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Thyroid Health & You, Part 1

Did you know that more than 12% of the US population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime? An estimated 20 million Americans are living with some form of thyroid problem, and unfortunately, up to 60% of them are unaware of their condition. When patients are not diagnosed, they are at risk for certain serious conditions including cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, and infertility.

It’s high time that we raise awareness about the importance of the thyroid gland and what we can do to support it. 

And guess what? Your gut and thyroid work closely together. When one isn’t working well, neither can the other one. Many gut symptoms in fact, like low stomach acid, food intolerance, and bacterial imbalance, can be caused by a thyroid imbalance.

Let’s dig into this together.

What is the thyroid & what’s it do?

The thyroid gland is a 2-inch long butterfly-shaped gland located in the middle of the lower neck. Despite its small size, it produces hormones that affect every cell, tissue, and organ of the body. These hormones control metabolism–the chemical processes in your body that break down what you eat to make energy.

I will give you a simple explanation of how thyroid hormones affect your metabolism. Your thyroid gland actually produces three hormones: Thyroxine (T4), Triiodothyronine (T3), and Calcitonin. We will not be focusing on Calcitonin, but this hormone is responsible for the formation of bones. T4 and T3, on the other hand, are what most people call the “thyroid hormones,” which are manufactured by the thyroid gland using the building blocks iodine (a trace mineral) and tyrosine (an amino acid).

T4 and T3 cannot be released to the bloodstream unless there is a stimulus from the brain, particularly from the pituitary gland–that pea-sized body connected to the base of the brain, the major endocrine gland responsible for your body’s growth and development as well as the functioning of other glands such as the thyroid. So this pituitary gland will release a so-called Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) which tells the thyroid gland to release thyroid hormones into your circulation. Once they’re out, they act on every cell in your body to increase cellular activity, converting food into energy–this is metabolism. These hormones can affect how fast your heart beats, how deep your breath goes, and whether you gain or lose weight.

Thyroid Dysfunction

Here’s the more challenging part. Your thyroid gland can be overactive (hyperthyroidism) or underactive (hypothyroidism).

Hyperthyroidism symptoms include nervousness, tremors, irritability, heat intolerance, racing heartbeat or palpitation, an increase in appetite, frequent bowel movement, etc. Hypothyroidism manifests as fatigue, weakness, cold intolerance, depression, muscle cramps, weight gain, loss of appetite, constipation, etc.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you may have an underlying condition that needs to be checked out by your doctor. For example, growths, either malignant or benign, can form on the thyroid gland and can affect its normal function. Your immune system can start attacking your thyroid tissue (autoimmune condition: Hashimoto’s or Grave’s) resulting in loss of function. There are a variety of diet and lifestyle factors that influence proper thyroid function (like stress, diet, sleep habits, and more) so diet and lifestyle is almost always part of the solution to balancing out thyroid function as well. We’ll dig into that next week as well as what foods to eat and what to avoid to promote thyroid health. Stay tuned!

It is my passion is to work with people like you whose health symptoms–like low energy, gut/digestive issues, excess weight, mood imbalance, chronic infections, and skin & sleep problems–are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.

Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!

-Rebecca

Why Potassium is Essential to Gut Health

Do you often experience bloating or constipation?

Today we are going to dig into the connection between electrolytes, particularly potassium and your gut.
 
Your gut health is the core of your overall health.
 
Your gut is where you take everything that you eat and drink and transform it into the many building blocks your body needs to function. From making energy, being able to think clearly, sleep well, maintain a healthy weight, build muscle, and clear out toxins that need clearing out daily, your gut is at the ROOT of your overall function. It’s also where 80% or more of your immune system lives.
 
It is my passion is to work with people like you whose health symptoms–like low energy, gut/digestive issues, excess weight, mood imbalance, chronic infections, and skin & sleep problems–are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.
 
Let’s dig into how potassium and electrolytes play into this.

What Do Electrolytes Do?

 Electrolytes are minerals found in the body that conduct electricity in body fluids. Because of the very nature of electrolytes, they are an important part of the transmission of electrical messages from your brain and along your nerves. When in water, electrolytes dissolve in positive and negative ions. Aside from their important role in sending nerve signals, they help in the regulation of your body fluids and muscle contractions. Examples of electrolytes are sodium, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which are responsible for the normal tone of the muscles in your limbs, heart, arteries, and intestines. So, imbalance in the electrolyte levels of your body can affect any or all of your vital functions.
 
Interestingly, potassium is the third most abundant mineral in the body. Around 98% of it is found in your cells, 80% of which stays in your muscle cells and 20% in your bones, liver, and red blood cells. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, potassium is essential for muscle contraction and they recommend that adults have about 4,700 milligrams daily from dietary sources.

