Episode 88: Exhausted, Gaining Weight and Forgetful – Is it Your Thyroid? (previously released as Episode 42)

We refer to this past episode from October 8, 2020 so often that we decided to re-release it! Is your thyroid the reason you are exhausted, depressed, constipated, forgetful and gaining weight? We discuss signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism, how to properly diagnose imbalances, how to eat to support thyroid health and how we approach assessment and treatment as Naturopathic Doctors.

One in eight women will develop thyroid disease at some point in their life and women are 5-8 times more likely than men to experience thyroid issues.

As Dr. Lisa shared previously in Episode 3, she realized that her thyroid wasn’t functioning properly after giving birth to her son. It is common for women to discover thyroid issues in the postpartum period. Proper blood work, addressing stress and taking dessicated thyroid were crucial for Dr. Lisa to feel her best. 

Why is your thyroid so important?

Your thyroid gland regulates your temperature, energy production and metabolism. When your thyroid is under functioning, it is called hypothyroidism. High thyroid function is called hyperthyroidism.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Increased sensitivity to cold and temperature changes
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin and thinning hair
  • Puffy face
  • Cravings for sugar and carbohydrates
  • Muscle weakness, aches, tenderness and stiffness
  • Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
  • Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
  • Depression and anxiety
    • as many as 15% of women on antidepressants have an undetected thyroid problem as the cause of their depression 
  • Brain fog, poor memory and concentration
    • Studies of women in their 60s have shown that low thyroid function can cause dementia-like symptoms and treatment can improve cognitive function and have a protective effect on the brain
  • High cholesterol
  • Increased risk of heart attack, cardiac arrhythmias and congestive heart failure due to the regulatory control of the thyroid on heart rate and rhythm
  • Fertility issues, increased risk of miscarriage and preterm birth
  • Increased risk of prenatal and postpartum depression

Why do so many women have thyroid issues?

Possible Causes of Your Thyroid Issue Include:

  • Environmental exposure to different chemicals, xenoestrogens and heavy metals
  • Certain medications including birth control pill
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
    • Iodine, selenium, vitamin D, zinc, iron, vitamin A
  • Low calorie diets
  • Infections
  • Stress
    • High cortisol levels due to chronic stress:
      • reduces thyroid hormone production
      • inhibits your conversion of the inactive form of thyroid hormone T4, to the active form T3
  • Gut issues
    • Leaky gut (also known as intestinal hyperpermeability) and imbalances in your gut microbiome have both been shown to impact hormone imbalances and fluctuations, like when you are postpartum or in perimenopause
  • Autoimmunity
    • Environmental toxins, chronic stress, nutritional insufficiencies, leaky gut, food intolerances and having chronic inflammation are all factors that can contribute to autoimmune disease
    • Your immune system is triggered to produce antibodies that can attack your thyroid, which is what is happening when you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis

How do you properly test your thyroid function and the underlying causes of thyroid issues?

Blood work: 

Full thyroid panel: TSH, free T4 and T3, thyroid peroxidase antibodies, thyroglobulin antibodies, reverse T3

Vitamin D, iron

Celiac screen 

Gluten and other food sensitivity

Saliva and urine testing for hormones including cortisol, estrogen, progesterone

Urine testing for heavy metal exposure (eg. cadmium, mercury)

Temperature checks every 3 hours during the day to see if your body is using your thyroid hormones properly

What can you do about an underfunctioning thyroid?

Avoid raw goitrogenic foods – soy and Brassica family veggies like broccoli and cauliflower

Increase your intake of thyroid supporting foods 

  • Seaweed like dulse for iodine, brazil nuts for selenium, pumpkin seeds and oysters for zinc

Reduce toxin exposure

Replace nutrient deficiencies

Consider adrenal and stress support:

  • Address your throat chakra – speaking your truth, asking for help
  • Herbal support with ashwagandha, kelp, bladderwrack, Coleus forskohlii

Thyroid hormone replacement with Synthroid or Dessicated thyroid

  • Take in the morning, on an empty stomach, away from caffeine

Why would you consider dessicated thyroid?

  • If you’re on monotherapy like Synthroid (T4), you still night suffer from anxiety and depression even if your TSH levels are normal
  • T4 may not be enough to restore your T3 levels in your blood and target tissues
  • It contains all four natural thyroid hormones – T4, T3, T2, T1, plus iodine, thyroglobulin

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Toni loves having a healthy and easy recipe like Egg Muffins from Amanda Naturally that the whole family will eat for breakfast or a snack. Check out Episode 5 for more tips for healthy food habits from Amanda.

Dr. Lisa knows that Dessicated Thyroid is an absolute must have for her!

Thank you for joining us today! 

Connect with us at our website www.perimenopausalmamas.com, on Facebook and on Instagram. We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe and healthy everyone!

Episode 75: Where Are My Keys? How to Deal With Brain Fog in Perimenopause and Beyond

In this episode, Dr. Lisa and Dr. Toni discuss how brain fog can be impacted by: stress, nutrient deficiencies, lack of sleep, hormone changes with perimenopause and more. For your brain, it’s definitely a case of use it or lose it! Listen in to discover the causes of brain fog and what to do about it using mindfulness, meditation, nutrition, supplements, herbs and exercise, dark chocolate and caffeine (in moderation!). If you constantly forget where you put your keys or what your were going to say or do; then this episode is for you!

