Whether you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism and given medication or you have a borderline thyroid problem and are not medicated, the effects can be hard to bear. Weight gain, hair loss, constipation and depression are just some of the side effects of an underactive thyroid.
Fortunately, with specialist nutritional help, you could do a lot to improve your symptoms
- Lose weight
- Lift your mood
- Banish constipation
- Stop and even reverse hair loss
I have helped many people with hypothyroid take back control of their bodies. I do this with a two pronged approach.
- Hypothyroid Weightloss Food Plan.This is tailored to you with foods that you enjoy. Whether you love to cook, travel a great deal, or have to eat on the go, I can help you eat the right foods to boost your thyroid.
- Hypnotherapy to help you stick to it.Making any change to your diet is hard. It is tempting to fall back into old patterns. A course of 1 to 1 hypnotherapy can help banish cravings, get rid of bad habits and motivate you to stick to your new plan.
So why not come in and see me for a FREE Initial Assessment to discuss how I can help you
WHAT IS HYPOTHYROIDISM AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT
Hypothyroidism is the term used to describe a condition in which your thyroid gland is under-active. Usually this is because you are not producing enough of the thyroid hormone Thyroxine although as there are actually a number of different thyroid hormones it can also result from faulty conversion of one to another
HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M HYPOTHYROID?
Cold hands and feet
All these symptoms can be caused by other conditions, so hypothyroid is often not diagnosed.
WHO GETS HYPOTHYROID?
It is far more common in women, especially those over 40, than in men. Approximately 1 in 50 women will develope hypothyroidism and 1 in 1000 men.
WHAT CAUSES HYPOTHYROID?
The most common cause is an auto-immune disorder where the body attacks its own cells. In autoimmune thyroiditics, your body makes antibodies that attach to your thyroid gland, stopping it from working properly.
Hypothyroidism may also be caused by:
- Iodine deficiency
- Side effect of some meds, notably lithium
- Radiation treatment
- A problem with the pituitary gland. The pituitary produces a hormone called Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) and if it fails to do this, the thyroid won’t work properly.
You are more likely to be hypothyroid if:
- You have a family history i.e. another member of your family has been diagnosed with hypothyroidism.
- Have a family history of another autoimmune disorder such as vitiligo, Addisons disease, diabetes, coeliac disease or Sjorgren’s syndrome.
- You have Downs Syndromr. 1 in 3 people with Downs will develop hypothyroidism.#
- You have Turner syndrome.
- You have a large thryoid gland (diffuse goitre).
- You have suffered from Graves Disease or thyroiditis following childbirth
COMPLICATIONS CAUSED BY HYPOTHYROIDISM
- High cholesterol. Hypothyroid causes a rise in fats circulating in the blood. This may be a risk factor for heart disease. Your doctor may prescibe a statin.
- Coeliac disease. People who are hypothyroid are more likely to also be coeliac. If you have digestive symptoms, pain or see blood in your stools, consult your doctor.
- Pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. Women who are hypothyroid are more likely to develop pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia, anaemia, low birth weight and still birth.
HOW DO YOU TEST FOR HYPOTHYROIDISM?
With a blood test. The levels of two hormones are usually checked: TSH and T4.
HOW TO UNDERSTAND YOUR THYROID TEST RESULTS
Many doctors still only test TSH and thyroxine (T4) The reference ranges for what are considered ‘normal’ levels of these hormoned are also quite wide, so if your doctor tells you you are fine and you don’t feel it, you may need to request more detailed tests.
Low TSH (less than 0.1) – over-active thyroid
Normal TSH (0.1 – 2): normal thyroid function
High TSH (more than 2)– possible hypothyroidism
High – possible over-active thyroid
Low – possible hypothroid.
These are tests that measure not just thyroxine (T4) and TSH, but levels of other thyroid hormones
TT4 AND FT4
There are actually two forms of thyroxine (T4), an active and an inactive form. Usually only total T4 (recorded on your test as TT4) is measured. But only the free form (FT4) is really important for thyroid function. If a doctor only tests yourTT4 and not your FT4 as well, your TT4 may come back ‘normal’ which may mask the fact that the FT4 is actually low, so your thyroid is still under-active.
TT3 AND FT3
There is another hormone called Triiodothyronine (T3) which T4 converts into for the thryoid to function. A problem with this conversion is not that uncommon. Again, T3 can be active or inactive. If your doctor just measures total T3 (recorded as TT3 on your test), this could hide the fact that free T3 (FT3) is low and you are hypothyroid. You can have your inactive T3 checked and this is described on tests as RT3 on your test results (Reverse Triiodothyronine).
If hypothyroid is suspected, it is also possible to test for two antibodies: Thyroperoxidase antibodies (TPOAb) and Antithyroglobulin Antibodies (TgAb). Raised levels of these antibodies can confirm hypothyroidism.
WHAT TIME YOU TAKE YOUR TEST MATTERS
Recent research suggests that levels of TSH vary depending on the time of day. TSH peaks during the night and dips in the afternoon. Tests should therefore be taken in the morning.
HIGH TSH AND NORMAL T3 AND T4 BUT STILL FEEL BAD?
