Don’t Let Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Zap Your Energy

A diagnosis of Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, means that your thyroid gland is not producing high enough hormone levels to carry out its many roles in the body.

Thyroid hormones play roles in a wider range of physical functions than most of us realise, so when those hormone levels get out of whack, the entire body can be affected. There can be a number of reasons this happens, ranging from nutritional deficiencies to radiation, with one of the more common reasons being an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Is More Common Than You May Think

Affecting approximately 10% of women over the age of 30, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. Some studies put the incidence of Hashimoto’s as high as five percent of the overall population.

What is Hashimoto’s?

The condition gets its name from the Japanese physician who first identified it in 1912. It’s important to understand that Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disorder. In other words, with Hashimoto’s, your immune system somehow perceives that your healthy thyroid is a threat to your wellbeing, and attacks it in response.

Autoimmune disorders like this can be frustrating since they often don’t have a direct, easily identified cause. They can also be tricky to diagnose. In fact, up to 60 percent of people who have a thyroid issue don’t know that they have it.

Who Is At Risk Of Hashimoto’s?

Women
Certain conditions can make it more likely that you will develop Hashimoto’s. For example, women are from five to eight times more likely to develop the disease.

Previous Autoimmune Disease
Your risk is also highest at middle age. Having other autoimmune disorders (such as lupus, celiac disease, or rheumatoid arthritis) can also make you more vulnerable.

Gluten Intolerance
Some research has linked Hashimoto’s to diets high in gluten. Although gluten doesn’t directly cause Hashimoto’s, gluten consumption does seem to increase the risk for autoimmune disorders in general. And interestingly, people with celiac disease are three times more likely to have a thyroid problem.

Stress
Other research suggests a link between chronic stress and Hashimoto’s. This connection could be due to the interaction between stress and our immune systems.

What Are The Symptoms Of Hashimoto’s?

The symptoms of Hashimoto’s often build slowly, which is why they often go unnoticed. As the thyroid experiences more damage, many people find they become increasingly tired. In fact, overwhelming fatigue is one of the most common complaints with this disease.

You may also experience a long list of frustrating symptoms, including:
● Weight gain
● Muscle aches
● Thinning hair
● Dry skin
● Constipation
● Fertility problems
● Poor cold tolerance
● Depression
● Memory issues
● Hoarseness
● Low libido
● Slow heart rate
● A lump at the base of the throat, due to an enlarged thyroid

Many of the symptoms listed above are easy to blame on other health issues – even simply growing older. However, the long term-effects of Hashimoto’s can greatly affect your quality of life. And over time, low levels of thyroid hormone can lead to elevated cholesterol levels. That’s why it’s important to seek help if you suspect Hashimoto’s.

How Is Hashimoto’s Diagnosed?

Many conventional medical doctors run just one test for thyroid problems – Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). However, because thyroid problems can be complex, the result doesn’t always provide an accurate diagnosis. High TSH may well indicate that the body is trying very hard to stimulate an under-responsive thyroid gland, however it doesn’t tell us why. And a normal TSH result does not rule out more complex issues.

For a thorough evaluation of your thyroid health, more in-depth testing is often required. After all, your body works as an integrated unit, and TSH is just one piece of the puzzle.

Help! I am Having Trouble Managing Hashimoto’s. What Can I Do?

Hashimoto’s is typically treated with a thyroid hormone supplement to restore the body’s levels. However, many patients have difficulty finding the exact level of supplementation to alleviate their symptoms.

A holistic approach aims to address the root cause of the autoimmune condition, in addition to supporting the thyroid and using thyroid hormone supplements as needed. This usually means making improvements to your overall health and balancing other hormone levels to support the whole system.

Supplements For Hashimotos’s
Supplements that may help include:
● Selenium
● Vitamin B12
● Zinc
● Ashwagandha

Lifestyle changes To Support Thyroid Health
Good habits can have a positive effect on Hashimoto’s, including:

● Reduce the amount of sugar that you eat (and drink)
This includes sugar substitutes, which have been directly linked to Hashimoto’s. Artificial sweeteners can lower the number of “good” bacteria in your gut, which can negatively impact your immune system.

● Watch Your Gluten Intake
Gluten and autoimmunity are interconnected, so it is a good idea to reduce the amount of gluten in your diet. Quinoa and rice are both good replacements, as are gluten-free crackers made with flax seeds. Keep in mind that the goal is to add variety to the diet, so avoid replacing all gluten products with a highly processed corn based version.

● Focus on natural, high-fibre foods
Because of the important link between gut health and immunity, keep your gut in top shape by consuming enough fibre to keep things moving.

● Reduce stress
Yes, that’s easier said than done in today’s busy world! However, it’s also important to remember that looking after your own health (even if that means cutting back on your responsibilities) will ultimately make you better able to look after your loved ones and your other responsibilities. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup, so taking care of yourself is step one in taking care of others.

If you recognize the symptoms of Hashimoto’s described above, or if you’ve been given a diagnosis but are having trouble managing your symptoms, let’s talk. Together we can get a handle on your energy levels so that you can start feeling like yourself again.

References:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6221534/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28829155
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30060266
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6688766/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15650357
https://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(15)00767-2/fulltext?referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov%2F

Are Distractions Reducing Your Productivity?

Here’s a challenge: Can you read this article from beginning to end without being distracted? And how will any distractions affect your ultimate understanding of the subject? The answers might surprise you.

We tend to think that distractions are a normal part of life, but it’s often a valuable exercise to take a step back and consider the impact of constant interruptions. Why is this important? Like most people, you have a lot to accomplish every day. You also have goals you want to reach. Perhaps you want to work towards greater health, making a bigger impact with the work you do or improve your relationships. And not being able to focus can impact your ability to reach those goals.

The Hidden Cost of Distraction

Interestingly, many people argue that they are more efficient when they are busy and multi-tasking. And in fact, researchers have found that we do actually work faster when we’re faced with a lot of distractions. That may be because we subconsciously feel that we have to overcompensate for the interruptions.

Higher Anxiety
However, studies have also found that the cost of distractions affects something far more important than your productivity: your wellbeing. That’s because distractions make you feel more stressed and anxious. And higher levels of anxiety can affect every part of your body.

Lower Accuracy
As well, being distracted can affect your accuracy. It makes sense: Your brain can only handle so much input at a time. However, what is surprising is how little it takes to derail your focus and affect your accuracy. As little as three seconds of distraction (the time it takes to glance at your phone after it beeps) can affect your focus and, in turn, your accuracy.

Distraction Recovery Time
The effects of even short distractions like that are startling. One study found that it takes an astounding 23 minutes and 15 seconds to regain your focus after an interruption. Let’s put that in perspective for a moment. How often does your phone ring or beep while you’re doing something else? If it takes over 20 minutes to recover from every notification, how much of your day is spent in “distraction recovery”? And does the loss of that time affect your long-term health and your goals?

Altered Memory Function
Consider what happens when you are looking things up while you watch a movie. Do you really follow the plot as carefully? Do you remember the details of the movie as well? Science suggests that you don’t. In fact, researchers have found that the way we remember things has changed since the advent of the Internet. Our memory functions have been altered.

How To Prevent Distractions

If you would like to minimize the impact of distractions in your life, it’s important to recognize the distinction between a needed break and a distraction. A break can be a good time to recharge and clear your mind. We’re typically more productive after we have stepped away from work for a bit. Breaks that are planned usually provide an incentive to work hard. In contrast, a distraction can come out of nowhere.

Although we tend to think of distractions as out of our control, we can take steps to reduce them.

1. Take Control Of Your Devices

Yes, we all rely on our phones – but do we really need to be notified every single time something happens? This is a personal preference and will depend on your situation, but it helps to be aware that you can customize your phone’s notifications. For example, parents are often reluctant to turn their phones off in case their kids need them, but you can adjust your settings so that all but a few specific contacts are muted.

It’s ok to let people know that, starting now, you may not respond right away to email or text messages. If you get a lot of emails at work, a good habit is to set aside specific times for checking your email, for example once every two hours or in the morning and at the end of the day.

2. Turn Off Your Notifications

It might feel like an adjustment at first to do away with the little red dot that tells you how much has been happening on Facebook, Twitter or in the news, but you’ll soon realize that you don’t miss anything important. You simply gain more control over when and where you get information. (It might help to remember that the ultimate goal of the apps on your device isn’t to keep you informed – it’s to make money by grabbing your attention.)

3. Schedule Your Breaks

It’s important to take a break when focused on a lengthy task. You’re less likely to be distracted and stay on task if you schedule a bit of time to relax – see it as a reward if that helps. Regular breaks can actually make you more productive! However, those breaks should be mindful ones, not filled with more things begging for your attention. So take a walk, meditate, or even have a quick nap. The important thing is to clear your mind.

4. Train Yourself To Regain Focus

Now that you understand how long it can take to regain your focus after each distraction, make a conscious effort to get back on task faster!

Does The Way You Live Your Life Make It Harder To Pay Attention When It Matters?

It’s also important to look at how aspects of your lifestyle can affect your focus. If you’re rested and healthy, distractions may not impact you as much as they would otherwise.

Simple adjustments like introducing a 10-minute-a-day meditation practice, or going to bed 30 minutes earlier, can positively impact your ability to focus and improve your response to interruptions.

Outside Influences That Can Affect Your Focus

If you have tried all the tricks and still find it difficult to stay on task it might be a good idea to check in on your health. Many imbalances such as thyroid problems, hormonal imbalances and nutrient deficiencies can lead to “foggy thinking” and slow response times. The good news is, we can help you to uncover these issues with a proper health assessment that includes lab tests.

How are distractions affecting your health? It’s something to think about. if you have been making efforts but still find it harder to focus than before – brain fog, forgetfulness, there could be more factors at play so give us a call!

References:
https://www.ics.uci.edu/~gmark/chi08-mark.pdf
http://www.yalescientific.org/2013/05/is-google-ruining-your-memory-the-science-of-memory-in-the-digital-age/
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mental-downtime/