Stress cortisol depletes thyroid


Because so many people are fatigued and stress is so common today, here I focus on the glands and the little powerhouses they produce called hormones. This is where health can begin to break down; it may be related to hormone imbalances.

Stress can come from toxins in the air, food or relationships, but the body deals with all types of stress by making and releasing certain hormones into the blood. This is the point where imbalance in your health usually begins. Adrenal fatigue is usually a good indicator that something in your lifestyle may need attention.

Lack of energy is one of the most widespread yet unrecognized health problem of all time. So many people suffer from low energy and fatigue that it’s more or less accepted as normal. One learns to live with depleted energy levels.

Granted, low energy is not as serious as some other conditions, or is it? Your fatigue (and body) may be sending you signals, for example, prolonged stress and high cortisol levels can wreak havoc on the thyroid, the major energy gland.

How your body produces energy

We get our energy from food, of course, but food is ultimately broken down to release chemicals. Working together, the thyroid and adrenal glands supply the body with about 98% of its energy: the adrenals release simple sugars which the thyroid uses for fuel to function.

The thyroid releases T3 hormone (triiodothyronine) which enters specific cells and organs of the body, for example the heart:

Although some people suspect they may have a poorly functioning thyroid, very often conventional blood tests are not the best for diagnosing this condition. This is because there are many thyroid hormones and they perform different functions. Conventional thyroid testing has a reputation, at least among nutritionists and naturopaths, to be faulty because only a fraction of the function of these hormones is tested, and there is a history of big marketing tactics.

Two major hormones produced by the adrenal glands are cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol is your body’s most power anti-inflammatory and when levels are high, can cause a decrease in thyroid function. Adrenaline is what I call the ‘Tarzan’ hormone because it provides the body with incredible short-term strength. However, when both these hormones are being manufactured by the body continuously, when you are under stress for very long periods, the hormones get unbalanced. Unless you are being careful about what you ingest, you may become very depleted if stress is not managed. Adrenal fatigue, or even exhaustion, can be suspected if you’ve been under chronic stress.

Best Fat-Burning Supplement

There is an association between people with low thyroid function and low levels of carnitine.

Carnitine is probably the single most important nutrient for optimal fat – burning. Carnitine’s main function is to act like a forklift; it picks up fatty acids and drops them off into the cell’s mitochondria for burning. The mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cells whose function is to burn fat in exchange for energy. That’s fat in, energy out– the greatest metabolic trade!

Carnitine is an exciting nutrient for weight loss, energy production, heart and overall health.

Carnitine helps in weight loss in 4 ways:
1) by directly increasing fat burning
2) by increasing energy levels so we are more likely to exercise
3) by decreasing cravings so we find it easier to stick to their eating plans.
4) some studies suggest carnitine helps us build muscle

Carnitine helps fat-burning but doesn’t really help carbohydrate burning. If you’re on a high carbohydrate diet you’ve got so much ready carbohydrate for energy you may not really be encouraging fat-burning in the body. By decreasing carbohydrate intake you’re helping the body burn more fat by forcing it to burn fat. It’s much easier to burn carbohydrate than it is to burn fat.

However, having said that, carnitine also helps the body store glycogen more effectively. The more glycogen we can store the longer we’re going to have energy reserves from the carbohydrates we are eating.

So it’s necessary to at first force the body into more of a fat-burning mode by reducing carbohydrates and using carnitine. The Sugar Watchers program is based on keeping sugars under control, and carnitine is the perfect accessory nutrient to help us lose weight!

Because it stimulates fat burning, carnitine also helps lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels naturally. And because of the stress weight loss puts on the body losing fat and fluids and processing toxins, it’s important to be conscious of strengthening the cardiovascular system (heart and vessels).

Carnitine also helps lower triglycerides.
There is an association between people with low thyroid function and low levels of carnitine. Low levels of thyroid hormone create increased levels of fat in the body leading to lower energy and overall sluggishness. Also, people that don’t get enough protein have been found to be carnitine deficient.

My favorite carnitine is: Carnitine Tartrate

In foods, carnitine is found mostly in animal products: red meat, mutton, lamb, milk, chicken, fish and eggs.

NOTE: Carnitine is energizing therefore, if you are using this supplement, it is not recommended taking it in the evening before bed.

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load

Blood glucose (glycemic) response to “complex” carbohydrates has been found to vary considerably so a more accurate indicator of the relative glycemic response to dietary carbohydrates is the glycemic index.

