Are you struggling with unexplained weight gain in your midsection?
Curious about the connection between thyroid health and weight management?
In this episode of the me&my health up podcast, Anthony Hartcher interviews Naturopath Lisa Costa-Bir about thyroid issues and their impact on weight gain, specifically in the midsection. Lisa discusses the importance of nurturing the thyroid gland with the right nutrients and highlights the role of stress, hormones, and exercise in managing thyroid function. She emphasizes a holistic approach to health and self-care, including restorative exercises, stress management programs, and finding balance in life to optimize thyroid function and overall well-being.
Lisa also shares valuable insights on the need for patience and consistency in addressing thyroid issues, and the importance of maintaining a self-care wheel encompassing various aspects of life that contribute to better thyroid function. Tune in to learn more about Lisa's approach to managing thyroid health, the role of carbohydrates and other nutrients in thyroid function, and the significance of incorporating relaxation, laughter, and nature into your self-care routine.
About Lisa Costa Bir:
Lisa Costa-Bir is a leading Naturopath in the Sutherland Shire. Having been diagnosed with the auto-immune condition, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, one year after having her daughter, Lisa’s passion lies within all things thyroid and auto-immune related. Using a combination of conventional and complementary medicine, she has regained her health and energy and is passionate about helping her clients do the same so that they can live and enjoy their lives to the fullest.
Lisa is also a lecturer and clinical supervisor at Endeavour College of Natural Therapies where she mentors students completing degrees in Nutrition and Naturopathy and has taught nutrition to dancers at ED5 performing Arts School. She has contributed as an expert writer to two textbooks on Naturopathic Medicine: Clinical Naturopathic Medicine and Foundations in Clinical Naturopathic Medicine.
Connect with Lisa Costa-Bir:
Lisa’s website: https://www.lisacostabirnaturopath.com/
About me&my & Anthony Hartcher:
me&my health up seeks to enhance and enlighten the well-being of others. Host Anthony Hartcher is the CEO of me&my wellness which provides holistic health solutions using food as medicine, combined with a holistic, balanced, lifestyle approach. Anthony holds three bachelor's degrees in Complementary Medicine; Nutrition and Dietetic Medicine; and Chemical Engineering.
Any information, advice, opinions or statements within it do not constitute medical, health care or other professional advice, and are provided for general information purposes only. All care is taken in the preparation of the information in this Podcast. [Connected Wellness Pty Ltd] operating under the brand of “me&my health up”..click here for more
have quite a lot of literature showing that while carbohydrates may work, if people drop their carbohydrates, they may lose weight, it actually slows down the thyroid function even more, it drops levels of T four and T three because the body perceives that as a stressor. So we still actually want to be having carbohydrates in the diet, but we want to be making sure they're coming from whole food sources where there's lots of nutrition. So things like sweet potato, regular potato, good quality bread, like that's not a problem, as long as it's not in excess in terms of optimizing the third in other ways. I'm looking at what stress.Anthony Hartcher:
That was Lisa Costa-Bir, and you've landed on me&my health up podcast. I'm your host, Anthony Hartcher. I'm a clinical nutritionist and lifestyle medicine specialist. The purpose of this podcast is to enhance and enlighten your well being and Lisa Costa-Bir is going to be doing that just for you. She is a fully qualified naturopath, and she has a passion for women's health. And she has an interest in thyroid function and the importance of thyroid in women's health. And we're going to be discussing that topic to empower you and to make sure that you're doing everything possible for a healthy thyroid function. So without much further ado, I'd love to welcome you into the discussion I'm having with Lisa Costa-Bir welcome on the me&my health up podcast, Lisa Costa-Bir. How are you doing today?Lisa Costa-Bir:
I'm great. How are you?Anthony Hartcher:
Fantastic. It's such a delight to have you. Given that you've been such an instrumental part of my journey being my teacher, my guide, my shining lights through through my nutritional studies and clinic studies. So it's so great to have you on because you've been an important part of my life. So thank you for coming on.Lisa Costa-Bir:
Well, absolute pleasure. I'm very excited to be here.Anthony Hartcher:
And a listeners, Lisa's very passionate about women's health. And she's done her master's in women's health and a fully qualified naturopath and she loves talking about women's health hence why I've got her on the show to further talk about women's health, but in particular on thyroid function. And Lisa has first hand experience of this her own personal story as well as just her clinical wisdom around how to work with the thyroid and optimize its function. So before we kick off, Lisa I'm really keen for the listeners to better understand your backstory of how you've arrived or what you're doing today.Lisa Costa-Bir:
