You’ll learn exactly how to eat and exercise to get slim, lean, healthy, and confident in your own body. Without sacrificing time, money, or the foods you love.

    This website is about learning how to make the right, easy changes in your lifestyle and get the greatest results.

    Thousands of others have already changed their lives by following the simple, effective principles taught on this site, and you can too.

    SELENIUM FOR A HEALTHY THYROID: TOP 5 SELENIUM-RICH FOODS

    SELENIUM FOR A HEALTHY THYROID: TOP 5 SELENIUM-RICH FOODS

    What if I told you that selenium is SUPER important for your health? What if I told you that selenium might play a role in cancer, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, and thyroid disease? Yep… But let’s focus on the thyroid gland.

    Selenium is an essential mineral that’s naturally found in some of the foods we eat. It’s also added to foods to fortify them, and can also be taken as a dietary supplement.

    A healthy thyroid gland is important because it regulates metabolism and controls growth and development in the body.

    Selenium simply helps thyroid function by:

  • Regulating thyroid hormone production
  • Protecting the thyroid against oxidative damage
  •  
    In addition, selenium an extremely powerful antioxidant. So, it may help your body ward off chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

    Being low in selenium is certainly not a good thing and your thyroid can ultimately suffer, which means you suffer! In fact, your thyroid is the organ that has the highest concentration of selenium in the body.

    Being selenium deficient may lead to:

  • An enlarged thyroid (goiter)
  • Infertility
  • Weight Gain
  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue
  • Weak immune system
  • Brain fog or the inability to think/concentrate
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Graves’ disease
  • Hypothyroidism (An underactive thyroid)
  • Autoimmune Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (an autoimmune attack on the thyroid gland)

     
    Obviously, you don’t want any of those problems, my friend.

    So here are 5 selenium-rich foods that you should consider incorporating in your diet:
     

    1. Brazil Nuts

     
    Probably the best source of selenium is Brazil nuts. One ounce (about 6 to 8 nuts) contains about 544 mcg of this essential nutrient. Because they are so high in selenium, you should stick to only about a handful a week because it is possible to get too much selenium into your body, which can cause problems.
     


     

    2. Yellowfin Tuna

     
    If you never had Yellowfin tuna, maybe it’s time to add it to your grocery list. 3 ounces of this fish contains about 92 mcg of selenium. Other seafood sources that are selenium-rich include: clams, oysters, shrimp, salmon, halibut, sardines, and crab.
     


     

    3. Grains

     
    What do whole-grain pasta and other products have in common? They are foods rich in selenium. 1 cup of long-grain brown rice contains about 19mcg of selenium.
     


     

    4. Pork Products

     
    Pork also provides a high amount of selenium. A 3oz serving of pork provides about 42 mcg.
     


     

    5. Beef

     
    How much selenium you get from beef depends on the cut. For instance, a serving of ground beef offers 18 mcg while a serving of bottom round steak delivers 38 mcg. That’s a good reminder to cut back on processed foods such as ground beef and stick to whole cuts.

    But don’t just limit yourself to those 5 foods. There are many more selenium-rich foods such as:
     

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Eggs
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Mushrooms
  • Oatmeal
  • Spinach
  • Lentils
  • Cashews
  • Bananas
  • How much selenium do I need per day?

     
    Here’s what the National Institutes of Health say:
     

    Are you taking a selenium supplement?

     
    There are two types of selenium:

    Inorganic selenium (selenate and selenite), found in soil that plants use to convert into organic selium.

    Organic selenium (selenomethionine and selenocysteine), found mostly in animal tissue.

    The best type of selenium supplement is one containing selenomethionine, as research shows that it is better absorbed than other types.

     
     
    Love and Health,

    😍  GOOD READ? LET GOOGLE KNOW!

    NEW TO THIS BLOG? START RIGHT HERE

    You’ll learn exactly how to eat and exercise to get slim, lean, healthy, and confident in your own body. Without sacrificing time, money, or the foods you love.

    This website is about learning how to make the right, easy changes in your lifestyle and get the greatest results.

    Thousands of others have already changed their lives by following the simple, effective principles taught on this site, and you can too.

    THYROID HEALTH 101

    THYROID HEALTH 101

    Sometimes it seems as women our lives revolve around our hormones. We have to deal with the ups and down of hormone imbalance, menstruation and then menopause — how unfair is that? Who’s calling the shots around here? With its small butterfly shape, the thyroid might seem like a cute little harmless gland, but it’s the one making the decisions on your metabolic hormones and it’s time to start paying attention to it.
     


