The Adrenal-Thyroid Connection

Thyroid Thursday Week 3 – Facebook Live Replay Jan 21 2021

Summary notes:

Welcome back again to Thyroid Thursday! This is week 3 of our Thyroid Awareness Month series. If you missed the previous 2 instalments, you’ll find them under the Videos tab on my Facebook page and linked below.

In week 1 we talked about the PCOS-Thyroid Connection, where people with PCOS may be more likely to have thyroid issues especially underactive thyroid – and vice versa! – with a few ways to address that.

Then in week 2 we talked about the Plant-Powered Thyroid, since it’s also Veganuary and plant-powered living is a major focus of Love Plants for Life, so we looked at special considerations in supporting thyroid health as vegans and vegetarians.

This week, we’re going into the Adrenal-Thyroid Connection with what it is, and some ways to support both through foods and a class of herbs and supplement known as adaptogens.

Now let’s dive in!

As you might know, the thyroid is part of our endocrine system, and is considered basically a master gland, playing roles in regulating metabolic hormones, sex hormones, and how our bodies respond to stress. And that’s where the adrenal glands come in.

The adrenals are actually on a kind of feedback loop with the hypothalamus and pituitary gland – also known as the HPA axis – which also happens to regulate thyroid function. So:

  • People who are prone to underactive thyroid function – hypothyroid, autoimmune Hashimoto’s – may be more prone to adrenal insufficiency as well.
  • Similarly, people with adrenal insufficiency – chronic stress, elevated cortisol, chronic fatigue – may also exacerbate thyroid problems.
  • They’re also linked in that adrenal hormones play a role in T4-T3 conversion.
  • Cortisol and thyroid – elevated cortisol may inhibit proper thyroid function, via disruption of enzymes affecting conversions of thyroid hormones
  • There’s even more to this, but for the sake of keeping it short I’ll leave it at this: too much cortisol is not great for keeping the thyroid humming smoothly.

It can also be hard to say if symptoms you may be experiencing are just thyroid or just adrenal, since they do so often go hand in hand AND happen to share a handful of symptoms as well. So more often than not, when we want to support adrenal health, we also want to do what we can to support the thyroid. Fortunately, a lot of things that we nutritionists like to suggest for adrenals are also good for the thyroid. Maybe it’s a bit of a “chicken/egg” scenario, but there you have it.

So what are some of those things?

Well, reducing your stressors is a major one. Take stock of what stresses you out the most (job, finances, global crises…), as well as what things also could be stressing you out (distribution of housework, emotional labour, time spent on social media…), and even things that might seem like they’re not that stressful may actually be pretty stressful according to your body (like exercising too much, one cup of coffee too many, eating more sugar than you think you are, not sleeping or hydrating enough…). Then do what you can to reduce those stressors where you can. This can be challenging and can take a while, so starting with the smaller stuff and working your way up can be a really good place to start.

So now we know what to remove. But I’m a fan of replacing more than just removing, so what can you add in to nourish the adrenal-thyroid connection?

  • B complex – B12 particularly may be deficient in those with hypothyroid, and especially those also prone to anemia. Supporting adrenals with the full range of B vitamins is also important, so other than a good bioavailable B complex supplement, looking to add more B-rich foods like dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, avocados, whole grains like oats and quinoa, as well as nutritional yeast and spirulina for that B12.
  • Vitamin D – may also help regulate cortisol levels. Mushrooms are a top vegan-friendly source, as are fermented soy products, and of course sunlight. Supplementation though is generally recommended for everyone but especially plant-powered lifestyles.
  • Ashwagandha – adaptogen herb that may help lower cortisol, and shows benefits for thyroid function as well. Adaptogens basically help your endocrine system adapt, as the name suggests. Throwing it back to week 1, ashwagandha may also help regulate testosterone and estrogen levels, so it can be a good overall addition to a PCOS plan too. I like to add ashwagandha powder to my morning smoothies, and it’s also good as a tea.
  • Additional adaptogens that I really like as teas or elixirs include reishi mushroom, holy basil or tulsi tea, and licorice tea.
  • Of course any herb or supplement should be cross-checked against your other conditions or medications for possible contraindications, so be sure to talk to your practitioner about it.

There is of course a lot more information and so many ways to support thyroid and adrenal function, but these are some of my favourite ways to get started. If you do have questions or you’d like additional support for hormone issues you might be experiencing, remember you can email me or book your free Discovery Session to see how we could work together to support your best health.

Next week we’ll wrap up Thyroid Awareness Month with a final big-picture session, looking deeper at the alchemy of hormone balance and what you can do going forward. See you then!

Do You Have These Symptoms? (Why You Should Check Your Magnesium Intake)

This week I’m all about how stress affects our hormones, and how that can be linked to gut health and immune function.

One nutrient that just about always tops my list for combatting stress is magnesium.

That’s because Continue reading “Do You Have These Symptoms? (Why You Should Check Your Magnesium Intake)”

LoveBites: Spell-Casting & Activist Burnout

I don’t talk about activism much in this space. I try to reserve this space for mostly talking about delicious food and practical lifestyle hacks, their benefits, and how to get those benefits for your health goals, mostly around hormonal conditions. During the pandemic I’ve also talked a lot about managing stress and preventing burnout, but what about activist burnout?

Like so many I’ve been angry and heartbroken with the state of the world Continue reading “LoveBites: Spell-Casting & Activist Burnout”

The Protein-Hormone Connection and How It Involves Chocolate

I love chocolate. If I had to live on one flavour forever, I feel like I’d be perfectly content choosing chocolate.

Loving chocolate and craving chocolate are not the same creature.

For the first week of World Vegan Month, I’ve been focusing on plant protein and how to get enough. Now I’m going to take a look at how protein intake is connected two-fold with chocolate cravings. Continue reading “The Protein-Hormone Connection and How It Involves Chocolate”

LoveBites: 2 Easy Ways to Slow Down

“Sometimes you need to slow down to eventually go faster.” ~Robin Sharma

How do you slow down? What does that look like? When was the last time you actually did?

If it’s been a while, here are a couple of ways you can try to slow down today: Continue reading “LoveBites: 2 Easy Ways to Slow Down”

LoveBites: I am the Storm

“I AM THE STORM.”

It’s so easy to get washed away within a vortex of doubt, anxiety, self-sabotage, worry that things just aren’t good enough. Looks, health, career, relationships – anything that feels like it’s bearing down on you, maybe even tearing you apart.

Change the perspective. Be the storm. Tear that shit up yourself. Get it done.

What does that look like in real terms?

Get your goal planner out. Write it down. Block out distractions and detractors. Show up even when you think you’re not feeling it. Strike one task down out of your path at a time, then bring on the next.

When you feel burnt out under your own fire take breaks without apology. Hydrate and get back to real food. Get some love from your friends, your partner, your pets. Stretch. Breathe. REVISE. Write some more.

Then get back on it.

You’ve got this.