How to eat with Adrenal and Thyroid Conditions
So, you or someone you love has just been diagnosed with either an adrenal or thyroid condition and you are looking for advice on eating and nutrition going forward. While obviously, some medical conditions require medicine and/or surgery, the key too good health is a well-balanced diet and living an active lifestyle. For the purpose of this article, we will explore exactly what adrenal and thyroid glands are, what conditions can arise out of them, and how to craft a healthy, vitamin and nutrient-rich diet to give you a better healthier life.
Let us start with adrenal glands.
Adrenal glands are probably not something you talked about on a daily basis before becoming aware of the condition you have developed. Adrenal glands are located just above each of your kidneys and their primary function is to produce important hormones for your body.
These hormones include vital sex hormones that our bodies need. They also are responsible for producing cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone with an incredibly wide array of functions. Almost our entire body has cortisol receptors which essentially means that it plays a factor in a ton of different body functions. A few of these include helping maintain and control your blood sugar levels, it helps maintain and reduce inflammation (which can help with pain and anxiety issues), it will help regulate your metabolism, and helps with brain functions including memory.
Another key function of cortisol is our response and handling of stress. Stress is a large health concern and with the increasing pace and intensity of our daily lives in an ever increasingly fast and digital world, we are seeing the number of people affected by it growing year over year.
These functions and processes in our body make cortisol essential to our overall health. In the case of stress, while it can be minor and most of us deal with it to some degree, if left to fester the havoc it can cause ranges and can ultimately lead to death. For this reason, while oft initially minor, adrenal conditions should not be taken lightly.
Before moving on to thyroid conditions, let’s examine the stress issue for a second. From a mental perspective, ongoing stress can exacerbate other mental issues such as anxiety or depression. If you suffer from either of the later, you first hand understand strenuous stress can be to your mental health.
While these mental health concerns are threatening in their own right, the long-term effects of stress on your body are downright fear-inspiring. The list includes high blood pressure (hypertension), stroke, abnormal or irregular heartbeats, and heart disease including heart attack. All of this is to say that your adrenal health matters, and if you care about your health, in general, you need to be taking steps towards a healthier life.
Now, on to thyroid conditions.
The thyroid gland is another important cog in your body’s hormone machine process. Thyroids are located in our necks and its primary focus is to produce hormones that drive our metabolic process.
The metabolic process is most likely not properly understood. Sure, we all know that as we get older our metabolism slows down and we get fatter as we continue to eat pasta, bread, and Oreos. But let’s be honest, this isn’t a very scientific explanation is it?
There are three primary functions of the metabolic process and each (and especially all three together) play a large role in our bodies. The first is that metabolism converts food to energy in our bodies. Secondly, metabolism converts the food we eat to building blocks for proteins to build in our bodies. Lastly, Metabolism aids in the flushing out of waste. As you can see, these are things we want our body doing. And if we aren’t properly producing the hormones to make these functions go it is easy to see how that can lead to a few extra pounds.
Thyroidism (conditions of the thyroid) can and do vary. Much like adrenal conditions, early detection and working towards a healthier lifestyle are important here. Some thyroid issues are minor and will just require a tune-up of our bodies. For the more serious you will need to involve your doctor and get treatment, including medicine. Conditions of the thyroid can include cancer, this is serious stuff, please include your doctor.
One such condition is known as hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is when your body is producing too much of a hormone that speeds up your metabolism which can cause unexplained weight loss and can have other effects like irregular heartbeats.
Does that sound familiar? It should.
Adrenal and thyroid conditions are all centered around the same things. Adrenal is tied to stress which can be tied to heart and weight issues. Thyroidism is tied to your metabolic process which is also tied to your heart and weight health. Know what else affects your weight and heart health? Stress. What hormone helps with stress response? Cortisol. What gland produces cortisol? The adrenal gland. What is a large contributor to issues of heart health? Having weight issues (too much or too little).
I just threw a lot at you. But the point here is simple, these two conditions are very closely related, and you want to be in control of them.
Now, what do we do to make ourselves healthier when facing adrenal and thyroid issues?
First thing is first. Cut out the toxins. Get rid of nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, and bad sleeping habits.
Next, get moving. Movement is one of the most important things in being healthy. Start light, then build up your workouts, but get active.
After this, let’s get ahold of our relationship with stress. With hormones out of whack and now health concerns on our radar we can ill-afford to be adding on more stress to our plate. Working out is a great way to blow off steam and destress so we have a good starting point. Add in some yoga and meditation for an added boost.
Create a schedule and make daily routines. Stress lives in the world of unpredictable so do your best to avoid unneeded surprises. You can’t totally eliminate random acts of the world, but we can minimize them. Find some good coping methods, again think breathing techniques, to help you deal with when the sudden and unpleasant arise.
Now that we have put in all of this work, we can talk one of the most important plans you need a health plan. A nutrient and vitamin-rich diet is the most important thing in your world now. Your body needs and craves balance, and you will now feed that with a brand-new nutrition plan built around both adrenal and thyroid health.
First, we want to target foods that create a healthy blood sugar balance. Foods that do this are categorized as low glycemic foods. These foods are slowly digested and thus slowly absorbed by the body which means that they do not create any sudden or quick spikes in blood sugar levels. Some good foods here that are also high in nutrients are 100% stone-ground whole-wheat bread, sweet potatoes, beans, legumes, and lentils. There are obviously more than these, but this is a good place to start.
Protein will also now be a staple in your diet. For this, the easy go to’s will be egg whites and fish as well as chicken. Dairy products will also add a ton to your diet as well as pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds.
You will also need to focus on mineral rich foods here. You need to keep your magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium, and iodine. For magnesium make sure to eat spinach, broccoli, and other leafy greens. To get iron you will eat dried fruit, dark leafy greens, and lean red meat (grass fed beef is always a good idea). For zinc eat seeds, whole grains, pork, crab, and some more lean meat. Selenium intake will come down to eating meat, poultry, whole grains, and Brazilian nuts. Lastly, for your iodine, make sure to eat enough shellfish and seaweeds.
The last bit of advice here, and it’s really advice for anyone looking to improve their health. Say it with me now, no more processed foods! Processed foods are terrible for your health, and if you now have a diagnosed gland issue, just cut them out.
When we look at everything, on the whole, it’s all pretty simple. Cut out the toxins in your life. Kick your vices to the curb. Make sure to get active and get movement into your daily routine. For your diet, make sure that your focus is on getting value out of every bite of food. You need a good balance of protein, minerals, and vitamins. Lean meats, nuts, and dark leafy green vegetables are always a good idea. If you buckle down and stick to it, you now have the road map to better health.