Thyroid Management in 2020
Want to take control of your thyroid in 2020?
If so, then this is the article for you.
I am going to discuss 5 things that I think are the most important for you to focus on if you have thyroid disease.
These 5 things pertain to you regardless of what type of thyroid condition you have.
I've spent the last 5 years focusing solely on treating patients with thyroid disease and these 5 areas are what I am focusing on for my own family members.
These 5 areas are all designed to help you get your symptoms under control, help you manage your thyroid medication (and make adjustments if necessary), and allow you to naturally improve your thyroid function.
What You Should Focus on in 2020
#1. Revise your Diet.
Most of you reading this already know what a healthy diet is.
So when I say you need to revise your diet I'm not really talking about eating healthy (this is something you should already be doing).
So, when I say revise your diet I'm not talking about starting one of these diets.
On the contrary, what I'm talking about is personalizing whatever healthy diet you are already consuming to better fit your needs.
There are many ways to alter the diet that you are currently following.
By altering the TYPES of food that you are consuming, the QUANTITY of those foods, and WHEN you are eating.
Each of these 3 factors plays an important role in helping to regulate your hormones and your ability to feel better.
It may surprise you to know that out of the box diets like the ketogenic diet can work very well for some people but not for others.
Why does this happen?
Because these out of the box do not really allow for much personalization which is where you come in.
For the year 2020, I would recommend that you pay close attention to the foods that you are eating, when you eat them, how much you eat them, and when you are not eating (when you are fasting) and how these impact your symptoms.
You can tweak each of these individual components to really help you find what type of diet your body needs.
This is what I do when I help patients 1 on 1. I help them figure out the types of food that they need based on how they are feeling.
It's a really powerful tool and something that you need to get good at.
#2. Update your Supplements.
You can and absolutely should be taking supplements to support your thyroid.
I have successfully used thyroid supplements to help thyroid patients for many years and I will be one of the first to tell you that they can absolutely be effective and helpful.
But more and more I find that patients are not using these over the counter supplements correctly which may lead to a diminished effect.
When updating your supplements for 2020 there are a few things that you should keep in mind...
You really shouldn't be using more than 5 oral supplements at any given time.
I will often treat thyroid patients who are taking 15+ supplements at any given time!
Once you use more than 5 supplements at once you really start to see diminishing returns in terms of their beneficial effects.
Don't get me wrong, the first 5 supplements that thyroid patients take often provide a big boost to their results.
But that benefit is diminished as you start adding supplement #6, supplement #7, and so on.
Supplements, like medications, can interfere with each other as you ingest them, can compete for absorption, and may inactivate each other during this process.
Limiting yourself 5 per day will limit this problem and ensure that each supplement you take is working.
Note that I specifically mentioned oral supplements and not sublingual or vitamin injections.
These types of supplements do not count against your 5 supplement limit and can be used in addition to oral supplements.
Anything that doesn't go through the mouth will limit that chance and opportunity that other ingredients will interfere with the original supplement's absorption.
What if you truly have a need to take more than 5 supplements at any given time?
There are some instances where this may be necessary but I also think a better approach is to use different supplements in 3 month intervals.
You want to have a focused goal when using your supplements.
I see a number of people who consult with me who are on a sort of Frankenstein amalgam of random supplements.
They continually add on 1 or 2 supplements here and there over a year or so and now they are up to 15 supplements that they take daily with no real goal in mind.
If this is you then you need to change up your mindset and switch to one which is far more focused!
Find the biggest problem that you are currently facing (say low thyroid function) and use several supplements and nutrients designed to fix THAT problem.
Once you've been on that regimen for several months and you've noticed an improvement in your symptoms then you can typically alter your regimen to better suit your needs.
Your needs and the supplements you should be using will vary during your healing process.
Some supplements should be taken for longer than others, that is true.
But supplements like Zinc and Selenium really do not need to be continued forever. They only need to be taken until you replete the stores in your body.
#3. Get a Fresh set of Labs.
Another thing that you should put a priority on is your thyroid lab tests.
I would highly recommend that you start this new year with a COMPLETE and fresh set of thyroid lab tests.
I find that most thyroid patients are operating with not only an incomplete set of lab tests but I also find that their lab tests are often VERY outdated.
If you've never had a complete set of thyroid lab tests then this should really be the first thing that you try to get.
I've written about this complete set of labs many times and you can find that list here.
Spend the time necessary to get these labs drawn even if it means paying a little bit out of pocket.
You won't regret having a complete picture of what is going on with your thyroid, I promise.
The more information you have, the better.
The better treatment decisions you will be able to make and the more data you have to follow as you make changes.
When you get your labs drawn you also need to make sure that you get them drawn in the correct way to ensure that your lab tests are actually accurate.
