A Thyroid-Friendly Lifestyle May Help Lower Your Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

Low levels of thyroid hormone may put you at higher risk for type 2 diabetes. New research presented at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting suggests that having too little thyroid hormone, whether your levels are in the hypothyroid range or are just on the low-normal side, raises your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, especially if you have prediabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is an epidemic in the United States. In fact, a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that 50 percent of American adults have type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetes.

“Thyroid hormones are a key component of maintaining a healthy metabolism,” explains Dr. Andrea Klemes, endocrinologist and chief medical officer, MDVIP.  “This means that having less thyroid hormones can often lead to weight gain and a lower sensitivity to insulin, raising the risk for type 2 diabetes.”

Adopting healthy lifestyle practices—like exercising and eating healthier—can often prevent prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. And other modifications can promote a healthy thyroid. Here are some changes you can make:

What can you do to maintain your thyroid hormone levels, as well as help control hypothyroidism? Here are some tips.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking raises your risk of hypothyroidism. And if you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism, smoking raises your risk of developing one of the many complications associated with it like depression, cardiovascular disease and peripheral nerve damage. If you smoke and are ready to quit, work with your doctor to develop a personalized cessation plan. 
  • Ask for a thyroid collar when getting dental, head, neck or shoulder x-rays.
  • Choose natural or organic foods as processing strips many foods of their nutrients.
  • Discuss taking a multivitamin-mineral supplement with your doctor if you are concerned that you’re not getting enough thyroid-supporting nutrients like iodine, selenium, zinc, iron and copper.
  • Avoid skipping meals and eat breakfast within one hour of waking to avoid stressing the thyroid.
  • Steam or cook cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage whenever possible. Raw cruciferous vegetables have known to suppress thyroid hormones. However, heating these vegetables alter their molecular structure, making it safer for the thyroid.  
  • If you are sensitive to gluten products, discuss a gluten-free diet with your doctor. Gluten sensitivities can contribute to an array of autoimmune disorders including hypothyroidism. However, because gluten has nutritional benefits, it’s important to discuss important dietary decisions such as this with your doctor.   
  • Manage your stress. Your body’s response to stress involves producing the hormone cortisol which can impair thyroid function and cause a resistance to host of hormones, interfering with a wide array of bodily functions.   
  • Exercise regularly. Physical activity can stimulate the thyroid to produce hormones and increase your body’s tissue’s sensitivity to thyroid hormones. Be sure to talk to you doctor before beginning an exercise program.
Working with your MDVIP-affiliated physician and staying current with your annual wellness program may help lower your risk of developing hypothyroidism and/or type 2 diabetes. If you have been diagnosed with either condition, your doctor can help you manage the condition(s), treat complications and coordinate your care with specialists. If you or a loved one needs an MDVIP-affiliated physician, find one near you by clicking here
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