Despite What Your Doctor Says, Your Thyroid Might Not Be Functioning Normally

Throat pain

 

You have been experiencing thyroid symptoms, yet your Doctor told you your TSH was within a normal range.

Now what?

Now it’s time to find a Doctor who will request a FULL thyroid panel, including thyroid antibodies. This will give you and your care provider a more complete picture as to what is going on. 

Although Western medical Doctors including endocrinologists might not be educated on this (they are trained to prescribe medication rather than addressing and healing the root cause). They typically test your TSH level and it if falls within one particular range (usually 4.0 or under), they will tell you your thyroid is functioning in a normal range. However, you might still be struggling, and your thyroid might not be functioning optimally. People with TSH’s of higher than 1.5 can show symptoms of thyroid dysfunction.

What are some of the symptoms of thyroid dysfunction?

*Fatigue

*Weight gain or inability to lose weight

*Cold hands and feet (poor circulation)

*Depression

*Constipation

*Digestive problems

*Itchy dry skin

*Thinning in the outer third of the eyebrows

*Hair falls out easily

*Heart palpitations

*Inward trembling

*Insomnia

*Night sweats

*Difficulty gaining weight

There are more thorough tests besides TSH alone that can give real answers. There are lifestyle and dietary changes that you can make to help support the health of your thyroid. It is important to find a care provider who understands the affect your diet and lifestyle have on the the health of your thyroid, and are willing to work with you to make these necessary changes.

This first piece is just to describe the full-panel and what it means. In subsequent pieces, I will address some lifestyle and nutritional changes you can make to help support your thyroid. There are many factors that come into play, such as diet, health of your gut, exposure to toxins, hormones, and stress levels. There are natural ways to support thyroid function and stop further destruction of this delicate endocrine organ. It is important to work with a practitioner who understands the complexity and balancing act, and works with you and your bio-individual needs.

 

What is a full-thyroid panel?

Scientist Placing Test Tube In TraySource: Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms When My Lab Tests are Normal, Daris Kharrazian, 2010

TSH:

TSH is thyroid stimulating hormone or thyrotropin. It is a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland. Testing TSH levels is the standard that most endocrinologists use in determining thyroid function. However, your TSH could be considered “normal” by your Doctor, and you get told your thyroid is fine. However, you’re still experiencing thyroid symptoms, right? TSH alone does not give all the answers. This test fails to account for a host of other factors. Mine was in the “normal” range according the endocrinologist. However, it was actually in a higher range than I would have liked to see (the standard for what is considered normal at 4.0 or lower is questionable). Many people with a TSH in the higher end of that range are feeling pretty lousy, yet still told their thyroid is normal. I also had thyroid antibodies that the first Doctor did not test me for (more on antibodies below).

 

Total Thyroxine (TT4):

Measures both bound and unbound T4 levels. Thyroid hormones travel through the bloodstream bound to proteins fore they are released to enter the cells and thus becoming unbound.

 

Free Thyroxine Index (FTI):

Total T4 and T3 Uptake considered together, measures activity of free or unbound T4. Free Thyroxine Index should be within a normal range if thyroid is functioning properly.

 

Free T4 (FT4)

Measures the amount of free or active T4 in the blood. Factors that impact TT4 will NOT impact FT4. FT4 is high with hyperthyroidism and low with hypothyroidism.

 

Free T3 (FT3)

Measures free T3 hormone and is the best indicator for measuring active thyroid hormones available to receptor sites. This test is rarely requested in conventional western medicine, and gives a great deal of info as to what is going on.

 

Reverse T3 (RT3)

Measures the amount of reverse T3 produced. This test helps with determining if high cortisol/stress/adrenals are playing a role in affecting thyroid function. Increased production of T3 is due to inability to clear reverse T3 and from high cortisol.

 

Thyroid Binding Globulin (TBG)

Measures the amount of proteins in the blood that carry thyroid hormones to the cells. Elevated Testosterone and Estrogen can cause a change in the TBG, thus producing hypothyroid symptoms.

 

Thyroid Antibodies:

I made this one the biggest. One thing I will never understand is WHY Doctors fail to check antibodies for the thyroid. Most people with thyroid issues have undiagnosed Hashimotos (Autoimmune Thyroid). If the TSH level is high (by western medical standards), the individual may be put on a synthetic thyroid hormone replacement (usually T4 only). If it’s not high, the person may struggle with symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, hormone issues, and mental health issues for years and never get a diagnosis. Meanwhile, their thyroid is being attacked by their own body. Thyroid antibodies means that the bodies own immune system is attacking the thyroid. This is true for both hyper and hypo autoimmune thyroid. This is an autoimmune condition, meaning the individual needs to make huge lifestyle/dietary changes in order to stop the attack on their own thyroid. Most western Medical Doctors fail to recognize this, and will wait until the thyroid stops functioning or in some cases even needs to be removed. Thyroid antibodies in the blood indicate a positive autoimmune thyroid condition. Make sure to request having your thyroid antibodies checked.

