Help For Hashimoto's Episode 33 Perimenopause and Menopause with thyroid issues

I'd be interested in hearing you discuss hashimoto’s and thyroid medication during perimenopause and menopause, and/or how those hormones can affect your thyroid and the way your body absorbs thyroid medicine. I'm 51 with Hashimotos, Armour Thyroid (90mcg), with levels considered normal by the endocrinologist. 

I am gluten and dairy free and eating well. But I still struggle with constipation, weight gain, insomnia, facial puffiness etc--hypothyroid symptoms. In November I had the first period that I have had in about 8 months. In the weeks after that, everything seemed to be in good working order...lost the weight, digestion was great, puffiness went away. Now a few months later (with no periods), all those same symptoms are returning.

I had been on Armour from June until I saw the endo in November .  I saw the endo on 11/19 and my TSH was 4.6, Free T4 0.81 (those are the only ones they gave me and there isn't a patient portal where I can peek at others that might have been taken).  

They advised me to go up to 90mcg at that time as he likes the TSH lower.  The period that I had was on 11/13 and so when I saw him everything was going GREAT...had dropped 6 pounds without trying, sleeping well, digestion good.  Have been on 90mcg since November and am creeping steadily upwards, digestion sluggish, insomnia, etc.  Ahhh!

Michelle. 

Thanks for your question Michelle- it is quite likely there are hundreds of thousands of women in your shoes. Before I forget to mention it- work with your doctor to at minimum add in a Free T3 test. TPO and TgAb antibodies tests and Reverse T3 would also be helpful. 

This is a complicated issue and I can give you some good general information but as with everything- we are all bio individual so you will have to experiment to find what works for you. 

Women start to make less estrogen and progesterone as we near our 40’s. This alone can trigger our thyroid to slow down. It sounds like you might be on a hormonal roller coaster here which is totally possible as you approach menopause. 

I like seeing that your endocrinologist likes to see your TSH lower than 4.6. Ideally it should be around 1-2. But upping your medication might not be the solution. That is not to say you shouldn’t take it as prescribed- I’m just saying there might be things you can do that will allow you to take a dose and stay there without having these fluctuations like you are. 

You say you are eating clean and gluten and dairy free. That sounds good, but what does clean eating mean to you? 

How much sugar or starchy foods are you eating? Once we hit a certain age, those starchy carbohydrates can be a problem for some of us when we are looking to maintain or lose weight. 

Those of us with hypothyroidism whether caused by Hashimoto’s disease or not can encounter issues with insulin resistance. Our body cannot process and tolerate sugars like it used to- my body certainly can’t. This means that you will have to be very mindful of what you are putting in to your body and even what time of day you do it. 

Maybe you feel tired an hour after eating lunch- even a paleo style lunch. If it had some starches in it, and you are feeling tired- like a sugar crash- then you likely are not tolerating starchy carbs at that time of day. 

If you struggle with sleeping- falling asleep or staying asleep a bit of starch in the evening meal might help you sleep better. The only way to know is to try it for a couple of days. 

Let’s talk about what perimenopause and menopause are before we dive in to what might be happening with you. 

During perimenopause (the 2-12 years before you reach menopause) 

It can start in your late 30’s but is more commonly occurring in your 40’s. You can have hot flashes, sleep problems, mood swings, and heavier than normal periods (this part is the worst if you ask me) and these symptoms can wax and wane for a good 10 years. 

Your estrogen during perimenopause will be fluctuating significantly to the point that you will have more than you’ve ever had circulating through your body at some times and other times it might be low. It is much like the blood sugar roller coaster but is called the perimenopause roller coaster. 

Symptoms include: 

  • heavy flow that is new to you or longer flow (high estrogen)

  • cycles that are less than 25 days long

  • changes in breast tissue: lumps, sore, swollen (high estrogen)

  • waking in the middle of the night and you didn’t before

  • worse or more cramping

  • start of night sweats, especially before a period (low estrogen)

  • migraines that are new to you or are worse

  • mood swings before a period (high estrogen)

  • gaining weight without changing what you are doing

You may have some or none of these symptoms. About 20% of us will have dramatic changes during perimenopause. The rest of us are lucky to have minor issues. 

Progesterone is gradually lost during this time which is kind of like a cruel joke from mother nature because it is the progesterone that helps counteract the affects of estrogen. 

It also helps us deal with stress and the loss of progesterone makes us feel more anxious, depressed and have poor quality sleep. 

Managing your diet and allowing some self care. 

  • Don’t kill yourself in the gym- over exercising or doing too intense of a workout will affect your energy levels for days to come, especially if your adrenal glands are worn out or confused about what to do for you

  • Learn to let stuff go- like dishes and cleaning the house. 

  • Avoid alcohol- this alone can wreak havoc on your hormones at this stage in the game. It keeps us from getting rid of that excess estrogen AND lowers progesterone.

  • Manage your blood sugar. Journal your food so you can see just how much starchy food and sugary foods you might be eating. 

  • Take magnesium- it calms our brain, helps us sleep and regulates our brain communication with our body

  • Exercise gently, especially if you are dealing with Hashimoto’s. Autoimmune Strong is a great place to start. 

If you are dealing with heavy bleeding, you need to avoid dairy which Michelle already is, avoid alcohol, eat fermented foods and lots of veggies to help keep your gut bacteria healthy. Gut bacteria clear estrogen from your body and so does fiber so eating more veggies than you already are can be really helpful. I also find my energy to be better when I eat more veggies- like 7-8 servings or more a day.  

If your hypothyroidism is not being managed well (meaning your TSH and free T3 are not optimal)  then you may have heavier periods as well. Work to get your TSH around 1-2 and some doctors think it is okay if it is a little below one (.3 to .5)— especially if you are on a natural desiccated thyroid hormone replacement- When T3 is optimal you might find a suppressed TSH. Finding a doctor that will allow your labs to look this way is another story. 

Also keep in mind that you might feel great at a TSH of 2 and someone else might feel good at .3. This is bio individuality. It is so important to know your body and learn how to tell when things are off. 

Your thyroid medication may need to be adjusted seasonally too. If you live in a climate with winter- even all for seasons then your TSH may rise in winter and fall during summer. Another reason to really be in tune with your body and its signals. 

Part of my job as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner is to help you learn how to do this. 

Menopause starts one year after your last period and symptoms should be better. 

You will have much less estrogen and progesterone at this point. Your adrenal glands will be making estradiol in your cells and this is supposed to be enough to keep you feeling good. BUT- if your adrenals were taxed for years before this happens then you may have some issues. 

Your endocrine system is made up of the pineal and pituitary glands in your brain, the thyroid and parathyroid glands, the Thymus (works with the immune system), Adrenals glands, pancreas and your ovaries. All of these work synergistically together as a system and when one is off, they will all be off. 

You can’t just take a supplement for your adrenals and think that it will fix your issues. It will help in the short term but it is a band-aid and not getting at the root cause of your problem. 

If you have gained weight around your middle, you are more than likely dealing with insulin resistance. This means that your cells are not accepting glucose or sugar from insulin as it travels through your blood stream to bring your cells sugar. Your liver and your muscle cells are not accepting the sugar so it just stays in your blood stream and eventually gets transported to fat tissue for storage. This is why we gain weight.  

The best way to combat this is to quit sugar completely. No dessert, no sweet anything. Every time you eat sweets it makes your insulin resistance worse. Even fruit- so keep your natural sugars to below 25 grams of fructose

High fructose corn syrup in soft drinks is 55% fructose, sugar cane is 50% fructose and honey is 40% fructose. Eight ounces of orange juice has 18 grams of fructose.  So pay attention to what you are eating. If it is sweet tasting, it is likely contributing to your weight at this point. 

Starchy foods like potatoes and rice are mostly glucose and very little fructose but you might find you still have a problem with those as well and will need to test your carb tolerance with a glucose monitor. Start with sugar though. It is more important at this stage to remove sugar from your diet and then look at the starches. 

Hormone fluctuations during perimenopause and menopause can affect how your thyroid functions. 

You might end up with estrogen dominance (the highs on the rollercoaster) which can keep thyroid hormone from attaching or making their way into the receptors on your cells. This means your cells are not getting thyroid hormone creating hypothyroid symptoms. 

Thyroid hormones are similar in chemical make up to estrogen. Too much estrogen or eating too much soy can block the receptor sites as well leaving you with less thyroid hormone in your cells and hypothyroid symptoms. 

As we lose our progesterone, we may see or feel a need for more thyroid hormone. We need progesterone to get T3 which is what our cells use and need. 

Our thyroid naturally slows down as we get older and therefore will not be able to get enough hormone to our cells affecting not only our energy but creating all the other symptoms we have talked about before. 

If you are dealing with chronic stress, and most of us are, this will also affect our ability to make enough thyroid hormone. 

When your thyroid is not working optimally or you are not medicated optimally, all of your hormones will be disrupted. 

It will be important to know if you are in menopause or if you’re having a thyroid problem. If you take estrogen thinking you are in perimenopause or menopause and it is actually your thyroid causing the problems, you might end up feeling worse and the estrogen will affect your thyroid function. Vicious cycle as with so many things in our body. One can’t work well without the other. 

If you have crazy periods during your 30’s and 40’s it is more likely an issue with thyroid than perimenopause. Thyroid problems are often the cause of early perimenopause. I’m a textbook example of this. 

