Hypothyroid (low thyroid), Do You Have It? Part 1

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Tracie is back sharing her vast knowledge in nutrition and the role it plays with fat loss.  Today’s topic is so huge and is becoming more and more of a problem.  I send my clients who I believe have low thyroid to Tracie.  I am very good at getting people to lose weight, but I have found those who have been seemingly doing everything right, and aren’t losing any fat, are 90% of the time hypothyroid.  Tracie has an 8 week seminar, starting July 15th, that will really go in depth about how you can eat to heal the thyroid.  I just heard she only has 3 spots still available, so if you are interested, you need to contact her ASAP at tracie@itsyourplate.com to secure one of the last spots.

Okay, here is her post!

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Could It Be Your Thyroid?

Are you always tired? Do you gain weight easily or have a hard time losing it?  Do you wear socks to bed even in the summer to keep your feet warm?  Are your hair and/or eye brows thinning? Do you have chronic constipation? Is your sex drive low?  If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, hypothyroidism may be an issue for you.

Background Information about the Thyroid

The thyroid gland is our metabolic powerhouse. Not producing enough active thyroid hormone can have a huge impact on a person’s ability to feel great and lose weight. This is because the thyroid directly regulates an individual’s metabolism. When someone has hypothyroidism (low thyroid production), they will often have a decreased basal metabolic rate (BMR), making it easy to gain weight and difficult to lose it. Some experts estimate that as many as 20 million Americans are currently suffering from undiagnosed hypothyroidism (Blanchard and Brill xiii). Considering that the thyroid gland regulates our metabolism, it is apparent that hypothyroidism can severely impact energy levels and the ability to lose weight.

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Let me briefly explain the science behind the thyroid function. The thyroid is a walnut size gland that sits just below the Adam’s apple and helps to control every chemical reaction in the body. It is also an endocrine gland that produces, stores, and secretes thyroid hormones. Triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) are the two main hormones that the thyroid gland produces. T3 is considered the active form of the thyroid hormone; a healthy thyroid produces about 80% T4 and 20% T3. (Shomon 16) The thyroid controls the body’s metabolism by helping the cells convert calories and oxygen into energy.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism

There are many symptoms of hypothyroidism. Following is a list of the most common indicators: (Blanchard and Brill 103-107)

 

hypothyroidism_hair_lossSkin and outer body:

  • Dry and/or coarse skin
  • Coarse, brittle hair
  • Hair loss (thinning of the eyebrows)
  • Nail weakness/thinness
  • Edema (swelling) of the eyelids
  • Cold skin

Generalized:

  • Weakness/Lethargy
  • Severe fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Allergies

Muscles and joints:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle pain
  • Carpal tunnel
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Swelling of the hands/feet

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Gastrointestinal:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea (especially near time of menstrual flow)
  • Constipation

 

Hormonal/reproductive:

  • PMS
  • Excessive menstruation
  • Menopausal symptoms (hot flashes, etc.)
  • Infertility
  • Frequent miscarriage
  • Loss of libido

ailmentphotohypothyroidismEmotional/mental:

  • Brain fog
  • Memory loss
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Change in personality- less outgoing, less joyful
  • Seasonal affective disorder

Cardiac:

  • High blood pressure
  • Palpitations
  • High total cholesterol
  • High LDL
  • High triglycerides.
  • High homocysteine levels
  • Low HDL

Other factors:

  • A family history of thyroid disease: hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Graves’ disease, thyroid nodules, goiter, thyroid cancer.
  • A family history of autoimmune disease: anemia, diabetes (type I), endometriosis, multiple sclerosis, Raynaud’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, systemic lupus, vitiligo.

As you can see, there are many more symptoms besides weight gain.  Laurie Devine was kind enough to share her experience with hypothyroidism on the “Is soy making your fat” post comments.  She stated: “I discovered that the severe asthma, allergies and migraines I’d suffered with for most of my life pretty much disappeared as soon as thyroid treatment began.”  This is a perfect example of the important function of the thyroid. The bottom line is that our thyroid regulates our cellular energy and when it is not properly working, many other bodily functions are affected.  The health of the thyroid is one of the most important factors in determining our overall wellness.

There is a lot to talk about regarding thyroid.  On this post, I will challenge you to do a test at home that will help determine how well your thyroid may or may not be working.

Oprah Helped Bring Hypothyroid Center Stage, When She Announced She Had It

Oprah Helped Bring Hypothyroid Center Stage, When She Announced She Had It

The At Home Test

The thyroid regulates your body temperature. Therefore a low body temperature can help to determine if you have subclinical hypothyroidism (doesn’t show up in blood panel but patient has symptoms).  Blood chemistry thyroid panels only reveal overt pathology, not subclinical conditions, which I will discuss more in depth in an upcoming blog post.  Back in the 1940’s Dr. Broda Barnes, M.D., developed the axillairy (under arm) temperature test to determine subclinical hypothyroidism (click here for more information on the Broda Barnes Foundation and Dr. Barnes’ work). He studied thousands of patients and dedicated his life to thyroid research.  Although Barnes recommended axillairy temperatures, Dr. Ray Peat, a present day thyroid expert believes that the oral temperature is more accurate then the auxiliary.  As a result, I recommend using oral temps. Your optimum oral temperature should be 98.0°F in the morning before rising, so take your temperature before getting out of bed. Your oral temperature should increase during day light hours to 98.4°F- 99°F. It is important to take your temperature at least twice during the day because some people have a low morning temperature and a normal one during the day and vice versa. You should always use the lowest temperature as a deciding factor.

