10 Symptoms of Thyroid Problems.

The thyroid gland is one of the body’s most important components. The thyroid regulates hormone balance and contributes to weight, mood, and mental stability—and that barely scratches the surface. Because of the thyroid’s influence on so many of the body’s important, and even “secondary” functions, an unhealthy thyroid can have far-reaching, unexpected, and odd effects that manifest into symptoms that many doctors fail to identify as thyroid-related. In fact, of the 12% of Americans that will develop thyroid disease, 60% will never know they have it. That’s a problem. Awareness is key, so to help, here are ten, easy-to-miss symptoms of thyroid problems.

1. Cholesterol That’s Too High or Too Low

Too much fat in your diet causes high cholesterol, right? Wrong. High cholesterol can have a number of originating factors, and diet is a small contributor compared to others. And, in some cases, low cholesterol may be a problem. If your cholesterol is off and diet and exercise don’t help, it may be time to consider the possibility of an underlying problem. If you take medication for cholesterol and it’s not working, it’s time to have your thyroid checked. You may have hypothyroidism, or low thyroid hormone levels. It’s always a good idea to get tested for hyperthyroidism, a condition caused by an overabundance of circulating thyroid hormone.

2. Sore Joints and Nerve Pain

Research has found that thyroid diseases, both hypo- and hyperthyroidism, can cause nerve pain. Getting thyroid health in check has produced improvements in wrist pain and tingling sensations in some people. In one case, a 60-year-old Italian woman suffering from a burning sensation in her feet displayed symptoms of hypothyroidism. As she progressed with her thyroid treatment, the pain went away.

3. Heart Disease

Thyroid hormones play a direct role in heart health, so if you have heart disease, you need to be aware of your thyroid status. A 2014 study out of John Hopkins University reported low thyroid hormone levels were common in young and middle-aged adults with early-stage coronary artery disease and blood vessel calcification. A Polish study similarly compared 25 patients with low levels of thyroid stimulating hormone to 25 patients with normal levels and found that those with lower levels had more cardiac events.

4. Weak, Fragile Fingernails

Fingernails that crack or flake may reflect thyroid problems, as those with hypothyroidism often have soft, fragile nails. Additionally, persons with hyperthyroidism often experience a nail that comes off the bed of the fingertip. In both cases, dry skin and brittle hair often accompany these symptoms.

5. Anxiety and Mood Imbalances

Your hormones play a huge role in affecting how you feel. Low hormone levels, such as in the case of hypothyroidism, can leave you feeling down in the dumps. Conversely, an excess of hormones can lead to anxiety or panic attacks. If you have feelings like this, it might be a good idea to get your thyroid tested before considering psychiatric drugs that could make your problems worse.

6. Inexplicable Weight Gain or Loss

If you’ve lost or gained weight and can’t explain why it could be your thyroid. Metabolism depends directly on hormone activity. A sudden change in weight, up or down, can be an indication of a thyroid imbalance.

7. Constant Fatigue

Constant fatigue is a common problem that often gets ignored. Many young adults write off fatigue and low energy as a sign of their lifestyle; but if you have an established routine and get regular sleep, you shouldn’t ignore chronic fatigue. If you get 7-8 hours of sleep and it’s not enough, it could be an early symptom of a thyroid issue. Those suffering from hyperthyroidism may find it hard to fall asleep, which can leave you dragging during waking hours.

8. Low Libido

Since the thyroid is all about hormones, it comes as no surprise men and women experience problems with their reproductive organs. Women can have a more frequent, longer menstruation with low hormones and shorter, light menstruation—or have a cycle stop altogether—with too many circulating hormones. Fertility may also be a problem. Men experience infertility, low libido, and may even develop enlarged breasts when sex hormones and the thyroid become imbalanced.

9. Gut Problems

IBS isn’t always caused by diet. In fact, metabolic imbalances may be to blame. This prevents necessary enzymes from getting to the gut to help with digestion. If constipation, diarrhea, or IBS are ongoing problems and therapies aren’t helping, it may be time to consider checking your thyroid.

10. Weakness

Hormone imbalances don’t exist in a vacuum, they often lead to other imbalances throughout the body, and an extreme dip in energy levels is one that’s standard. Your thyroid, metabolism, and energy levels are all connected. If you get enough sleep and follow a balanced diet and routinely provide your body with the complete nutrition it needs to perform its functions, and you still feel weak, it’s time to consider underlying possibilities, and your thyroid is one.

Promoting Thyroid Balance

Many factors influence thyroid health, and there are a few things you can do to encourage optimal thyroid function.