They make the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause worse, affect blood sugar, make you depressed, affect your ability to handle stress. 

You have options: 

  • start with journaling your food to pinpoint

    • are you eating enough

    • are you eating too much sugar

    • is your ratio of protein fats and carbohydrates where it should be

    • are you eating a lot of processed foods or a whole foods diet?

  • exercise

    • reduces hot flashes

    • better mood

    • lessens depression, less anxiety

    • higher sex drive

    • sleep is better

    • more energy

    • lowers insulin resistance

    • increases bone density

    • helps manage weight

  • natural supplements- introduce 1 at a time and wait 2-3 weeks before adding another one

    • maca powder

      • will help your hormones adapt and balance as needed

      • can reduce hot flashes

      • supports the entire endocrine system, including adrenals and thyroid

      • can regulate menstrual cycles

      • can increase energy and stamina

      • don’t take it if you are on estrogen

    • soy- is supposed to be helpful as a phytoestrogen to help with menopausal symptoms. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Don’t supplement but get it in food form. I would go for tempeh and miso and NOT genetically modified. 

    • Black cohosh

      • helps to reduce hot flashes

      • helps insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, depression

      • helps with joint pain/body aches

    • Damiana- tea or tincture (2-3 ml 2 to 3x/day)

      • helpful for hot flashes, low sex drive and general well being

    • Dong Quai

      • hot flashes, insomnia, fatigue, anxiety

    • Vitamin D

      • helps regulate endocrine system

      • supports sleep

    • Chasteberry or Vitex

      • helpful for breast tenderness

      • balances progesterone

      • water retention

      • headaches, irritability, depression, fatigue

      • sleep issues

The Period Repair manual is a must read for every woman

Supplements suggested can be bought through this trusted source (my fullscript store)

Help For Hashimoto's Episode 31

Welcome to episode 31 and Happy New Year. 

I spend a lot of time between Christmas and New Years reflecting on my year and always being really hard on myself for not accomplishing more than I did. 

I had a great year, I have good relationships with people in my life that matter and while they are not perfect and not always great, I am working hard to show up better in those relationships. So here is to a new year full of health and great possibilities in all areas of my life and in yours too. 

I am really grateful you are here. 

I teach a class called The RESTART Program as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and it falls right in line with the subject matter of today’s podcast. I am discussing managing blood sugar in relation to thyroid health. They go hand in hand and one out of balance puts the other out of balance. 

My class is all about managing blood sugar and about Restarting with a new outlook on food and nutrition. It is a real food sugar detox where you learn how to eat real food to manage your blood sugar, you get nutrition education and you get support from me and from the members of the class. We have a private facebook group and we meet each week for five weeks with the detox starting on the second week.

There are no shakes, no pills- just real food. This class has been life changing for so many people and I really love teaching it. Learn more at www.outofthewoodsnutrition.com/restart 

Susan O.  “RESTART® gave me the tools to reverse pain, lose weight, increase energy, and best of all, the common sense of how we should be living and eating. Thank you for helping me make a difference in my life and my family.”

Tina T.  “I came to the RESTART® class just wanting to learn how sugar affects the body. I left class feeling better and with a ton of knowledge. It’s a lifestyle change I can do. Stick with this class, you won’t regret it.”

Melissa M.  “I now understand what I need to heal myself and my family. This class changed my attitude towards food and health. If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired all the time, I highly recommend taking RESTART®.”

You can register for class now at www.outofthewoodsnutrition.com/restart  Cost is $147 for the entire five weeks and will be taught via zoom which is free for you to download. 

Okay- on to the show. 

Why is maintaining healthy blood sugar levels or keeping your blood sugar balanced so important for your thyroid?

Most if not every organ and tissue in the body needs glucose or sugar. It is what helps us make energy in our cells so if you are lacking in sugar your cells are not getting the materials they need to produce energy so your cells will not have energy, your organs won’t and you definitely won’t have any energy. 

When you have a low level of glucose, your blood sugar is low and your thyroid won’t be getting enough energy or enough sugar to turn into energy to function. It will be sluggish and not able to produce enough hormone for you. 

When you have higher levels of glucose in the blood or high blood sugar on a regular basis, you end up with something called insulin resistance. Say you eat a meal that is pretty carbohydrate heavy of maybe pasta or bread or pizza and that gets broken down into little particles of sugar. It will cause your blood sugar to rise and your body says “I’ve got to get rid of this sugar in my blood. There is too much in here and it can damage my blood vessels. So it releases the hormone insulin which is supposed to lower blood sugar in the blood by bringing the sugar to the cells so it can use it for energy production. 

The problem when we eat all that refined carb garbage is that you are eating too many carbs for your body to handle so you are dealing with this higher blood sugar issue with the quick rise of insulin to help manage the levels of sugar in your body. It’s not good and your body- your cells eventually get tired of receiving the sugar from insulin so they become resistant to it. They are like- “No more. My cell door is closed. Go away!” 

So you have this sugar with no where to go because the cells don’t want it. It is just floating around in your blood stream. But it has to go somewhere so what does your body do?

It stores it in your fat tissue or creates fat tissue to store it. 

Now your thyroid is looking for nutrients but the cells are resistant because of the insulin resistance. The cells are refusing the sugar being transported by insulin.  No fuel for the thyroid means it isn’t going to produce enough hormone for you and you feel sluggish. You might have the TSH of 5 or 7 or 9 that your doctor says is fine when you know it isn’t fine because you feel like crap. 

Now keep in mind this is a very simplified explanation of things because I want you to be able to get the idea. 

When your blood sugar is high either from insulin resistance or because you are constantly eating all day long or because you eat the Standard American Diet then you probably are experiencing some inflammation.  We are all bio individuals- where you experience inflammation may be different than someone else.  If you have inflammation in your thyroid due to autoimmune attacks or because of something else- your thyroid cells are not able to take in the nutrients they need to function well. 

Two important nutrients are iodine and the amino acid tyrosine.  If you have an inflamed thyroid, that doesn’t mean you should supplement with these two nutrients. That is a band-aid. The root cause might be the mismanaged blood sugar and you should be able to get both of those nutrients from your diet.  

Missing these nutrients through mismanaged blood sugar is one way you can get  to an autoimmune diagnosis. 

Here is the kicker. People with high blood sugar levels in their blood and insulin resistance tend to have low thyroid hormone production which will increase your TSH. When TSH goes on the rise it can make insulin resistance worse. 

I think I can attest to this- when I experimentally went off my medication I felt and actually still am pretty puffy. I ate three cheesecake flavored M&M’s last Saturday and a couple hours later had a small patch of psoriasis on my palm and the back or nape of my neck is itchy. It can mess you up. It is a vicious cycle. 

When you have a high TSH because your body can’t make enough on it’s own, as your blood sugar lowers the cells in your thyroid are affected. We need the proper amount of T3 and T4 to maintain healthy blood sugar. The more out of control our blood sugar gets, the more our thyroid can’t function properly. It is sluggish and that contributes to insulin resistance even more. 

The best way to fix this is to fix your blood sugar balance. To keep it balanced and reset things. So obviously diet is a huge factor and that is what the RESTART Program is all about. There are other things you can do as well. 

Sleep is huge. One night of bad sleep, loss of sleep can create insulin resistance in a healthy person so for those of us suffering from insomnia, you are in that vicious cycle again and so having diet dialed in will be really important. We repair our body at night and cortisol is supposed to be low at night- if you are not sleeping both of those things are going to be messed up. No repairing of tissues, and cortisol can be high which means insulin resistance and fat storage/creation. 

Exercise. When your muscles are worked or exercised and trained, if you will, they become insulin sensitive which will lower your insulin resistance. For many of us with autoimmune disease we need to go slow and I can’t recommend enough the Get Autoimmune Strong Program. Please go to the show notes and use my link to check it out so I get credit for sending you. It helps me pay for the podcast. 

A lot of experts will recommend burst training where you do something intense for 30-60 seconds and then rest for a few minutes and do it again. I am not in the place where I can handle that so if you get exhausted from working out- autoimmune strong is for you. 

You can also use a standing desk instead of sitting desk. I got one on Amazon that sits on top of my cheap Craigslist desk for about $80-$90. It was a good investment. 

Manage stress. This along with sleep is sometimes more important than eating well. That’s not to say you shouldn’t eat well but these other two are really really important. When you are experiencing a lot of stress- mental/emotional or physical, your cortisol levels go up. When the cortisol is high, your liver will create sugar to increase your insulin and again we have a cycle we don’t want to be in. 

Cortisol is in our body to give us a burst of energy to escape danger. Our primitive mind doesn’t know the difference between actual physical danger and what goes on in our mind, or even between a close call on the road and running from a bear. It is all the same to our body. So chronic stress- not good for our body fat and our blood sugar. Unfortunately, our body prefers to get its energy or sugar from our muscle rather than our fat so we end up losing muscle and getting fatter in this scenario of unbalanced blood sugar.  

So we have this high blood sugar because of high cortisol and we have resistant cells, they don’t want any more sugar so more and more sugar gets released either through you eating something because your body has told you you need more energy so you crave some kind of sugary carb food or because you are stressed so the blood sugar levels are higher and higher- your body thinks there isn’t enough sugar because the cells are refusing it and so the levels get higher and higher in the blood and that gets shuttled to fat because it needs to get rid of it. 

