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Thyroid and Blood Sugar Connection. Everything You Need To Know About Blood Sugar and Thyroid Disease

Everything You Need To Know About Blood Sugar and Thyroid Disease

In 2021, 38.4 million Americans, or 11.6% of the population, had diabetes. Of the 38.4 million adults with diabetes, 29.7 million were diagnosed, and 8.7 million were undiagnosed. (*) There is increasing evidence that diabetes, prediabetes, and insulin resistance, affect many areas of thyroid function(*). If you have Thyroid disease, understanding this vital connection between your blood sugar and your thyroid cant be overstated.

Healthy Thyroid function Depends on Healthy Blood Sugar Level

Today’s article will focus on the following

If you suspect a thyroid problem but you are not quite sure, Take my Free Online Thyroid Quiz here

How high blood sugar affects the thyroid

How Does High Blood Sugar Affect the Thyroid?

In today’s fast-paced world, the prevalence of high blood sugar, often associated with conditions like diabetes, prediabetes, and insulin resistance, is on the rise.(*) What many patients who have thyroid disease don’t realize, is that elevated blood glucose levels (Hyperglycemia) have far-reaching effects on thyroid function.

1. High Blood Sugar and Hypothalamic-Pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis

First and foremost, hyperglycemia disrupts the delicate balance of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis, the master regulator of thyroid hormone production. Chronic high blood sugar can impair the responsiveness of the pituitary gland to thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), leading to suboptimal stimulation of the thyroid gland and reduced thyroid hormone synthesis. This disruption can result in imbalances in thyroid hormone levels, potentially manifesting as hypothyroidism or subclinical thyroid dysfunction in individuals with uncontrolled high blood sugar. In other words… Hyperglycemia causes low thyroid hormones.

If you suspect a thyroid problem but you are not quite sure, Take my Free Online Thyroid Quiz here

2. Insulin Resistance and Thyroid Hormone Production

Insulin resistance, a common feature of high blood sugar conditions such as type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance also plays a significant role in affecting thyroid function(*). Insulin, the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels, also influences cellular glucose uptake and metabolism. In insulin-resistant states, cells become less responsive to insulin, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels and elevated insulin levels when tested in bloodwork.

Elevated insulin levels can lead to a decrease in the production and secretion of thyroid hormones, particularly T3 (triiodothyronine). Insulin resistance, a condition where cells become less responsive to insulin’s actions, can disrupt the conversion of the inactive thyroid hormone T4 (thyroxine) into the active form T3(*). This can result in lower levels of circulating T3 also known as Low T3 syndrome. Fasting insulin levels should be less than 6.

1. Effect on Thyroid Hormone Transport: Insulin resistance can also impact the transport of thyroid hormones in the bloodstream. Thyroid hormones bind to transport proteins in the blood (Thyroid binding globulin), and alterations in these proteins (TBG) (*) can affect the distribution and availability of thyroid hormones to tissues and cells (*). Elevated insulin levels may interfere with the binding of thyroid hormones to transport proteins(*), further affecting thyroid function.

2. Metabolic Effects: Insulin plays a role in regulating metabolism, including the metabolism of thyroid hormones. Elevated insulin levels can influence the way cells respond to thyroid hormones, affecting metabolic processes such as glucose uptake, lipid metabolism, and energy production. (*) Disruptions in these metabolic pathways can impact overall thyroid function and metabolic health.

3. Inflammation and Oxidative Stress: Insulin resistance and elevated insulin levels are associated with increased inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. Chronic inflammation and oxidative damage can negatively impact thyroid health by altering the structure and function of thyroid tissue(*), impairing hormone synthesis, and promoting autoimmune reactions that target the thyroid gland. (*)

4. Feedback Mechanisms:  The relationship between insulin and thyroid hormones is complex and involves intricate feedback mechanisms. Changes in insulin signaling can affect the release of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) from the pituitary gland, which in turn influences the production of thyroid hormones by the thyroid gland. Disruptions in this feedback loop can lead to dysregulation of thyroid function.(*)

3. High Blood Sugar and Chronic Inflammation

In addition, the chronic low-grade inflammation commonly observed in diabetes, prediabetes, and insulin resistance can impact thyroid function. Inflammatory mediators released in response to high blood sugar levels can interfere with the conversion of the inactive thyroid hormone thyroxine (T4) to the active form triiodothyronine (T3). Consequently, this disruption leads to decreased T3 (low T3 syndrome) levels and compromised thyroid hormone activity. The inflammatory-mediated alterations in thyroid hormone transport proteins and receptor sensitivity further contribute to the development of thyroid disorders in individuals with poorly managed high blood sugar levels.

Recognizing the two-way relationship between high blood sugar and thyroid function is crucial for comprehensive thyroid management. Healthcare providers must conduct regular screenings for thyroid dysfunction in individuals with diabetes or prediabetes, ensuring that thyroid hormone levels are monitored for optimal metabolic and endocrine health. Equally important is empowering individuals with thyroid disorders to focus on maintaining good glycemic control and adopting a healthy lifestyle to mitigate the impacts of high blood sugar on thyroid function. You can learn more about how to maintain glycemic control by reading this article “12 tips to balance your blood sugar when you have throid disease”

How low blood sugar affects Thyroid

How Does Low Blood Sugar Affect the Thyroid?