Potassium and Digestion

 Remember, digestion occurs through rhythmic intestinal contractions (known as peristalsis). The smooth muscle inside your digestive tract is controlled by the autonomic nervous system, the part of your nervous system that works automatically without your conscious effort and control. Peristalsis occurs through the alternating contraction and relaxation of the smooth muscle tissue in your intestinal wall, creating a wave-like effect that pushes the contents forward along your digestive tract. It is clear, then, that in order for digestion, absorption, and waste elimination to occur–processes that take place in the digestive system–there should be enough minerals and electrolytes to support peristalsis.
Potassium, being an electrolyte, is partly responsible for muscles contraction. So when there is a low level of potassium in your body, peristalsis slows down, and this leads to compromised digestion. If you find yourself frustrated waiting on the “throne” for longer periods of time (aka constipation), you may have an underlying electrolyte imbalance, particularly hypokalemia or potassium deficiency.

Sources of Potassium

 As cliche as it is, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In this case, it’s better to get sufficient potassium in your diet or via supplementation than to suffer the consequences of not having enough electrolytes in your body. Don’t worry, potassium sources are not hard to find. Foods high in potassium include avocados, spinach and leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, russet potatoes, beet greens, pistachios, Swiss chard, pomegranates, watermelon, and coconut water to name a few. If you are following a low-carb or keto eating plan, here are some additional sources. If you are following a moderate to high carb eating plan, here are some additional foods to consider.

If you don’t eat foods that are providing enough potassium, or if you sweat a lot, or if you exercise a lot and suspect you need more potassium, you may want to consider Seeking Health’s Optimal Potassium Powder (1 scoop provides 500 mg of potassium and it’s pretty tasty!) or one of my favorites is their Optimal Electrolyte Powderbecause it has potassium, magnesium and other electrolytes versus potassium alone. Those taking medications such as diuretics and antibiotics also lose potassium easily and are at high risk for potassium deficiency. As is advised with any supplements, it is best to consult your health care provider before starting it (especially if you are taking medications).
 
Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!

-Rebecca

Poo Matters: Things You Can Do to Support Constipation

In last week’s newsletter, I told you about some main causes of constipation. By now, you may have already made a few lifestyle changes that are having a positive impact on your bowel movements. So this week, let me give you more ideas on how to support constipation. These fixes are easily doable and can support you to have more healthy BM’s and take your gut health up a level.

Why is gut health so important?

Your gut is where you take all the good stuff you eat and drink and transform it into the many building blocks your body needs to make energy, think clearly, sleep well, maintain a healthy weight, build muscle, and clear out toxins that need clearing out daily so you can thrive. It’s also where 80% or more of your immune system lives.

It is my passion is to work with people like you whose health symptoms–like low energy, gut/digestive issues, excess weight, mood imbalance, chronic infections, and skin & sleep problems–are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.

So let’s get into how to support constipation.

 Learn to analyze your poo

Your stool tells you a lot about what’s going on inside your body. What’s yours saying about you? Check out this free infographic to learn why the color, consistency, and shape of your poo matters and what it say about your health.

For example, stool color varies from green to brown.  This depends on your diet and the amount of bile on your poo. Bile is the yellow-green pigment produced by your liver and stored and concentrated in your gall bladder. After eating, the stored bile is discharged to the duodenum (the first section of the small intestine) to digest fats. As the digestive contents travel along the bowel, enzymes alter bile, changing the pigments from green to brown. So the normal poo color is usually brown and alterations are indicative of changes inside your gut or digestive capacity. In her infographic, 50 Shades of Poo, Dr. Marisol elaborates on poo color and has a simple test you can do at home to assess your stomach acid output. You can check it out here.

Use castor oil packs

Castor oil has long been used dating back to ancient civilization in Egypt to treat various health conditions. The oil comes from the seeds of castor, Ricinus communis plant, known as castor beans.

If you don’t want to go through all the mess in making your own castor oil pack, you can actually use this kit. I’ve been doing castor oil packs for years for overall health benefits and this kit makes it SO much easier and less messy!

One of the best-known use of castor oil is as a natural laxative. It is classified as a stimulant laxative, which means it increases the movement of the muscles of the digestive tract to push through intestinal content and clear the bowels. In addition, castor oil helps relieve inflammation, balance your hormones, promote relaxation, and improve liver detoxification, which are all important to have a healthy poo (and healthy YOU!).

Making a castor oil pack involves soaking a piece of flannel in castor oil. After soaking, you have to cover the flannel with plastic and place a heating pad or hot water bottle on top of it. Place the flannel on the skin of your abdomen to relieve constipation or other digestive disorders like gas and bloating. When you are done, wipe clean with a paper towel or cloth (it does stain so don’t use a cloth that you don’t mind getting stained).

*If you’re pregnant or taking medications, don’t use castor oil packs and check with your doctor for advice.

Promote pressure and lubrication

Last time, I told you that pressure and lubrication are required to expel poo. So we have to meet these criteria adequately to ensure that we have a healthy and regular bowel movements.

Fiber from your diet, muscle tone, physical activity, adequate hydration, and a healthy nervous system create the pressure your gut needs to propel stool forward in your digestive tract. Lubrication, on the other hand, is achieved by drinking enough water and hydrating fluids (coffee doesn’t count as it is a diuretic) and eating healthy fats (like olive oil, flax, ghee, avocado, coconut, etc). 

I know that these 3 things plus your desire to lead a healthy lifestyle will help you overcome constipation and boost your overall gut health.

If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. http://bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!

-Rebecca