When you eat matters and what you eat at night matters too. When you eat before bed, if it is a carb heavy food like a cookie or a bowl of cereal, your blood sugar will be high when you go to bed and you will have a crash around 1-3 am when cortisol is released to raise your blood sugar. Ever wake with a start or have heart palpitations at that time and then you can’t get back to sleep? That is a blood sugar issue. Then you pile on lack of sleep because you couldn’t fall asleep and you have more insulin resistance. 

Eating protein at breakfast or your first meal is important to keeping your blood sugar stable all day long. If you aren’t eating protein and you have insulin resistance and issues with cortisol, your body will take what it needs in the form of sugar from your muscles- creating less muscle and more fat. 

You may need to eat every 3 hours for a short time to get your blood sugar balanced, but don’t eat a bunch of carbs every 3 hours. Eat some healthy fats and proteins with veggies to keep your blood sugar stable and then eventually you will be able to make it from meal to meal without needing a snack. Eating all the time, snacking all the time will keep your insulin levels high all day long which means more fat storage, inflammation and stress on the body and on your thyroid. 

All this stress affects your pituitary gland and TSH is secreted from the pituitary gland. When your adrenals and cortisol are working hard to manage stress and blood sugar, there isn’t much room for your thyroid to be helped out so it takes a hit and becomes sluggish or you develop autoimmune disease.  Cortisol inhibits production of T4 and of TSH (will show up as a high TSH on a lab). 

So we have a thyroid that isn’t working. This causes a decrease in the rate the cells take in sugar (glucose). The receptors on your cells don’t know what is going on so they can’t take in the right amount of anything.  Your blood sugar is out of whack and T4 and T3 are not being secreted from the thyroid like they are supposed to either. You are dealing with inflammation because insulin overproduction will also produce inflammation. 

You are dealing with a blood sugar rollercoaster here. Sometimes too high blood sugar due to a meal you ate or stress or whatever and then low blood sugar because of the rise in insulin, too much insulin which causes a crash- when you get really tired after a meal or after a bunch of sugar. Cortisol gets involved to try to fix the problem and it starts all over again. Not good. You crave the sugar to get you out of the crash. 

The solution here- besides taking my class is to heal your gut, remove some of these foods that are causing your blood sugar to be so out of control. Figure out if certain foods are causing you inflammation, get some good nutrients in to your diet. Get some omega 3 fats, fiber and protein in your diet.  You might need chromium, magnesium, cinnamon can be really helpful in lowering your blood sugar and testing your blood sugar. I am working on getting someone on the podcast who is an expert in finding your carb tolerance. It involves pricking your finger- I’m not so good at that. I have to have my daughter do it for me so I don’t mess with it- I really need to do that though. I know there are certain foods that really spike my blood sugar and the thing of that is- it can be different for everyone. You might really react to an apple whereas someone else won’t be affected at all. I’ll work on getting a good guest to help us figure that out. 

Ideally you want your blood sugar levels to stay somewhere in between 80-100. This would be on a blood glucose monitor. You can get a good picture of your blood sugar from a Hemoglobin A1C test. This will measure the sticky proteins of sugar that are attached to your red blood cells. This causes your red blood cells to become brittle and cause damage to your blood vessels. This is how we end up with plaques in our veins. 

In The RESTART Program we don’t use any sweeteners on the sugar detox. Some safe alternatives if you are going to have sugar keeping in mind that sugar is sugar and will affect your blood sugar the same -are honey, maple syrup and maybe coconut sugar. Again- these all will do the same damage if you eat too much of it. You shouldn’t be having any more than 22-24 grams of sugar a day according to the world health organization. That is not a lot when you figure 4 grams of sugar is = to 1 teaspoon of sugar. 

Stay away from aspartame, splenda and other artificial sweeteners. Some people think stevia in green powder form or the liquid drop forms are okay- I don’t care for the taste and I don’t know that my body loves them either. Some people do okay with erythritol or xylitol- they can cause bloating and irritate your gut. Avoid agave as it is pure fructose. It will for sure spike your blood sugar. 

The bottom line here is that you cannot address your thyroid without addressing your blood sugar and your diet. 

Diet changes alone can result in weight loss, more energy, better sleep, lessened cravings, better skin, and a better functioning thyroid. 

I’d love to have you in my class. Learn more or register at www.outofthewoodsnutrition.com/restart

Check out autoimmune strong here. 

Thanks so much for joining me today.  I’m glad you are here. Please leave me a review on iTunes and share this podcast with anyone you know who might be helped by it. 

I’m sending out a recipe for breakfast soup in my newsletter next week so go sign up for the newsletter on my website if you want that. It is really good. You will also get an ebook called 5 things your doctor won’t tell you about hypothyroidism. 

Join the Help For Hashimoto’s facebook group to get ongoing support from other members and from me. 

You can find me on instagram at stephanieewalsntp but all the action will soon be in the newsletter. 

See you next week! 

Study on blood sugar and hypothyroidism

Help for Hashimoto's Episode 13

Q.  How do you push through the fatigue? I just want to get my life back on track.

 

Q.  I’ve got hypothyroidism/Hashimotos. Around noon I start getting tired and it can get to the point of dozing off. I've had every thyroid level possible checked and it's within normal range. We've actually checked it numerous times. I've had my b12 and folic acid checked along with my hormone levels, vitamin levels, and had a CBC done. Everything is good. I'm wondering if maybe we are missing something. Could I have something that we haven't checked for yet. I've also got bipolar2, depression/anxiety and ptsd which I take Topamax for. I also take Levothyroxine for my hypothyroidism.

First let’s talk about Topamax. I want you to know what you are on.  Your doctor should be testing your kidney and liver function and your blood should be tested to be sure you are able to process the drug well. They can become toxic very quickly.  

You should not drink alcohol while on this medication as it interferes with the effectiveness and it can make you sleepy as well as slow your heart rate. 

Antacids will keep you from being able to absorb this medication as well as any nutrients from your food. 

Fiber supplements can reduce the effectiveness of this medication. 

This drug will cause you to be low in folate or deficient in it. 

It has not been approved to treat PTSD but is endorsed by the National Alliance on Mental Illness to treat bipolar disorder and other mood disorders. 

Common side effects: 

Diarrhea, Dizziness, Double vision, Fever, Hair loss, Loss of appetite, Mood changes, Nausea, Reduced perspiration, Sinusitis, Stomach upset, Taste changes, Tingling or prickly skin sensations, Tremors, Uncontrollable eye movements, Urinary tract infection, Weakness, Weight loss.

 

With that being said, let’s move on and talk about fatigue. 

 

This is a super common issue for those of us dealing with thyroid issues and there are a number of reasons why fatigue could be your issue. 

Anemia.

You can have anemia from a deficiency of B12, Iron or folic acid. Your doctor may check your iron levels but do they check B12, folic acid and ferritin? Any one of these can contribute to fatigue.  And just because your lab says you are in the normal range doesn’t mean you are in the optimal range. j

Normal ferritin levels are between 12 -150 ng/mL. Mine is currently at 17 and I struggle with energy often. Some thyroid experts would say that optimal ferritin levels should be at 90-110 ng/ml for good thyroid function.  If you are still losing your hair- it could be an iron deficiency. 

And B12 values from your doctors lab may include values from people who were deficient in B12 so you can’t always rely on the lab values. “normal” is between 200-900 pg/mL but under 350 can give you neurological symptoms.  

Food sensitivities, not food allergies which is when your immune system reacts to protect you like when someone’s throat closes off in a nut allergy.  This alerts the IgE part of your immune system and happens as soon as a food is ingested. The IgA and IgG sections of the immune system will react to foods in what I would call a sensitivity or intolerance. These can cause us to be fatigued. 

IgA reactions happen in the intestinal tract which can cause inflammation there each time we consume a particular food. This will damage the intestines and can cause us to be unable to absorb nutrients from our diet. You may have symptoms like diarrhea or looser stools, constipation, reflux or you may not have any symptoms at all. You can end up with conditions like IBS, gas, rashes on your skin, acne, asthma, headaches, irritability and fatigue.  Celiac disease is in this category. 

If your T3 is low and you have high Reverse T3, this will affect your energy. T3 helps our cells make more energy. Reverse T3 makes T3 ineffective so that we are slowed down a bit. If Reverse T3 is high, we will not have any energy and one of the biggest reasons this might be high is due to stress. Another problem could be that you are not converting T4 into T3. This can be due to stress, or even nutrient deficiencies either due to low stomach acid or a compromised gut. You might find you need to be on a medication that has T3 in it. 

If your TSH is high, you will not have energy. Not all lab values are created equal here. You need to make sure that you are in a good range. Lab values for TSH are made up from a population of all kinds of people- those who are seemingly healthy and those who have undiagnosed thyroid problems and even the elderly who often have lower functioning thyroids.  The best reference range for most people is to have a TSH around .5-2 uIU/L. Personally,  mine is lower than .5 and I feel pretty good on that.  If you are taking NDT you can have a TSH that might look hyper and if your T3 is in normal range you probably feel pretty good. This can cause alarm with your doctor but try to have a conversation with them about it. 

How is your blood sugar?