Low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, is a condition characterized by abnormally low levels of glucose in the blood. While hypoglycemia is traditionally associated with diabetes treatment, its effects extend beyond just blood sugar regulation. In this article, we explore the lesser-known relationship between low blood sugar and thyroid function, shedding light on how fluctuations in blood glucose levels can affect the delicate balance of thyroid hormones.

1. Low Blood Sugar and Thyroid Hormone Production

Low blood sugar or Hypoglycemia can disrupt the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis, the intricate network that regulates thyroid hormone production and release. During episodes of low blood sugar, the body activates stress response mechanisms, triggering the release of cortisol and adrenaline. These stress hormones can inhibit the secretion of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) from the pituitary gland, leading to decreased stimulation of the thyroid gland and a subsequent reduction in thyroid hormone production. As a result, individuals experiencing frequent bouts of hypoglycemia may be at risk of developing thyroid imbalances, potentially leading to hypothyroidism or subclinical thyroid dysfunction.

2. Low Blood Sugar and Adrenal Fatigue

Furthermore, the effects of low blood sugar on thyroid function can be exacerbated by the presence of underlying conditions such as adrenal fatigue or pituitary dysfunction. Chronic hypoglycemia can strain the adrenal glands, which are responsible for producing cortisol, a hormone that plays a crucial role in the conversion of inactive thyroid hormone (T4) to its active form (T3). Prolonged cortisol elevation due to recurrent low blood sugar episodes may disrupt this conversion process, leading to lower T3 levels and impaired thyroid hormone activity. Similarly, pituitary dysfunction resulting from prolonged hypoglycemia can further contribute to disruptions in TSH secretion and subsequent thyroid dysfunction.

If you suspect a thyroid problem but you are not quite sure, Take my Free Online Thyroid Quiz here

3. Low Blood sugar and T3

The impact of low blood sugar on thyroid function is not limited to hormone production but also extends to thyroid hormone metabolism. Hypoglycemia-induced alterations in insulin levels can affect the transport, uptake, and utilization of thyroid hormones within cells. Insulin plays a critical role in facilitating the entry of T3 into target cells, where it exerts its metabolic effects. In individuals with frequent episodes of low blood sugar, insulin dysregulation can impair the cellular response to thyroid hormones, leading to metabolic imbalances and suboptimal thyroid function.

To mitigate the effects of low blood sugar on thyroid function, proactive management strategies that focus on stabilizing blood glucose levels and supporting thyroid health are essential. Individuals experiencing hypoglycemia should work closely with healthcare providers to identify and address the root causes of low blood sugar, implement appropriate dietary and lifestyle modifications, and monitor thyroid hormone levels regularly to detect any potential disruptions in thyroid function early on.

Blood Sugar Thyroid connection

Tips to Improve Blood Sugar When You Have Thyroid Disease

Improving blood sugar levels is crucial for managing conditions like diabetes and Thyroid disease. Here are a few tips to help you optimize your blood sugar levels. If you want more specific information on balancing your blood sugar levels when you have thyroid disease, I recommend reading and watching this video here.

1. Eat a Balanced Diet: Focus on eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Avoid foods high in added sugars, refined carbohydrates, and unhealthy fats. Consider following a balanced diet such as the Mediterranean, DASH diet, or Paleo, which can help stabilize blood sugar levels.

2. Monitor Carbohydrate Intake: Be mindful of your carbohydrate consumption and choose complex carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, such as non-starchy vegetables. Limit sugary beverages, sweets, and processed foods high in refined sugars.

3. Portion Control: Pay attention to portion sizes to prevent overeating and fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Use measuring cups, food scales, or visual cues to help you determine appropriate serving sizes.

4. Stay Hydrated: Drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day to support optimal hydration and blood sugar regulation. Limit sugary drinks and opt for water, herbal tea, or infused water instead.

5. Manage Stress: Chronic stress can elevate blood sugar levels by releasing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Practice stress-reducing activities like mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or spending time in nature to help keep stress levels in check.

6. Regular Monitoring: Keep track of your blood sugar levels regularly, especially if you have diabetes or are at risk for developing the condition. Work closely with your healthcare provider to establish a monitoring schedule and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.

By incorporating these tips into your daily routine and making lifestyle changes that support healthy blood sugar levels, you can take proactive steps towards improving your overall well-being and reducing the risk of complications associated with high or low blood sugar levels.

If you suspect a thyroid problem but you are not quite sure, Take my Free Online Thyroid Quiz here

Additional Articles We Recommended Reading

  1. Thyroid Symptoms Despite “Normal” Lab Tests? Let’s Review Patterns of Thyroid Disease
  2. 12 Tips to Balance Your Blood Sugar When You Have Thyroid Disease
  3. Ingredients Binders and Fillers in Thyroid Medication
  4. Low T3 Explained. What You Should Know About This Thyroid Hormone
  5. Adrenal Fatigue and Thyroid: How Are They Connected?
  6. How Chronic Stress elevated Blood sugar- Understanding Stress, Cortisol and Blood sugar

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