How does stress affect health?

Stress Effects on Thyroid Function


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It has become common knowledge that iodine is a very important component of thyroid health.

Iodine protects against radiation poisoning by collecting in the thyroid, therefore taking up space so that radiation cannot be stored in the thyroid and instead is excreted in the urine.

Besides for radiation, there are several other factors that affect thyroid function. They are: environmental such as heavy metal toxicity; endocrine disruptors such as xenoestrogens; and stress.

Stress is often an overlooked factor in thyroid health. Anytime you experience stress, your body produces cortisol. This is a protective mechanism that your body uses to help you deal with a physical threat. It creates the fight or flight response and once the physical threat is gone, cortisol levels go back to their normal levels.

Elevated cortisol is for short term stressful events. In the past I have mentioned that your body does not know the difference between a Saber-Tooth tiger and a traffic jam. It is the amount of stress and not necessarily the type of stress that causes high levels of cortisol.

If cortisol levels remain high for extended periods as is often the case if you have stress in your daily life (and who doesn’t?)the result is excess cortisol in your body.

Excess cortisol has an adverse effect on thyroid function. It leads to decreased levels of T3 (the active form of thyroid hormone), inhibits 5 deiodinase (the enzyme responsible for the conversion of T4 into T3 in the body tissues) and leads to an increased risk of Hashimotos Thyroiditis (thyroid autoimmune disease).

If you have symptoms of hypothyroid; some of which are fatigue, depression, headaches, weight gain, dry course skin nails and hair, intolerance to cold; and are treating the thyroid symptoms with little to no results, it may be that high cortisol levels are causing your thyroid symptoms.

There are simple saliva and blood tests for cortisol levels and adrenal health.

Next learn about Heavy Metal Toxicity and the Thyroid Gland