I find that many thyroid patients will get the complete set of lab tests but then they won't take the time to ensure that they are accurate, drawn at the right time of day, and so on.
Taking your thyroid medication at the wrong time (or right before you get your labs drawn) will give you inaccurate information.
And if you don't have accurate information to base your decisions on then that is a recipe for disaster and confusion.
Get your complete set of thyroid lab tests drawn in January of 2020 and ensure that you take the right steps for 100% accuracy (read this post to determine how to do that).
Once you have this set then you can utilize the other therapies here and continue to re-test your labs as necessary through 2020 to see what is working and what isn't.
This is exactly how I treat and help thyroid patients get back to 100% and it's something that you can do.
#4. Make Sleep a Priority.
I know that you know that sleep is important.
I probably don't need to convince you of that.
But what I am trying to say here is that you probably don't realize just how important it really is.
I've become more and more convinced that one of the best ways to improve your health, improve thyroid function (1), reduce inflammation (2), lose weight (3), and balance your hormones is to ensure that you are sleeping at least 8 hours per night.
I don't want you to think that sleeping more will solve all of your problems because that isn't true.
But you should be plenty aware that not sleeping enough will block and make less effective basically ANY therapy that you are currently doing.
So imagine that you are sleeping 5 hours per night but taking the right medication (NDT or some form of T3 medication), eating a healthy diet (like paleo or whole30), exercising daily, taking thyroid specific supplements, and so on.
In this case, it sounds like you are doing everything right, right?
You might be tempted to think that all of the good you are doing would outweigh whatever negative consequences might come from not sleeping enough but that's where you'd be wrong.
While sleeping by itself isn't enough to magically normalize your thyroid, not sleeping enough is definitely enough to prevent you from getting the results that you want.
And more and more I find that people simply don't put a focus on their sleep.
Make it a new year's resolution to spend time, money and energy to ensure that you are getting enough QUALITY sleep.
Buy a good mattress, sleep in a cool room, buy blue light blocking glasses, get some blackout curtains if you need them, set a schedule, take some sleep supplements (but be careful with melatonin), meditate before bed, do whatever it takes to get that sleep.
You will not be sorry.
#5. Focus on Mobility and Stretching over Exercise.
The last thing I want to drive home is this idea of improving your mobility.
I can't even begin to describe how much of an issue it is for you to be stiff and inflexible.
How does flexibility relate to your thyroid?
Well, we all know that exercise is important, right?
You should know that exercising helps improve cardiovascular function, helps improve mood, improves hormone balance, and so on.
You may or may not have known that exercise also directly impacts thyroid function (in a positive way).
And while I know that improving your mobility is not the same thing as exercising, it does have an indirect impact on thyroid function.
Improving your mobility can help improve blood flow to the thyroid gland which can bring with it a rich source of nutrients from any supplements you are taking.
Enhanced mobility also improves blood flow and lymphatic drainage to other areas of your body which enhances the movement of nutrients to peripheral tissues as well.
More blood flow to other areas of your body also brings with it any thyroid hormone medication you are taking by mouth.
You might be tempted to think that your body will equally bring blood flow to all tissues no matter what.
And this just isn't the case.
There are MANY medical conditions which result in what we call venous stasis (4) which is a fancy way of saying that the blood is relatively still in any given area.
This stasis results from swelling, decreasing blood flow, reduced muscle contraction which brings blood back to the heart, and so on.
Improving your mobility will also improve your quality of life, enhance your ability to exercise (and make it more effective), enhance your longevity, and allow you to sleep better (hint hint).
Want to know if you need to improve your mobility?
Just bend over right now and try to touch your toes while keeping your knees somewhat locked (though not completely).
You can also attempt to open your chest by bringing your hands behind your back and interlocking them.
Keep your hands there for 30-60 seconds and check to see if they start tingling.
And finally, stand straight and lift your head up to look at the ceiling.
Do you feel a tight stretch across your neck and down to your collar bones?
You'll know if you are tight and need to improve your mobility if you fail any of these tests.
If you do then put your emphasis on stretching and improving your mobility OVER exercising.
Improving your mobility will make whatever exercises you are doing much more effective as you increase your range of motion.
If I were a thyroid patient then these are the things that I would focus on for 2020.
Following the advice you find here will take time.
Don't expect to just start these things and notice a difference within a couple of days.
Change your mindset and the interval with which you determine your success to a timescale of MONTHS rather than days.
But I can guarantee that if you stick to the areas listed here that you WILL see improvement.
How much is hard to say, but you will see improvement.
Now I want to hear from you!
Do you have any goals for the year 2020 as it relates to your thyroid?
Are you changing up any of your therapies?
Are you going to try anything new?
Have you already tried some of the things listed here?
Leave your questions or comments below to help keep the conversation going!
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