     
    Located in the front of your neck just below the larynx (Adam’s apple), this little gland plays a role in nearly every body system, including the heart, nervous system, bone maintenance, GI health and metabolism. It is responsible for the production of three important hormones that influence your metabolism: thyroxine (T4), triiodothyronine (T3) and calcitonin.

    THYROID HORMONES

     

    The core thyroid hormones are T4 and T3, and proper balance between the two is essential. They dictate your basal metabolic rate, which is the rate at which your body uses energy for its most basic functions, like breathing and maintaining its core temperature. The most abundant hormone released from the thyroid gland is T4 and then about a third of that is converted to T3 every single day. Calcitonin, as the name suggests, is an important player in calcium and bone metabolism, a status we as women cannot ignore. Especially as we age, a combination of a thyroid disorder plus falling levels of estrogen from menopause are a brittle bones disaster waiting to happen.

    THE ROLE OF THE PITUITARY GLAND

     

    Everyone knows that partnership is essential to success. Just think of where your partner would be without you! This is why the thyroid gland works closely with the pituitary gland, a tiny pea-sized organ located at the base of the brain, to make balance happen in your body. Think of the pituitary gland as the thyroid gland’s personal assistant, always giving feedback on the status of thyroid hormones in the body. When thyroid hormones are low, the pituitary gland releases thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) to signal the thyroid to make and release more hormones (T4, T3). The partnership continues, with the pituitary gland being regulated by the hypothalamus, a small region of the brain that plays a crucial role in many important functions. The hypothalamus signals the pituitary gland with a hormone called TSH Releasing Hormones (TRH). These three glands work together to find a hormone equilibrium in your body.
     


     
    Equilibrium is an important aspect of every part of our lives, and the thyroid is no exception. When the balance of hormones is off, it can cause a cascading effect, throwing off many of our body systems.

    Thyroid dysfunction is very common and an estimated 20 million Americans have some form of it. Undiagnosed thyroid disease can increase your risk of heart disease, weight changes, osteoporosis, and can also affect fertility.
     


     
    There are two scenarios for thyroid hormone imbalance: hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Let’s take a closer look at each.

    HYPERTHYROIDISM (OVERACTIVE)

     

    Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid is overactive making and releasing an overabundance of thyroid hormones. Too much thyroid hormone is not a good thing. The side effects include:

  • Weight loss
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Diarrhea
  • Heat intolerance
  • Heart palpitations
  • Enlarged thyroid gland
  •  
    Graves Disease. Hyperthyroidism is less common than hypothyroidism and affects around 1.2% of Americans. Graves’ disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism, contributing to around 50% to 80% of all hyperthyroid cases. It is an autoimmune disease, which means that the body attacks its own cells and tissues because they are accidentally seen as foreign invaders. In the case of Graves’ disease, there is an overproduction of TSH receptor antibodies. These antibodies stimulate the release of thyroid hormones along with the growth of the thyroid gland.
     


     
    Around 30% of people with Graves’ disease have an eye condition called Graves’ ophthalmopathy, which causes their eyes to protrude or “bulge.” This is caused by inflammation that affects the muscles and other tissues around the eyes.
     

    Risk factors for Graves’ disease include:

     

  • Having another autoimmune disorder such as rheumatoid arthritis or type 1 diabetes.
  • A family history of Graves’ disease, as there may be a genetic risk factor.
  • Being female, as women are more likely than men to develop Graves’ disease.
  • Age, as Graves’ disease usually develops between 30-50 years of age.
  • Tobacco us, which disrupts the immune system.
  • Pregnancy or recent childbirth.
  • Chronic stress or illness.
  •  

    There are three main treatment options for an overactive thyroid, which include:

     

  • Radioiodine therapy
  • Medications
  • thyroid surgery
  •  

    Untreated hyperthyroidism can be dangerous. Complications can include:

     
    Heart problems. Untreated hyperthyroidism can lead to dangerous heart rhythm disorders and heart failure.

    Thyroid storm. If hyperthyroidism is severe and left untreated, you are at risk for a complication called thyroid storm, which is not common but can happen and often results in death. Symptoms include confusion and high temperature (often over 40 °C/104 °F), and is usually triggered by an infection or other illness.

    Brittle bones. Untreated hyperthyroidism can also lead to osteoporosis, since the thyroid gland is responsible for making calcitonin, a hormone involved in bone growth and maintenance.