Glycemic Index

In the past, carbohydrates were classified as simple or complex based on the number of simple sugars in the molecule. Carbohydrates composed of one or two simple sugars like fructose or sucrose (table sugar) were labeled simple, while starchy foods were labeled complex because starch is composed of long chains of the simple sugar, glucose. Advice to eat less simple and more complex carbohydrates was based on the assumption that consuming starchy foods would lead to smaller increases in blood glucose than sugary food. This assumption turned out to be too simplistic since the blood glucose (glycemic) response to “complex” carbohydrates has been found to vary considerably. A more accurate indicator of the relative glycemic response to dietary carbohydrates is the glycemic index.

Measuring the Glycemic Index of Foods

To determine the glycemic index of a food, volunteers are typically given a test food that provides 50 grams of carbohydrate and a control food (white bread or pure glucose) that provides the same amount of carbohydrate on different days. Blood samples for the determination of glucose are taken prior to eating and at regular intervals after eating over the next several hours. The changes in blood glucose over time are plotted as a curve. The glycemic index is calculated as the area under the glucose curve after the test food is eaten, divided by the corresponding area after the control food is eaten. The value is multiplied by 100 to represent a percentage of the control food. For example, a baked potato has a glycemic index of 76 relative to glucose and 108 relative to white bread, which means that the blood glucose response to the carbohydrate in a baked potato is 76% of the blood glucose response to the same amount of carbohydrate in pure glucose and 108% of the blood glucose response to the same amount of carbohydrate in white bread. In contrast, cooked brown rice has a glycemic index of 55 relative to glucose and 79 relative to white bread. In the traditional system of classifying carbohydrates, both brown rice and potato would be classified as complex carbohydrates despite the difference in their effects on blood glucose levels.

 Physiological Responses to High vs. Low Glycemic Index Foods

By definition, the consumption of high-glycemic index foods results in higher and more rapid increases in blood glucose levels than the consumption of low-glycemic index foods. Rapid increases in blood glucose are potent signals to the beta-cells of the pancreas to increase insulin secretion. Over the next few hours, the high insulin levels induced by consumption of high-glycemic index foods may cause a sharp decrease in blood glucose levels (hypoglycemia). In contrast, the consumption of low-glycemic index foods results in lower but more sustained increases in blood glucose and lower insulin demands on pancreatic beta-cells.

 Glycemic Load

The glycemic index compares the potential of foods containing the same amount of carbohydrate to raise blood glucose. However, the amount of carbohydrate consumed also affects blood glucose levels and insulin responses. The glycemic load of a food is calculated by multiplying the glycemic index by the amount of carbohydrate in grams provided by a food and dividing the total by 100. In essence, each unit of the glycemic load represents the equivalent blood glucose-raising effect of 1 gram of pure glucose or white bread. Dietary glycemic load is the sum of the glycemic loads for all foods consumed in the diet. The concept of glycemic load was developed by scientists to simultaneously describe the quality (glycemic index) and quantity of carbohydrate in a meal or diet.

Disease Prevention

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

After a high-glycemic load meal, blood glucose levels rise more rapidly and insulin demand is greater than after a low-glycemic load meal. High blood glucose levels and excessive insulin secretion are thought to contribute to the loss of the insulin-secreting function of the pancreatic beta-cells that leads to irreversible diabetes. High dietary glycemic loads have been associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) in several large prospective studies. In the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), women with the highest dietary glycemic loads were 37% more likely to develop type 2 DM over the next 6 years than women with the lowest dietary glycemic loads. Additionally, women with high-glycemic load diets that were low in cereal fiber were more than twice as likely to develop type 2 DM than women with low-glycemic load diets that were high in cereal fiber. The results of the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS), which followed male health professionals over 6 years were similar. In the NHS II study, a prospective study of younger and middle-aged women, those who consumed foods with the highest glycemic index values and the least cereal fiber were also at significantly higher risk of developing type 2 DM over the next 8 years. The foods that were most consistently associated with increased risk of Type 2 DM in the NHS and HPFS cohorts were potatoes (cooked or French-fried), white rice, white bread and carbonated beverages.

