Taking control of your health can feel overwhelming if you have an underactive thyroid and high cholesterol. But the good news is that you can make simple lifestyle changes to help lower your cholesterol and improve your thyroid function. In this article, we're going to discuss 11 game-changing for managing both conditions and improving your overall health.
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is a condition when your thyroid gland doesn't produce enough hormones. This gland produces and releases two main hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which play a crucial role in regulating metabolism. Therefore, not having enough of these hormones can significantly impact your overall health.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism can vary from person to person. However, some of the most common ones include fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, dry skin, and depression. A thyroid function testing measuring thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and free T4 (FT4) is typically performed to diagnose hypothyroidism. If the results indicate an underactive thyroid, the next step is to begin treatment with a daily dose of synthetic thyroid hormone (levothyroxine).
Cholesterol is a fat-like, waxy substance produced by the liver that is found in many foods. It is an essential component of cell membranes and hormones, but high cholesterol levels in the blood can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease.
There are two types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL), often referred to as "bad" cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL), known as "good" cholesterol. Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels involves reducing the amount of LDL and increasing the amount of HDL in the blood.
Studies have shown that thyroid dysfunction, such as hypothyroidism, can affect cholesterol levels by altering how your body processes lipids (fats) and increasing the level of LDL cholesterol in the blood.
Your body needs thyroid hormones to help regulate a lot of things, including how much cholesterol you produce and how efficiently your body gets rid of excess cholesterol. When your thyroid hormone levels are low because you have hypothyroidism, your body doesn't break down and remove LDL cholesterol as efficiently as it normally would. This can lead to a buildup of LDL cholesterol in your blood, which can increase your risk of heart disease.
But get this: even if your thyroid hormone levels aren't very low, you can still be at risk for high cholesterol. In fact, even people with mildly low thyroid levels (which is called subclinical hypothyroidism) can have higher than normal LDL cholesterol levels.
And get this, too: a study from 2012 found that high levels of TSH (a hormone released by the pituitary gland that signals your thyroid to produce more thyroid hormones) can directly raise cholesterol levels, even if your thyroid hormone levels aren't very low.
So what does all of this mean? Essentially, if you have an issue with your thyroid hormones (whether it's full-blown hypothyroidism or just slightly low levels), it's important to keep an eye on your cholesterol levels and work with your healthcare provider to manage the two conditions.
The thyroid gland plays a crucial role in regulating metabolism, while cholesterol is a vital component of cell membranes and serves as a building block for synthesizing numerous hormones, bile acids, and vitamin D. Therefore, both thyroid and cholesterol conditions can have a big impact on your overall health. If left untreated or poorly managed, they can increase your risk of health complications, especially when it comes to your cardiovascular health.
By taking control of both your hypothyroidism and cholesterol levels, you can improve your quality of life and reduce your risk of long-term health problems.
It can feel like an uphill battle to get your health on track if you're dealing with an underactive thyroid and high cholesterol. But the good news is that there are simple steps you can take to help lower your cholesterol and improve your thyroid function. Here are 11 easy ways to lower the levels of your cholesterol if you have an underactive thyroid.
While there isn't a specific diet plan for hypothyroidism, following a healthy diet can be beneficial. However, it's important to be mindful of certain foods that contain goitrogens, such as cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts, as well as soy and pearl millet. Consuming large amounts of these foods may interfere with thyroid function.
To maintain a healthy diet, it's recommended to consume a variety of nutrient-dense foods, including sweet, ripe fruits, which are great sources of fiber. Adding protein sources like fish and eggs can also be beneficial, along with consuming enough healthy carbohydrates. A well-balanced and diverse diet can help support overall health and well-being, which can be especially important for those with hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism can slow down the body's metabolism, making it easier to gain weight. It's important to avoid foods high in sugar because they contain a lot of calories with no nutrients. Consuming too much sugar and other carbohydrates can also raise triglycerides, lower HDL, and cause dysfunctional alterations in LDL molecules. While LDL levels may appear normal, this dysfunctional LDL can lead to rapid clogging of arteries and increase the risk of thrombosis.