 

I was told I had thyroid antibodies by a receptionist, who said my thyroid was fine now (because my TSH was under 4.0). She said once my thyroid stopped functioning at an “ideal” (according to their standards) level, they would put me on a medication. In the meantime, it is expected that I would just struggle with weight gain, fatigue, and mood changes that go along with the swings between hypo and hyper thyroid as the body is attacking itself. Through my own intense research I was able to find answers and change the course of my life. It is my goal to help as many people as possible to stop struggling and to find the right answers. As a Nutritional Therapist, I work with my clients to heal their gut and stop the autoimmune attack on the thyroid.

 

My take-home message is to always be your own advocate. You may need to switch care providers, and do a lot of work yourself. In subsequent posts I will discuss lifestyle changes and ways to support the health of your thyroid. I will also share some good gut healing protocols that I support my clients through.

Get a free nutritional therapy consultation

 

About Me:

About Kathryn:

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Kathryn Kos is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP)  through The Nutritional Therapy Association, and a Certified Lactation Educator/Counselor through The University of San Diego. Her undergraduate degree is in Movement Science from Westfield State College. Her Master’s degree is in Rehabilitation Counseling from Springfield College. She specialize in healing digestion, balancing blood sugar, balancing hormones, autoimmune conditions, weight loss, and feeding infants and children.

“My own health struggles occurred through years of following mainstream western nutritional advice led me down this path. I was eating what I thought was a very healthy diet (following conventional medical advice). However, I was struggling with feeling good inside and out. I ended up being diagnosed with several Autoimmune Conditions. I was having horrible gall bladder attacks and living on antacids. My thyroid was enlarged, and I struggled with anxiety and insomnia. My endocrinologist wanted to wait until my thyroid stopped functioning, and put me on a medication. That was the only solution offered. Doctors wanted to put me on medications. My philosophy is to find and heal the root cause of the problem, rather than fix the symptoms by taking a medication or removing an organ.Through my own intense research, I began my real food journey. My health changed drastically and my autoimmune markers went way down. I started to feel amazing and wanted to share my experience on a big level. I am so excited to share my knowledge with you!  I am dedicated to helping you realize what your bio-individual nutrition needs are, and giving you the tools to make positive changes in your life!”

-Kathryn Kos, NTP

Kathryn sees clients worldwide through skype and google hangouts!

Contact Kathryn to schedule a free phone consultation:

(518) 260-9749

primalblissnutrition@gmail.com 

My Thoughts on Practical Paleo by: Diane Sanfilippo, BS, NC

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Often times I get asked what books I recommend for starting someone who is just starting out on a paleo or primal journey. It can seem overwhelming to take the first few steps, and having a good guide makes all the difference in the world.

I am excited to write about Practical Paleo because this book has literally been a lifesaver for me! Practical Paleo is not only a cookbook with easy to follow recipes and beautiful pictures, it also explains the premise behind the paleo lifestyle. It is simple and easy to use.

Diane Sanfilippo starts the introduction by sharing her own personal experiences with eating the standard American diet (SAD) and the effect it had on her. She explains how grains were hurting her, and the positive changes that happened in her life after switching to the paleo lifestyle.

In the first part of Practical Paleo Diane explains what paleo is and how to make it work for you. She writes out in two columns what foods to eat, and what foods to eliminate when starting out. Following this chart are several guides;  a guide to paleo foods, what to stock your pantry with, and a guide to food quality that explains how to read labels. If you are on a budget she explains what your priorities should be! Diane also includes special notes about common food allergens throughout the book.

The section following this explains how to navigate going out to eat on a paleo diet. This is helpful because she even lists some restaurant chains  that have separate gluten free menus. Diane teaches what questions to ask at the restaurant so you can make the best possible choices but still enjoy your experience eating out! I found this section to be extremely helpful as I have celiac disease and cross contamination at restaurants can make me very sick.

The next section explains every part of the digestive system, what can go wrong, why, and how to fix it. Diane lists all the chronic inflammatory conditions that are related to poor digestive function. My favorite part of this section is  the “poop pageant!”  It’s a guide to understanding your poop with pictures. Did you ever wonder about your poop? Now you will understand what is going and some changes you can make to have normal poop…hahaha!

In the next section of Practical Paleo Diane thoroughly explains the concept of “leaky gut” and includes a guide to healing your gut. This section is important for anyone diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, or anyone dealing with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, asthma, celiacs, bowel diseases, mood disorders, lupus, heart disease…the list goes on and on.

