If you have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or insulin resistance, the risk of developing thyroid disease increases exponentially. Furthermore, if you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and you are overweight or obese, research shows there is an increased risk of developing thyroid disease.
Thyroid Disease and Glucose Levels
Your thyroid gland affects how much thyroid hormone is produced. The amount of thyroid hormone controls the amount of insulin produced, which determines the amount of glucose in your blood. The thyroid gland influences your metabolism, which can increase your blood sugar. Furthermore, when insulin levels or glucose levels are high, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, type 1 diabetes, and type 2 diabetes can occur.
Autoimmune disorders occur when the body mistakenly considers the organs in the body as foreign invaders. This can result in type 1 diabetes and thyroid disease. Furthermore, if you currently have an autoimmune disease, your risk of developing other disorders, including type 1 diabetes, thyroid disease, lupus, and multiple sclerosis increases.
Your hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal gland work together with the thyroid gland and the pancreas to regulate metabolism. The hypothalamus and pituitary gland stimulate the adrenal gland, the pancreas, and the thyroid gland. When any part of the HPA axis becomes imbalanced, metabolic dysfunction can occur.
Management and Prevention Practices
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes or thyroid disease, one of the most effective strategies for reducing the risk of developing metabolic syndrome is weight management. Losing ten percent of your body weight can greatly reduce your risk of developing thyroid disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
Following a diabetic friendly diet and exercising at least 30 minutes most days can help prevent and manage thyroid disease and diabetes. Maintaining optimal glucose levels helps improve metabolism, which helps you lose weight and lowers your risk of developing metabolic syndrome.
What Causes Metabolic Syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that appear together. These risk factors include:
- Abdominal obesity
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- High triglycerides
- Increased risk of blood clots
- Insulin resistance
- Systemic inflammation
One of the main causes of metabolic syndrome is chronic high blood sugars (hyperglycemia). Hyperglycemia occurs when you consume too many carbohydrates, which means metabolic syndrome can be referred to as an excess carbohydrate disease.
When too many carbs are consumed, the pancreas activates and secretes insulin to help move glucose from your blood into your cells where the glucose will be used as energy. Over time, your cells will stop responding to insulin the way they did in the past. As glucose builds up in the bloodstream, the pancreas creates even more insulin, thus eventually resulting in insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance causes the pancreas to repeatedly release insulin in surges, which can lead to the destruction of your thyroid gland, especially in those suffering from autoimmune thyroid disease.
Hypoglycemia and its Impact on the Thyroid Gland
Just like too much glucose can damage the thyroid gland, too little glucose can cause a plethora of problems with your thyroid gland and your HPA axis. The body recognizes low glucose levels as a threat to your survival. Hypoglycemia over time cause your adrenal glands to secrete cortisol. Cortisol tells your liver to increase glucose production to help get your glucose levels back to normal.
Unfortunately, cortisol is used by the nervous system to activate the flight or fight response. This natural response increases heart rate and respiration and increases blood flow to help you escape a dangerous situation. Cortisol increases the amount of glucose in the bloodstream, which signals for digestion, cellular growth, and cellular reproduction to decrease.
Repeated episodes of cortisol release caused by hypoglycemia suppress the function of the pituitary gland, which can damage the thyroid over time. Furthermore, it can lead to metabolic syndrome.
Maintain Your Glucose Levels
Hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia both can lead to insulin resistance if your glucose levels are not kept within a healthy range.
- The first step to maintaining healthy glucose levels is to eat a diabetic friendly diet. This diet will limit the number of simple carbohydrates consumed throughout the day. Instead, you should opt for fibrous vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli, and peppers, lean protein sources like fish and poultry, and whole grains like oatmeal and wheat.
- Exercise is vital to your health and vitality. It improves metabolism and gut motility while decreasing inflammation in the body. Furthermore, exercise makes the body more sensitive to insulin, thus reducing the risk of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.
- Stress management techniques like yoga, meditation, and journaling help to reduce the stress hormone, cortisol, in the body. As your stress levels reduce, your body’s ability to convert glucose into energy increases, and insulin resistance decreases.
Your adrenal glands, hypothalamus, pituitary glands, pancreas, and thyroid work in conjunction with one another to promote health. When one of these do not work properly, the risk of diabetes, thyroid disease, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome increase. Learning how to maintain healthy glucose levels and reduce the risk of insulin resistance will help improve your health and vitality. Our integrative practitioners will work with you to improve your thyroid health and reduce the risk of developing other medical conditions.