Does Sugar Really Affect Your Thyroid

5The thyroid gland is a small organ located at the base of your neck which makes thyroid hormone.

This little gland can have big consequences for nearly every organ in your body. It plays a part in fat and carbohydrate metabolism along with other body functions such as respiration, body temperature, skin condition, and even brain development. Most people don’t know that diet have a huge impact on the thyroid system – but it can.

The most common problem with the thyroid gland is “hypothyroidism” or low thyroid levels. Symptoms of underactive thyroid gland include gaining weight, being cold all the time, skin disorders, low energy, and even foggy thinking and poor memory.

Your blood sugar levels and problems with the thyroid gland – especially hypothyroidism are often related. High blood sugar can definitely make hypothyroidism worse.

What causes underactive thyroid?

Scientists don’t know everything about why hypothyroid conditions happen but sometimes underactive thyroid is caused by auto-immune disorder. Auto-immune disorder causes the body to “attack” your organs – including the thyroid gland. This hypothyroidism is known as “Hashimoto’s Disease”. High blood sugar levels can also increase the release of inflammatory chemicals, known as corticosteroids, into your bloodstream which then activates the immune system to cause more damage to the thyroid gland.

Being overweight can also impact your thyroid gland. Obesity is a leading cause of “insulin resistant” or “Type II” diabetes. Even though your body makes insulin which normally helps to transport sugar into your cells to be made into energy – most of your cells don’t respond to it and the sugar actually stays in your blood. Since high sugar can damage the thyroid and other organs – diabetes can make hypothyroidism worse, especially when you eat too or the wrong kind much sugar.

The thyroid gland, sugar and your brain

If your blood sugar is too high, cells of the thyroid gland can be damaged (like other organs) and result in hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism slows the body’s metabolic processes – including the transport of sugar into your brain.

The brain needs sugar in order to make energy for proper functioning – if the cells don’t get the sugar, you get symptoms of hypoglycemia such as irritability, fatigue and light-headedness. If you have diabetes, even though your blood sugar is actually high your brain doesn’t get the sugar it needs. This is another way your diet can actually have an impact on the thyroid gland – through the types of food you eat and how much you weigh.

So what kind of thyroid diet should I follow?

If you have underactive thyroid you will want to avoid eating a lot of “simple sugar”. Simple sugars or carbohydrates are those that are highly processed – including the obvious, sugar in sodas, juices, candy etc., but also in “white” starches – like white rice, white bread, potatoes. Simple carbohydrates cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels, especially if you have diabetes. Instead of simple carbohydrates, you should focus on including more complex carbohydrates in your diet. These include whole grains, vegetables and legumes (beans and peas).

If you are overweight you will probably need to address that problem. Though underactive thyroid does cause fatigue – which can contribute to weight gain, exercise and a healthy diet may help with both your weight and your thyroid condition. In a lot of cases, losing weight will help improve your diabetes – which in turn, improves your thyroid function in a big vicious cycle.

Regular exercise and following a diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals and balanced in protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates can go a long way to improving your thyroid health along with the rest of your body.