Then there is a big section on blood sugar and carbohydrates-this section (the most helpful one in my case) includes a guide to dense sources of paleo carbohydates and a guide to sweeteners. This section helped me the most as I gained an understanding of why I would feel “shaky” between meals prior to going primal, and why I was hungry so frequently. Diane explains how to get off the “blood sugar roller coaster.” I had a bunch of “aha” moments while reading this section, and it really changed the way I viewed my own eating habits and health. I always assumed I had low blood sugar and needed to eat frequently. I now rarely feel hungry or shaky and don’t snack nearly as much. Thanks to Practical Paleo I am off the blood sugar roller coaster!

The first part of Practical Paleo ends with a bunch of frequently asked questions and the answers to these questions. Diane covers alcohol consumption, coffee, cholesterol, FODMAPS, nightshades and more.

The second part of Practical Paleo contains different 30 day meal plans. There is a meal plan tailored to support autoimmune conditions, digestive health, blood-sugar regulation, thyroid health, cancer recovery, heart health, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, fat loss, athletic performance, and general health. All the recipes for the meal plans are included in the book! How awesome is that?!

Following the 30 day meal plans are the recipes. Practical Paleo is filled with grain, soy, and legume free recipes that have beautiful pictures. My kids LOVE the pumpkin pancake recipe and they are very easy to make with simple ingredients. Other favorites in our house include the spaghetti squash bolognese and the apple streusel egg muffins.

Following the recipes are tear out guides! Practical Paleo contains a guide to stocking your pantry that you can actually take to the grocery store with you. There is a guide to fats and oils, sweeteners, sources of carbohydrates, and a guide to gluten that includes the most common sources of hidden gluten! If you do not want to tear them out of your book, or purchase the kindle edition, these guides are available on-line HERE.

If you are even considering changing your lifestyle to a healthier and happier one, I cannot recommend Practical Paleo enough. It is worth every penny! It also makes a great gift 🙂 Just read through some of the reviews on amazon, and you will be sold!

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Over the next couple weeks I will review some other great books for starting out on a paleo/primal journey, the next one being  Well-Fed!

 

 

 

Grains are not a food group!

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There is a misconception out there that by eating “primal” or “paleo” you are on this diet that cuts out a “major food group”. First of all, primal eating is lifestyle…it is not a fad diet. Grains are not a food group! Eating primal does not mean eating “low carb.” It is not the same thing as Atkins. In fact, our bodies do need carbohydrates. We just don’t need the excessive amount we consume when we eat processed foods and grains. We need way less than we are accustomed too, and the amount we need varies based on our level of physical activity. So what exactly does primal/paleo/ancestral eating mean? It simply means eating real food. We are so far removed from what real food is in our culture that some of us have no idea where to start. Real food does not come in a box/package or have a label on it. It has not been chemically processed or altered.

Before eating this way I was eating what I *thought was a healthy diet.  Almost everyday I ate almond butter and honey sandwiches on 100% sprouted grain bread, pasta, beans, legumes…I avoided most animal products. I also did not feel good. I was having gallbladder attacks. I was anxious. My hair was falling out. I was diagnosed with autoimmune diseases. After a year of slowly converting to primal eating, my autoimmune “markers” are now very low, and I feel amazing!  My health has improved dramatically and I will never go back. I’ve discussed my autoimmune thyroid (which is related to grain and soy consumption) and plan to talk more on autoimmunity in subsequent posts. I’m feeling really good these days 🙂

Why do I avoid grains? On top of experiencing all I said above, I was having issues with unstable blood sugar. I was consuming most of my calories from “whole wheat” bread, and I thought I was eating healthy. However, I was having a ton of health issues that were snowballing and I was not in a good place. Something was wrong. When I cut gluten out I started to feel much better, but still dealt with blood sugar spikes and plummets, as well as hormonal issues. Now that I avoid grains, my blood sugar is stable and I feel at my best. It feels great to actually wake up every morning feeling healthy and strong. I no longer have brain fog. I feel happy. My hormones are balanced.

This link and this link were helpful in understanding some of the blood sugar/gluten issues:

“The paleo diet is not Atkins, nor is it zero-carb. The best research I can find shows that modern hunter-gatherers get perhaps 1/3 of their calories from carbohydrate, and Paleolithic hunter-gatherers somewhat less. This means vegetables, including root starches like sweet potatoes: grains were not a meaningful part of the human diet until agriculture, of which the earliest evidence is only 12,000 years ago. (This is a tautology: agriculture defines the transition from Paleolithic to Neolithic.)”

My hope is that people will do their own research and keep an open mind. I am a mom of 2 young boys, and want to feed them real food. I deal with a ton of negativity and questioning from people, but I plow on because I know I am doing what is best for us. One thing I don’t do is “preach to the choir”. I don’t judge other people for their food choices, I don’t try to change what my family or friends eat.  If someone asks me or questions me I do my best to explain my choice without being pushy. Here is an article I found helpful when dealing with family/friends who question your choices. What I have learned through the years is to limit your arguing…keep answers short and sweet, change the subject.

