Weight gain from thyroid or adrenal problems

May 15, 2017
Leigh Erin Connealy, M.D.

Have you been doing everything right, but still continue to gain weight? Are you getting enough sleep, the right nutrients, not overeating—yet the pounds continue to pile on? It might not be your fault. It might be an issue with either your thyroid, or adrenal, glands. The truth is, when you have a problem with one, you often have a problem with the other, as the thyroid and adrenal glands are closely linked and in constant communication. When one is having issues, the other is likely to follow suit. And, while you may notice those issues as weight gain, in this case, weight gain could just be a harbinger of bigger problems. In other words, if you continue to put on extra weight despite doing everything right, it’s probably time to check your thyroid and adrenal gland.

Why Should I Care About My Thyroid?

The best way to think about your thyroid is as the battery of your body. It doesn’t really produce energy, but it regulates how you use it. Your thyroid sets your metabolism.

And if your thyroid is underactive, that means you aren’t burning energy as quickly as you should, which can easily lead to weight gain.

The clearest signals that your thyroid is underactive are cold hands and feet, or a low basal temperature.

You should be able to recognize cold hands and feet easily enough. You can take your own basal temperature by using a thermometer first thing in the morning, right after waking up.

This is important—you’ll only get an accurate reading first thing, after sleeping for a significant block of time. At least three hours.

And you’ll need to take your basal temperature a number of days in a row, in order to get an accurate reading. If you can take your temperature at the same time each morning, that’s ideal.

If your basal temperature is low, odds are good you’ve got an underactive thyroid.

At that point, you’ll want to get tested for an underactive thyroid—it’s just a simple blood test from your doctor.

It’s important to note—it’s possible to have a normal thyroid reading, even if you have thyroid problems. For instance, Hashimoto’s disease—an autoimmune issue that affects the thyroid—doesn’t always show up in bloodwork.

Your thyroid also is unusually sensitive to toxins—especially heavy metals. That’s because your thyroid has a very soft covering. Unlike most organs, it’s easily permeated.

So if you or your doctor still suspect a thyroid issue despite normal thyroid readings, you should get a NutrEval test, looking for toxins and heavy metals.

The good news is, if you are having issues with an underactive thyroid, there are easy steps you can take to right your body’s balance.

You see, your thyroid primarily regulates your metabolism using two hormones—T3, and T4. There are all-natural products that use bovine and porcine thyroids to help you supplement both.

Many doctors prefer to prescribe synthetic thyroid medications, but I don’t. That’s because the synthetic meds only contain the T4 hormone. That’s not enough for most people—you need both.

Skip the artificial thyroid meds, and go with the natural option. Both will require a prescription—make sure your doctor gives you one that replaces T3 and T4.

Once you are taking these hormone supplements, it should make up for an underactive thyroid, up your metabolism—and help you take off any excess weight. Not to mention, help you feel more energy and spunk in general.

What Does My Adrenal Gland Have To Do With My Weight?

I’m going to tell you the truth: The adrenal gland largely remains a mystery to the medical world.

Sure, we know some of what it does. But there’s plenty we don’t. In fact, your adrenal gland produces more than 100 different hormones—and we don’t even know what some of them are yet!

However, there are two that we do know. And, when your adrenal gland isn’t working properly, those two hormones can lead to otherwise-unexplained weight gain.

Those two hormones? DHCA and cortisol.

You’ve probably heard of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. Working alongside adrenaline, it’s what your body releases when it feels threatened, and needs to be on high alert.

It’s very effective at helping your body dodge immediate, physical dangers—like saber-tooth tigers and buses.

But chronically elevated cortisol levels can be very damaging to your body over time.

One of those reasons? Cortisol encourages your body to turn blood sugar into fat at a higher rate. In other words, cortisol tells your body to put on weight.

Cortisol also encourages inflammation—which, when it’s chronic, breaks down your body’s tissues and your organ’s functions. That also can lead to weight gain.

And it’s made worse because DHCA—the other hormone I mentioned—is your body’s best anti-inflammatory defense. If it’s low, then inflammation can run amok.

For that reason, your adrenal gland can cause weight gain by being either overactive—and producing too much cortisol—or being underactive—and giving your body too little DHCA.

I say time and again that your body is a very delicately tuned machine. This is just one more example of that—it’s so easy to get knocked off balance.

You can find out if your adrenal gland is over- or underactive with a simple adrenal saliva test.

Unfortunately, fixing an irritated adrenal gland is a little more complicated than addressing thyroid issues.

First things first—cut out as much added sugar from your diet as you can. The blood sugar roller coaster can easily knock your adrenal gland for a loop, and there’s no way to get it back on track until you establish a nice, steady blood sugar level.

You don’t want insulin spikes from eating too much sugar, and you don’t want the big sugar drops that quickly follow insulin spikes. You get enough sugar from eating fruits, vegetables, and small portions of carbohydrates. That’s all you need.

Second, stay away from caffeine. You don’t want to have more than two cups of coffee in a day—and you should aim for even less if you can.

Caffeine does have some beneficial effects. But the alertness it gives you comes from exciting a lot of the systems that the adrenal gland taps into. You want to give those systems a chance to relax. Too much caffeine irritates them, and your adrenal gland.

Finally—and most importantly—get enough sleep! If you’ve got an adrenal issue, go out of your way to get more than usual. You need a minimum of eight hours of sleep, and preferably nine—at least until your body can find its equilibrium again.

Thyroid problems and adrenal issues can cause more than weight gain. But weight gain is the easiest early warning sign to notice.

Both can be fixed through medication or changing some of your habits. And it’s well worth doing so, before they cause bigger issues.

Especially since, as a nice bonus, you’ll find yourself more energized and slimmer in the process.

References

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