This is a really really big one because it affects our adrenal glands which also have a role in energy. The good old blood sugar roller coaster will cause your adrenals to become weaker or cause the signaling between your brain and your adrenals to not work well leading to what is called adrenal fatigue or HPA axis dysfunction. For people like us with Hashimoto’s we may not tolerate those refined carbohydrates very well at all. Sometimes we get a big release of insulin when we consume sugary or refined “white” foods that others might not. So our blood sugar goes up really fast and we may have too much insulin in our blood which causes us to crash with fatigue and even anxiety or nervousness. This stresses our adrenals and leads to more fatigue.

Adrenal health is important for energy. If you are suffering from Adrenal fatigue you likely don’t have much energy to speak of even if this is the only thing you are dealing with. This is such a big deal and it takes some time to bring your adrenal health back in good standing. You need to avoid caffeine, keep your blood sugar balanced, make sure you are sleeping well and resting when you can, managing stress and probably supplementing. You can listen to Episode 7 of this podcast for more on adrenals. 

Having good digestion is key to energy. 

Many of us will be nutrient deficient and usually deficient in those nutrients that help our thyroids to function well. Just having hypothyroidism makes it harder for us to get our nutrients out of the food we are eating. This means the digestive system has to work a little harder to break down our foods and this can cause a lot of fatigue. We often have lower levels of stomach acid and most of us don’t eat when we are relaxed and we certainly don’t take the time to chew our food well. Right there is three strikes against us in the energy department. 

When we are not relaxed when we eat, we are not in “rest and digest” mode or what is called parasympathetic mode. This means we are in fight or flight mode which is not a good environment for good digestion. We already are not making enough stomach acid because we have symptoms of hypothyroidism, then we are not relaxed so we make even less. Then we are not chewing our food well- like 20 chews per bite to break it down. So, we have all this food in our stomach, not enough stomach acid and it is not being broken down. Our digestive system is working extra hard to try to break this stuff down- using all kinds of extra energy and that makes us tired. Then you have undigested food going through your intestines. You have leaky gut or intestinal permeability and these undigested food particles are then getting in to your blood stream causing your immune system to go on alert and inflammation occurs in the body. Fatigue is going to be a factor here. 

If you have low vitamin D, you can have fatigue. Get some sun. Lay in the sun for 10-15 minutes or go for a walk on a sunny day and expose as much skin as possible. Take a supplement of D3 if needed and make sure to have your levels checked by your doctor. Low D is a factor in autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s. 

A good diet will go a long way to helping you with your energy problems. High quality proteins and veggies along with a small amount of fruit. The big foods to eliminate for us are going to be gluten, dairy, eggs, nuts and I would try to eliminate nightshades to see if you feel better. This is basically called an elimination diet and is important for you to start to feel better, have more energy and bring your body back in to balance. 

You can find Hydrozyme at www.getbiotics.com use code DFILC163 to access. 

Help For Hashimoto's Episode 6

I have Hashimotos and recently my hair has turned extremely dry and brittle. My doctor increased my medication a month ago, but still no change in my hair. I definitely feel as though it’s caused by something with in me as opposed to any products I may be using on my hair since those have not changed. Any suggestions would be sincerely appreciated!

Jody

Losing your hair and or having dry brittle hair are common symptoms in hypothyroidism. Some things that might be causing this for you are: 

  1. is your thyroid medication/treatment optimal?
    1. all the cells in our body need thyroid hormones to function properly. T4 only medications like levothyroxine and synthroid might not be working well for you. Maybe your body doesn’t do well converting t4 to t3 which is what your cells use.  You might need a T4/T3 combo medication. 
    2. Make sure your doctor is testing TSH, Free T3, Free T4, Reverse T3 and the antibodies- TPO and TgAb. Functional medicine lab ranges according to Datis Kharrazian for TSH are 1.8-3.0 mU/L (milliunits per liter). Personally, I have felt best when mine is a bit below 1.0 which is common for those of us on Natural desiccated thyroid hormone.  Free T3 functional range is 1.2-4.9 mg per deciliter, free t4 functional range is 1.0-1.5 ng/dL (nanograms per deciliter. If you lab results are not in these measurements, you can google how to convert them in to these numbers. Don’t worry about taking notes on this either, all of this will be on my website at out of the woods nutrition dot com.  The antibodies should be at zero but that doesn’t mean you don’t have the autoimmune thyroid conditions of hashimoto’s or graves disease. Our immune systems fluctuate- when you have your blood test they might be considered within range- so don’t rely on antibodies testing alone to mean you do or do not have the disease. 
    3. What are your iron levels like?  Ferritin is our storage iron. If that is low it can result in hair loss and probably are related to dry hair too but more so hair that is falling out. Having good ferritin levels encourages hair growth and having low levels means your body will put hair and nail health on the back burner to ensure that the tissues that really need iron get it first. Liver is a great way to get your iron. Personally I can’t stand liver in the form of pate or cooked so I take either an iron supplement occasionally or I take Vital Proteins liver capsules which are not cheap. I have liver in my freezer and have not taken the time to dehydrate it and put it in capsules which would be way more cost effective. 
    4. If you are not making enough stomach acid, you will not be breaking down your food, protein in particular, so you will not be getting all the nutrients you need from your diet which will affect how supple your hair is. Are you eating enough protein? Hair and nails are made of protein. If you are deficient either because you are not eating enough or because you are not breaking down your food well enough you will be deficient and your hair will pay the price. I recommend starting out on a low dose of HCl aka Betaine Hydrochloric Acid with Pepsin to help you break down your food. Something like 150mg to start with and go up from there………..
    5. Something your pharmacist won’t tell you- some thyroid medications can cause hair loss. So, the very thing you are depending on to feel well is causing your hair to fall out. The package insert for your medication will also tell you that you should not be taking it if you are suffering with adrenal insufficiency- adrenal fatigue. 
    6. If you have hashimoto’s you have an autoimmune disease and that means you are likely susceptible to having more than one autoimmune disease- most commonly 3 AID and the likelihood of having a total of 7 over your lifetime. These things don’t happen overnight either. Your body suffers internally for years before another disease becomes symptomatic.  This is why it is soooo important to address diet and lifestyle issues. We don’t just all of a sudden get sick overnight. Our body is like a car- pick your dream car or even the one you are driving now. How you care for that car today and for the time you drive it will determine just how long that car runs well for you. You have to put the right kind of fuel in to it. You have to change the oil and have other fluids checked. Your car wants to run well for you but it will break down if you don’t give it what it needs to run properly. Our bodies are the same. You only get this one chance to be here now. Your body does what it can daily to maintain homeostasis or balance. It works really hard to keep us alive and running well. What we fuel it with really does matter. A calorie is not just a calorie. You will get so much more out of 100 calories of veggies vs. 100 calories of cookies. 
    7. Speaking of fuel- how is your blood sugar? According to Izabella Wentz: Blood sugar swings- due to high refined carbohydrates and not enough good quality protein and fats will cause T4 to be converted to Reverse T3 which keeps T3 bound up so the body and the cells can’t use it. This can cause us to lose hair too. Again, I know you were more concerned about dry brittle hair but the two go together. 
    8. Are you digesting your fat well? Are you eating a good balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fats? Get a high quality fish oil and eat some healthy fats like olive oil, avocados and coconut oil to get a good mix of omega 3 and omega 6. The ratio of those should be around 1:1 and most of us get about 1:20 with omega 6 being the 20 because it is in a lot of processed foods and restaurant foods in the form of canola oil and soybean oil. 
    9. Some people believe that supplementing with collagen can help your hair. We make less of this protein as we get older so you can try it to see if it helps. I would give it about a month. 
    10. I would lastly look at your hair products. It doesn’t sound like this is an issue for you as you said you didn’t have a problem before and you had not switched products. My favorite hair products are Intelligent Nutrients- they are good for your hair and for the environment. I do think you are right though, your hair problem is internal. I would encourage you to use a food journal to keep track of what you are eating and how you feel and you may notice that you might need to change some things. 

Good luck Jody, and please let me know if any of these suggestions helped you! 

 

Hi! Your podcasts have been great so far...thank you, thank you, thank you. I have been diagnosed with hashimotos for the past two years. I am 34 years old.

I decided to visit the doctor two years ago when I started having body aches and unusually dry skin. I was extremely tired all the time, however I thought that was natural due to having a newborn. I soon realized it was much more than being a “tired mom”.

I was put on levothyroxin. Seemed to even my levels out until recently. Started having stronger symptoms again and revisited the doctor. Taken off of levothyroxin (synthetic thyroid medication) and placed on nature throid (natural thyroid medication). What do you believe are major differences in a synthetic vs natural thyroid prescription?

Thank you again for all of your honest, transparent, and giving information.

CM

 

We have a similar story. I was diagnosed after my second child was born. I went in for a literal pain in my behind which turned out to be sciatica and when the doctor asked me if I needed anything else I told him I felt extra tired but thought it was because I had a toddler and an infant. He did a TSH test- standard for conventional medicine and my TSH was at 150- so clearly I had an issue with hypothyroidism. He put me on levothyroxine and I never felt good after that. My periods were heavy, I was cold all the time- like chilled to the bone and my adrenals were shot. 

Your question is about the differences between synthetic medication like levothyroxine and natural desiccated thyroid hormones like Naturethroid. I will get to that but I want to first address why things leveled off for awhile but got worse and your medication had to be adjusted. 

