How Stress Affects Your Thyroid – 5 Great Ways To De-Stress
Hypothyroidism (also called underactive or low thyroid) is an endocrine disorder where your thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone.
Some common symptoms include weight gain, depression, fatigue and difficulty tolerating the cold. It’s much more common in women than men – and people over the age of 60 tend to be more affected.¹
My wife and AlgaeCal COO, Viv, suffers from hypothyroidism and it can really wipe her out sometimes. And when it’s at its worst, the cause can usually be pinpointed to one thing: stress!
You see, stress can affect your immune system directly or indirectly – and is just one of the environmental factors that can affect those with thyroid autoimmunity.² (Today we’re just going to focus on this one.)
So during those days when Viv is really struggling, I remind her to de-stress. And she’s gotten pretty good at it. That’s why I wanted to share some of her tips with you. But before we get to that, I want to break down how stress affects your thyroid gland.
How Stress Affects Your Thyroid
Your body releases hormones, which carry messages to different parts of your body. Different glands, therefore produce different hormones.
Thyroid glands produce hormones that direct cells to burn energy and produce proteins. Adrenal glands, on the other hand, produce hormones that aid in regulating stress (and how we deal with it!).
These glands work together to protect your endocrine system. They do this by relaying information back and forth between the brain body and respond to your body’s ever-changing conditions.
To put it simply, these glands get told to send hormones by a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which then sends hormonal messages to the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland sends messages to the adrenal and thyroid glands (which produce their different hormones) and then sends that feedback back to the brain. This is called the negative feedback loop (or hypothalamic–pituitary–thyroid–adrenal axis (HPTA)).
For your thyroid to function properly, it needs the right amount of cortisol (known as the stress hormone.)
Because this feedback loop interacts with one another, when there is an imbalance along the HPTA, it results in overactive or underactive glands.
So what does stress have to do with it?
Well, stress cues the brain. And when it cues the brain it releases the message to the glands to produce cortisol. But cortisol can suppress your thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and also muddle the conversion of T4 thyroid hormone to T3. And when you experience a decrease in T3, those symptoms: fatigue, weight gain, depression, poor concentration and inability to tolerate cold start to show up.
Cortisol also leads to bone damage! Studies have shown that higher cortisol levels reduce the amount of osteocalcin (bone-friendly proteins) and interfere with the bone building process, leading to bone density loss.³
Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your body without you even knowing it! For some, these symptoms can and will go undiagnosed for years.
The good news is, you can help change your stress-response using Viv’s de-stressing tips below.
5 Ways To De-Stress for Thyroid Health
- Sleep, Sleep, Sleep: Adequate rest will rejuvenate your mind and body. Plus, proper sleep can help regulate hormonal balance. Unwind by turning off cell phones, tablets and computers before bed to allow your adrenal glands to slow down its stress response.
- Nourish Your Body: A diet full of dark leafy greens, veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds, plus high-quality protein is crucial to regulate your hormone production and blood sugar levels. Enjoy your meals! Eat slowly to help aid in digestion and proper absorption of the minerals in your food. Also, avoid inflammatory foods such as refined sugars, white flours, and processed seed oils!
- Relax: Whether you find solace in deep breathing, yoga, walking and exercise or reading – there are many ways to counteract the stress in your life. If you turn to exercise as a stress reliever, do not overexert yourself. Too much exercise can stimulate your adrenal glands.
- Being in Nature: Viv absolutely loves the great outdoors, and for her she finds that getting away from the hustle bustle of the city refreshes her mind and body. Don’t discount how energizing fresh air can be.
- Add AlgaeCal Plus: Selenium, zinc, copper, and iodine play important roles in the maintenance of and production of your thyroid hormones. AlgaeCal Plus contains all of the above, plus plant-based calcium, magnesium, vitamin K2 and trace minerals. Supporting the overall healthy balance of your body and its vitamins and minerals can help ease symptoms.
Your life can be stressful, I’m sure of it. So is mine and Viv’s. But it’s important that we both remember to take care of ourselves and manage our stress.
You can’t remove stress completely from your life, but hopefully Viv’s tips today can help you balance it a bit better.
To your health,
PS: Prolonged stress can lead to inflammation, which can affect your bones. Ensure you are doing everything you can to maintain and increase your bone density with AlgaeCal Plus and Strontium Boost. Clinically supported and guaranteed to work. Get it now.
- Garber JR, Cobin RH, Garib H, et al. Clinical Practice Guidelines for Hypothyroidism in Adults: Cosponsored by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and the American Thyroid Association. Endocrine Practice. 2012;18(6): 988–1028.
- Dennison E at al. “Profiles of Endogenous Circulating Cortisol and Bone Mineral Density in Healthy Elderly Men.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. September 1, 1999 vol. 84 no. 9 3058-3063. doi: 10.1210/jc.84.9.3058