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How Does Glucose Enter Our Cells?
I am not going to go into huge amounts of detail here as I have spent a significant amount of time on various aspects relating to this in the book 'Recovering with T3'.
However, I will cover some of the basics.
We need an adequate diet, which is not starving us of calories. Any calorie-restricted diet may cripple thyroid hormone replacement therapy (of any type) as this may result in low blood sugar and a poor supply of glucose to our cells. Our diet needs to be rich in all the various nutrients required for correct operation of our cells and any potential deficiencies need to be addressed by additional and safe supplementation.
Our stomach acidity and enzyme production by the pancreas needs to be healthy and provide us with the ability to digest our food.
Our digestive system needs to be healthy with a good balance of healthy bacteria and no medical conditions, which result in the poor absorption of food.
When sugar levels peak in our bloodstream, the pancreas releases insulin. This has two effects. Excess sugar is stored for later use. Insulin also interacts with the membranes surrounding each cell and makes it possible for glucose (sugar) to enter our cells. If our blood sugar is not high enough (hypoglycaemia) or if insulin production is not high enough (pre-diabetes or diabetes) or there is insulin resistance then this may result in too low a level of glucose entering our cells. Again, regular meals and eating the right types of foods that provide a steady release of glucose during the day plays a huge part in all of this.
Insulin works in combination with its partner - cortisol.
Cortisol has the opposite effect to insulin. Cortisol works to cause stored glucose to be released into the blood stream and enables healthy levels of blood sugar to be maintained (among other things). Clearly, cortisol is also involved in the anti-inflammatory response and in managing such things as blood pressure. However, for the purpose of discussing thyroid hormones it is cortisol's role in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels that should peak our interest.
Cortisol does NOT handhold thyroid hormone into our cells. Cortisol does NOT work with thyroid hormone or our cell membranes to allow the access of thyroid hormone (T4 or T3) to our cells. Cortisol does NOT allow thyroid hormones to bind with receptors in the cell nuclei. Cortisol has NO direct role with thyroid hormone uptake within our cells. This is a misunderstanding that has become a viewpoint that many thyroid patients hold today. This is also one of the critical items that Dr. John C. Lowe wanted me to make clear within 'Recovering with T3' and I believe that I have managed to do this with some help from John.
What cortisol does do is to raise blood sugar levels when needed to then encourage the production of insulin, which then enables a supply of glucose to our cells. This glucose supply, as already discussed, is critical to ATP production and the correct functioning of thyroid hormone within our cells.
Consequently, cortisol production and healthy adrenal glands is very critical to recovering from hypothyroidism. However, this is because of cortisol's role, with insulin, correct diet and digestive health in the process of supplying glucose to our cells.
Cortisol is one of the major players in our body in the beautiful, ongoing dance, which continues to enable our cells to function well.
I wrote this explanation because there is such a lack of clarity on this topic and it is critical for thyroid patients to understand that simply taking thyroid hormone or even thyroid hormone combined with some form of adrenal support is often not sufficient to completely recover from hypothyroidism. Broader issues that have an effect on the healthy supply of glucose to our cells also need to be considered.