  1. You were diagnosed with hashimoto’s which is first an issue with your immune system and second and issue with your thyroid- likely hypothyroid symtoms.  When the autoimmune disease is not treated with diet and lifestyle modifications, your immune system can remain on high alert and can continue to attack your thyroid tissue killing it off. This often gives us the feeling of going between hypo and hyper symptoms. Maybe this has happened to you, maybe not. Anyway- one of the reasons for needing your dose to be increased is because more of your thyroid has been killed off. I guess you never said that your dose was increased but just changed to a different medication. Still, this is something to be mindful of. 
  2. Now, on to the differences between synthetic and natural hormone medications. 
    1. NDT was used in the 1800’s to treat patients with hypothyroid symptoms. The medication is made from pig thyroid glands and this is why it is called natural. It also contains all the thyroid hormones present in our own thyroid tissue. Desiccated means that the pigs are bred for the purpose of getting the thyroid. It is removed with a specific protocol, frozen, minced, dried and made into a fine powder. It is defatted and batches are combined to get a uniform mixture of T4 and T3. The benefit of the natural desiccated medications is that you get what your body would have normally provided for you had your own thyroid stopped working properly. This means the right ratios of T4 and T3, and T2, T1 and T0. There is not a lot of research on T2,1 and 0 but they are obviously there for a reason so this might be why some people really feel so much better on NDT.  The dosages are often referred to as grains. One grain equals 60 mg of NDT In Armour which is made up of 38mcg of T4 and 9mcg of T3. You can find conversion charts from manufacturers for most of the NDT medications on the market. 
      1. Armour, NatureThroid and Westhroid are the most common prescriptions. My favorite was WP thyroid until I couldn’t get it anymore but have found great success using a compounded thyroid medication which is just the thyroid powder and cellulose which I open the capsule and put under my tongue. This is called taking the medication sublingually. It bypasses your stomach, gut and liver and goes right in to the bloodstream. This works for me, but doesn’t mean it will work for you. You can try it and see how you feel after a week on it. I take my meds in divided doses. Half in the morning when I wake up and half in the late afternoon.  Western Research Labs or RLC labs is the manufacturer of your medication. You may be able to get all the ingredients of your medication on their site. Also be aware that your pharmacy can switch your medication without telling you if they run out of what is prescribed. You can ask your doctor to write your prescription to be dispensed as subscribed or you can let your pharmacist know that you do not want them to switch your meds. The main reason NDT meds are different is because they contain more than just T4. T3 plays a big role in cognitive abilities in the brain and how the brain functions. Got brain fog? Maybe you are not converting T4 to T3 or maybe you are lacking in T3.  NDT might be what is the key to your brain fog, depression and mood problems for us. If you don’t feel any changes in those things, maybe you are not on a high enough dose or your body isn’t using it well. This is where diet changes can help. T3 is supposed to be better absorbed by the gut than T4. Studies show that 95% of T3 is absorbed within the first 4 hours of taking it and will happen even faster on an empty stomach.   Back when Armour was first being used, they were making doses of medication based on symptoms and relief of those symptoms. Novel idea huh!? 
      2. In 1926 synthetic thyroxine was created. Synthroid was made. To market this great money making drug- the maufacturer sold physicians on the idea that it was better than NDT. Research was funded to prove it was better than NDT. Unfortunately the study didn’t show Synthroid to be better than NDT. The research study was not published and the Dr. performing the research was discredited. A journalist caught on and broke the story and there was a lot of trouble for the manufacturer in the 90’s. The FDA pulled the medication due to irregularities in formulation. It was even marketed and sold in the US without formal FDA approval. In 2013 28,000 bottles of 150 mcg of Synthroid were recalled due to being a lower dose than stated on the bottle. Your doctor likely is just used to prescribing this medication because that is what they are taught. They have been told that NDT causes heart problems which is really a load of crap. Too much can lead to atrial fibrillation, osteoporosis, insomnia, heat intolerance, tremors, and more. My body takes awhile to get used to a NDT Medication change and that is why dosing it twice a day is recommended. Fight for the chance to try this kind of medication if you don’t feel well on synthetic only medications. The synthetic medications are really about money. Synthroid is the 4th most prescribed medication in the US at 70 million prescriptions a year. The profit from Abbott Labs funds endocrinology groups and their meetings as well as clinical research grants. Do you think they are going to publish studies that show their medication doesn’t work as well? Probably not. Pharmaceutical companies have more to gain by you being on a synthetic medication that keeps you sick vs. the Natural medication that makes  you feel better. 

 

I want to also talk about how it feels to have a disease that isn’t visible. I was talking with my niece and her husband last weekend about thyroid. Somehow the subject came up and my nieces husband said something about if your thyroid isn’t working right you are basically screwed or something like that. I had to laugh because he is so right. We don’t look sick but some days we just feel terrible. It is hard on us and hard on our families. My parents don’t understand, especially my dietary restrictions. They quit inviting my family over for dinner. My mom never makes an effort to understand how this has affected me. I don’t hold that against her- she is doing the best she can with the tools she has. So she says things like, let’s go out for pizza- you can eat a salad. Oh that sounds like so much fun to eat a salad while everyone else is enjoying pizza. It’s never- “let’s go to a restaurant where you can really enjoy the food”. She has thyroid problems too but all I ever hear is “I am so glad I feel so good”- what is normal for her is to feel tired and have a headache or just say she doesn’t feel good. She lays on the couch most afternoons and she had a headache everyday of my life in the morning. Sometimes we think we feel good because normal is to feel bad. 

Here are what some people are saying about what they want people to know about hashimoto’s. 

BA says:  In my case support... You don't "look" sick... My husband truly truly is trying to understand it all. He sees what it does to me but doesn't understand why. Thinks with diet and exercise I'll be just fine...

LH says:  Digestive issues, fatigue, stress,

GH says:  That everything can be great and you look and feel wonderful then you suddenly crash and feel like death. For weeks.

TF says:  Like one minute I lost 60 pounds, was working out every day at the age of 50 and living my best life and out of nowhere this monster hits me and now it’s horrible. I don’t know from one day to the next what is coming. I don’t even understand most of it. this disease is so extensive and complicated

TC says:  Why food makes us sick? Hurt? Not sleep?

KT says:  Always test your thyroid ANTIBODIES! All my “usual” thyroid labs were in the normal range, but antibodies off the charts... so grateful I finally had a doc test them!

TW says:  The fatigue is real, I’m not lazy. I don’t “want” to take a nap, I have no choice. What is needed? Research. Education of MDs and endocrinologists.

SJ says:  Extreme fatigue, and excessive weight gain ! 100 lbs, which I've been unable to loose for 20 years. Insomnia as well , and digestive issues ( gluten intolerant ). HASHIMOTO'S IS A BEAST !

TB says:  Research to determine which diet is the best for Hashimoto's. Extreme fatigue and brain fog are real!

SD says:  Educating MD's who are still treating all of our symptoms seperately, telling patients they are overweight because they eat too much and don’t exercise enough, and prescribing thyroid replacement that is man made instead of natural desiccated thyroid (NDT). Quit my doctor of 21 years 8 years ago and found a naturopath. Best decision of my life!!!

MH says:  More education, more testing. Doctors to understand test results vs symptoms and please don’t say” well you are  borderline even though you have these symptoms, so we will not treat you.”

TM says: Our tired is not their tired , it’s not even in the same realm . Our weight gain is not our fault . We are not lazy, we’re tired.

CE says:  Our inflammation is unlike others due to the constant aches we endure along with insomnia, depletion of vital nutrients, and gut problems.

AO says:  It may seem invisible but our body is having a nuclear war. New symptoms and concurrent disorders are constantly showing up, that don't seem to be related sometimes, and there hasn't been enough research to do anything but regulate diet and control some symptoms. It IS disabling for a large amount of people. With mine I had to quit work and can only last 2-4 hours of any type of work before I am too exhausted/weak/ill to function.

RS says:  More knowledge/awareness for everyone...So doctors stop running basic labs, so that people are more aware of symptoms and can ask for the correct labs, so loved ones can be more supportive of those with AI diseases, and so everyone realizes how vastly important our diets effect our health. The majority of people who find out I have Hashi’s have no clue what it is. I don’t look sick, so they don’t understand how I can go from 100 to bed ridden for days, or understand why I eat the way I do if I don’t have “food allergies.” People just don’t understand any of it, even my family and closest friends.

Day 3 on The Elemental Diet

This is published 2 months after the three days I spent on the elemental diet. I had the post written down but life got in the way and it is just getting out now.

I slept well again. Felt pretty good and energy was good. I was really not looking forward to drinking this stuff one more day. The actual smell of it, even though it smells like vanilla frosting, was becoming repulsive. I can do almost anything for three days though so I powered through.  

I didn’t have my first scoops of Elemental Formula until about 9am. I ended up hurrying to get some things done in the morning and had my second 2 scoops at about 11:00. I took my daughter and her friend to our county fair for the afternoon and ended up with low blood sugar after a couple hours of walking around. I pre made some formula and brought it with but I found myself feeling exhausted. I sat down and drank 4 scoops in about 30 minutes. By the end of the day I was starving so I drank the rest of the last of it by 6pm and thought I would be fine. 

I was not. I was starving by about 8pm. I was shaky and had some serious brain fog. I also wanted to eat everything in sight. I didn’t, but I wanted to. 

We were at a restaurant and sitting outside. It was a nice night. Everything smelled so good which didn’t help the hunger pangs. I didn’t want to ruin all the good work I did for my body so left and went to our campsite and had some bone broth. I had two mugs of it before going to bed and I felt pretty good. 