    HYPOTHYROIDISM (UNDERACTIVE THYROID)

     
    Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid is underactive, not making and releasing enough thyroid hormones. The lack of thyroid hormones slows down metabolism which can lead to a myriad of symptoms including:
     

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Low pulse
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Shortness of breath
  • Slight to moderate weight gain
  • Trouble with concentration or memory
  • Constipation
  • Hair loss
  • Hoarse voice
  • Muscle and joint paint
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Low fertility
  • Enlarged thyroid gland
  •  
    As if we didn’t have enough going on after having a baby, postpartum thyroiditis is a common cause of hypothyroidism. It is observed in the first year following childbirth. Fortunately, about 70% of women with postpartum thyroiditis are back to balanced thyroid function within a year of childbirth.

    Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The most common cause of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks thyroid cells, producing inflammation in the thyroid gland and slowing down production of thyroid hormones. It most commonly affects middle-aged women but can also occur in younger women, men of all ages, and children.

    THYROID GOITER

     
    You should not be able to see your thyroid or feel it. If you do see a lump in your neck around the area where your thyroid gland is located, you could have a goiter. Enlargement of the thyroid gland is referred to as a goiter and can be another indication of a thyroid disorder. Growth of the thyroid can result in a hormone imbalance. Sometimes the whole thyroid may grow while other times singular nodules can become enlarged, causing them to either make too much or too little thyroid hormones.
     


     
    Nodules that make more hormones than needed are called “hot” nodules, while those that don’t make enough are called “cold” nodules. Usually a change in the size of the thyroid is benign but should be checked by a doctor to rule out cancer.

    GENETICS AND NUTRITION

     
    Genetics play a big role in your risk for thyroid dysfunction, and research suggests that up to 67% of circulating thyroid hormone is genetically determined. People with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis often have family members who have thyroid disease or other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and psoriasis.

    Just as it is with all disease, nutrition is another key component of thyroid function. These two variables work together to either increase or decrease your risk of thyroid disease.
     

    Goitrogens:

     
    Legumes, soy and some cruciferous and root vegetables have naturally occurring elements called goitrogens. This means they release a bioactive compound called goitrin, which can reduce T4 absorption and perpetuate autoimmune thyroid disease. Consuming high amounts of goitrogens may have an impact on your thyroid by interfering with iodine uptake in the thyroid gland. Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, lose their goitrogenic effect through cooking, so it’s best to steam, cook, or ferment them before eating them.
     


     

    Iodine:

     
    Dietary iodine balance is incredibly important to thyroid health. A deficiency or overabundance can both lead to thyroiditis in people with genetic susceptibility. Iodine is an essential building block in the production of T4 and T3. As our bodies cannot produce iodine, it needs to come from your diet. For proper production of T4 and T3, your body needs about 100 micrograms of iodide every day. Most Western diets are abundant in iodine due to iodized salt. Other sources of iodine include seafood, dairy products, and products made from grains.
     


     

    Fat:

     
    Dietary fat influences the release of TSH from the pituitary gland. Optimal communication between the thyroid and pituitary gland is important for healthy hormone balance. Animal studies have shown protective effects on the thyroid from a diet higher in unsaturated fats and negative effects on the thyroid from a diet high in saturated fats. Further, omega 6 fatty acids may have a stimulating effect on thyroid function. A few wonderful sources of essential fatty acids include dark leafy greens, chia seeds and fatty fish such as salmon and albacore tuna.
     


     

    Vitamins B12 and D:

     
    Vitamins B12 and D both have a strong tie to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease, while also affect bone health. The sun is your best source of vitamin D and it is suggested that around 15 minutes per day of sun exposure (without sunscreen) provides most people with an adequate amount of vitamin D production. Vitamin D can also be incorporated into your diet, although it can be hard to get enough that way. Some good dietary sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, dairy, eggs and mushrooms.

    Vitamin B12 was found to be low in around 40% of people with a low functioning thyroid. Vitamin B12 is a common deficiency in the United States and research suggests that around 39% of Americans have B12 levels in the “low normal” range. The most abundant source of B12 comes from shellfish, organ meat, and dairy, but can also be found in fortified cereals. Vitamin B12 is available as a supplement.

    Selenium:

     
    Recent research has recognized selenium as an essential element in healthy thyroid function. Almost all the selenium in the body is contained in the thyroid and a deficiency can stimulate the development of autoimmune thyroid disease. Selenium supplementation in this type of thyroid dysfunction has shown promise as a treatment for thyroid disorders. Some foods naturally rich in selenium include pasture-raised eggs, brazil nuts, and shellfish. You can also take a selenium supplement.
     


