According to the 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report (CDC), there are 29.1 million people (9.3% of the population) in the United States who have diabetes – 21 million diagnosed, 8.1 million undiagnosed. But did you know that some of the symptoms of diabetes and hypothyroidism can mimic each other? These symptoms include, but are not limited to, excessive thirst and hunger, slow wound healing, blurred vision, frequent urination, extreme fatigue, and irritability.
The Thyroid Connection
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) occurs when the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland does not produce enough of the hormone thyroxine. Lack of this hormone can damage organs and tissues. Unfortunately, symptoms may not manifest until long after the thyroid has stopped functioning.
Those with diabetes have a higher probability of thyroid disorders. In many cases, the diabetes is diagnosed, but the underlying hypothyroidism has yet to be discovered.
The connectionbetween autoimmune thyroid diseases and Type 1 Diabetes are based on a genetic link. With Type 2 Diabetes, it is related to the interaction of signaling pathways.
If someone has an elevated or unstable glucose reading, or has been diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes, thyroid testing would allow for early treatment and/or prevention of potential problems in the future.
Testing and Treatment
In an article posted in “Clinical Diabetes” by Patricia Wu, MD, FACE, FRCP, a sensitive serum TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) assay is the most appropriate screening test.
Type 1 Diabetes: Checking for anti-TPO (anti-thyroid peroxidase) antibodies can help predict the development of autoimmune thyroid disorders. If these antibodies are present, a yearly screening of TSH is recommended. If not, a TSH assay can be done every 2-3 years.
Type 2 Diabetes: After initial diagnosis, a TSH assay is recommended at least once every 5 years.
The treatment of choice for hypothyroidism is thyroid hormone replacement therapy with L-thyroxine being the most widely used.
Foods to Support Thyroid Health
Sea Vegetables – Kelp, dulse seaweed, and kombu are a great source of iodine.
Fish – Cod and haddock contain a high density of iodine along with the added benefit of Omega 3’s.
Dark Green Leafy Vegetables – Turnips, collards, spinach, and kale supply vitamin B which is used in the production of hormones.
Almonds – With iron, B vitamins, selenium and zinc, they supply nutrients the thyroid gland can use. Many nuts provide a good source of proteins, minerals, and vitamins.
Coconut Oil – Provides essential fatty acids for adequate metabolic function.
Eggs – One of the best dairy sources of iodine.
For optimal thyroid function, it would be best to avoid soybeans, peanuts, excessive caffeine, sugar, and refined carbohydrates.
Prior to his being exiled to Patmos, John wrote a letter to his friend Gaius. I wish you the same:
“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” (3 John 1:2 / NIV)
In what ways are you proactive in caring for your health?