  1. Make sure you get enough iodine. It’s not a cure or treatment; it’s simply the exact nutrition your thyroid needs to function normally. Iodine-rich foods are one way to get your iodine requirements; an iodine supplement is another.
  2. Exercise regularly. The goal isn’t to become a bodybuilder; it’s to use and work your muscles—all of them. Get up and move around.
  3. Eat a balanced diet that meets all your nutritional requirements. Your body is like a Swiss watch; all its parts need to be precisely aligned for it to function properly as a whole. If you have nutritional deficiencies, of any kind, you’re not going to feel balance.

Selenium: The Missing Link?

Have you experienced thyroid problems that prove difficult to pinpoint? The culprit could be selenium deficiency. Selenium is an essential mineral that helps protect the thyroid and support normal thyroid function. As with iodine, you can get all the benefits of this mineral by consuming selenium-rich foods or by taking a high-quality selenium supplement.

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Support Your Digestive System with Aloe Vera

Gut health is a topic that’s getting a lot of press lately and I think it’s about time. It’s an understatement to say the importance of gut health is undervalued. The digestive system is where nutrients are absorbed and is the basis of a healthy body. If your digestive system is inefficient or your gut environment isn’t balanced, you might not get the most nutritional value from your food.

A healthy gut reacts positively to good nutrition and is also the result of good nutrition. Refined sugar, artificial ingredients, and artificial coloring offer no nutrition and, even worse, can upset the gut balance. Aloe vera, on the other hand, is a nutrient-dense superfood that soothes, nourishes, and promotes detoxification and normal bowel movements.

How Does Aloe Vera Aid Digestion?

Aloe vera offers over 70 different nutrients, including calcium, chromium, copper, selenium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium, and zinc. Aloe contains antioxidant vitamins A (beta-carotene), C, and E. It’s a great source of vitamin B12, folic acid, and choline.

Aloe vera also boosts digestion and nutrient absorption. Aloe contains eight important enzymes, two of which specifically support digestion. Amylase breaks down carbohydrates, starches, and sugars, and lipase helps digest fat.

Finally, aloe vera promotes a healthy gut environment by supporting the probiotic colonies that live there. Probiotics are living organisms and require nutrients called prebiotics. Aloe is a great source of prebiotics that feeds good gut bacteria.

Stomach Acid Levels with Aloe Vera

Research indicates that aloe vera promotes balanced pH levels throughout the body. This helps reduce redness, swelling, and irritation.

Aloe Vera Supplements

Aloe vera is available in a couple different forms…

Aloe Vera Juice

You can find aloe vera juice in most health food stores and even the organic section of most grocery stores. Look for a juice produced solely from inner leaf aloe. Avoid whole-leaf varieties as they likely contain aloin or aloe latex which can produce a harsh, laxative effect.

Aloe Vera Capsules

An encapsulated supplement can be a very convenient option. Capsules are easy to swallow and usually concentrated into a small serving — no juice to choke down. I recommend Aloe Fuzion™. Aloe Fuzion is made from 100% organic inner-leaf aloe vera. It’s aloin-free and has the highest amount of acemannan available anywhere (acemannan is the polysaccharide in aloe that supports digestive health).

Eight Potential Health Benefits of Kombucha

Kombucha is a sweet, fizzy drink made of yeast, sugar, and fermented tea. It has a number of potential health benefits, including gut health and liver function.

This article explores eight potential health benefits of kombucha and looks at the research that supports them.

What is kombucha?

A jar of raw kombucha fermented drink, on a wooden table with chopped up lemon and a stem of ginger.
Kombucha is a fermented drink that is popular for its purported health benefits.

To make kombucha, sweetened green or black tea is fermented with a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, otherwise known as a SCOBY.

During the fermentation process, the yeast in the SCOBY breaks down the sugar in the tea and releases probiotic bacteria.

Kombucha becomes carbonated after fermentation, which is why the drink is fizzy.

Potential health benefits

There is a range of potential health benefits of kombucha, including:

1. Gut health

As this 2014 study confirms, the fermentation process of kombucha means that the drink is rich in probiotics. Probiotic bacteria are similar to healthful bacteria that are found in the gut.

Consuming probiotics may improve overall gut health. Probiotic bacteria have been found to help treat diarrhea, and some research suggests they may help ease irritable bowel syndrome(IBS).

More research is needed into how kombucha improves gut health, but the link between probiotics and gut health suggests it may support the digestive system.

The link between healthy bacteria in the digestive system and immune function is becoming clearer as more studies focus on gut health. If the probiotics in kombucha improve gut health, they may also strengthen the immune system.

2. Cancer risk

There is growing evidence to suggest drinking kombucha could help reduce the risk of cancer.

2008 study found that kombucha helped prevent the growth of cancer cells. Further research in 2013 found that kombucha decreased the survival of cancer cells. Both studies suggest kombucha could play a role in treating or preventing cancer.

It is important to note that these studies looked at the effects of kombucha on cancer cells in a test tube. More research is needed to see if people who drink kombucha have a reduced risk of developing cancer.