     

    Antioxidants:

     
    Inflammation and oxidative stress work hand-in-hand to negatively impact health. An imbalance in thyroid hormones has been shown to increase oxidative stress, which leads to a decrease in antioxidants, which protect against tissue damage in the body. Reduced glutathione, also called GSH, the “master antioxidant” naturally found in the body, is a cofactor for antioxidant enzymes that help convert T4 to T3. Also involved in the process is Vitamin E, a strong antioxidant. Oxidative stress and inflammation have both been shown to be precursors to chronic disease. Foods naturally rich in glutathione and vitamin E include nuts and seeds, leafy greens, and olive oil. You can also take a glutathione or vitamin E supplement.
     

    Zinc and Copper:

     
    Zinc is another mineral that is needed to convert T4 to T3. It is also needed to trigger a response from your hypothalamus to moderate thyroid hormone levels and keep them in balance. Good sources of zinc include beef and shellfish. You can also take a zinc supplement. However, since zinc can lower levels of copper, another important mineral in your body, it’s important to make sure you are getting enough copper when taking a zinc supplement. High-quality zinc supplements specially formulated for those with a thyroid disorder contain an optimal ratio of zinc and copper.
     

    Iron:

     
    Iron is needed to convert T4 into the more powerful thyroid hormone T3. It also helps convert iodide to iodine, which is needed for a functioning thyroid. Many women are deficient in iron, especially if they are menstruating every month. Good sources of iron are beef and chicken, dark leafy greens, and beans and lentils. You can also take an iron supplement, but it should be combined with vitamin C to help absorption. You should take it with food because it can cause an upset stomach when taken alone.
     

    DIAGNOSIS OF THYROID IMBALANCE

     
    While turning to WebMD may be tempting, remember that a doctor is your best bet for an accurate diagnosis. Blood tests are a doctor’s most reliable diagnosis tool for thyroid disorder. The thyroid function marker your doctor will check first is TSH, the messenger from the pituitary gland to the thyroid to indicate more thyroid hormones are needed. The pituitary gland cranks up the release of TSH when thyroid hormones are low, so an elevated TSH can be a sign of hypothyroidism. A low TSH suggests hyperthyroidism. If TSH is high or low, your doctor will check the other thyroid hormones, T3 and T4. There are other tests that can be done as well, such as thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies, which may suggest that the cause of the thyroid disease is an autoimmune disorder such as Hashimoto’s or Graves’ disease.

    MAINTAINING BALANCE

     
    Your thyroid may be small, but it carries a heavy responsibility for your overall health. Thyroid disease presents in a multitude of ways, with some very serious side effects. Now that you have a better understanding of the function of your thyroid and how your diet and genetics can affect its function, you are better equipped to maintain and build healthy thyroid function. It is important to listen to the messages your body is sending and seek help when you need it. A healthy balanced diet and open communication with your doctor will help keep you on the right track for optimal thyroid health.

     
     
    Love and Health,

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    NEW TO THIS BLOG? START RIGHT HERE

    You’ll learn exactly how to eat and exercise to get slim, lean, healthy, and confident in your own body. Without sacrificing time, money, or the foods you love.

    This website is about learning how to make the right, easy changes in your lifestyle and get the greatest results.

    Thousands of others have already changed their lives by following the simple, effective principles taught on this site, and you can too.

    PROCESSED & ULTRA-PROCESSED FOODS: WHAT TO BUY, WHAT TO AVOID, & 5 EASY SWAPS

    PROCESSED & ULTRA-PROCESSED FOODS: WHAT TO BUY, WHAT TO AVOID, & 5 EASY SWAPS

    We’ve all been there…Driving home from a long day of work, didn’t have time to take your lunch break? Or saw your favorite fast food joint on the way home? Well, with busy schedules and no down time to cook a proper home-made meal, the most obvious thing to do is to grab something on the go.

    Processed food is everywhere…and I mean EVERYWHERE! Bread is an example as well as pasta, cereal, and sandwich meats. Anything that does not come directly from the ground and eaten right there and then is processed. Even foods that many of us may think are considered healthy are processed. Granola? Processed. That Slim Fast or Atkins bar you’ve been noshing on while trying to lose weight? Processed.

    Processed food has become such a big part of our lives, now more than ever. Believe it or not, processed food has been around since the prehistoric times. Methods such as fermentation, smoking, curing and drying have all been used to extend shelf life and enhance flavor. In the 1800s, techniques like tinning and pasteurization were developed to fight off bacteria and make food last longer. During the 19th and 20th century, food processing was brought to the next level in order to help feed military troops. Demand for ready-to-eat foods grew in the 20th century to keep up with busy, modern times.