So well in terms of becoming a naturopath, I actually fell into natural beauty because I was very interesting in nutrition. And I started doing a nutrition degree and then there's some of the subjects will fall and I got told oh you can do intro to naturopathy as an elective and then that will count towards your nutrition degree dealing trottinette naturopathy loved it became a naturopath without having ever seen naturopath or understood what they really do finish m`y degree, started seeing clients and actually had no idea that I really had my own kind of thyroid dysfunction going on. And it was only after I had my daughter and I saw patients with thyroid kind of didn't recognize it in myself, after I had my daughter. I was feeling very tired and just not 100%. But I kind of put that down to just being a new mom and all the stuff that kind of goes along with that. But I was diagnosed with Hashimotos, an autoimmune thyroid condition a year after I had my daughter. And in hindsight, I probably had it quite a long time. And I was probably hypothyroid during my pregnancy. So I kind of just fell into focusing on thyroid and autoimmunity as a result of really my own experience in going through that journey and really wanting to help other women through that process.Anthony Hartcher:
It's fantastic how it found you and now you're, you know, enhancing and enlightening the well being of others around optimizing their thyroid and helping them be their healthiest self. So just on this whole thing of thyroid, it's talked a lot about because we have this very body conscious society. It's all focused on body image and having the best body and there's an association with thyroid metabolism. And yeah, so if you could just share in terms of you know, for the listeners as to what the thyroid does,Lisa Costa-Bir:
well, my word is a butterfly shaped gland and it sits kind of around here, but it's very, very important for our metabolism. So it helps with our metabolic rate. So when the thyroid is running inefficiently, or running too slowly, we noticed most people will notice that their metabolism slows down and they start to gain weight, irrespective really of what they're eating. So something that I know something that I noticed that alerted me to go to the doctor it wasn't that I was super fatigued or anything like that. I was actually sleeping more than 10 hours a night and still waking up very tight but that I kind of just was oblivious to how abnormal that was. It was my white so I was putting on a couple of kilos every kind of second week that was going on was putting on weight despite the fact that I had a very healthy diet and I was exercising often with high hypothyroidism, women will notice that, okay, I'm starting to gain weight. Even though I haven't really, I'm not eating poorly, I haven't kind of changed things around. It is important to know that with hypo, everyone gains weight. Some people may stay the same, and with high power, which is a thyroid, that's too fast, the majority of people lose weight, but there's 10% of people that actually gain weight. So it's not stuck in stone that you're going to be more overweight. If you're slow thyroid hyperthyroid. But that's generally kind of what we see,Anthony Hartcher:
essentially, you're saying that women first start to notice that when they seem to be doing everything they normally do, and that normally helps with weight loss and gaining weight? Essentially, yeah.Lisa Costa-Bir:
Particularly they seen on the tummy, a hips, those kind of areas,Anthony Hartcher:
and they took sort of, where do you start, so someone comes to see you, and they've got all these signs and symptoms, they're doing their best around their diet, they're exercising, you know, sleeping, doing relaxation, or whatever? Where do you start with supporting someone's thyroidLisa Costa-Bir:
often in saying that they they're not like, they function, may be doing a bit of exercise, but it's not always consistent. Or they might, they usually got, like a few things that they're doing really well. But then other things that they're not doing so well. And it's really interesting, because when you have thyroid dysfunction, you can be sleeping a lot, but it's not necessarily good sleep or some people's sleep is affected because those thyroid hormones are very important for sleep architecture, people may have the diet down path, but then maybe aren't don't have the stress component down path. So it's really about me, taking a really good case history and looking at, well, where can we tweak those things, because the majority of people don't aren't doing all those things in the best way that might be that they're, for me, for example, I was exercising, but I was doing the wrong type of exercise for where I was that I was getting up really, really early and doing high intensity boxing, which in a fasted state, and so on. And that is actually really detrimental when your authorities malfunctioning.Anthony Hartcher:
So it's a really good point to raise there, because generally, the thinking is that in order for me to lose weight, I just kind of train harder, eat less.Lisa Costa-Bir:
And that's exactly, even with everything I know, that is exactly what I was doing. But the thyroid gland actually hates that when it's hypo thyroid, it actually needs a lot more TLC like it needs more nutrients, not necessarily more met, like calories or anything like that it needs more nutrition, less dip, like less depleting. So yeah, we kind of want to really pamper the thyroid gland and make it feel like there's a surplus of stuff coming in. To support its function, it's, I always think about the thorough thing, kind of like a car. And when it's hypothyroid, even though the tendency is gaining weight, so I'm going to eat less, we actually need to service the thyroid and give it lots of TLC. So it runs better.Anthony Hartcher:
So in terms of that servicing, where do you start like so like, if I were to pitch her, someone that fasting, they're, you know, maybe doing the keto diet or you know, really reducing the carbs, because the carbs are the enemy and of weight gain and whatnot. And so you mentioned, the thyroid actually needs more nourishment. So what sort of nourishment does it need?Lisa Costa-Bir:
so it needs more nutrition as a whole, I definitely don't think carbohydrates are the enemy. In fact, we need a certain amount of carbohydrates for the thorough to function properly. And there's quite a lot of literature showing that while carbohydrates may work if people drop their carbohydrates, they may lose weight, it actually slows down the thyroid function, even more drops levels of T4 to T3. Because the body perceives that as a stressor. So we still actually want to be having carbohydrates in the diet, but we want to be making sure they're coming from whole food sources where there's lots of nutrition. So things like sweet potato, regular potato, good quality bread, like that's not a problem as long as it's not in excess in terms of optimizing the thyroid in other ways. I'm looking at what stress like for a lot of my patients stress is huge trigger for their thyroid becoming dysfunctional. And that's because it particularly that autoimmune thyroid, because our immune cells actually have receptors, which are like little docking sites for stress hormones. So when we're under huge amounts of stress, the immune cells become dysfunctional, and that can lead to the immune system attacking the thyroid, and that's where that autoimmune component comes in. So even like a two month Stress Management Program helps to reduce thyroid antibodies, which part of that autoimmune process and that can help to conserve the thyroid function and make the thyroid work better. So stress is a big deal. I also look at sex hormones. So estrogen and progesterone because we see a much higher rate viral disease in women. Men do still get it but we see much higher rates of women. So I'm always looking at what are the hormones doing as well. What's their period like? We see that 30 becomes dysfunctional at these pivotal moments in a woman's life, adolescents, pregnancy, post pregnancy, perimenopause. And it's because the hormones are fluctuating wildly at these points.Anthony Hartcher:
And you mentioned that exercise component which you spoke about at the start. You're waking up early, doing boxing classes, high intensity training, and then you realize that it wasn't probably what you needed to support the thyroid. So in that exercise component, what do you recommend for women to do in terms of to optimize that thyroid function.Lisa Costa-Bir:
I think now, like for me, now I can I do high intensity exercise, I do boxing, because my thyroid function is stable, and it's okay. But so it's really dependent upon where that person is in their thorough journey. But if they are in that really kind of acute phase where they are flaring, they are feeling really fatigued, their levels are unstable, probably more restorative exercise is recommended at this point, because we're trying to create more of a catabolic state, which is what some types of exercise can do when the thyroid is a little bit depleted. So there is some research on more restorative exercise like yoga, actually being really helpful for thyroid function. And women who did six months off a yoga program actually conserve their thyroid function and improve the levels of TSH T4 and T3. So I would recommend something like that in those initial stages. And then when our patient is feeling a lot better, then and more stable, then they can include something a little bit more high intensity. But really, I think for a lot of women, more anabolic exercise is going to be beneficial building up muscle, rather than huge kind of marathon running or anything like that. This is for women that have thyroid conditions, people that don't can do whatever they want, obviously. And when it comes to that weight training, too, it's about shorter intervals, rather than, you know, really kind of overloading the body and trashing it.Anthony Hartcher:
You mentioned this element of stress, and, you know, taking women through a program to help them better manage their stress, see one of the stresses as that frustration of you know, I'm doing a lot and you know, I'm not getting the results I'm after and and is there an element of the mindset in terms of being comfortable where they're at? And they're on a journey? Do you help them with that mindset around? Because I think in today's world, it's that immediate gratification seeking that really puts us undone in terms of our health, because we want that quick fix, as opposed to, you know, doing the progressive steps that we need to make, and then allow that gratification to come in terms of results. What do you have to say around that?Lisa Costa-Bir:
Yeah, I think, from my personal experience, as well, as you know, sitting with clients, it can be really frustrating when you're doing we feel like you're doing all the right things like you're looking after your diet, you're trying to do stress management sort of stuff, and the weights not coming off. The thing is though, that the metabolism and the thyroid don't just become dysfunctional in a week or two, it's a very, very long process. And so building up that function of the thyroid and the other hormones from that depletion state into a more repeated state, it takes time. So it's not something that is going to happen in a couple of weeks, you're really looking at at least a six month period. So it's really about just being patient and consistent. And I totally get that can be frustrating.Anthony Hartcher:
