Stress On Thyroid
Stress is the body’s natural reaction to dangerous or threatening situations. When we feel threatened or unsure our body activates its fight or flight response which assists quick reactions. However, if this system is constantly active it can cause serious damage to the body, particularly the thyroid.
Effects of stress on thyroid
A properly functioning thyroid approximately produces 80% of T4 and 20% of T3. T3 is the biologically active hormone that has a cellular level effect. The thyroid produces some T3, the rest of the T3 is formed when the body converts T4 to T3. T4 is inactive form and must be converted into T3 before it can be used by the cells. Chronic physiologic stress results in decreasing the thyroid activity by interfering with the conversion of T4 to T3.
Chronic stress has been thought to be due to excess cortisol production. The increased cortisol levels are seen with stress also contribute to the physiologic disconnect between the TSH and peripheral tissue T3 levels resulting in hypothyroidism, potential weight gain, fatigue, and depression. This vicious cycle of weight gain, fatigue, and depression that is associated with stress can be prevented with supplementation.
The low cellular thyroid level certainly contributes to the weight gain and other associated side-effects. Thus, in stressed patients, there are reduced tissue T3 levels that are not reflected by the TSH level, making the TSH an inappropriate marker for tissue levels of T3.
How can stress be reduced?
Maintain good breathing:
Breathing is the fundamental necessity of life that most people take it for granted. With each breath of air, you obtain oxygen and release waste carbon dioxide. Poor breathe diminish the flow of these gases to and from the body making it harder to cope with the stressful situations.
Certain breathing patterns may actually contribute to anxiety, depression, panic attacks, muscle tension, fatigue, and headaches. As you learn to be aware of your breathing and practice slowing and normalizing your breath, your mind will be quiet and relax. The best technique to follow is Abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing technique.
Lie on your back on a flat surface or in bed, with your knees bent and your head supported. You can use a pillow under your knees to support your legs. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage. This will allow you to feel your diaphragm move as you breathe.
Breathe in slowly through your nose so that your stomach moves out against your hand. The hand on your chest should remain as still as possible.
In addition to three nutritionally balanced meals per day, it is recommended to fit in two healthy snacks that are filled with quality protein. Eating breakfast every day is a good way to wake up your metabolism as well as keeping blood sugar and hormone production regulated. High consumption of caffeine and sugar, in particular foods such as coffee, soda, and chocolate, are linked to increased levels of stress. By reducing your consumption of these items it may lower your overall stress.
Progressive relaxation of muscles reduces pulse rate, blood pressure, and respiration rates. Deep muscle relaxation and successfully mastered can be used as an anti-stress pill. Most people don’t know which of their muscles are chronically tense. When you practice progressive relaxation, you focus on sensations of tension in one particular muscle group at a time.
Then, when you release that tension, you focus on the sensations of relaxation in that same muscle group. Moving progressively through the whole body from one muscle group to other will help in complete relaxation and stay away from stress.
Get sufficient Sleep:
By getting enough good quality sleep our body’s neuroendocrine system can reset in order to better regulate our hormones. When we do not sleep long or well enough, our bodies do not get the full benefits of sleep, such as muscle repair and memory consolidation. Sleep is so crucial that even slight sleep deprivation or poor sleep can affect memory, judgment, and mood.
In regards to quality sleep, it is important to ease into sleep to allow for effective melatonin production. Melatonin is important in helping you go to and stay asleep. You can improve sleep quality by avoiding TVs and computers right before bed. This period of relaxation allows for the adrenal glands to slow stress responses leading to more restful sleep.
Controlling Thoughts and Self-Talk:
Negative and overly critical thoughts can be a significant contributor to one’s stress levels. By recognizing and halting ideas and thoughts you can flip a negative mood into a more positive one, thus relieving stress. A technique is known as “thought-stopping” may be useful. When you recognize negativity in your mind you can literally say “stop” verbally or mentally in order to transition to a different train of thought.
Regular exercise has been proven to reduce stress, improve mood, increase self-esteem, and improve energy levels. When you exercise your body releases endorphins, a hormone that gives a sensation of euphoria. Additionally, exercise can act as a good way to distract yourself from negative or stressful situations that would otherwise be on your mind. Moderate and regular exercise is highly beneficial in overall well-being, however, it is important not to over exercise, which has been shown to increase stress levels.
Stress is one of the biggest problems we have to deal with in modern life. Many don’t realize how much damage daily stress might be doing to them. It’s all well and good to eat right, get enough sleep and exercise. Being in a state of constant stress is linked to the risk of thyroid abnormalities.