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Category Archives: THYROID

JOURNEY OF A METABOLIC BALANCER PART 2
Categories HORMONES, MENTAL HEALTH, THYROID, WEIGHT LOSS

JOURNEY OF A METABOLIC BALANCER PART 2

This is a continuation of Alice’s journey on Metabolic Balance®. If you haven’t read part 1 catch up on that first here.

1 week into the program now, it was time for me to touch base with this lovely young lady again today. This second touch point, shortly into the plan is an important one. The first week can be a bit of a harrowing journey for some, especially if they are coming from a high sugar diet. This was not the case for Alice (her diet was fairly good before, just a bit inconsistent… due to life really), but it’s always good to reflect on the first week regardless. It’s also important to look at what symptoms have changed and check on body composition as well – it’s about celebrating the little wins.

Metabolic Balance® kicks off with a 2 day ‘cleanse’ and Alice was kind to herself the first day, mainly resting and doing a bit of computer work at home. The second day was a little bit more brutal with a stubborn headache, a foggy brain and a general feeling of exhaustion. These are typical detoxy type symptoms, which most people experience to some degree.  By dinner time, Alice said she had gotten through it so it did pass quickly.

By Sunday, Alice started on her official food plan. She was a little shocked with her portion of vegetables in particular, thinking that it didn’t look like a lot. However, when married with her protein, she was surprised that it did indeed satisfy her. Monday was back into routine and a full day out of the house, and keeping up with hydration was tough (water intake is individually assigned on Metabolic Balance®). By Tuesday, there was a big turnaround and Alice said she felt a little bit ‘euphoric.’ One of the biggest wins on that day was noting the absence of consistent aches in the fingers and hands – a symptom that had bothered her for some time. This seemed to have disappeared and still today (Friday) had not been noted again at all. This is a good sign that systemic inflammation is beginning to correct itself with the right foods for the individual. Obviously, its not going to happen overnight, but it will slowly dissipate over many months. Symptoms improvement and weight release are signs that this is the case.

Alice had reported consistent bloating in her first consult and this came good pretty quickly into the plan. Usually, chickpeas are a major trigger for this, but even following a chickpea meal, the bloating wasn’t near as severe as usual. Alice thinks a big part of this comes down to meeting her actual hydration requirements. I believe as a practitioner a big reason for digestion improving is  ‘uncomplicated food’ and simple protein choices for the body.

Despite feeling less ‘fluidy’ and less ‘blah’ (we can all relate to those feelings can’t we), Alice said she had no expectations when it came to measuring. She knew things were going to take time and didn’t expect a huge change. A nice surprise when the scales reflected a weight loss of 2.0kg and a scan confirmed a loss of 1.63kg in body fat (the remainder was water weight). Her waist measurement was 2.5cm lower, directly over the belly button. Think about what this might mean to someone who has felt out of control of their body and their health for some time, not knowing what to do or how to help themselves, yet trying to do ‘all of the right things.’

One of the most significant and rewarding changes at this point would be quite a fast turnaround in Alice’s mood. Over the previous month she’d had some time off and she realised she’d stayed at home almost the entire time. Really hadn’t wanted to see anyone and had avoided doing anything…. Just felt blue. She said that she was feeling more like herself already and wished she had the time off all over again – to catch up with some loved ones and do some fun things. It’s so nice that some zest for life is coming back and obviously such an important aspect of health to monitor. Another clinical example of why nutrition is such an important consideration for mental health.

The foods Alice stuck with were really basic this week. Having to juggle this program, alongside a large family and full time study commitments, she didn’t get too adventurous. Creating some new meals and bringing in some other proteins will be the focus for week 2.

A good start to a journey. Everyone’s being unique.

Categories THYROID

THAT STUBBORN LITTLE THYROID….

I hear the same stories over and over again. This doesn’t make it any less saddening (for me) or any less frustrating (for you) but you should know that you aren’t alone.

That tiny little thyroid gland can cause oh so much trouble. You’re tired all the time. Constipated. Maybe you can’t ever remember feeling so blue. Your periods all over the place. It’s so darn cold all the time and what’s with my hair coming out in clumps? Meanwhile, the weight just keeps creeping on… and on… and on…. Not quickly, but still… no matter what you do, which gym you join, what diet you try…. next season, those jeans just don’t fit anymore.

So, this is a worst case scenario and one would hope you’d have found some help before all of these symptoms presented at once. But chances are,  if you’ve been diagnosed with an underactive thyroid gland you will relate to one or all of these presentations.