While the elemental diet wasn’t miserable, I do not wish to do it again any time soon. I think the low blood sugar issues were a problem on days I was more active so I would consider discussing with your practitioner what your activity level is and adjust your caloric needs based on that. 

I did enjoy how I felt for the most part on the diet. I also enjoyed the freedom from having to decide what to eat and what to cook. It was a nice break. I didn’t crave anything until I was super hungry and that was quite freeing. 

My next three days were spent doing a three day cleanse which you can learn about here. If you want to learn more about the functional medicine clinic I work at you can do that here.  

You can read about Day One on the diet here and Day Two on the diet here

Have you seen the documentary Food Choices on Netflix?

I was flipping through Netflix looking for a good documentary to watch and came across Food Choices.  When I read the description and realized it was about a plant based diet I was ready to take notes and tell you all about why it was a ridiculous documentary and how you should just not bother watching it. I am not going to do that though because they actually made some valid points in parts of the film. The opinions expressed in this post are just that, I do not make reference to any studies or papers. I would encourage you to watch the film and make an informed decision about what is best for your health by doing a little research and not doing something because someone, including myself, says so. 

I did find a lot in the movie I didn’t agree with but I was so surprised to find there was some parts of the movie that I actually did agree with. 

The movie starts out with a lot of information about how animal protein is really bad for you. How it will raise your cholesterol, cause diabetes and cancer. Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study tells us that the amount of animal protein we eat is the problem. He states that too much will stress the kidneys and the liver. He states all the animals we eat for protein are vegetarians and the movie shows a picture of a cow, chickens and turkeys. 

Not all animals we eat are vegetarians. First of all, the natural diet of chickens and turkeys includes bugs which are “animal” protein and chickens will eat mice and other varmints if given a chance. They are NOT vegetarian. Pigs are not vegetarians either. They eat other animals, they eat just about anything actually. 

The movie claims that protein elevates cholesterol, starts heart disease, increases the production of free radicals and stimulates the production of hormones.   Personally, my diet is pretty high in protein and fat and my most recent (spring 2017) total cholesterol was 167. Read my post on protein and fat to learn more about why these two macronutrients are not villains. Bottom line, protein breaks down in to amino acids which help us make neurotransmitters and are the building blocks of the body. You can get protein from vegetables too, I prefer to get some protein from meat and you should know that it is okay for you to get some protein from meat too. 

The next claim was that we are getting too much saturated fat, calories and sodium from meat. If you are eating a high quality piece of meat, you are not getting too much of any of these things. Again, read my post on fat to learn why saturated fat will not kill you. Also, think about this- how can something like saturated fat which is solid at room temperature or colder go plant itself in our arteries as a solid? Isn’t fat broken down and emulsified by bile in our body? Yes it is. Our body temperature is also 98.6º which would keep that saturated fat in a liquid state keeping it from planting itself in our arteries and clogging them. 

The film goes on to vilify milk and dairy products. They are telling you to get your calcium from oranges but they don’t tell you that you would need about 10 oranges a day to get the recommended amount of calcium for an adult. Calcium is found in many vegetables including leafy greens and you don’t need to eat dairy products to get enough calcium daily. The problem with calcium is not that we aren’t getting enough but that we don’t have the proper co-factors (things in our body needed to help us use the calcium we do get) to digest and assimilate calcium. We need to have good digestion, proper pH within the body, good hormone function, enough water, other minerals and vitamins and fat (helps get calcium in to our cells). 

The film calls dairy liquid meat. “A cocktail of growth hormones engineered for rapid growth”. The campaign for raw milk would, of course, disagree with that statement. Dairy products that are not from grass fed and pastured animals would not be on my list of things to consume but if my body tolerated dairy, I would drink raw milk and consume raw milk products occasionally without worrying about the effects. 

Next on the films list of foods to avoid to be healthy was eggs. Some people consider eggs to be the perfect food. Pasture raised eggs are best. Eggs contain a variety of minerals and vitamins and are a great source of high quality protein and contain a complete protein. All the B vitamins are in eggs and contain more choline than any other food. They are a good source for most of the minerals our body requires including selenium and iodine which are important for thyroid health. According to www.whfoods.com, eggs sho no increased risk of heart attack or stroke and they can help increase your HDL, or good, cholesterol. 

Food Choices is telling us that eggs are too high in cholesterol and they show you some very moving pictures of a chicken developing in the eggshell. They also talk about the feed for chickens being full of Genetically Modified corn and soy and the toxin Roundup. They are not wrong about this if you are not buying eggs from a local farmer. Even then the chicken feed may contain corn and soy. It is cheap feed. As long as they are on pasture and getting most of their diet from bugs, you might have to be okay with a bit of supplemental feed. 

The movie moves on to talk about the high amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids needed in our diet. They say a higher Omega 3 amount in our diet leads to Type II Diabetes. I would bet that processed foods and sugar would be a more likely culprit for most of Americans with Type II Diabetes. The studies are out there at your finger tips. 

Meat will give you Erectile Dysfunction says the movie, because it blocks blood vessels. I think we covered that in talking about saturated fat.  

Low carb diets are all the rage and they claim high carb diets don’t cause weight gain. They say the paleo diet is a copy of the Atkins diet and that was written by people who have not published a scientific paper. They claim low carb diets make you sick and are dangerous. They are in agreement that cutting down on sugar and refined carbs would be a good thing. The paleo community is pretty big, just as is the vegan community. Neither diet is the be all end all for everyone. That is what we need to remember. We are bio-individuals. What works for one person will not work for everyone. 

Their next claim is that many people who are plant based are healthy but there are still a lot of vegetarians who are still sick because they are eating junk food or dairy and some fish. I would agree with the filmmakers about eating junk food. They also say that if you have not given up oil as a vegan and are still fat, then the oil is the reason why you are still fat. “Fat you eat is fat you wear” they said. Again, read my post on fat

They claim a whole foods plant based diet is free. You don’t have to pay for any gimmicks or shakes. I would say that if you are just eating real food, it is not free because you have to pay for it, then you are one step ahead of the rest of the world who is looking for that great organic convenience food to buy. 

I agree with them when they say we ought to be 90-95% plant based. Maybe 80% plant based would be more like it. We could all stand to eat more vegetables, including me. I love how I feel when my diet is mostly veggies with a little bit of meat each day. I have lots of energy, I feel clean inside. I have little bloating and my eliminations are just where they should be. 

They are telling you in this movie that you should not believe “The key to good health is moderation”. They say this doesn’t work. I know it doesn’t work for me. I can’t just have one bite of a sweet treat. I want the whole pan. Moderation might work for you. It does for some people and for some it doesn’t. 

Next on the list is blaming the media for making the Paleo diet credible. The problem was that the media “let both sides speak” in regards to the China Study which has hundreds of references and then interviewed someone on the Paleo diet which was little more than a story book.  The Paleo diet has helped thousands of people feel good just as a vegan diet has. A vegan diet doesn’t work for everyone though. A few more notable folks who really struggled with their health on a vegan diet are Denise Minger and Lierre Keith. I am sure there are people who don’t do well on a Paleo diet too. I just have not heard of them. 

I have to agree with the film when they talk about the nutrition training doctors receive in medical school. It is little to nothing. Doctors are not able to get to the root cause of your health problems because they are being taught pharmaceutical based medicine. This is sometimes necessary but there are other options out there. People on medication long term may have side effects causing other health problems and their overall health to decline. The movie is spot on here. A plant based diet may be very helpful for the short term and maybe long term. It depends on you and your individual biological make up. 

They state the cause and cure for disease is in our hands and that the money is in the drugs. We need to shift our dollars from expensive procedures to education. I could not agree more. 

Supplements- they say it is a big industry stealing your money. I am in partial agreement with them on this. There is no magic bullet supplement. The nutrients you need are in your food. You have to be able to digest and assimilate your food and for that, you may need a supplement. You may be depleted of certain nutrients and need a supplement to get you by until you are able to get them from your food again. 

The big problem for plant based diets is vitamin B12 which is found in animals. One expert in the movie says you can get B12 in a supplement or from fortified foods. As long as you don’t have a methylation problem this might work for you. Again, it is not for everyone. 

One thing I found interesting and quite intriguing is their statement of “what we eat determines how we use the planet”. They said that 98% of destroyed rainforest is used for meat production. This is sad. This is also why I tell everyone I teach and work with to know where your food comes from. Buy local whenever possible. Support your local farmers. They said 70% of farmable land is used to grow crops for animals and not humans. This statistic is also quite sad. 

Another quote from the movie, “It takes 2400 gallons of water and 12 pounds of grain to make one pound of beef.” Cows eat grass. They were evolved to eat grass and not grain so if you stop buying grain fed meat, that will help. “The excrements of 80 billion land animals raised for food each year aren't’ treated and go in to water basins and oceans”. They show pastured cows in the movie after this statement, not livestock in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) which is more likely to be what they are referring to. This can be solved by eating local, supporting local farmers and eating less meat than you might right now. 

“The environmental impact we have is more than just about livestock. it is what we consume, the amount of stuff we acquire, overpopulation, dependance on fossil fuels, etc” says an expert in the movie. He is not wrong. All the packaging in processed foods, the cars we drive the amount of electronics in our households. All of this stuff has an environmental impact on the earth, not just factory farms. 

