The Real Reason for Skin, Sleep, PMS, and Stubborn Weight!
I talk about this all the time on social media (scroll back to the first few months of the year on IG or fb), but I realized I don’t have a blog post on this yet, and it’s long overdue!
So many of my clients are plagued by mysterious acne, anxiety, raging PMS, or difficulty losing weight. Medication or dietary interventions sometimes help, but maybe it’s not enough. Or, many clients just don’t want to be on medication forever, and don’t like being told that’s they’re only option for the rest of their lives! Totally understandable! The question in my mind is always WHAT IS THE ROOT CAUSE? Where did this come from, especially if it hasn’t been a lifelong pattern. So the short answer to these issues and more is……hormones! And maybe you already knew that, but which hormones and how do we address them for lasting improvement? Step into my office!
The first hormone most people jump to when something isn’t right-- especially unintentional weight gain or difficulty losing weight—is thyroid. Thyroid medications are one of the top prescribed medications for women in our country. Why is this? Because suddenly everyone’s thyroids are breaking for no reason? Nope, but it’s an easy Band-Aid when the symptoms of hypothyroid get really bad (sudden weight gain and hair loss can be terrifying!) Thyroid imbalance is not always (or even usually) the root cause of acne, anxiety or depression, or stubborn weight, but it can definitely be a contributing factor as a result of prolonged chronic stress and leaky gut related to inflammation or food/chemical sensitivities. So sometimes even though it’s not the root cause, it does make sense to provide extra support for the thyroid while we’re working on the root cause.
Hopefully you work with a physician who understands the value of Free T4 AND Free T3, but if not, find another one!
Or ask me about other options! I can order labs under a supervising physician, and am
happy to help you get ALL the information you need to feel better! Functional lab ranges for Free T3 are 3-4.5, so if you’re sitting at a 2.5 and feel horrible (regardless of whether you’re on medication or not!), you’re not crazy! There’s a reason, and many women (you’re not alone!) don’t feel great with a T3 of 2.5 or even sometimes 2.7. Diet changes and sometimes supplements can easily improve this and make all the difference in your mood and metabolism. So don’t ignore the thyroid, but don’t stop there either!
Cortisol, a stress hormone triggered by our brain sensing a fluctuation in blood sugar or an emergency, is important for not only physical survival, but also for motivation and alertness, and to some extent metabolism by telling the body to mobilize energy. However, if we are in a constant “fight or flight” mode (which is pretty easy to do in our culture), cortisol production eventually slows down (and often relies on the thyroid for help—enter thyroid issues). Then overwhelming fatigue begins. Weight settles in the abdominal area (with no chance for weight loss by the usual methods), anxiety and/or depression set in, and recovery just seems elusive and hopeless. In this case, testing may be helpful, but blood cortisol isn’t always practical since levels fluctuate during the day. You can ask for a morning or afternoon blood level for reference, but I find saliva or urine testing throughout the day more helpful so as to see the bigger picture of an individual’s pattern vs. just one static point.
Estrogen and progesterone are the other key players when it comes to mood, skin, sleep, and weight management regulation. Estrogen is like the bold, confident friend who’s not afraid to take control, while progesterone is that Type B friend who’s just peace, love, chill. They balance each other out…until they don’t…then it’s bad news. Oral contraceptives suppress progesterone production, and so does chronic stress (including chronic dieting and over-exercising)! We can compensate for these imbalances, but the root cause may be something that only lifestyle choices can truly resolve. These are relatively straightforward when testing, and looking at the ratio tells us a lot about how to best restore balance using food, lifestyle, and supplements.
This is a great starting point if you’re trying to DIY hormone balance! And if you need more guidance, let’s chat! DM me with questions or to set up a free call! If it makes sense to pursue medication or deeper clinical care I can also refer you to a qualified physician who can think outside the box. However, in many cases, simple food, lifestyle, and supplements adjustments can make a world of difference in these common female complaints! Cheers to happy hormones!\
Shoot me a message or check out @carolinafunctionalnutrition instagram for more great tips on achieving a healthy, happy, and functional thyroid!