Like so many conditions, the important role of nutrition in both prevention and treatment, is overlooked. That’s ironic, considering some of the following key points:

  • The building blocks for your thyroid hormones T3 and T4 are iodine and tyrosine. Iodine is a mineral we get from some foods (via the soil and food fortification) and tyrosine is an amino acid found in proteins, mainly animal proteins. And when I say these are the building blocks, I mean that quite literally. T3 has 3 iodine molecules and T4 has 4 iodine molecules. So what you eat…. Directly impacts your thyroid hormones. Actually what you eat MAKES your thyroid hormones (again, ironic that we ignore the role of nutrition here….?)
  • Adequate zinc (also found in many protein rich foods) is needed because the enzyme converting T4 to T3 is a zinc dependent enzyme. Note that this HAS to happen. T4 on its own doesn’t do a whole lot in the body…. T3 is the ‘active’ thyroid hormone responsible for action. So if the conversion can’t happen… well the party aren’t starting!
  • Likewise selenium (also a mineral, found in nuts and seeds especially) is required for the conversion of T4 to T3 and finally
  • Other ‘co-factors’ like vitamin C and magnesium are necessary for the whole party to happen. And yes, we get these nutrients from food. Simple, whole foods.

I hope that this basic biochemistry lesson demonstrates how important it is to think about your nutrition in any hypothyroid journey. Even on medication, ensuring you have the right nutrients is important, especially if you still have some of the above symptoms. Having optimal levels of key nutrients may help the medication work much more effectively. Finally, if detected early enough, getting the raw ingredients right for the thyroid may mean avoiding a full blown hypothyroid diagnosis if left to struggle unsupported. And that’s definitely a win!

Think about your thyroid like a little engine. The right vitamins, minerals and amino acids are the premium engine oil. What would you throw in a BMW? Only the best so do the same for your own engine!

(Disclaimer: please do not self-prescribe supplements for thyroid health, in particular iodine. Always speak to your GP and consult a qualified Nutritionist for advice before supplementing).

When we throw in the whole ‘antibody’ angle, food becomes even more important. Some people with hypothyroidism will have antibodies i.e. autoimmune hypothyroidism like Hashimoto’s. Other’s won’t. In the case of autoimmune hypothyroidism the thyroid isn’t working properly because the immune system is going a little bit crazy and turning on its own self, in this case, its own thyroid gland. Research around food and antibody production in autoimmune conditions is extensive. Misinformation is even more extensive! If you believed everything you read about what ‘not’ to eat with autoimmune hypothyroidism… you’d be eating nothing! In allll seriousness!

The truth is, everyone’s going to be slightly different as far as what’s causing inflammation and what foods may be contributing to confusing the immune system. And food will only be a part of it, but definitely getting the diet right will make a significant difference. It can significantly reduce antibodies and make any autoimmune condition, particularly a thyroid autoimmune condition all that more manageable. It can definitely mean the difference between consistent weight gain and consistent weight loss. The beauty of Metabolic Balance® shines here, drilling down to the level of an individual to determine their perfect diet. This is where that story ‘I’ve tried everything and nothing works’ ends with relief.

“Metabolic Balance was by far the best thing I ever did for myself and my body. I had struggled for a year to try and drop weight and nothing worked, I also had a thyroid condition which left me feeling constantly run-down and sick. There was nothing more disheartening than doing everything ‘right’ and seeing no results and feeling like my body was working against me.

Within the first month of MB I noticed changes, I had started to lose weight, but more importantly I began to feel good about myself again. Doing the MB program has taught me so much, I no longer deprive my body of food to lose weight, or view exercise as something I ‘have’ to do. I now have a healthy relationship with food where I view it as something that fuels and nourishes my body. And I have learnt to appreciate exercise and working out, I am so lucky that I am able to work out! My only regret is that I didn’t contact Katie sooner and start my Metabolic Balance journey earlier!”

Katherine (thanks for sharing your story)

Categories THYROID

THYROID, IRON AND CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH

Thyroid Conditions

This may sound like a very ‘specific’ blog post and that’s because it is. It’s inspired by a few recent client cases who share similar pathology results, namely sub-optimal thyroid performance, compromised iron levels and undesirable cholesterol profiles. The relationship between these 3 markers is actually intertwined. Fixing one can not be done completely without fixing the others, so let’s take a ‘whole-istic’ look at how they interrelate. 

The Thyroid and Cardiovascular Health

Studies demonstrating the correlation between sub optimal thyroid function and poor cardiovascular health markers go back decades. A recent paper published in 2014 (1), compared 31 people with hypothyroidism and 58 controls (i.e. 58 people with healthy thyroids). 82% of those with hypothyroidism had metabolic syndrome* compared with 27% of those in the control group. Waist circumference, BMI and fasting triglycerides* were also higher in those with poor thyroid function. From studies like this, we can conclude that poor thyroid function can and does alter cardiovascular functions including:

  • blood pressure regulation
  • blood sugar regulation
  • serum triglycerides
  • HDL cholesterol (those with hypothyroidism tend to have significantly lower levels of HDL cholesterol – often referred to as ‘the good’ cholesterol.)