Furthermore, excessive sugar intake can lead to weight gain and insulin resistance, raising cholesterol levels and making it more challenging to manage your thyroid hormones. To improve your diet, it's best to reduce or eliminate sugar intake.
Avoiding processed and fried foods and consuming a healthy diet is important for overall health and can help lower cholesterol levels and improve your thyroid hormone levels. Processed and fried foods are often high in unhealthy fats, salt, and sugar, raising high blood cholesterol levels and making it harder to manage hypothyroidism.
Not only can exercise help lower your cholesterol levels, but it can also increase your energy levels and boost your metabolism, which can be particularly helpful if you're dealing with hypothyroidism-related fatigue or weight gain.
But as with many things in life, it's important not to overdo it when it comes to physical activity. If you push yourself too hard, it can actually impact your body's ability to convert inactive thyroid hormone (T4) to the active form (T3). Improper conversion of T4 to T3 can make your hypothyroidism symptoms worse.
So what's the sweet spot when it comes to exercise and hypothyroidism? Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week. This could include activities like brisk walking, cycling, or swimming. By staying active at a moderate level, you can help support your overall health and reduce your risk of heart disease and other complications.
In addition to the benefits for your thyroid and cholesterol levels, exercise can also help reduce inflammation and improve heart health, which are important factors in your overall well-being.
It's no secret that smoking is bad for your health, but did you know that it can also have a negative impact on your thyroid? Despite the fact that many people associate smoking with damage to the heart and lungs, the thyroid is just as vulnerable to the harmful effects of cigarette smoke.
If you have hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid), smoking can actually make your symptoms worse. It can also increase your risk of developing thyroid disorders like Graves' disease. Additionally, smoking can interfere with the effectiveness of thyroid medications, which are critical for keeping your thyroid hormone levels in check.
If you're a smoker and have hypothyroidism, quitting smoking should be a top priority. Not only will it help manage your thyroid condition, but it can also improve your overall health by reducing cholesterol levels and the risk of cardiovascular disease. When you quit smoking, your body begins to repair the damage caused by cigarette smoke and your risk of heart disease and stroke decreases.
Furthermore, quitting smoking can improve blood flow and reduce inflammation, which can help lower your cholesterol levels and improve your thyroid problems.
If you're trying to manage hypothyroidism or abnormal cholesterol levels, limiting your alcohol intake is a simple and effective way to improve your health. Alcohol contains empty calories that can contribute to weight gain, raise cholesterol levels, and make it harder to manage hypothyroidism.
For those who do drink, it's crucial to consume alcohol in moderation. That means up to one drink per day for women of all ages and men over the age of 65 and up to two drinks per day for men under the age of 65. I
f you find it difficult to control your alcohol intake, it's best to avoid alcohol altogether. By taking steps to limit or eliminate alcohol consumption, you can improve your thyroid function and cholesterol levels, reduce your risk of serious health complications, and improve your overall health and well-being.
Stress can have a significant impact on thyroid function. When you're under stress, your body releases cortisol, which can interfere with thyroid hormone production. This can cause the thyroid to work harder to create sufficient amounts of thyroid hormone.
Stress can also increase your vulnerability to autoimmune thyroid conditions, such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis. A study also found that stress is one of the environmental factors for thyroid autoimmunity.
In addition to affecting thyroid function, stress can also have negative effects on cognitive function and can raise your risk of high cholesterol and heart disease. To manage stress and protect your overall health, try healthy stress management techniques such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and regular exercise.
It can be frustrating to feel exhausted during the day and still struggle to fall asleep at night with hypothyroidism. However, getting enough quality sleep is crucial for improving daytime fatigue and overall health.
