Hypothyroidism and Blood Sugar Imbalances

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Before I read about the importance of balancing my blood sugar levels in James Wilson’s book, I used to eat quite a bit of sugar and carbs, basing my meals around carbs and needing sugar hits a few times a day, as if I was addicted. In fact, sugar has been proven to be addictive.

It wasn’t intentional. Like many members of the public, I didn’t think my diet was that bad.

After further gaining qualifications in Diet and Nutrition, I really started to see where my not-so-great diet was worsening my thyroid and adrenal health.

Feeling ‘Hangry’

Before addressing my blood sugar issues, I would get ‘hangry’ (hungry and angry) when my blood sugar would drop after a big spike from the non-ideal food I was eating a lot of.

I invested in a blood sugar/glucose monitor for use at home and frequently found my levels to be low when I had symptoms.

Signs of Low Blood Sugar

As well as ‘hangriness’, other symptoms of blood sugar issues can include headaches, feeling faint and dizzy, feeling hungry again quickly after eating, feeling tired, grouchy and irritable.

Until recently, I wasn’t aware that these low blood sugar moments were putting a lot of extra stress on my adrenal glands (which was not helping my ‘adrenal fatigue’!) and also likely contributing to my high thyroid antibodies of Hashimoto’s.

Since realising that I needed to adjust my diet to allow more protein and fat and less sugar and carbs to balance my blood sugar better, my low blood sugar bouts, irritable moods, groggy feeling and slumps are gone.

Our Increased Risk of Blood Sugar Imbalances

Research has shown that having Hashimoto’s puts us at an increased risk of blood sugar imbalances or glycemic impairments and this then places extra stress on our adrenals, which isn’t helpful. [1]

Adrenal dysfunction (such as high or low cortisol levels) can mimic a lot of hypothyroid symptoms and be half the problem when people are feeling unwell with a thyroid condition.

Many of us as with thyroid conditions have what is commonly called ‘adrenal fatigue(though it is more accurately referred to as hypothalamic-pituitary axis dysfunction) and stressors like poor diet and bouncing blood sugar levels can contribute to this dysfunction, then knocking on to our thyroid health.

When your blood sugar levels drop below normal, your adrenal glands respond by secreting cortisol. This cortisol then tells the liver to produce more glucose, which brings blood sugar levels back to normal. Doing this repeatedly can cause abnormal cortisol output and can suppress pituitary function, worsening adrenal health and more.

Understanding The Glycemic Index

The glycemic index is a measurement of how quickly we burn food, and simple carbohydrates such as refined white sugar, refined flour, white rice, white bread, semolina, potatoes and carrots all have a very quick burn rate. Because of this, when eaten, they can cause a spike in our blood sugar, followed by a crash soon after.

Despite it being it commonly believed that carbohydrates keep us fuller for longer, we actually often tend to become hungry again in less than an hour after consuming them.

I was always confused as to why I could be ravenous within an hour of eating a whole bowl of pasta or a jacket potato, but now it makes sense.

Dr Kharrazian explains that if you feel sleepy or want sugar or sweets after a meal, then it’s usually a sign that you’ve ate too much carbs and have low blood sugar or insulin resistance (blood sugar imbalances).

Find an at home blood sugar/glucose testing kit here, which is very easy to use and can help you to monitor your levels.

What Should We Eat Instead?

This is where more protein-rich diets can be better for us.

Fat and protein have a slower burn rate. They are absorbed more slowly and gradually and so do not raise blood sugar levels as quickly as carbs do. They also keep us fuller for longer.

Assuming enough calories are eaten to feel full, a person will be hungry again around two to three hours after eating protein, and about four hours after eating fat. When we talk about fat, we often feel that it’s something that should be avoided at all costs, but we actually require an adequate amount of fat for proper bodily functions (including those of our hormones) – it’s a focus on eating the right type of fats that we should have.

Healthy fats play a big role in our mental health and moods, brain function, energy levels, weight management and hormonal health.

I ensure I consume enough protein in every meal and snack, in order to keep my blood sugar levels balanced and promote ongoing, stable energy levels. Good sources of protein can include meats, cheese, eggs, nuts, seeds, yoghurts, beans and legumes.

Good sources of fat include olive oil, sesame oil, avocados, olives, nuts, seeds, peanut butter, flaxseed, salmon, chia seeds, eggs and even seed butter.

We should aim to eat every two to three hours to keep blood sugar levels balanced and adrenals functioning well. Going long times without food, such as fasting, can place extra stress on the adrenal glands.

Don’t skip breakfast either!

The Difference For Me

My moods definitely improved, and my hangry headaches stopped.

Making these small changes, such as having chicken in place of a sugar-filled cereal bar at 11am has really made a lot of difference. I feel more full and also fuller for longer, I’m not irritable, I can concentrate at work better and I’m not having low blood sugar moments later on. Thyroid brain fog is improved and my Hashimoto’s is even in remission with the help of this simple knowledge.

Do you actively work to keep your blood sugar levels balanced?

You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given, but more reading and references can also be found at:

References:

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22378092

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3968713/

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Written by Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism

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One thought on “Hypothyroidism and Blood Sugar Imbalances

  1. I have chronic hypoglycaemia and high cortisol levels, so I need to have snacks every 2-3 hours . These include nut/seed butter and celery, and carrot sticks. I feel much better for having these- no more headaches, dizziness, tiredness. What amazes me is how although my GPs knows this, they have made absolutely no efforts to helping me manage these. I in fact found out about my low blood sugar and high cortisol levels myself by requesting to have them tested myself. The dietary changes I have made on my own.

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