 

We don’t understand all of the intricacies between the thyroid and the cardiovascular system as yet. However, remember that the thyroid influences every cell in the body and essentially dictates the metabolism. With this in mind, it’s not difficult to imagine how thyroid health and cardiovascular health depend on each other to maintain normality.

[*Metabolic syndrome: a cluster of conditions that often go together indicating the development of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Includes high blood pressure, high blood triglycerides, insulin resistance, low HDL and higher than healthy waist circumference. A ‘wake up’ call to change the diet and lifestyle before more serious conditions arise. Triglycerides: level of ‘free fats’ floating around the blood essentially. Higher than normal levels indicate a higher risk of atherosclerosis i.e. plaque building up in the arteries raising the risk of stroke and heart attack]

Thyroid Function and Iron Levels

This relationship is a like the ‘chicken or the egg’ situation. Is it a sluggish thyroid that leads to poor iron levels or is it the other way round? I don’t see how we will ever know for sure and it most likely differs from person to person, however the two commonly present together. Here’s the deal.

  • Poor thyroid function can reduce the secretion of gastric acid and compromise digestion overall. This means mineral absorption including iron will be compromised which will lead to low iron levels and eventually anemia.
  • Iron is required as a co-factor for the production of thyroid hormones including T4 and T3. What this means essentially is that without optimal iron levels, T3 and T4 levels will not be adequate and TSH levels will rise above normal. This IS hypothyroidism.

So you can see how suboptimal thyroid performance can lead to iron deficiency and you can also see how iron deficiency may lead to hypothyroidism.

[My research for this article led me to an interesting study (2) examining Nepalese children. The paper showed a much higher (5 fold) risk of hypothyroidism in children with iron deficiency than those with normal iron levels. This highlights the importance of maternal nutrition during and after pregnancy as well as pediatric nutrition – a topic to be ‘parked’ for now as it would lead to far too many tangents.]

Iron and Cardiovascular Health

Iron is an important component of hemoglobin, which are the cells that carry oxygen around to other tissues in the body. Generally, when iron levels are sub optimal hemoglobin levels are also low. Can you imagine that your heart will need to work quite a bit harder in order to oxygenate your body without adequate hemoglobin levels? Consider the corresponding impact of this on your blood pressure too. This is the tip of the iceberg, simply to give you some indication of the relationship between iron and your ticker. The effects of low iron on cardiovascular health are much more extensive than this and well documented (3).

This Clinical Picture

Hopefully now, you can begin to understand why this picture presents itself so often in the one person. They are not separate problems to be dealt with singularly or one at a time. The ‘whole-istic’ approach acknowledges that they are intertwined and so must be the treatment.

You can imagine how this picture would feel in a person. Both low iron and sub-optimal thyroid leads to fatigue and even depression… add to this a stressed heart and poor blood oxygen levels and you can understand why getting out of bed everyday is equal to running a marathon. The weight can stack on (thanks to the thyroid) and this will further compromise cardiovascular health, raising triglyceride levels, increasing blood pressure and further compromising blood sugar control. The stress was bad before; its now insurmountable. Not to mention the colds and infections that hit every other week (low iron = compromised immune health).

So it’s probably not a picture one wants to ignore for long. It will get worst if it’s left untreated.

Who do you know that may fit this presentation? Pass this along to a loved one if you think it might help them in some way. Read more about nutrients and thyroid conditions here.

Nutrition hey? Who knew we were more than just the sum of a whole heap of parts? And who knew nutrients had anything to do with health?

[Note: a general pathology test is unlikely to cover full thyroid, iron and cardiovascular studies. One of these markers may be detected as abnormal, but it does not necessarily mean that more thorough testing will be run automatically. Most often this case presentation is ‘uncovered’ because the person is certain there is ‘something more’ as a result of the symptoms they are experiencing. ]

  1. R Haque, S Ferdousi, SS Ferdousi, W Rahman, MN Uddin, MM Hoque, (2014). ‘Metabolic Syndrome in Hypothyroid Patients’ Bangladesh Journal of Medical Biochemistry.DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3329/bjmb.v7i2.22414
  2. Saroj Khatiwada, Basanta GelalNirmal Baraland Madhab Lamsal. (2016). ‘Association between iron status and thyroid function in Nepalese children.’ Thyroid Research. DOI: 10.1186/s13044-016-0031-0
  3. Nikita Hegde, MD, Michael W. Rich, MD, and Charina Gayomali, MD. (2006).  ‘The Cardiomyopathy of Iron Deficiency.’ Texas Heart Institute Journal. Availablehere: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1592266/