    What we don’t know is recent studies have shown that the ingredients in what we are eating are doing more harm than good.

    In a study published in BMJ Open, the researchers found that for Americans, 58% of their diets consist of ultra-processed foods, defined as ready-to-eat meals or snacks that usually contain additives.

    Hidden sugars are found in these foods, often disguised as artificial sweeteners, which are believed to be responsible for many medical issues including migraines, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Ultra-processed foods are also often high in sodium, unhealthy fats, preservatives, and additives, and do not provide us with what we need the most including vitamins, antioxidants and minerals.

    What’s important to know is that not all processed foods are made the same. Ultra-processed foods have undergone significant processing and often the ingredient list tends to look like it should be something in a science lab rather than sold on grocery shelves.

    The 3 Stages of Food Processing

     

    1. The first stage of “processing” involves making sure the food is edible. Harvesting grain, shelling nuts, and slaughtering chickens are all considered primary processing. Foods that have only gone through this stage of processing are often still considered “whole” foods.

    2. A second stage makes a more complex, finished, “processed” product. This includes cooking, freezing, and canning.

    3. A third stage, in which manufacturers inject flavors, added sugars, fats, and chemical preservatives, produces ultra-processed foods.

    To make it easier to understand what to buy and what not to buy, a classification system called NOVA, developed by an international panel of food scientists and researchers splits foods into four categories:

  • Unprocessed or minimally processed foods: Think vegetables, grains, legumes, fruits, nuts, meats, seafood, eggs and milk. Make these real, whole foods the basis of your diet.
  • Processed culinary ingredients: These items make plain vegetables and a grilled chicken breast taste a whole lot better. Examples are herbs, spices, balsamic vinegar, garlic and oil. Use these ingredients in small amounts to create fresh, home-cooked meals.
  • Processed foods: When ingredients such as oil, sugar or herbs are added to foods and they are packaged, the result is processed foods. Examples are simple bread, cheese, tofu, and canned tuna or beans.
  • Ultra-processed foods: Here’s the category where 58% of our calories come from. These foods go through multiple processes (extrusion, molding, milling, etc.), contain many added ingredients and are highly manipulated. Examples are soft drinks, chips, chocolate, candy, ice-cream, sweetened breakfast cereals, packaged soups, chicken nuggets, hotdogs, fries and more.
  •  
    With all this being said, just because something has gone through a process doesn’t mean it’s unhealthy to eat. In general, the ultra-processed foods are what you should cut back on or avoid.

    5 Easy Swaps:

     

    Potato Chips

     
    Swap these out for some vegetable chips such as Terra. These are made from real vegetables and contain minimal ingredients with no artificial flavors or preservatives.

    Sweetened Breakfast Cereals

     
    Swap these out with oatmeal made with rolled or steel-cut oats and sweeten with raw honey and fresh berries.

    Sodas

     
    Detox from those high-sugar sodas with naturally flavored sparkling water .

    Flavored Yogurt

     
    Enjoy the health benefits of fermented foods by switching from flavored yogurts that are high in sugar to plain Greek yogurt that is low in sugar and high in protein.

    Artificially Flavored Crackers

     
    Ditch the fake flavor and blood sugar spikes for crackers high in fiber and only made with natural flavors, such as Mary’s Gone Crackers .

    Tips on how to cut back on ultra-processed foods:

     

  • Make gradual changes instead of trying to cut everything out all at once, otherwise you’re usually doomed for failure.
  • Shop with a grocery list and stick to it.
  • Shop around the outer sides of the grocery store, as most processed foods are in the middle aisles.
  • Reading the labels. If you do not know how to pronounce an ingredient or have never heard of it, put the item back on the shelf and chose something with five or less ingredients.
  • Cook more often and plan your meals for the week. You’ll be less likely to find yourself in a position where you are very hungry and grab a highly processed food as a quick fix.
  • Dine out with the intention of making better choices. Avoid foods that are deep-fried and choose a vegetable for your side rather than a starch. Decline the bread basket.
  • Be less trustful in packaged foods marketed as “organic” or “healthy.” If the ingredient list is very long and you can’t pronounce the words, skip it.
  •  
     
    Love and Health,

    😍  GOOD READ? LET GOOGLE KNOW!

    NEW TO THIS BLOG? START RIGHT HERE

    You’ll learn exactly how to eat and exercise to get slim, lean, healthy, and confident in your own body. Without sacrificing time, money, or the foods you love.

    This website is about learning how to make the right, easy changes in your lifestyle and get the greatest results.

    Thousands of others have already changed their lives by following the simple, effective principles taught on this site, and you can too.

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