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.

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!