Tracie is back sharing her vast knowledge in nutrition and the role it plays with fat loss. Today’s topic is so huge and is becoming more and more of a problem. I send my clients who I believe have low thyroid to Tracie. I am very good at getting people to lose weight, but I have found those who have been seemingly doing everything right, and aren’t losing any fat, are 90% of the time hypothyroid. Tracie has an 8 week seminar, starting July 15th, that will really go in depth about how you can eat to heal the thyroid. I just heard she only has 3 spots still available, so if you are interested, you need to contact her ASAP at firstname.lastname@example.org to secure one of the last spots.
Okay, here is her post!
Could It Be Your Thyroid?
Are you always tired? Do you gain weight easily or have a hard time losing it? Do you wear socks to bed even in the summer to keep your feet warm? Are your hair and/or eye brows thinning? Do you have chronic constipation? Is your sex drive low? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, hypothyroidism may be an issue for you.
Background Information about the Thyroid
The thyroid gland is our metabolic powerhouse. Not producing enough active thyroid hormone can have a huge impact on a person’s ability to feel great and lose weight. This is because the thyroid directly regulates an individual’s metabolism. When someone has hypothyroidism (low thyroid production), they will often have a decreased basal metabolic rate (BMR), making it easy to gain weight and difficult to lose it. Some experts estimate that as many as 20 million Americans are currently suffering from undiagnosed hypothyroidism (Blanchard and Brill xiii). Considering that the thyroid gland regulates our metabolism, it is apparent that hypothyroidism can severely impact energy levels and the ability to lose weight.
Let me briefly explain the science behind the thyroid function. The thyroid is a walnut size gland that sits just below the Adam’s apple and helps to control every chemical reaction in the body. It is also an endocrine gland that produces, stores, and secretes thyroid hormones. Triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) are the two main hormones that the thyroid gland produces. T3 is considered the active form of the thyroid hormone; a healthy thyroid produces about 80% T4 and 20% T3. (Shomon 16) The thyroid controls the body’s metabolism by helping the cells convert calories and oxygen into energy.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism
There are many symptoms of hypothyroidism. Following is a list of the most common indicators: (Blanchard and Brill 103-107)
- Dry and/or coarse skin
- Coarse, brittle hair
- Hair loss (thinning of the eyebrows)
- Nail weakness/thinness
- Edema (swelling) of the eyelids
- Cold skin
- Severe fatigue
- Difficulty losing weight
Muscles and joints:
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle pain
- Carpal tunnel
- Swelling of the hands/feet
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Abdominal pain
- Diarrhea (especially near time of menstrual flow)
- Excessive menstruation
- Menopausal symptoms (hot flashes, etc.)
- Frequent miscarriage
- Loss of libido
- Brain fog
- Memory loss
- Panic attacks
- Change in personality- less outgoing, less joyful
- Seasonal affective disorder
- High blood pressure
- High total cholesterol
- High LDL
- High triglycerides.
- High homocysteine levels
- Low HDL
- A family history of thyroid disease: hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Graves’ disease, thyroid nodules, goiter, thyroid cancer.
- A family history of autoimmune disease: anemia, diabetes (type I), endometriosis, multiple sclerosis, Raynaud’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, systemic lupus, vitiligo.
As you can see, there are many more symptoms besides weight gain. Laurie Devine was kind enough to share her experience with hypothyroidism on the “Is soy making your fat” post comments. She stated: “I discovered that the severe asthma, allergies and migraines I’d suffered with for most of my life pretty much disappeared as soon as thyroid treatment began.” This is a perfect example of the important function of the thyroid. The bottom line is that our thyroid regulates our cellular energy and when it is not properly working, many other bodily functions are affected. The health of the thyroid is one of the most important factors in determining our overall wellness.
There is a lot to talk about regarding thyroid. On this post, I will challenge you to do a test at home that will help determine how well your thyroid may or may not be working.
The At Home Test
The thyroid regulates your body temperature. Therefore a low body temperature can help to determine if you have subclinical hypothyroidism (doesn’t show up in blood panel but patient has symptoms). Blood chemistry thyroid panels only reveal overt pathology, not subclinical conditions, which I will discuss more in depth in an upcoming blog post. Back in the 1940’s Dr. Broda Barnes, M.D., developed the axillairy (under arm) temperature test to determine subclinical hypothyroidism (click here for more information on the Broda Barnes Foundation and Dr. Barnes’ work). He studied thousands of patients and dedicated his life to thyroid research. Although Barnes recommended axillairy temperatures, Dr. Ray Peat, a present day thyroid expert believes that the oral temperature is more accurate then the auxiliary. As a result, I recommend using oral temps. Your optimum oral temperature should be 98.0°F in the morning before rising, so take your temperature before getting out of bed. Your oral temperature should increase during day light hours to 98.4°F- 99°F. It is important to take your temperature at least twice during the day because some people have a low morning temperature and a normal one during the day and vice versa. You should always use the lowest temperature as a deciding factor.
Women should take their temperatures especially on day 2-4 of their monthly cycle (day one is the first day of your period) if they are still menstruating to avoid the increase in temperature during ovulation. I recommend taking your temperature before getting out of bed in the morning, again 20 minutes after breakfast and between 11 am and 3 pm. At the same time check your pulse, your optimum resting pulse (sitting down) should be 75-85 and not over 90-100.
Wrapping It Up
Okay, this is enough information for now. I would again challenge you to take your basal temps and post what you are finding. In future posts, I will:
- Discuss why hypothyroidism is becoming such as issue in today’s society
- Provide a few nutritional pointers to support your thyroid
- Discuss what blood tests to request from your doctor and treatment options
Tracie Hittman Nutrition, LLC
Please share this with everyone in your life who might have low thyroid! Have you had experience with low thyroid? Please share with us your story and what you know about it!
Barnes, Broda and Lawrence Galton. Hypo-thyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness. NY: Harpers & Row Publishers, 1976.
Blanchard, Ken and Marietta Brill. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About
Hypothyroidism. NY: Warner Wellness, 2004.
Peat, Ray. “TSH, Temperature, Pulse Rate, and Other Indicators in Hypothyroidism.” Ray Peat.com 2007. 9 Sept. 2009. <http://raypeat.com/articles/articles /hypothyroidism.shtm>.
Shomon, Mary. Living Well with Hypothyroidism. NY: HarperCollins, 2000.
Starr, Mark. Hypothyroidism Type 2. Columbia, MO: Mark Starr Trust, 2009.