3. Infection risk

A type of acid called acetic acid, also found in vinegar, is produced when kombucha is fermented.

study carried out in 2000 found that kombucha was able to kill microbes and help fight a range of bacteria. This suggests that it may help prevent infections by killing the bacteria that cause them before they are absorbed by the body.

4. Mental health

Young smiling woman drinking fruit juice ice tea.
The probiotics in kombucha are thought to have the ability to treat depression.

There may be a link between probiotics and depression, suggesting that drinking probiotic-rich kombucha could help promote positive mental health.

There are strong links between depression and inflammation so the anti-inflammatory effect of kombucha may help alleviate some of the symptoms of depression.

2017 review looked at a number of existing studies and concluded that there is strong evidence that probiotics may help treat depression. However, further research is needed to prove how effective they are.

5. Heart disease

Levels of certain types of cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease. Studies in 2012 and 2015 found that kombucha helps to reduce levels of the cholesterol linked to heart disease. Cholesterol levels and heart disease are also influenced by diet, exercise, weight, lifestyle habits, and inflammation. However, the research cited here suggests drinking kombucha may help reduce the risk of heart disease.

At the same time, it is important to note that these studies were in rats. More research is needed to prove that kombucha reduces the risk of heart disease in humans.

6. Weight loss

When kombucha is made with green tea, it may aid weight loss. A 2008 study found that obese people who took green tea extract burned more calories and lost more weight than those who did not.

If kombucha is made with green tea, it follows that it could have a similarly positive effect on weight loss.

Again, researchers need to look at kombucha and weight loss specifically before this is certain.

7. Liver health

Kombucha contains antioxidants that help fight molecules in the body that can damage cells.

Some studies, the most recent being in 2011, have found that the antioxidant-rich kombucha reduces toxins in the liver. This suggests that kombucha may play an important role in promoting liver health and reducing liver inflammation.

However, studies to date have looked at rats and more research is needed to say with certainty how kombucha can support liver health in humans.

8. Type 2 diabetes management

Kombucha tea in iced bottles, with fruit segments fermenting.
Kombucha may help to stabilize blood sugar levels and aid in the management of diabetes.

Kombucha may also be helpful in managing type 2 diabetes.

2012 study found that kombucha helped to manage blood sugar levels in rats with diabetes. This finding suggests it may be helpful in type 2 diabetes management.

Again, more research is needed to say with certainty whether kombucha can have the same benefits in type 2 diabetes management for humans.

Are there any risks?

It is important to be careful when making kombucha at home, as it can ferment for too long. It is also possible for kombucha to become contaminated when not made in a sterile environment.

Over-fermentation or contamination may cause health problems so it may be safer to buy kombucha in a store than to make it at home.

Store-bought kombucha normally has a lower alcohol content than homemade versions, but it is important to check the sugar content.

There are many potential health benefits of kombucha. However, it is important to remember that research is ongoing and not all benefits have been proven in studies with human participants.

If made properly or bought in-store, kombucha is a probiotic-rich drink that is safe to enjoy as part of a healthful diet.

Omega-3 May Keep Gut Microbiota Diverse and Healthy

A new study published in the journal Scientific Reports finds that people who eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids have more bacterial diversity in the gut, which promotes better overall health.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids, which means that although we need them to stay healthy, the human body cannot produce them on its own – so we have to get them from food.

The benefits of a diet rich in omega-3s are well known. The fatty acids seem to lower the “bad” kind of cholesterol, lower high blood pressure and improve overall cardiovascular health.

Some studies have also suggested that omega-3 can reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and improve bone strength, as well as protect against age-related cognitive decline and dementia.

And now, researchers from the University of Nottingham’s School of Medicine, in collaboration with scientists from King’s College London – both in the United Kingdom – add to the long list of omega-3’s benefits.

The new study – led by Dr. Ana Valdes, an associate professor, and reader at the University of Nottingham – suggests that the compound can improve the biodiversity of the gut.

A gut with rich and diverse bacteria is key to our overall health. As we explain in one of our articles, the 38 trillion bacteria that live inside our guts keep our immune systems healthy and ready to fight.

Conversely, losing microbial diversity has been associated with irritable bowel syndrome and bowel cancer, to name just a few conditions.

“The human gut is receiving a lot of attention in medical research as it is increasingly linked to a wide variety of health issues,” explains Dr. Valdes.

“Our digestive systems are home to trillions of microbes, most of which are beneficial in that they play a vital role in our digestion, immune system, and even regulate our weight,” she says.

So, Dr. Valdes and colleagues set out to examine the link between omega-3 intake and the diversity of the gut’s bacteria in middle aged and senior women.

How Omega-3 may improve gut health

The researchers analyzed levels of DHA, which is a type of omega-3 fatty acid, as well as total Omega-3 serum levels and microbiome data from 876 twins.

