By Michèle Wolff B.H.Sc Naturopathy, Dip. Colonics and Author
What Do the Adrenal and Thyroid Glands Do?
The primary method of chemical communications in the body is via hormones, produced by various endocrine glands (hormone secreting glands), which then bind to receptors on target tissues where they stimulate a variety of responses. Two endocrine glands that are often affected by disease, as well as lifestyle and dietary factors are the adrenal and thyroid glands.
The adrenal glands are found on top of the kidneys and produce several hormones including aldosterone (increases water retention and blood pressure), the stress hormones (cortisol, corticosterone, adrenaline and noradrenaline), and androgens (involved in the production of sex hormones).
The thyroid gland is located at the front of the neck and produces the thyroid hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), as well as calcitonin. The thyroid hormones act in almost every cell in the body and influence basal metabolic rate, the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and proteins, impact tissue growth and development, and affect the body’s sensitivity to adrenal hormones.
Living a Lifestyle for Optimum Adrenal and Thyroid Health
Just as diet can either support or impair thyroid and adrenal health, your lifestyle impacts these glands too. Key lifestyle factors to modify are:
Exercise: regular gentle-moderate intensity exercise will improve your ability to cope with stress and has anti-inflammatory benefits. Exercise stimulates thyroid gland hormone secretion and increases sensitivity to these thyroid hormones. It will also help to increase your basal metabolic rate and maintain a healthy body weight.
Sleep: good quality and adequate quantity of sleep supports adrenal and thyroid health. Practice healthy sleep hygiene habits: turn off technology in the bedroom at least one hour prior to bed; reserve the bedroom for sleep and intimacy; avoid stimulants in the evening (exercise, caffeine, late study or work); detoxify your bedding (use organic cotton bed linens and chemical free mattresses and furnishings); ensure your bedroom is dark enough; get out into the sunlight in the mornings to help maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
Stress management: ongoing, unresolved stress has adverse effects on adrenal and thyroid health. It is important to implement stress management strategies (avoid the stressors, alter the situation, change your response, accept that which you cannot change, seek fun and relaxation), and seek professional assistance if required (counselling, life coaching).
Relaxation techniques: incorporate scheduled, regular relaxation or meditation practices to reduce stress. You can choose any relaxing activity that you enjoy such as: yoga, meditation, deep breathing, mindfulness, visualisation, Tai Chi, Qigong or other rhythmic exercises.
Reduce your toxic load: remove chemical cleaners, pesticides and toxic plastics from your home and replace with BPA and phthalate free plastics and natural cleaners. Leave your shoes at the door so as to not track pollutants through your home. Invest in water and air purifiers to remove unwanted compounds from your home and washing and drinking.