What is Brain Fog?

  • Cloudy mental thinking
  • Difficulty with focus or memory
  • Difficulty with memory
  • Difficulty to memorize new information

It is never normal to have brain fog at any age!

3 Things Every Brain Needs:

  • Oxygen
  • Fuel – Glucose or Ketones
  • Stimulation

Symptoms of Poor Circulation and Blood Flow to Your Brain:

  • Low brain endurance, poor focus and concentration 
  • Must exercise or drink coffee to improve brain function
  • Cold hands and feet, especially if you must wear socks at night
  • Cold tip of nose

Brain fog can be a symptom of neuroinflammation, in addition to :

  • Unclear thoughts
  • Low brain endurance with brain fatigue
  • Slow and varied mental speeds

What could be causing your brain fog?

  • Stress, Overwhelm, Multi-tasking, Worry, Distraction
    • Can result in elevated cortisol stress hormone and adrenal gland dysregulation, for more info see Episode 24
  • Hormone imbalance
    • Estrogen impacts serotonin, dopamine and acetylcholine receptors in women
    • Low estrogen increases brain inflammation and degeneration
    • Thyroid hormones impact all neurotransmitter receptors – for more info see Episode 42
  • Fatigue and inadequate sleep –  for more info see Episode 73 
    • Glymphatic system supports brain repair during sleep
  • Blood Sugar Imbalances – for more info see Episode 45
    • Elevated blood sugar can promote inflammation and damage to your brain cells
  • Leaky gut and microbiome imbalance – for more info see Episode 8
  • Food sensitivities and allergies, including gluten
  • Medication side effects including antihistamines, medications for blood pressure, anxiety and sleep, painkillers, and some antibiotics
  • Excess alcohol intake
  • Chronic environmental toxic exposure – for more info see Episode 65
    • solvents (eg. exhaust, pollution, fragrances)
    • heavy metals like lead and mercury
  • Physical trauma including concussion 
  • Nutrient deficiencies
    • Essential fatty acids – omega 3 
    • B vitamins, especially low B12 and folate can cause elevated homocysteine
    • Protein for neurotransmitters, hormones, enzymes
    • Flavonoids with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity
  • Infections, including Candida overgrowth, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) and Lyme
  • Other conditions like migraines, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia

How does the keto diet impact your brain health?

Ketone bodies are made by your liver from fatty acids in your diet or body fat. These ketones are released into your bloodstream, taken up by your brain and other organs, shuttled into the “energy factory” mitochondria and used up as fuel. 

Beta-hydroxybutrate (a major ketone) may be an even more efficient fuel than glucose for your brain, providing more energy per unit oxygen used. A ketogenic diet can also increase the number of mitochondria in your brain cells to produce more energy.

Lab Tests to Consider to Determine the Root Cause of Your Brain Fog:

Blood work such as blood sugar tests, thyroid panel, homocysteine, MMA for vitamin B12 status

Comprehensive Stool Analysis or SIBO breath test

DUTCH for hormones, melatonin, oxidative stress

Urine and blood heavy metal testing

Natural Support to Consider for Improving Your Brain Fog:

  • Adequate sleep
  • Exercise and movement breaks 
    • Walk around the block
    • Jumping jacks in bathroom
    • Dance party
  • Be mindful and avoid multi-tasking
  • Calming activities like meditation, deep breathing
    • Nose breathing; breath of fire – support nitrous oxide, blood flow and circulation 
  • Enjoy caffeine in moderation – green tea is ideal for l-theanine plus antioxidant catechins
  • Stay hydrated with plenty of filtered water
  • Nutrition: 
    • Reduce sugar, processed foods
    • Enjoy more fatty fish, nuts, seeds, more vegetables especially beets, beet juice beet root
    • Spices: rosemary, sage, oregano, curcumin, garlic
  • Nutrient and herbal supplements:
    • Lion’s mane medicinal mushroom
    • Bacopa, ginkgo
    • Turmeric (curcumin)
    • Fish oil
    • Mitochondrial support like CoQ10, resveratrol, alpha lipoic acid, acetyl L carnitine
  • Bulletproof coffee with medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil
  • Essential oils like citrus (orange, grapefruit, lemon), lavender, rose
  • Acupuncture to support blood flow, stress reduction
  • Bodywork like physiotherapy, osteopathy

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Lisa loves her 80% dark chocolate after lunch for an antioxidant boost and her mid-morning decaf coffee with collagen, MCT oil and some sea salt

Dr. Toni is a big fan of Martin’s crispy apple chips from Costco for a healthy snack at the end of a meal or on its own.

Dr. Toni’s next HypnoBirthing info session for expecting parents looking to trust their instincts and their body during labour and birth is happening in May. Join her at https://www.hypnobirthingcalgary.com/register

Sign up for Dr. Lisa’s free sleep webinar on Monday, June 7th at 8:00pm to discover how to use Naturopathic Medicine, essential oils, yoga, meditation, osteopathy and massage to get those zzz…s!

Dr. Lisa’s Wild Collective in Fall 2021: get on the waitlist: wildcollectivetoronto.com

Email us or connect with us on  Facebook  and  Instagram

We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe and healthy everyone!