“This cohort of 876 volunteer women had previously been used to investigate the human genetic contribution to the gut microbiome in relation to weight gain and disease,” says Dr. Valdes.

Microbiome data was analyzed using the 16S ribosomal ribonucleic acid sequencing technique. Omega-3 food intake was assessed using a food frequency questionnaire.

Dr. Valdes summarizes the findings, saying, “We […] found [that omega-3 intake], together with […] serum levels of omega-3, were strongly associated with the diversity and number of species of healthy bacteria in the gut.”

The association was independent of whether or not the participants also had a diet rich in fiber.

First study author Dr. Cristina Menni, of King’s College London, adds, “We also found that specific bacteria that have been linked to lower inflammation and lower risk of obesity are increased in people who have a higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids.”

In an attempt to understand the mechanism behind this association, the researchers performed further tests and found that “high levels of omega-3 in blood […] correlated with high levels of a compound called N-carbamyl-glutamate (NCG) in the gut.”

[NCG] has been shown in animals to reduce oxidative stress in the gut. We believe that some of the good effects of omega-3 in the gut may be due to the fact that omega-3 induces bacteria to produce this substance.”

Dr. Cristina Menni

“Our study is the largest to date to examine the relationship between omega-3 fatty acids and the composition of the gut microbiome,” says Dr. Valdes.

Your Gut Health Is In Relationship To Your Skin?

Do you know how important your gut health is in relationship to your skin?

So let’s start with why and how your inner Ecosystem is connected to the health of your skin.  Gut bacteria.  Gut bacteria is crucial in maintaining healthy skin and for the overall health of your body. Your body is composed of trillions of bacteria, some good and some bad. Our guts contain 100 trillion microorganisms, a number that is hard to imagine for such a small area in our bodies! We are made up of about 80% good bacteria and 20% bad bacteria- keeping this in balance is important for our skin and overall health.  The good bacteria help to digest nutrients, convert starches into useful energy, and keep candida in check.

When your gut is filled with too much bad bacteria and yeast, the pores in your digestive tract widen. This widening allows toxins to leak into your bloodstream, which creates leaky gut syndrome. Your body detects these large protein molecules as ‘foreign protein molecules’ and moves into attack mode.  This will lead to negative outward symptoms, the first of which is inflammation. There are lots of symptoms and issues that are connected to inflammation. We are familiar with fevers, arthritis, and joint pain, but did you know that inflammation is one of the culprits of rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, and acne?

Another common issue of the intestinal tract is small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). This is when the bacteria that belong in our large intestine move into our small intestine.  Now what you need to know is that our small intestine is sterile for the most part and contains a very limited number of bacteria. So when these bacteria migrate from the large intestine into the small intestine ~ we get gas, lots of gas, and bloating.  Why?  Because these little rascals break down your food before it gets to the large intestine (where it is actually supposed to be broken down).  Then there is low stomach acid, which creates a vicious cycle of poor digestion, chronic gut inflammation, microbial overgrowth, leaky gut, elevated stress hormones, and lowered nutrient absorption.  And guess what one of the main causes of low stomach acid is? Stress. It is hard to say which comes first- low stomach acid or SIBO, but what is known is that they are connected and both need to be addressed.

Lastly, not only is gut bacteria crucial to maintaining healthy skin but also the bacteria living on our skin is important as well.  When we treat our skin disorders with antibiotics the microorganisms on our skin are killed off. These microorganisms protect us from the outside world and without them we become susceptible to anything in our environment.  Most times when we take antibiotics, they behave as a temporary band-aid and because they also mess with our gut bacteria it can end up as a double whammy of trouble.

How do we maintain a healthy gut?  The goal is to reduce systemic inflammation by healing the gut wall and increasing the ‘good guys’!  So here are a few initial steps to restore your gut flora:

 

  • Eat plenty of fermentable fibers (starches like garlic, chicory root, dandelion greens, and yams, to name a few) they have a beneficial effect on the proliferation of good bacteria in the lower colon;
  • Eat fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and tempeh, these are foods that natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food creating lactic acid to preserve the food and creating beneficial enzymes and more.
  • Take high-quality, multi -species probiotics, essential for optimal digestion of food and absorption of nutrients and minerals
  • Drink bone broth ~bone broth is high in compounds such as collagen, glycine, and glutamine that can transform your health. It is a gut and skin healing superfood.
  • Seek treatment  yearly or bi-yearly for pathogens, such as parasites, that may be present (watch for our upcoming blog on parasites)
  • Take steps to manage your stress: get enough sleep, eat a healthy, balanced diet, and exercise regularly.

Healing your gut may not magically clear up your complexion ~ however, the importance of a healthy gut plays a significant role in the health of your skin.