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Control insulin resistance to manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism

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A blood sugar imbalance can seriously undermine your efforts to manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, an autoimmune thyroid disease. A primary factor in taming an autoimmune disease like Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism is to control blood sugar.

The body has several ways to keep blood sugar within a narrow range so it doesn't go too high or too low. For the average American, unfortunately, the body must constantly struggle to manage overly high blood sugar.

This is because people consume diets high in sugars, sweeteners, and refined carbohydrates—pasta, white rice, breads, pastries, soda—that quickly spike blood sugar.

Insulin resistance can worsen Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism

When a person eats too many sugary and refined foods on a regular basis, the body overproduces insulin.

Eventually the constant surges of insulin exhaust the body's cells and they refuse entry to the insulin, which is called insulin resistance. Now insulin can't escort glucose into the cells to make energy. As a result you feel sleepy after eating.

Also, because glucose can't get into cells, blood sugar climbs too high. The body lowers it to safer levels by converting excess glucose into fat for storage. This is a demanding process that also leads to fatigue after meals. The excess sugar in the bloodstream also damages blood vessels and the brain.

Insulin resistance is a stepping stone to Type 2 diabetes, a breakdown in the body's blood-sugar handling system. Studies show links between insulin resistance and many chronic diseases, including  heart disease,  stroke,  diabetes,  arthritis, and  Alzheimer's.

Reduced uptake of glucose by cells, high triglycerides, and high circulating amounts of sugar in the bloodstream all promote the inflammation and damage that leads to chronic disease. To add insult to injury, people with insulin resistance often feel too tired to exercise, are prone to overeating, and have intense sugar cravings.

The inflammation and chronic stress insulin resistance causes promote autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Managing inflammation and chronic stress are paramount to dampening autoimmunity and thus the flare-ups and poor thyroid function associated with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.

Is insulin resistance worsening your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism?

Could insulin resistance be playing a role in your Hashimoto’s hypothyroid condition? Symptoms of insulin resistance include:

  • Fatigue after meals
  • General fatigue
  • Constant hunger
  • Constant craving for sweets
  • Strong desire for sweets after meals
  • Waist girth equal to or larger than hip girth
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased appetite and thirst
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Migrating aches and pains

One of the best ways to help manage Hashimoto’s is to eat a diet that stabilizes your blood sugar and reverses insulin resistance. This includes a whole-foods diet free of added sugars and refined carbohydrates, plenty of fiber, and healthy proteins and fats. People with Hashimoto’s should also strictly avoid gluten due to its many links with the disease. An autoimmune diet is a great starting point to manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.

Regular exercise is important to increase insulin sensitivity. Certain nutritional and botanical compounds have also been shown to help improve blood sugar handling and manage insulin resistance.

For support in preventing chronic disease and managing insulin resistance, please contact my office.

Meet the Author

Dr. Matz DC

Dr. Boyle D.A.C.M., LAc., DiplOM. is the founder of the Holistic Wellness Center of the Carolinas where he is the Director of Functional Medicine. He holds a Diplomate in Oriental Medicine and is acupuncture physician and primary care physician in the state of Florida. His post-graduate focus has been in the fields of functional neurology, functional immunology, and functional endocrinology.

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