Balancing Thyroid Hormones: Why it Matters

Hormones can be complex to understand and are often misunderstood, which is one of the reasons we loved talking with Candace Burch in this week’s episode! Candace helped us gain a better understanding of the effects our hormones have on our wellness, but our conversation just touched the surface on some of the ways our hormones affect our overall health and wellbeing.

Even when we look at specific hormones in isolation, our hormones are messy; the issue becomes even more confusing when trying to understand the intertwined relationships and cascading effects between them. It may feel a bit overwhelming, but understanding how your specific hormones function can give valuable insight into your overall health and wellbeing.

If you have issues surrounding your metabolism or energy levels, the culprit is most typically going to be one kind of hormone in particular: the thyroid hormones.

How the thyroid hormones work:

The thyroid actually encompass several different hormones… I warned you this is messy.

1) Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
2) Triiodothyronine (T3)
3) Thyroxine (T4)

The thyroid hormones help to stimulate and regulate the role of metabolism in most every cell of the body. Without getting too specific, TSH will stimulate the production of the two active hormones of the Thyroid (T3 & T4). When active, these two hormones stimulate metabolic functions in nearly every cell in the body. Pretty amazing, right?

Like everything, it is important to find the right balance of these hormones. Think of these as the Goldilocks hormones: you have to get them just right.

When these hormones get out of whack they can lead to issues called either hyper- (too much) or hypo– (too little) of the thyroid hormones.

If you’re not producing enough…

Some of our most common and frustrating health challenges are actually screams from our body that we’re dealing with hypothyroidism.  In fact, women are four times more likely than men to encounter this issue. See if any of these sound familiar:

  • Extreme tiredness or fatigue
  • Weight gain OR struggle to lose it
  • Difficulty with cognition – think fogginess and memory issues
  • Let’s just put it out there: Constipation
  • Trouble keeping a normal body temperature, usually resulting in feeling cold
  • Dry, brittle hair and skin

If you’re producing too much…

On the other end of the spectrum, producing too much of the thyroid hormones can lead to its own issues as well. Some common symptoms of hyperthyroidism are:

  • Drop in body weight
  • Jitteriness or tremors
  • Having a difficult time sleeping at night
  • Frequent changes in mood. Feeling nervous? Irritable?
  • Trouble keeping a normal body temperature, usually resulting in feeling hot

So what can you do if you think you may have thyroid hormone imbalance?

One of the major contributors to thyroid issues is none other than stress. Excess stress will prompt your body to go into combat, spurring an increase in thyroid hormone production. Our lives are always on the go, and maintaining a lifestyle that balances a busy work schedule, buzzing social life, strict diets, and active exercise regime can be exhausting. It’s imperative that you don’t get let this build up to the point of chaos.

You’ll inevitably burn out an engine if you are continuously driving your car; your body is no different. Make an effort to listen to your body and step back when you are feeling overwhelmed. Reducing stress will help with balancing these hormones and is just simply good for your mind and soul.

Despite the craze of low-carbohydrate diets, it’s important you’re getting enough carbs in your daily life. Yep, I said it: Carbs. Eating carbohydrates actually stimulates insulin production, which plays an important role in converting thyroid hormones so they can work their magic. If you’re on a heavily restrictive diet that impedes on your ability to make enough insulin for your body, then your hormones aren’t getting the nutrition they need to maintain their balancing act.

Iron, zinc, and iodine are also key components of our diets that contribute to balancing our thyroid hormones. Keep an eye on your intake of these minerals if you think you may be experiencing issues related to thyroid imbalance.

If any of these issues sound familiar and you are interested in taking a closer look at your specific hormone portrait, Candace has generously offered the Wine & Shiners a special discount on any hormone test and consultation package! To take advantage of this offer, send Candace an email at candacebewell@gmail.com and say you heard her on the Wine & Shine podcast.

Before we wrap up here, I want to give a full disclaimer: all of the information in this post came straight from my boyfriend Scott’s noggin (he’s smart!). Scott is a clinical researcher and conducts studies examining exercise and physiology; he loves geeking out and was thrilled to share some of his expertise with you in this post.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to continue hearing more behind the science of hormones and their effects, we’d love to continue the conversation. Share your thoughts and questions you have in the comment box below!

Shine on,
Gretchen