The movie goes on to attack grass fed beef as a fabrication by the meat and dairy industry to perpetuate the slaughter of animals. They say grass fed beef is even less sustainable because of land shortages and is worse than CAFO’s. I am not sure how they are coming up with this type of information. They do not list resources. I could put two cows on my 8.5 acres and have enough meat to feed my family and the families of two of my neighbors if we all ate meat just a few times a week. Small organic local farms that practice sustainability are better for the planet than CAFO’s in my opinion. 

Over fishing is depleting the oceans. I think maybe this is true. The ocean provides more oxygen to us than trees do. It is a very important ecosystem worth protecting. 

The final point I took away from the movie is that people have eaten animals for 1000’s of years and today there is no reason for us to eat them because it is not essential for survival as it was 1000’s of years ago. The film says we now have a choice and we can choose not to eat meat. 

They say we resist taking in information from places other than the mainstream. I agree with this. Many of my views on health and wellness are not what is considered mainstream. Things that are not mainstream are scary to some and so they choose to believe what is safer.

Lastly, “It won’t matter how healthy we are if the planet isn’t healthy. Stop following the system without questioning it. Vote with your dollars.” I couldn’t agree more. 

Tell me in the comments if you have seen Food Choices on Netflix and what you thought?

Do I Need a Calcium Supplement?

The short answer here is that you may not need one. Most of us get enough calcium in our diets but lack the needed cofactors to use and assimilate the calcium. 

Foods that are rich in calcium

  • Sardines

  • Sesame Seeds

  • Collard Greens

  • Spinach

  • Turnip Greens

  • Mustard Greens

  • Beet Greens

  • Natto (fermented soy)

  • Egg Yolks

  • Dark Meat Chicken.

You do not have to consume dairy products to get enough calcium but if you do, the best sources of dairy calcium are raw milk, yogurt and cheese (Jarlsberg in particular). 

Calcium makes up about 2% of your body weight contributing to bone structure as well as playing a role in controlling muscle and nerve function.  We definitely need calcium but you may not need to supplement with it as long as you are eating a well balanced diet. Too much calcium in the diet can deposit itself in places like blood vessels and as kidney stones in the kidneys. 

While calcium is essential for muscle contraction, magnesium serves as a calcium blocker. It is the calcium in too high amounts that creates a muscle cramp and magnesium that creates the relaxation. So it is important for these two to be in balance especially when it comes to your heart. 

It is not enough to try to replace these minerals that may be lacking in the diet. They need to be in balance and we need to be asking ourselves why there is an imbalance in the first place. 

Some things to look at to see whether or not your body is able to use the calcium in your diet are: 

How are your hormones functioning? Your parathyroid plays a very big role in maintaining blood calcium levels, thyroid hormone decreases blood calcium levels, adrenal hormones control sodium and potassium which have a relationship with calcium and sex hormones play a role in bone structure. Vitamin D works like a hormone in the body. We need it to increase the absorption through the digestive system. More on that later. 

Are you drinking enough water? Good hydration ensures that blood is fluid or thin and free flowing enough to efficiently transport calcium throughout the body. Having balanced electrolytes will help make sure calcium is transferred in and out of the cells. 

Are you getting enough other minerals in your diet? You should not only be looking at the amount of minerals you are getting in your diet (from food) but are they in balance with the amount of calcium you are getting. 

Are you digesting your fats or taking in quality fats?  Fatty acids are needed to transport calcium in to the cells and help increase calcium levels in the tissues. 

Is your digestion working properly? Calcium is only absorbed in an acidic environment and so it needs adequate stomach acid for the body to be able to use it. 

 There are two other factors that come in to play in regards to calcium and our ability to use it properly in the body. 

Vitamin K and Vitamin D. 

First let’s look at Vitamin K which has two forms. K1 and K2. This is a very simplified explanation of K1 and K2 as there are more forms of Vitamin K that play very specific roles in the body but for the purposes of this post I am keeping it simple for you all. If you want to learn about these vitamins in greater detail google Chris Masterjohn. He has made a career out of studying fat soluble vitamins. 

Vitamin K2 Health Benefits

It prevents calcium from going in to all the wrong places, as discussed above, like keeping it out of your kidneys where stones can form and the blood vessels where it can contribute or cause heart disease. It also helps get it in to your bones and teeth where your bones will get strong and your teeth will be able to fight off decay.

It helps you make insulin and helps to prevent insulin resistance. Remember this is when your cells turn the insulin carrying glucose away because they have had too much. In this way it helps to keep your blood sugar stable. It also helps you use energy properly making exercise a little easier and protects you from cancer.   

Vitamin K comes in different forms with K1 being the most well known for helping with blood clotting so you want to avoid supplementing with Vitamin K if you are on an anticoagulant. K1 is found mostly in plants and especially in leafy greens and K2 is found most often in animal products. This is a fat soluble vitamin so you might notice that the animal products it is found in are naturally higher in fat so you can use it. This is why I tell my clients and students to eat their veggies with a little bit of fat so they can actually use the vitamins in the plant. 

Vitamin D Health Benefits

This fat soluble vitamin plays a big role in your overall health by impacting around 3000 of your genes. It turns on or off the genes that prevent or make worse diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, MS, gum disease, IBS, colds and flu and many more. 

Much of the population is deficient in Vitamin D, especially those with darker skin and those living in the north. Most of us need about ten times what the Recommended Daily Allowance is (600 IU per day for RDA) and the very best way to get it is by getting sunlight daily or taking a high quality supplement. Be aware though that if you supplement you need to have your levels checked regularly by a doctor because you can take too much. 

Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium and vitamin K2 sends the calcium to your bones, again, keeping it from depositing in the wrong places.  A build up of plaque in the arteries results from a damaged blood vessel having calcium deposited there so that you can remain alive. This is how heart disease begins. A build up of this kind of plaque can result in an eventual heart attack. Remember that sugar and processed foods are what cause the damage to the blood vessels in the first place.  Vitamin K and D work together to protect your blood vessels from this plaque formation. 

If you are taking calcium and vitamin D supplements but are deficient in K, you could be doing more harm than good than if you didn’t take a calcium supplement at all because that calcium is just one part of your overall bone and heart health. 

Bottom line:

  • You may not need a calcium supplement, you are probably getting enough from your diet.

  • You need good digestion.

  • You need to be well hydrated.

  • You need to do some weight bearing exercise like walking or lifting weights.

  • You need those good quality fats in your diet and you need to digest them.

  • You need to optimize your vitamin D intake (and get some sun) and check your blood levels regularly.

  • Get K2 from leafy greens, fermented veggies, or raw milk cheeses

  • Eat a wide and varied diet of real whole foods.

 

Tell me in the comments. Do you take a calcium supplement or a vitamin D supplement? Do you spend time outside getting some sunshine?

 

How do you get rid of Candida?

Are Christmas Cookies Your Gateway Drug?

The other day I heard a radio show host say that she was never doing a cookie exchange again.  She said she had too many cookies and they were just a gateway drug for her. One led to another.  This time of year we tend to throw caution to the wind and indulge in the sweets which can make us crave more and more and more. 

Christmas cookies or the sugar in them, particularly, are definitely my gateway drug.  I so loved hearing someone on the radio say that because its exactly how I feel. I end up walking around the house after eating some sugar, looking for a fix like an addict. I am opening cupboards and standing there, staring at the lack of treats in my house. There is nothing there for me to get my fix. 

What if that fix you need is less about willpower and more about a beast within you that is causing you to crave it. That beast is affecting your mood and even your overall health. This beast has a name. It is called Candida Albicans. 

Candida is a pathogenic or opportunistic yeast that is quite common and can overgrow in the intestines. We all have candida albicans within our gut. That is not the problem. The problem is when it overgrows. When other “normal” bacteria are killed off by antibiotics, this yeast can rapidly increase and create an imbalance with the beneficial bacteria within our gut. This can cause problems with the skin in the form of rashes or even yeast infections. 

Long term infestation of candida in anyone with a weakened or compromised immune system as in the case of someone with an autoimmune disease can result in an overgrowth of the yeast. It can then morph in to a form of fungus and grow roots that set up shop in your intestinal tract.  When candida sets up shop like this within the body it gets to work making all kinds of toxic byproducts, some as toxic as nail polish remover, to be absorbed in to the blood stream. Now, the body naturally makes toxins through metabolic processes which the liver cleans up so they can be eliminated. The liver naturally has a ton of work to do for you each day so candida calls for overtime and sometimes the liver just can’t keep up. If your liver can’t keep up your body will create antibodies to the Candida creating system wide problems and you start to see symptoms like described below.

In addition to the liver playing a huge role in processing the toxins that candida creates, your spleen gets involved if you have intestinal permeability. The spleens job is to get rid of pathogens, viruses and bacteria, things that make us sick. It is now having to work extra hard too.  

 

What are the symptoms of Candida overgrowth?

  • recurrent skin fungus infections or nail problems

  • headaches, brain fog, fatigue

  • cystitis or prostatitis

  • mood swings, depression or confusion

  • PMS

  • recurrent herpes

  • joint pain

  • intense cravings for sweets, bread or alcohol

  • indigestion or reactions/sensitivities to foods

 

Of course, Candida overgrowth is more common in women than men and can affect our hormone balance which can lead to abnormal and painful periods. If you have had a c-section, both baby and mother are at risk for it. These cravings for sweets can be driven by the yeast because that is what they feed off of. 