 Cardiovascular Disease

Impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance are known to be risk factors for cardiovascular disease as well as type 2 DM. In addition to increased blood glucose and insulin concentrations, high dietary glycemic loads are associated with increased serum triglyceride concentrations and decreased HDL cholesterol concentrations, both cardiovascular disease risk factors. High dietary glycemic loads have also been associated with increased serum levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of systemic inflammation that is also a sensitive predictor of cardiovascular disease risk. In the NHS cohort, women with the highest dietary glycemic loads had a risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD) over the next 10 years that was almost twice as high as those with the lowest dietary glycemic loads. The relationship between dietary glycemic load and CHD risk was more pronounced in overweight women, suggesting that people who are insulin resistant may be most susceptible to the adverse cardiovascular effects of high dietary glycemic loads.


In the first two hours after a meal, blood glucose and insulin levels rise higher after a high-glycemic load meal than they do after a low-glycemic load meal containing equal calories. However, in response to the excess insulin secretion, blood glucose levels drop lower over the next few hours after a high-glycemic load meal than they do after a low-glycemic load meal. This may explain why 15 out of 16 published studies found that the consumption of low-glycemic index foods delayed the return of hunger, decreased subsequent food intake, and increased satiety (feeling full) when compared to high-glycemic index foods. The results of several small short-term trials (1-4 months) suggest that low-glycemic load diets result in significantly more weight or fat loss than high-glycemic load diets. Although long-term randomized controlled trials of low-glycemic load diets in the treatment of obesity are lacking, the results of short-term studies on appetite regulation and weight loss suggest that low glycemic-load diets may be useful in promoting long-term weight loss and decreasing the prevalence of obesity.


Evidence that high overall dietary glycemic index or high dietary glycemic loads are related to cancer risk is somewhat inconsistent. Prospective cohort studies in the US and Denmark found no association between overall dietary glycemic index or dietary glycemic load and breast cancer risk. In contrast, a prospective cohort study in Canada found that postmenopausal but not premenopausal women with high overall dietary glycemic index values were at increased risk of breast cancer, particularly those who reported no vigorous physical activity, while a prospective study in the US found that premenopausal but not postmenopausal women with high overall dietary glycemic index values and low levels of physical activity were at increased risk of breast cancer. Higher dietary glycemic loads were associated with moderately increased risk of colorectal cancer in a prospective study of US men, but no association between dietary glycemic load and colorectal cancer risk was observed in a prospective study of US women. In contrast, another prospective cohort study of US women found that higher dietary glycemic loads were associated with increased risk of colorectal cancer. Although there is some evidence that hyperinsulinemia (elevated serum insulin levels) may promote the growth of some types of cancer, more research is needed to determine the effects of dietary glycemic load and/or glycemic index on cancer risk.

Disease Treatment

Diabetes Mellitus

Low-glycemic index diets appear to improve the overall blood glucose control in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM). A meta-analysis of 14 randomized controlled trials that included 356 diabetic patients found that low-glycemic index diets improved short-term and long-term control of blood glucose levels, reflected by clinically significant decreases in fructosamine and hemoglobin A1C levels. Episodes of serious hypoglycemia are a significant problem in people with type 1 DM. In a study of 63 men and women with type 1 DM, those randomized to a high-fiber, low-glycemic index diet had significantly fewer episodes of hypoglycemia than those on a low-fiber, high-glycemic index diet.

 Lowering Dietary Glycemic Load

Some strategies for lowering dietary glycemic load include:

• Increasing the consumption of whole grains, nuts, legumes, fruits and nonstarchy vegetables
• Decreasing the consumption of starchy high-glycemic index foods like potatoes, white rice and white bread
• Decreasing the consumption of sugary foods like cookies, cakes, candy and soft-drinks

Gluten, gliadin or wheat?

A significant number of autoimmune diseases (examples include, arthritis, lupus, celiac and cancer) are food-induced. This discovery, which has been known since the 1970s, verifies the fact that certain foods can trigger an immune reaction and an auto-immune process, whereby the immune system begins to attack itself. In this scenario, gluten is a major culprit food for many people – not just Celiac sufferers. Today, one can hardly investigate health topics without discovering gluten-free recommendations as the solution to many conditions.

What some people and doctors may not fully understand yet is that gluten is only one of the thousands of proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, etc., and is found in ALL grains. This discovery warrants serious investigation, especially if you’ve gone ‘gluten-free’ and still feel sick; there’s no such thing as a gluten-free grain.

Blood tests for gluten-sensitivity are misleading.