It makes such a difference in your life when your body just feels right. I network with many different paleo/primal people and belong to several different groups where we all learn from each other. I learn new things everyday. I’m sure some of it will change, but the basics remain the same. I am passionate about sharing my knowledge, and I really have no other motives.

So what exactly do I eat?

I eat pastured meats. Pastured simply means that the animal is out eating its natural diet. So cows eat grass. Chickens eat bugs. Not only is the animal happier, but the health benefit of pastured meats are huge. The animal is not couped or caged all the time and fed genetically modified feed (soybeans, corn, wheat to name a few).  I buy from the local Farmer’s Market. Some farmers will give discounts, and there are cheaper cuts available that are just as nutrient rich as fancy cuts, some even more so. I take my kids to visit the farms and get to know the farmers. Organ meats are very inexpensive and are extremely nutrient dense. Farmers sell all different cuts of meat-heart, liver, tongue, soup bones, you name it! You can also purchase a ¼ cow, ½ cow or a whole cow if you have a deep freezer. Sometimes friends will “split a cow”. It is cost effective and the meat can get you through several months. I also eat applegate farms deli meats, and occasionally buy meats at Trader Joe’s.

This is helpful

I eat grass-fed dairy (I am a sucker for kerrygold cheese). Dairy can be an issue for many people. The protein casein is large in molecular structure and can be hard on the gut. I react to dairy. I make the choice to occasionally eat it and pay the price.

I eat wild caught fish and seafood. I was never a fish person in the past. I actually just started eating and enjoying sardines (I am amazed at how much I enjoy the taste of real food after cleansing my body of processed foods). My kids like salmon so I try to make it for them at least once a week.

I eat pastured eggs- chickens are not vegetarians. They are omnivores-they love bugs! Pastured eggs are not the same as “cage free” or “vegetarian fed” eggs. I had a hard time finding them, and now purchase them at the farmer’s market as well.

This is helpful in understanding eggs!

I eat a ton of vegetables/fruit daily (mostly vegetables): avocados, garlic, herbs, apples, berries, carrots, greens of all sorts, bananas, parsnips, turnips, kale, beets, brussel sprouts, broccoli, spinach, salad greens, cauliflower, oranges…it changes based on the season. I stick with “the dirty dozen” when it comes to buying organic.

I don’t fear fat at all. You shouldn’t either.

I cook with coconut oil, ghee (OMGhee is my favorite) grass-fed butter (kerrygold is a good brand), tallow, and lard.  I use olive oil for cold uses. I do not limit my fat intake. This chart is helpful in explaining which fats to use and which to avoid.

I bake with coconut flour, coconut oil, tapioca starch, arrowroot flour, and almond meal.

I also snack on nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, healthy meat sticks (not slim jims), seaweed, sardines,  lara bars, veggies

There are a bunch of fabulous blogs/FB pages that I follow. Some are educational and others share tons of awesome recipes!

Here are some of my personal favorites:

www.nomnompaleo.com

www.balancedbites.com

www.everydaypaleo.com

www.facebook.com/justeatrealfood

www.marksdailyapple.com

http://chriskresser.com/

www.robbwolf.com

www.primaltoad.com

www.paleononpaleo.com

www.againstallgrains.com

*Some of the staples I load my pantry with for baking are coconut milk, coconut flour, tapioca starch, arrowroot, coconut oil, almond meal, enjoy life (GF/DF) chocolate chips, bourbon vanilla, frozen blueberries (I go blueberry picking during the summer and freeze pounds of them).

As I’ve said in the past I am not 100% and I am far from perfect. If you try to be, you will drive yourself batty and won’t enjoy your life. We live in a culture that is very much attached to grains, and that makes this lifestyle difficult without support. It’s not impossible…just difficult. It is important to reach out for support and take baby steps. I have good days and bad days. There are days when I stare at the fridge and think “what the heck am I going to make today?” I always figure it out and I am learning how to think outside the box! Scrambled eggs mixed with ground beef and seasonings tossed over salad greens makes an excellent meal. I found that by “liking” primal/paleo FB pages your newsfeed gets filled with awesome recipes to try, tips, and helpful information.

I started out by just cutting out gluten. That to me is a huge step. Then when I noticed the amazing positive changes I slowly converted to eating less and less processed foods. I still get the occasional gluten free sugary treat. I always feel lousy afterward, but once in awhile I do it anyway. I also like to have a gluten free beer in the summertime, and enjoy drinking wine with my friends. My weakness is dark chocolate-I try to find the darkest and lowest in sugar available.

I hope this helps, feel free to ask away if you have questions and I will try to point you in the right direction!

 

 

 

* Please note: This is a personal blog. I am not a Doctor or a Dietician. All data and information provided on this site is for informational/educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitution for professional medical advice.