We offer a Nutritional Therapy Service supporting your fatigue and hormonal health issues with a scientific approach to diet throughout Oxfordshire.
Tired, slothful? Or so keyed up you’re jittery? With either of these scenarios - a thyroid issue could be at the root.
Every single cell in your body uses hormones produced by the thyroid, its smooth running is fundamentally important for your health. These hormones, T4 and T3 (so called because of the number of iodine atoms contained within them), govern our metabolic rate and control whether we feel lumbersome or super speedy (and not in a good way). Although the thyroid produces both T4 and T3, T3 is the form which is taken up by the cells and a conversion needs to take place to synthesise T3 from T4.
With a decrease in thyroid function we can feel sluggish, lethargic, apathetic, cold and with a tendency to weight gain. With an overactive thyroid we alternatively feel too energetic, often jittery and we’ll find it hard to gain weight.
There is an often unrecognised link between the thyroid and the adrenal glands (the flight or fight glands which produce cortisol and adrenaline). Symptoms of adrenal insufficiency, when stress levels have been chronically high, are very similar to those of low thyroid. In addition high levels of the adrenal hormone cortisone adversely impact in the conversion of T4 to T3 and may concurrently suppress TSH (the hormone which signals the thyroid to synthesise more T4).
The nutritional approach to thyroid health is to firstly ensure that all the nutritional tools are in place, ensuring that the thyroid has everything necessary to synthesise T4 and T3 and to convert T4 into T3. Iodine is the most frequently cited nutrient but we need to be as wary of over consumption as we do of too little (too much iodine can cause growths called goitres with associated thyroid dysfunction).
Other nutrients, such as iron (critical for T4->T3 conversion) are also essential. Consequently it may be that we are “within lab results range” for TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) and T4 but if one is unable to convert T4 to T3 then one would still feel hypothyroid.
This may also explain why one may still be symptomatic when on the prescription levothyroxine. Your symptoms won’t necessarily improve unless the conversion process is supported too and the cells get access to T3.
Our body’s immune systems can also be at the root of the problem and incorrectly attack the thyroid. This can result in Hashimoto’s Disease with an underactive thyroid or Grave’s Disease where the thyroid becomes overactive.
In this modern age we’re encouraged to do it all, and have it all.
However the constant stress of trying to cram our working life, our social life and our family life into 24 hour days can put us in a constant state of “flight or fight”.
The adrenal glands pumping out lots of adrenaline and cortisol to keep blood sugar levels high and blood pumped to large muscle groups. Useful when our ancestors were faced with hunting the woolly mammoth. Not so useful when your foe is the M25. Eventually however the adrenal glands become exhausted and our ability to cope with constant stress is depleted.
Chronic stress can result in higher blood pressure (with associated risks of strokes); constant illness as our immune system suppresses the inflammatory responses; increased abdominal fat; and suppressed thyroid function.
With chronic stress, cortisol can bottom out to base line levels. Ordinarily produced in a circadian rhythm (being highest in the morning and lowest in the evening to facilitate sleep) we now become constantly tired, find it hard to get up in the morning and frequently feel overwhelmed by life.
There is much we can do nutritionally to help support the adrenal glands and to restore them to good health. However this will be of little use if the underlying cause of the stress isn’t dealt with, or we can’t develop tools to allow the pace of life to become more bearable.
The nutritional protocol is dependent on the levels of adrenal hormones; whether cortisol is high at certain times, lower at others - reflective on whether the adrenal glands are in a state of hyperactivity or on the way to exhaustion. Some nutrients, such as the B vitamins and vitamin C, are in constant need and are quickly depleted. Balancing blood sugar and avoiding stimulants such as coffee, tea and nicotine will help to reduce the need for cortisol, and addressing sodium and potassium in the diet may balance high blood pressure.
Sometimes the reason for constant tiredness can be complicated: autoimmune problems, M.E (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) / CFS (Chronic Fatique Syndrome) and fibromalgia as examples.
Sometimes however it can be simple malnourishment, with your body just not getting the nutrition it requires. Often too, a deficiency in certain nutrients can cascade, resulting in an inability to properly digest what nutrition is available leading to further malnourishment.
Ditch the doughnut, seek out wholesome natural foods and you’ll feel better. If you’re still feeling listless consult a nutritional therapist to see if long-term malnutrition needs rectifying.
Stomach acid synthesis, for example, requires zinc. With a low dietary intake, stomach acid levels fall resulting in poorly digested protein. Unfortunately many protein sources such as beef, are major sources of zinc, the nutrient specifically required. Breaking this cycle may need nutritional intervention.
Many diseases and illnesses of the gut, such as coeliac disease, which result in inflammation and damage to the gut wall can also cause malabsorption.
Other times of course it is entirely bought on by ourselves. Our sedentary lives cause us to require far fewer daily calories than our grandparent’s generation and it can be a challenge to get sufficient nutrients within that daily calorie allowance. Particularly when it comprises a typical diet of processed sugars, trans-fats and ready meals. An average doughnut, at 450 calories, is going to be around a 1/5th of a woman’s daily dietary needs. Yet provide little more than refined carbohydrates, saturated fat, sugar and sodium.
Within a few weeks I really noticed a difference, I’m sleeping
better than I have in a long time. Saffron took the time to understand
my lifestyle and habits and then made recommendations and
adjustments that were easy to build into my everyday life.