Women should take their temperatures especially on day 2-4 of their monthly cycle (day one is the first day of your period) if they are still menstruating to avoid the increase in temperature during ovulation. I recommend taking your temperature before getting out of bed in the morning, again 20 minutes after breakfast and between 11 am and 3 pm.  At the same time check your pulse, your optimum resting pulse (sitting down) should be 75-85 and not over 90-100.

Wrapping It Up

Okay, this is enough information for now. I would again challenge you to take your basal temps and post what you are finding.  In future posts, I will:

  • Discuss why hypothyroidism is becoming such as issue in today’s society
  • Provide a few nutritional pointers to support your thyroid
  • Discuss what blood tests to request from your doctor and treatment options

If you would like more information about me, my services or my upcoming 8 week seminar series, please check out my website at www.itsyourplate.com.

Tracie Hittman Nutrition, LLC

Please share this with everyone in your life who might have low thyroid!  Have you had experience with low thyroid?  Please share with us your story and what you know about it!

References:

Barnes, Broda and Lawrence Galton. Hypo-thyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness. NY: Harpers & Row Publishers, 1976.

Blanchard, Ken and Marietta Brill. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About

Hypothyroidism. NY: Warner Wellness, 2004.

Peat, Ray. “TSH, Temperature, Pulse Rate, and Other Indicators in Hypothyroidism.” Ray Peat.com 2007. 9 Sept. 2009. <http://raypeat.com/articles/articles /hypothyroidism.shtm>.

Shomon, Mary. Living Well with Hypothyroidism. NY: HarperCollins, 2000.

Starr, Mark. Hypothyroidism Type 2. Columbia, MO: Mark Starr Trust, 2009.

Comments

  1. I have several of these symptoms but my thyroid has always tested normal according to blood work. Doctors have said that hypothyroid is rare.

  2. HOLY COW! THIS IS ME AND MY LIFE! I have been diagnosed and take medication for about 13 years now!!!! I have never had it described in ENGLISH before and I have never known what the symptoms were completely………socks to bed in summer….I cannot even begin to tell you the arguements my husband and I get into over it!!!!! I have forwarded this link to my husband and several of my friends! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  3. Lisamarie says

    Very interesting, and I am so excited that you mentioned the temperatures!!! I use Sympto-Thermal Natural Family Planning as a BC method (totally scientific, by the way, don’t give me any of that rhythm method crap) and when I started doing it about a year ago I noticed I had quite low pre-ov temps – around 97.2 or 97.3. That, and a few other cycle irregularities I noticed (short luteal phase) caused me to seek out some extra info. I read a really interesting book called Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition and it mentioned the low ovulatory temps as being a possible indicator of low thyroidism; since then I’ve started taking omega-3 flax oil gels (I beleive the oils reccomended in that book were alpha-linolenic and…possibly linoleic but I can’t remember.) I actually started to see an improvement in my temps.

    I admit, I am often cold but that could also be due to my low blood pressure. I can’t say I saw a huge difference in weight loss though, but aside from plateuing and what I think is a natural place for me, I haven’t had an extremely hard time losing weight.

  4. Jennifer says

    This is very interesting and great information. I have had so many of these symptoms since having kids and had a blood test done but it came back fine. I also have noticed that my normal temperature is low but I will take it consistently to verify how low. I can’t wait to see part II of this post!

  5. Hi Kris,

    The percentage of clinical hypothyroidism (shows on blood tests) is very small compared to those who have sub clinical hypothyroid (does not show up on blood tests). A great reference is Dr. Mark Starr book Hypothyroidism Type 2. It all about all the people who have normal blood tests but are still hypothyroid. I will talk more about this in the next post.

  6. Hi Lisamarie,

    Thanks for you comments. Low blood pressure is also one of the symptoms that come with hypo. Many of my clients have low temps and low blood pressure. I also want to comment that many hypothyroid people are underweight. Hypo is usually associated with being overweight but in not the case for everyone.

  7. Well, Tracie, what a wealth of information you have provided us, once again!! You probably have a bunch of us (including me!) taking our temps this week :). What’s neat about this topic is that even if we can’t relate to it, we always come across those who say they can’t lose wt. no matter what they do; these are the ones to refer to Tracie, just in case this in the one stone left unturned. Had to laugh at Renee’s story-maybe you can save a marriage, Tracie-haha!
    Can’t wait for next week’s blog!

  8. Wow, Tracie. I’m surprised how few of these symptoms I don’t have or haven’t had in the recent past. I asked Dustin what you charged during our last session and was toying with a consultation, but after reading this, I’ll definitely being calling you soon. Thank you for sharing this!

  9. I am so glad that I found this article. I have recently came to the conclusion after that i may have hypothyroidism, evening after having what you would call a normal range with my lab work. I have hair loss, i am and avid exercise machine, that really just doesn’t have the energy to do so anymore, I am dry everywhere, I was able to lose weight easily before, I am well educated on nutrition and all of that. I am only 24!! I recently bought a thyroid stimulating supplement. I am dying inside because of my poor mood, inability to lose weight and my lack of energy. Please some one help. I currently have no health insurance and I and trying to educate myself the best way possible. my mother had it and so does my uncle on my father’s side, so the odds for me having it are pretty darn good..

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