How to Balance Thyroid, Adrenal and Blood Sugar – A Step-by-Step Guide
Have you been experiencing problems related to thyroid, adrenal and/or blood sugar imbalances? Balancing these hormones are essential to health and well-being, and although it can be hard work, with some lifestyle changes you can start feeling more energized and less fatigued
With reports indicating that over 92% of the population are metabolically unwell, it’s critical to make choices to maintain optimal metabolic wellness and to teach your patients and clients to do the same, if you’re a practitioner.
The human body is a complex and interconnected system where each part influences the others in various ways. The endocrine system is a perfect example of this intricate connection. In this article, we’ll explore the relationship between the adrenals, thyroid, and blood sugar regulation hormones, and how imbalances in one can lead to issues in others.
The Adrenals: An Overview
The adrenal glands, located on top of the kidneys, are responsible for producing hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. These hormones play a crucial role in regulating our stress response, immune function, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.
When the body perceives stress, the adrenals release cortisol and other stress hormones to help us cope. In the short term, this response is adaptive and helps us handle the situation. However, prolonged stress can lead to chronic elevations in cortisol, which can have negative effects on the body.
The Thyroid: An Overview
The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate metabolism, growth, and development. The two primary thyroid hormones are T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). These hormones influence nearly every cell in the body and help regulate body temperature, heart rate, and energy levels.
Thyroid function is regulated by the pituitary gland, which secretes thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) in response to the body's needs. If the thyroid gland is not producing enough hormones, the pituitary gland will release more TSH to try and stimulate the thyroid to produce more.
The Connection Between Adrenals and Thyroid
The adrenals and thyroid are closely connected, with each influencing the other's function. For example, cortisol, the primary stress hormone produced by the adrenals, can inhibit the conversion of T4, the most inactive form, to T3, the active form of thyroid hormone. Chronic stress can lead to a decrease in TSH secretion, resulting in decreased thyroid function. This can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, and brain fog.
The thyroid hormone plays a role in regulating cortisol levels. Low thyroid function can lead to decreased cortisol clearance, resulting in higher levels of cortisol in the body. High or low cortisol levels can reduce the conversion of T3 from T4, and impact the ability of the thyroid receptors to do their job.
The Relationship Between Adrenals, Thyroid, and Blood Sugar
Blood sugar regulation is also closely tied to the adrenals and thyroid.
Cortisol increases blood sugar levels by promoting the breakdown of glycogen, the storage form of glucose, in the liver. This is part of the body's natural “fight or flight” response to stress. Chronic elevations in cortisol can lead to insulin resistance, where the cells become less responsive to insulin, resulting in high blood sugar levels.
The thyroid hormone also plays a role in blood sugar regulation. Low thyroid function can lead to decreased insulin sensitivity, resulting in high blood sugar levels. The thyroid hormone is also necessary for the proper metabolism of glucose.
When the adrenals and thyroid are functioning optimally, blood sugar levels remain stable, and insulin sensitivity is maintained. However, when there is an imbalance in one or both of these glands, blood sugar regulation can become compromised.
How to Support Adrenal, Thyroid, and Blood Sugar Health
There are several steps you can take to support the health of your adrenals, thyroid, and blood sugar levels.
- Manage stress: Chronic stress is a significant contributor to imbalances in the adrenals, thyroid, and blood sugar. Incorporating stress-reducing activities such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises can help support healthy hormone levels.
- Eat a balanced diet: Eating a diet rich in whole foods abundant in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole-food plant-based fats, like avocado, olives, and coconuts can help support adrenal, thyroid, and blood sugar health. Avoiding processed foods, sugar, and refined carbohydrates will lead to stable blood sugar levels.
- Get enough sleep: Adequate sleep is essential for the health of the adrenals, thyroid, and blood sugar. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night to support healthy hormone levels. Check out our podcast episodes on sleep for details.
- Exercise regularly: Exercise can help support healthy adrenal and thyroid function and improve insulin sensitivity. However, over-exercising can lead to stress on the body, so it is essential to find a balance that works for you.
- Consider supplements: Certain supplements can also help support the health of the adrenals, thyroid, and blood sugar levels. For example, ashwagandha, magnesium, and vitamin D have been shown to help support adrenal function. Selenium, iodine, and zinc can support thyroid function, and chromium, magnesium, DHA, and alpha-lipoic acid can help support healthy blood sugar levels.
If you are experiencing symptoms related to adrenal, thyroid, or blood sugar imbalances, work with a functional healthcare practitioner to address the underlying issues. Our Empowered Self-Care Lab contains programs for all of these, plus recipes, nutrient assessments, monthly health topics, and support calls with trained Nutritional Endocrinology practitioners
In conclusion, the adrenals, thyroid, and blood sugar are all interconnected and play a crucial role in maintaining optimal health. Stress, poor diet, lack of sleep, and lack of exercise can all contribute to imbalances in these systems, leading to a range of symptoms and health issues.
By prioritizing healthy lifestyle habits and seeking personalized support when needed, it is possible to restore balance to your adrenals, thyroid, and blood sugar and achieve optimal health and well-being.
Recipes can be helpful! Check out these to support hormone balance
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Here are some references for further research and reading
- Harvard Health Publishing. “Understanding the stress response.”
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. “Thyroid disease and diabetes.”
- Harvard Health Publishing. “Why stress causes people to overeat.”
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. “Ashwagandha.”
- Linus Pauling Institute. “Alpha-Lipoic Acid.”