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 6: Healthy Hormone Hacks Challenge Summary: 10 Simple Tips to Balance Hormones and Boost Energy

In today’s episode, we are reviewing all the tips from our recent 10 Day Healthy Hormone Challenge. These simple tips help to support your hormone balance, increase your energy and support your overall health.

Tip #1: Aim to drink 2 litres of water daily, including herbal tea

Benefits of drinking water include:

  • Avoid dehydration symptoms like headaches and low energy
  • Keeping hunger at bay
  • Helping with weight management and metabolism

Recommended strategies you can use to get the most out of your water intake:

  • Use a filter like Santevia or Berkey to reduce contaminants like lead and other heavy metals, as well as prescription medications that can unfortunately be found in your water supply
  • Drink warm water first thing in the morning to support your digestion
  • Use an app like Water Minder to remind you to drink your water
  • Always keep a glass or mug by your desk at home or work to refill throughout the day
  • Bring a reusable water bottle with you everywhere 

Tip #2: Reduce stress with deep breathing

Benefits of deep breathing exercises include:

  • Better stress management and lower stress hormone cortisol
  • Increased mental clarity, concentration, memory and focus
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Improved sleep
  • Lower blood pressure

Box Breathing: inhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4

Get in deep breathing throughout the day by taking a few deep breaths:

  • When you link it to the colour red, for example, at a stop sign or red light
  • When you hear your phone ring or beep from a notification

Tip #3: Increase your fibre intake to at least 25 grams daily

Fibre helps binding up your used hormones and other garbage to support toxin elimination and proper hormone balance. Different types of fibre are found in vegetables, fruit, legumes, beans, nuts and seeds

Easy ways to add in more fibre daily include:

Tip #4: Ditch the plastic to avoid hormone-disrupting BPA and BPS

BPA and BPS can act like estrogen and worsen:

  • Breast tenderness
  • Weight gain
  • PMS mood swings

Start to swap out your plastic:

  • Alternative to plastic food bags: silicone food bags by Stasher
  • Instead of plastic wrap: beeswax wraps by Abeego
  • Switch out plastic bottles with glass or stainless steel bottles like Klean Kanteen
  • Use stainless steel mug like Contigo instead of takeout coffee cups
  • Reusable silicone or stainless steel straws instead of plastic straws

Tip #5: Eat organic when you can to reduce your exposure to pesticide residues

Check out the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists by Environmental Working Group (EWG) to see what veggies and fruit have the highest levels of pesticide residues.  

Always aim to buy organic “Dirty Dozen” fruit and veggies: strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes

Can’t buy organic? Focus on the Clean 15: avocado, sweet corn, pineapple, sweet peas (frozen), onion, papaya, eggplant, asparagus, kiwi, cabbage, cauliflower, cantaloupe, broccoli, mushrooms, honeydew melon

To remove pesticide residues from conventional non-organic produce, consider soaking all fruit and veggies in 10% vinegar and washing with baking soda.

Tip #6: Balance hormones by supporting estrogen detoxification

Symptoms of perimenopause can often be linked to relative estrogen excess and progesterone deficiency. These can include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Trouble losing weight
  • PMS
  • Breast tenderness

Cruciferous vegetables can support your liver’s ability to detoxify excess estrogens. Eat lightly steamed or sauteed veggies for easier digestion, especially during the winter. These can include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, rutabaga, bok choy, collard greens and turnip.

Quick tip: Buy frozen and organic cauliflower, broccoli or vegetable medley mix, then lightly steam or serve sauteed.

One of our favourite cruciferous veggie recipes is this Roasted Cauliflower Dip (paleo, gluten-free and dairy-free).

Tip #7: Eat more detoxifying herbs

Herbs that support liver and kidney function with extra antioxidants include: cilantro, parsley, coriander, turmeric, ginger, garlic

An easy recipe to add to chicken, fish, pasta to get in more detoxifying herbs is this Vegan Nut-Free Avocado Pesto Sauce.

Enjoy detoxifying herbs like milk thistle, dandelion root, schizandra and burdock root daily in tea form by buying a blend like Traditional Medicinals or make your own blend with this recipe for Herb and Fruit Infused Water.

Tip #8: Get your sleep

Between hot flashes and not being able to turn your brain off, sleep can be a challenge in perimenopause. Get your body ready for a deep and restful sleep with proper sleep etiquette. 

Simple tips for a good night’s sleep:

  • Turn off screens at least one hour before bed
  • Use blue blocker glasses like Cyxus
  • Lower your thermostat or wear minimal clothing to bed
  • Try hot shower or bath before bed to cool your core temperature 
  • Consider using a weighted blanket
  • Wind down with meditation, yoga nidra or journaling

Want more sleep hygiene tips? Check out our Sleep Solutions Episode!

Tip #9: Move your body

Benefits of physical activity and movement include:

  • Decreasing stress hormones
  • Supporting circulation
  • Improving mental health
  • Decreasing Liver Qi stagnation symptoms like PMS

How do you fit more movement into your day?

  • Exercise snacks: get up from desk every hour – plank, squats, jumping jacks or walk down the hall
  • Play with the kids outside: bundle up and walk to the park or enjoy the snow by making snow angels or snowman
  • Walk your kids to and from school or daycare
  • Park at the far end of the parking lot to get in more steps
  • Have a dance party at home
  • Ask yourself: Is it time to join a gym, yoga studio or sports team?

Tip #10: Green your personal care products

The chemicals in your body care products will be absorbed through your skin, so be mindful of the products you use. Avoid chemicals that can interfere with your hormone balance and possibly increase your cancer risk.

Avoid parabens, fragrance and other Suzuki Foundation Dirty Dozen in personal care products.

Use EWG’s Skin Deep Database at to see if the products you are using right now pass the test. Start to switch out the products that get a questionable rating.

Try out one new tip every week and do your best to support your hormone balance. 

Mama Must Have:

Dr. Lisa recommends dry skin brushing to support lymphatic circulation for eliminating toxins and exfoliating your skin. 

Find a natural bristle brush HERE.

As an Amazon Associate Dr. Toni earns from qualifying purchases, which helps to keep this podcast up and running! 

Thank you for joining us today! 

Have any comments, suggestions or burning questions? 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!