Sleep deprivation can lead to hormonal imbalances, affecting cholesterol levels and thyroid hormone production. Try to establish a consistent bedtime routine and create a sleep-friendly environment, such as a quiet and dark room, and limit screen time before bed. Aim for 7-8 hours of restful sleep each night to help manage hypothyroidism and cholesterol levels.
While lifestyle changes are important, they couldn't replace the role of thyroid hormone replacement therapy. If you have high cholesterol due to hypothyroidism, taking thyroid hormone replacement medication might be beneficial. Studies have found that thyroid hormone replacement can decrease and even normalize cholesterol levels in patients with overt hypothyroidism. It can reduce LDL (bad cholesterol), total cholesterol, HDL (good cholesterol), and triglycerides.
Thyroid hormone replacement medications work by restoring the thyroid hormones your body is no longer producing. Thus, it decreases your thyroid stimulating hormone levels (TSH levels) and eases your hypothyroid symptoms, including high cholesterol.
There are two common thyroid hormone replacement medications you can consider: levothyroxine and natural desiccated thyroid (NDT). Levothyroxine is the synthetic version of T4. It's considered the standard treatment for hypothyroidism, so you'll likely be prescribed this medication when you're just diagnosed with hypothyroidism.
On the other hand, NDT is made of dried pig thyroid glands and contains both T4 and T3 thyroid hormones. It's popular among those who are looking for a natural alternative to their treatment. And while it's not the standard treatment for hypothyroidism, many patients prefer it because it offers the complete thyroid hormone package, unlike levothyroxine which only has T4. Thus, it's considered to be more effective, especially for people whose bodies can't convert T4 to T3 properly.
You can buy desiccated thyroid online, such as VitaliThy. Not only does this NDT supplementcontain T4 and T3, but it's also free from gluten and lactose. Therefore, it's a great option for those who have celiac disease, lactose intolerance, or other food sensitivities.
No matter which medication you choose, taking thyroid hormone replacement therapy properly as prescribed is important for hypothyroidism. Make sure you take the right dose, as too much can lead to hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), and too low can be ineffective. You should also take your medication at the same time every day to ensure that your thyroid hormone levels don't fluctuate throughout the day.
Achieving optimal thyroid hormone levels is usually enough to lower cholesterol levels in individuals with hypothyroidism. However, some patients may not achieve adequate cholesterol reduction with thyroid hormone replacement therapy alone. In these cases, your healthcare provider may recommend cholesterol-lowering medication.
It's essential to note that cholesterol-lowering medications can interact with thyroid medications. As such, patients may need to take these medications at least four hours before or after their thyroid medication. Always follow your healthcare provider's instructions and seek their advice before starting any new medications.
Regular monitoring is an important factor in managing your thyroid health and high cholesterol levels effectively, especially if you're a newly diagnosed hypothyroid patient. Regular monitoring helps you to track your progress, identify any changes in your health, and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.
This includes monitoring your thyroid hormone levels and your symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as fatigue, weight gain, and depression, as well as your cholesterol levels by needing regular cholesterol tests, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.
Managing hypothyroidism and high cholesterol levels requires a comprehensive approach that involves a combination of healthy lifestyle changes and medication.
Maintaining a healthy diet, reducing sugar and processed food intake, engaging in regular physical activity, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, managing stress levels, getting enough sleep, and taking thyroid hormone replacement therapy as prescribed, are all important steps in managing both conditions effectively.
Most importantly, regular monitoring and collaboration with a healthcare provider are also vital in ensuring the best outcomes. By taking a comprehensive approach and working closely with a healthcare provider, individuals with decreased thyroid function and high cholesterol levels can improve their health and quality of life.
If you are looking for an alternative to treat thyroid dysfunction, one of your best options is VitaliThy, a natural desiccated thyroid you can buy online. It consists of Thyroid (USP), just like Armour Thyroid. Most importantly, VitaliThy is free of allergens, lactose, and gluten, making it safe for you that suffer from drug allergies.
Remember, taking care of your thyroid and cholesterol levels can lead to a healthier, happier you!
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