This will be the final piece in our discussion about the link between adrenal and thyroid issues with fatigue, stubborn thickening around your midsection and crazy cravings for sugary and/or starchy snacks. In case you missed them, you can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
Today I promised to address the following:
- Which medical tests I prefer in order to know how your adrenals are functioning
- Dispelling myths around iodine, iron and testosterone
- Natural ways to boost your stamina and fat-burning abilities
Best Medical Test
The best way to determine the state of your adrenal glands is with Saliva Hormone Testing. This test measures how your cortisol (stress hormone) levels vary throughout the day – something that simply can’t be done with blood or urine tests, which don’t see inside the cells the way saliva testing does (not to say blood and urine tests don’t have their place in determining your level of health and hormones).
To do this test you simply collect your saliva (yes, spit – but yay! no needles) into at least four separate vials throughout the day at specified times, such as within one hour of waking. The lab then measures your cortisol levels and compares them to when cortisol levels tend to be normally highest or lowest.
Saliva testing also measures DHEA-S and testosterone (as well as estrogens, progesterone and other hormones) levels. DHEA-S and testosterone are two of the most reliable indicators of biological age. Low levels, which are often present with adrenal fatigue, may indicate increased levels of aging (Yikes! Clearly not a good thing). Knowing all of this can not only turn back the clock on aging but also drastically improve your energy levels and quality of life!
There tends to be a belief (a myth) that testosterone is a “male” hormone…but, Ladies, we need it too. It keeps our motor running, especially in places like the bedroom, and regular lovin’ helps keep us looking and feeling young.
One of the best ways to improve your energy, boost your stamina and fat burning capabilities and increase bone density, etc. is with exercise – a 20-minute walk can do absolute wonders in this department!
I believe it’s always best to work with a doctor or naturopath who is experienced at reading the results of saliva hormone testing and the use of bio-identical hormones to correct any imbalances. The kit and follow-up consultation can cost around $500.00 but I do believe it’s money well spent, especially if you’re dealing with ongoing fatigue, increased and stubborn belly fat weight gain and the dozens of other debilitating symptoms that can result from adrenal and thyroid gland imbalances.
Oh boy, I fear that addressing this is really going to open up a can of worms because iodine is such a huge player in our health and, in order to keep this article as brief as possible, I can’t begin to do this subject the true justice it deserves.
Let me start by saying this: nearly everyone on this planet is deficient in iodine; sadly, at a time when we need it most in order to protect us from the toxic overload we’re facing, such as radiation (think Fukushima – and don’t believe for a minute that the fallout hasn’t made it’s way into your neighborhood).
Iodine helps shield the thyroid gland, and it’s Kiss’n Cousin, the adrenal glands, against toxins that can have a debilitating effect on our endocrine system. Having enough iodine can also help detoxify the thyroid, mammary glands, ovaries and prostate plus protect you against:
- Breast cancer
- Fibrocystic disease (in breasts, ovaries, uterus, etc)
- Viruses, yeast and fungus
You’ll want to avoid excess amounts of goitrogens though as they contain enzymes that interfere with the formation of iodine into thyroid hormone. Examples of goitrogens are:
- Cabbage (fermented in the form of sauerkraut is great though)
- Broccoli & cauliflower – unless cooked, a process which breaks down those enzymes.
- Kale and spinach (they have less but it’s still best to limit your intake)
Soy pretty much paralyzes the thyroid (unless it’s fermented, such as miso or natto). Soy is unfortunately in nearly everything, simply because it’s such a cheap ingredient, so be sure to read labels carefully. Peanuts are also problematic to the thyroid and therefore best avoided as well.
You’re also best to avoid halogens (I’m not only talk’n the light bulb variety), such as fluoride, bromides and chlorine (think tap water). Halogens trick the body into believing iodine is present and therefore block absorption and conversion of healthy iodine.
The best source of iodine is paramagnetic iodine, which can be found in high quality products such as Nascent or Lugol’s iodine drops. Sea vegetables are another great source of natural iodine. Nori sheets, which are used in making sushi, are my absolute favorite source. I use them in place of bread or pita wraps by rolling them up with veggies such as sliced avocado, cucumber, shredded carrots, etc. placed inside (I’m actually drooling as I describe this to you…YUM).
If you’re using iodine drops, say one dropper-full mixed in water, be sure to drink it right away. Iodine evaporates quickly, which is why iodized table salt just doesn’t cut it, the iodine has likely evaporated from it (not to mention the fact that chlorine is used to make table salt white and aluminum – alum – is added to avoid clumping). Also, in order for iodine to absorb, take it on a completely empty stomach.
Iron is a mineral that helps red blood cells deliver oxygen to your body. Too little iron and your energy levels drop and you can face anemia. Too much iron though is also not good; it can damage organs and lead to serious health conditions.
In case you aren’t aware of this, there’s actually a very good reason women generally outlive men; women have the ability to release iron every month for most of their life during menstruation. Not all that long ago there was the practice of “bloodletting” in order for men to release excess iron from their blood. Fortunately we have other means available to us nowadays!
Iodine (in case you’re not convinced about it’s many other health benefits) can also help get excess iron out of your body (as well as heavy metals such as mercury). Here are some other ways you men, and non-menstruating women, can lower your iron levels and perhaps increase your longevity:
- Avoid eating a lot of red meat (especially organ meats)
- Avoid foods fortified with iron (cereals, breads, etc.)
- Donate blood Iron is certainly a place where blood tests are going to be key in determining your levels.
Finding a good doctor or naturopath is also an important piece in improving and maintaining vibrant health and longevity. Exercise due diligence, and do your research, when it comes to taking ownership of your health choices.
Some great resources I’ve used in writing this article are:
- Breakthrough by Suzanne Somers
- Adrenal Fatigue by James L. Wilson
- Thyroid Health – an interview with Truth Calkins and David Wolfe
* Nattacia Mantei is not a medical doctor nor a licensed health care professional. Any recommendations made are based upon her personal opinion only and are not to be construed as medical advice or diagnosis. Your health and wellbeing is your responsibility and, regardless of who’s making the recommendations, you need to trust your inner guidance and do what’s feels best and makes the most sense to you!