There is a phenomenon called ‘Thyroid Hormone Resistance’. This osccurs when the thyroid cannot respond the the hormonal messages it receives. In this case, you may ‘feel’ hypothyroid, but your tests still come back with High TSH and hormal T3 AND T4. You may even be diagnosed as hyperthyroid, as in over-active thyroid.
WHAT IF MY DOCTOR STILL SAYS MY THYROID IS NORMAL, BUT I FEEL BAD?
As I have said, the reference range of ‘normal’ thyroid function in the UK is wide. However, there could be other reasons why your thyroid doesn’t appear to be working too well, that don’t register on thyroid tests. These include:
- Stress. This puts pressure on the adrenal glands, which may begin to show signs of adrenal stress. This can knock on to thyroid function, depressing it.
- Oestrogen dominance. All the hormonal systems in the body are linked and if you are a woman whose oestrogen level is too high, this can unbalance the thryoid too.
- Menopause. Low oestrogen, as at the menopause, can be accompanied by an under-active thyroid.
WHAT TREATMENT WILL I BE OFFERED FOR HYPOTHYROID?
Usually, you will be given thyroid hormone tablets to take daily. The dose may start low and gradually be increased with regular blood tests to ensure the right does is reached and not exceeded. This treatment will continue for life
Adults: 50 – 150 micrograms daily
Those over 60 or in the early stages of pregnancy may be given a lower dose.
GETTING THE MOST FROM YOUR THYROID MEDS
You should take your tablets on an empty stomach before breakfast. This is because food rich in calcium (such as milk, yoghurt and cheese) and iron (such as red meat) may block the absorption of your medication. For this reason, you should also avoid iron or calcium tablets, or if advised to take them by a doctor, take them at a different time of day
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP YOURSELF
While there is no ‘cure’ for hypothyroidism, you can do a lot to improve the way you feel and look. Many people gain a lot of weight when their thyroid stops working efficiently as it slows metabolism. While they may expect this excess weight to drop off again after diagnosis and being given thyroxine, this doesn’t alwas happen. This can be really frustrating.
Other symptoms, such as hair loss, tiredness and poor memory may also persist.
HOW TO LOSE WEGHT WITH HYPOTHYROID
There is no doubt that is is more difficult to shift excess weight if you are hypothyroid. The reasons are:
- The thyroid controls metabolic rate, that is the speed with which you burn calories, so it can cause weight gain
- Hypothyroidism is also associated with depression and this can lead to comfort eating and sugar cravings.
But, don’t give up. You can lose weight, despite your hypothyroid. First foods you should avoid:
HYPOTHYROID FOODS TO AVOID
- Goitregens. Thesea are foods that are contains compounds that block thyroxine action, either that produced naturally or taken as medications. They include:
- Soy (milk, yoghurt, tofu, soy sauce) Miso, tempeh and natto are traditional fermented soy products and these do not appear to affet thyroxine so may be eaten.
- Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and kale unless well-cooked. You may think you don’t each much raw broccoli, but you may eat coleslaw (raw cabbage). Don’t.
- Gluten. Gluten is the protein in many grains, especially wheat. Although not a problem for everyone with hypothyroid, for some gluten can trigger auto-immune reactions which may depress the thryoid. Try non-gluten grains such as oats and buckwheat instead.
- Nightshade vegetables (aubergine, tomato, potato, cucumber). These are a common source of food intolerance which may be more common in those with hypothyroid.
HYPOTHYROID WEIGHTLOSS FOODS
The key to losing weight for everyone is to consume fewer calories than you burn, so choosing lower calorie foods (fresh vegetables, lean meats and fish) are the basis for a hypothryoid weightloss diet, as with any slimming plan.
However, there are certain foods that are especially good for those with hypothyroid:
- Foods containing iodine as this boosts thyroid function. These include natural seaweeds like kelp, dulce and nori (the green wrapper round sushi). Or you can buy dried nori sheeds and crumble them over a salad or into a soup yourself. You should avoid kelp tablets, especially if you are on thyroid medication. in case these speed up your thyroid too much.
- Foods containing the amino acid tyrosine as this may boost thyroid function. Lean meat and fish, low fat dairy and eggs are all good options. Including more protein may also improve help to reduce hair loss as we need protein to ‘make’ hair.
- Foods containing healthy fats as these are anti-inflammatory. Auto-immune thryroiditis is an inflammatory condition. Choose oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines), nuts, seeds and avocado. Healthy fats may also help lift depression and so reduce comfort eating.
- Foods containing selenium, as this is important for the thyroid. Brazil nuts are high in selenium.
- Foods containing B vitamins such as whole grains and green, leafy vegetables. These may help increase energy. Tiredness is a well-known effect of hypothyroid.
Being hypothyroid can also result in vitmain and mineral deficiencies which can affect your health in other ways. These include:
Vitamin B1. B2, B3, B6, B12
So it may be helpful to take a multi-vitamin and mineral tablet.
For more information on hypothyroid, you might find the following websites helpful:
Author: Lowri Turner
For a more detailed Hypothyroid Weightloss Food Plan, designed individually for you, you can make an appointment for a FREE Initial Assessment with Lowri Turner by going to www.lowriturner.co.uk/appointments.