How do you know if you are likely to have a Candida overgrowth?

 

The following are factors that play a role in Candida overgrowing in the body: 

 

  • frequent long term use of antibiotics

  • being on the birth control pill

  • too much alcohol or caffeine

  • recurrent yeast infections or prostate problems

  • regular use of drugs containing cortisone

  • chronic stress, chronic fatigue

  • sensitivity and or exposure to molds, damp places or certain smells

  • depression, mood swings or confusion

  • intense sugar cravings that feel bigger than you

  • recurrent ringworm, athletes foot, jock itch or nail problems

Untreated candida can take over in the gut creating inflammation throughout the body. These cravings listed are sometimes totally out of our control because something inside us is wanting those things to stay alive and grow. This overgrowth creates system wide inflammation which is why see the symptoms and factors that play a role in the overgrowth. Our bodies are innately intelligent with all the mechanisms needed to keep us healthy but sometimes whether through diet and lifestyle or necessary medical treatment we knock things out of balance. This is when the pathogens like candida can take that opportunity to thrive. 

It is crucial to create the proper balance of bacteria within the small intestine and the colon for good health. Without it, we are not digesting our food well and we are not making B vitamins or vitamin K. The intestinal bacteria play a role in the final stages of digesting protein and milk products. Without this healthy balance of bacteria we end up with poor digestion, an unhealthy or damaged gut lining (where nutrients get absorbed) and possibility for food allergies to develop. Your energy levels drop, your metabolism isn’t working like it should, your thyroid slows down and you end up with adrenal fatigue. You have to look at the whole picture. When one thing is out of whack within us, it affects the whole of us. 

Bacteria is the oldest living organism at around 10 trillion years old which is very much a part of us. They play a crucial role in keeping our immune system working properly so we can thrive. The U.S. went through a “kill all bacteria” phase with the use of bacteria killing soaps and hand sanitizer and bleaching surfaces in schools. Women and doctors are scheduling c-sections for convenience. At some point bottle feeding our children was promoted heavily so there is a whole generation of kids who were not breastfed. Vaginal births and breastfeeding is where babies get to build their immune system. 

How do you treat candida overgrowth?

1. Don’t allow them to thrive and multiply.

Candida needs sugar to thrive. It feeds off of fermentation. Cancer feeds on the fermentation of sugar as well. Clearing up an issue like candida can also reduce your risk of cancer. So the first thing you need to do is not to feed it any sugar.  Candida live on mostly simple sugars like processed refined foods, yeasts and fermented foods, fruits, juices, dried fruit, alcohol, cheese, vinegar, breads or other yeasted or fermented products like soy sauce. 

What you can include in your diet is vegetables, meat, fish, soaked and sprouted whole grains, nuts, seeds and the occasional egg. Yogurt with beneficial bacteria if you tolerate dairy products would be fine too with homemade being best of course so you can control the ingredients. You need to make sure you are absolutely not eating any sugar at all. You are also going to have to avoid anything that is fermented. 

2. Supplement with anti-fungals and address the whole body. 

You will want to heal your gut and repopulate it with good bacteria. You need to make sure you are making adequate stomach acid and that all of your detoxification pathways are working properly with elimination being one of them. 

If you have candida, you are inflamed. Your gut is inflamed too. When then gut is inflamed you may not digest your food well allowing it to ferment and feed the yeast. You may need to supplement with stomach acid (Betaine HCl) or digestive enzymes. 

Nystatin is often prescribed by doctors and it will kill the yeast. The problem with Nystatin is that the yeast or bacteria can become resistant to it, so you can’t just take a prescription and think you are going to get rid of it. The good thing about it though is that your body doesn’t absorb nystatin, it just goes in there and kills off the yeast.  

While the yeast are being killed off you can run in to symptoms of die off such as headache, fatigue, flu like symptoms or worsening of already existing symptoms. Enemas can be very helpful every few days or a colonic every couple of weeks. 

Natural remedies that help to kill yeast or keep it from growing are caprylic acid, fresh garlic, or extract of garlic, oregano oil and herbs like pau d’arco or taheebo. You can also use things like food grade Diatomaceous Earth which will go in there and act like little razor blades to the candida and won’t harm the body at all. You can follow that up with bentonite clay and drink lots of water and both soluble and insoluble fibers so you can get all the toxins out of the body. 

3. Restore or repopulate the gut. 

Here we are restoring the good bacteria in the gut. Lactobacillus Acidophilus is the main bacteria used to repopulate the colon but it is wise to mix up the kind or strains of bacteria you use to ensure good gut health. Acidophilus DDS-1 has been shown to have an anti-biotic effect on pathogens in the colon and inhibit the growth of candida albicans and helps restore the bacteria that produce B vitamins. DDS-1 and other bacteria are beneficial in other ways too such as having an anti-viral effect helping reduce the severity and incidence of cold sores, canker sores and herpes outbreaks. 

When you have an overgrowth of yeast, they take nutrients from you, ferment the foods you have eating and cause gas and bloating. Adding probiotics will help to reduce these symptoms. 

One thing you have to remember is that digestion is one of the main foundations of our health. It that is not working properly, nothing else is going to work either. Taking supplemental digestive support will allow for the proper breakdown of foods to amino acids, essential fatty acids and you will be able to absorb and assimilate the minerals and vitamins within your food. This will aid the healing process allowing you to feel your very best and become quite clear about your health. 

Getting rid of candida takes patience, time and diligence. The protocol can last several months depending on how severe your candida is. In the end you will find you have more energy, bloating will disappear and you will feel so very good. 

Do You Need a Gallbladder?

Do I need a gallbladder?  This is a really good question. 

The quick answer is yes. You need it and your life will be forever altered without it. Gallbladders are a key player if the breakdown of fat in our diet. They get mucked up with sludgy bile when we consume a high carbohydrate low fat diet and when we consume the wrong kind of fats. 

We have been sold a lie for years and years telling us that fat is bad for us. Fat will cause heard disease and obesity.  The truth is almost the opposite of what we have been told and sold on for so many years. I have written about fat before and why it is good for us. You can find that information here

I am writing specifically about gallbladders today because I have so many clients without them who didn’t know they needed support once it was removed. There are over 600,000 surgeries every year to remove gallbladders. Some of those removals are necessary but a far greater number of them are not. Your gallbladder can be saved. The trick here is that saving your gallbladder takes time and work on your part. It won’t happen over night and it will be a bit uncomfortable for you for awhile as you clean out the sludge in the gallbladder and your body begins to replace sludgy bile with clean and healthy bile to be stored. 

How does this even work?

The liver, a real workhorse for our body, produces bile which gets stored in the gallbladder until food enters the small intestines. The gallbladder then releases bile to aid in the digestion or emulsification of fats. When the gallbladder is removed, the liver continues to produce bile and it just drips in to the small intestine. This means you won’t have enough bile to break down your dietary fat which leads to fats going undigested and leaving the body often as diarrhea. 

Gallbladder surgery or cholecystectomy can be avoided with good nutrition and lifestyle. Diet is key here when you are trying to maintain a healthy gallbladder or even save it. 

Symptoms of a gallbladder attack or need to support your gallbladder with diet changes are: 

  • pain or tenderness under the rib cage on the right 
  • pain between the shoulder blades
  • light or chalky colored stools
  • fatty or greasy looking stools
  • heartburn
  • stomach upset by greasy foods
  • nausea, motion sickness
  • dry skin, itchy feet 
  • headache over the eye
  • bitter taste in mouth after a meal

 

Symptoms that can be experienced when you don’t have a gallbladder are: 

  • stomachaches  
  • heartburn
  • diarrhea, usually after a meal
  • pain between the shoulder blades
  • bloating and indigestion
  • nausea

If you have had your gallbladder removed it is likely you have been told to maintain a low fat diet for life. A low fat diet will deprive your body of necessary nutrients. Every cell in our bodies are made of a layer of fat. We need it for good cellular function and we are really just a bunch of cells put together that make up tissues, organs, systems and humans. If those cells are not healthy, then we are not healthy. No fat digestion means no ability to use vitamins A, D, E and K even if we supplement.  Most importantly is that you will need to supplement with ox bile for the rest of your life. 

If you still have a gallbladder but are struggling with the above listed symptoms, you can save it. Sludge in your gallbladder does NOT mean you have to remove it. If you are willing to put in the work to save it, you probably can. It takes time and you will feel uncomfortable and experience some pain as the sludge gets cleaned out. It won’t happen overnight. 

This is what you can start to do to ensure you can clean out your gallbladder: 

  • Increase the healthy fats in your diet such as olive oil, flax oil, fish oils and coconut oil
  • Eat a high fiber diet
  • Consume lots and lots of vegetables. Half your plate at dinner should be veggies
  • Eat at least one serving (2 cups) of raw, grated beets covered with the juice of half a lemon and two tablespoons of raw, unprocessed flax seed oil or olive oil
  • Avoid dairy products except butter
  • Avoid wheat/gluten
  • Avoid fried foods, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats
  • Avoid refined carbohydrates
  • Rule out any potential food allergies or sensitivities

There are also several supplements you can take to support your liver and gallbladder. Part of what I do as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner is have you take an extensive questionnaire that will pinpoint if gallbladder or liver issues are something you need to be looking at. 

Have you ever had a gallbladder attack? How did you deal with it? Leave me a comment below and let's start a conversation.