But you mentioned in terms of stress impacting thyroid function, and you put them on that program in order to help them destress and better manage their stress and support their thyroid function. One of the things that comes to my mind is that wanting the results quickly, and they're not coming quick enough and just thinking, Well, I'm getting a bit frustrated and that frustrated can this lead to, you know, that exacerbation of stress? So what do you have, you've got to say, you know, help those women out there that are on their journey, and just not seeing the results.Lisa Costa-Bir:
I can empathize. Because having been there myself, it is a frustrating process. When you are doing all the things right, you are eating well, you're trying to get enough sleep, you're trying to do the exercise, it's really about patience and consistency. And understanding that it's not going to be a dramatic process that happens in a week or two, it takes a long time for the thyroid to become dysfunctional. It's not something that you know, happens in just a month or two women that get Hashimotos have often had it for a long time. So in terms of building back up those thyroid hormones, fixing the metabolism and the other hormones, that's at least at the very least a six month process. So you know, I think it's just really important to know that it will happen. It's just that you've got to be patient and consistent with what you're doing. But it is super frustrating when you're doing all the right thingsAnthony Hartcher:
I could imagine and I haven't experienced it myself, but I know what it's like when you're doing well and you're just not seeing the results or you're the thinking hacker the results are covey of doing all these things and they should be Covey where are they?Lisa Costa-Bir:
Totally and then maybe if they're not, then we need to look at what else is going on. Do we need to measure levels of cortisol and DHA and understand like how big is the stress element? Or do we need to look at the six hormones in more detail like what else is going on? If things aren't aren't improving? Is this something off the going on.Anthony Hartcher:
and through my classes with you and doing the clinical studies, you're a big believer in holistic health and nourishing the person, really that self care element. And you actually, remember you're doing a diagram of the Lisa self care wheel. So I think it'd be really useful for the listeners to understand Lisa's self care wheel and how to construct it and build it. And.Lisa Costa-Bir:
this self care, we'll I'll share, my whiteboard is just like, hey, the wheel like pie chart, essentially. And there's all the different things that that fill our cup, really. And that contributes to better thyroid function and modulation of the immune system, dropping those thyroid antibodies, if it is autoimmune. So I think a lot of people when they get diagnosed with a thyroid condition, like Hashimotos, or graves, they're very focused on the dietary aspect and the gut microbiome. And absolutely, they are very important. But we also need to look at connection with others, community, other people that we interact with the things that fill our cup and make us feel better as well. So fun,laughter, sleep, all those things in that can fit into the pie chart to assist with really identifying the things that contribute to our overall health and well being. So it's not just about the gut microbiome, it's not just about the diet, all those pieces of the pie chart kind of need to be working synergistically for everything to function well. There's really, really interesting research on things like loneliness and disconnection and the way in which they impact our thyroid and our immune system, individuals that feel more lonely, and disconnected, they show that this can actually cause their genes to mutate, and impact their immune system, increasing their risk of autoimmunity and things like that. So these are really important factors that I look at when someone comes in to see me. I'm not just interested in their gut health and what they're eating, I'm just as interested in what makes you happy? How often are you doing it? What makes you feel connected to other people? What are your relationships? Like? Because this actually has a huge impact on thyroid in the immune condition?Anthony Hartcher:
Yeah, Because when I think about it, the you know, particularly in those childbearing years, you're giving a lot of time and love to others, like your children, you're raising children, you're supporting a partner, you're potentially nurturing your career as well on top of this. And so there's so much outgoing love, and what you're sharing is this, you know, bringing it back in and getting that balance between what's going out what's coming in to really create a nap, you know, nourish, nourish the person nourish the thyroid.Lisa Costa-Bir:
Yeah, so a lot of my patients, when I ask them, How often do you stop and do nothing, they kind of like, never do it. A lot of my clients, they're working, they have two children, that they're juggling a lot. And that's great. And I'm all for the things that we have to do all those things. But it's also important to have time where we're kind of not doing anything and our adrenaline come down. And we feel like what it's like to just do nothing. And that that's really, really important for kind of helping the thyroid to really underestimated actually sitting on the couch, or sitting outside and doing absolutely nothing to really feel what your true essence.Anthony Hartcher:
So I can imagine women that you know, think I'm just going to sit down and chill for a bit. But then they open a social media app and start flicking and scrolling. And they're seeing that everyone else is doing something and enjoying themselves and hey, I'm sitting here, I'm missing out on it, I should be doing something. And so there's sort of like I think we've really, you know, in today's world, we're very disconnected with traditional ways of unwinding, however, very, I guess now the norm for unwinding is watching Netflix or you know, scrolling through social media. So what have you got to say with that? Because I can't imagine that's helpful.Lisa Costa-Bir:
Not, really doing anything, we're still we're still doing stuff. And that's fine. Like so if you're watching Tiktok's and laughing at cat videos, and dog videos a lot of benefits to that, right? Because we're relaxed, we're laughing, we're in a parasympathetic state, that's only going to be beneficial. So I don't have a problem with that as long as not like all day, every day. I think there's a lot of guilt people have a lot of guilt about watching Netflix or watch watching something on the phone and it's fine. It's totally fine. As long as there's kind of balance with everything else in life. I actually, people may be shocked but actually recommend watching cat videos or watching Mr. Bean or something like that to my patients, because a common question I will ask them is how often do you laugh? And some people will say, oh, never rarely laugh and this is kind of interesting because children apparently like 200 times a day like if you say bomb or fart or something like that child is going to be crying with laughter. Adults have so much going on inside their brains that they're kind of in this adrenaline mode all the time.Anthony Hartcher:
so lisa what I understand is that essentially And If it doesn't matter whether you're watching Netflix or scrolling the internet, is it bringing you pleasure in terms of laughter and enjoyment and relaxed relaxation? Or is it making you feel envious and guilty, then if it's making you feel the latter, the envious guilty, then it's probably not something that's going to help the individual wind down. But if it's making them, you know, relax and bring some laughter and some light to life, then that's, that's probably a good way to for them to unwind. So it really comes down to the individual and what really stimulates their ability to relax and unwind.Lisa Costa-Bir:
Yeah, and so a common recommendation I will make is for my patients to watch Mr. Bean or something like that. So they can get out of that adrenaline tense, constricted mode and into something where they are in more of a parasympathetic state and they're enjoying life a little bit more laughing.Anthony Hartcher:
Fantastic. I've really loved the conversation because we've covered that sort of holistic wheel relationships with stress management, nutrition, exercise, sleep, is there anything that we've missed in this discussion around the holistic approach to healthy thyroid.Lisa Costa-Bir:
I think lifestyle it to take it just to another level, outdoors nature, I think is also super healing as well. So if that individual can get out into the green space, the forest areas, the beach, anything like that bushwalking particularly there's a lot of soil and sand and things like that, that's also been shown to help modulate the stress hormones help with the thyroid gland, modulate the immune system reduce inflammation. And I think we forget we've become so kind of detached from nature. But when we breathe in compounds from trees and things like that, it sounds very kind of airy fairy, but it's actually thing we breathe in the volatile oils that we find at the, in the forest. That's incredibly healing too. So there's actually lots we can do to help with thyroid function, apart from just diet and supplements and things like thatAnthony Hartcher:
are fantastic. I do remember that being in your lisa of self care wheel, so. I'll actually I could probably have a little caption does fly up with the wheel that I talked about when we were in that lecture together. So so it really appreciate you know, what you shared today. It's been really enlightening and really down to earth and practical and pragmatic. And I'm sure the listeners are thinking, I need your help, Lisa. So how can the listeners best connect with LisaLisa Costa-Bir:
sure you can find me online, on my website,https:
www.//lisacostabirnaturopath.com/ on Instagram,@lisacostabirnaturopath on would be two good places to find me. Yeah.Anthony Hartcher:
And for the listeners. I'll include both of those links in the show notes. So just go directly to the show notes and you'll be able to connect with Lisa and your final concluding words of wisdom around women's health thyroid functionLisa Costa-Bir:
we deserve as humans as women to feel good to feel well to feel energized. And if you're not feeling like that if you're waking up every day and you're dragging yourself out of bed and feeling mediocre. It doesn't have to be that way. We can understand a little bit better about what's going on so that you know we do feel 100% and excited and energetic about life.Anthony Hartcher:
Fantastic. You certainly bring their energy and there's excitement, enthusiasm for what you do. Lisa, I really appreciated learning from you and still do today. So thank you for further enlightening me. Enlightening listeners. really appreciate your time.Lisa Costa-Bir:
Thanks for having me.Anthony Hartcher:
You're welcome. Anytime Lisa, we'll have to get you back on to do PMDD so I'll leave that with the listeners to digest as to what's PMDD is but it's another episode with Lisa and to the listeners thank you for tuning in for another insightful episode stay tuned in for more episodes please like and share it with others that you could also that you know that could also benefit from Lisa's wisdom really appreciate you getting the word out there because as you know this podcast is all about enhancing and enlightening the well being of others thank youLisa Costa-Bir:
Thank YouAnthony Hartcher:
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