Gliadin is the main type of gluten found in wheat, and is the only gluten protein that is currently measured in mainstream medicine. What about the other gluten proteins? Some researchers have shown there are forty glutens more toxic than gliadin for gluten-sensitive people. Because conventional lab tests only measure anti-gliadin antibodies, others may be wreaking havoc in our bodies.

What some people and doctors may not fully understand yet is that gluten is only one of the thousands of proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, etc., and is found in ALL grains. This discovery warrants serious investigation, especially if you’ve gone ‘gluten-free’ and still feel sick; there’s no such thing as a gluten-free grain.

Gluten allergy, sensitivity, intolerance or Celiac?

There are 4 gluten-related designations: Gluten allergy denotes an allergy to gluten and produces a typical allergic response. Gluten intolerance is the inability to digest gluten, and gluten sensitivity is a combination of allergy and intolerance. Celiac is an autoimmune disease produced from the damage created by gluten in susceptible individuals (those genetically predisposed to gluten sensitivity).

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Balancing Hormones

If you suspect hormonal problems here are some basic changes you can make that I have found provide some very quick results

Hormones, those elusive little health wonders, need to be balanced in the body; they are part of our biochemical make-up and will help us function at optimal levels if they are at optimal levels. Other biochemicals that keep us going are neurotransmitters, enzymes, cell-mediators and anti-bodies. All of these substances work in synergy (coordination) and have many jobs to do – from physically pumping our hearts to mentally helping us feel calm and happy. When our hormones are out of balance we feel out of balance, physically and mentally.

Hormones are a major player in our metabolism – the daily building up and breaking down of structures and substances, chemical reactions.

In adolescence, sexual development is governed by androgens and estrogens, and we have more or less of these depending on our gender. In males, the androgens dominate and help to promote the accumulation of more muscle, more blood and a heavier skeleton than females. The dominant estrogens in females promote the deposition of more fat than muscle (I know what you’re thinking gals!) and still other hormones stimulate growth of the ovaries, enlargement of the uterus and breast development.

As a result of hormone activity we can see the great differences between males and females in body fat to muscle ratios by the completion of puberty. For those of us that are (or raised) teenagers, we know how hormones can affect our psychological well-being. Past puberty, the hormones normally start to settle down and get stabilized – until mid-life. Then they get a little wacky as they rearrange themselves once again.

Hormone deficiencies or excesses may be due to glandular-based disorders, but there are also lifestyle disorders that cause hormone imbalances which can create many serious problems and make life difficult. For example, Type I Diabetes is a glandular-based disorder directly due to the inability of the pancreas gland to produce insulin. Type II Diabetes is a lifestyle-based disorder caused by high insulin levels as a result of eating too many refined carbohydrates, sugars, saturated fats, too much stress (enter hormone cortisol) and not enough exercise. Glandular-based disorders are rare, but lifestyle-based disorders are on the rise due to poor nutrition, stress, lack of exercise and lack of sunshine, fresh air and good, clean fun.

In describing hormones I frequently use the term elusive because they are not easily defined or quantified. However, the research is getting better and better and there is so much more information about hormones than ever before.

If you have been told or suspect you have a hormonal imbalance, here are some basic changes you can make that I have found provide some very quick results:

* Eliminate flour products, especially white flour. If you must have bread make certain it is whole grain, not just whole wheat, and never white. Flour products include pasta, cereal, cookies, cake, crackers, which may sound like everything you eat, and which may be your problem. Your health food store has some nice alternatives to these types of foods.

* Educate yourself on the difference between good fats and bad fats. Flax seed oil is an important omega 3 fat that will not only help your hormones but has additional important health benefits.

* Eat balanced meals – One of the causes of bone loss in later years can be due to not eating enough protein with too many carbohydrates, or too much protein which triggers the release of adrenaline, a hormone that contributes to bone loss when levels remain high over many years.

* Get adequate sleep – to aid in the restoration of normal levels of metabolic biochemicals.

* Don’t over exercise, especially if you are overly stressed-out as the hormones that regulate stress will be overworked. Moderate exercise, like walking and reasonable weight-bearing exercise, is what’s called for if you’re looking for hormone balance.

* Make certain you are covering your bases with a good multi-vitamin/mineral supplement.

Remember: hormones work together and work with other biochemicals, tissues and organs, so the balance is delicate but worth the effort because you will feel better!