- Extreme fatigue (even after sleeping 8 hours a night)
- Weight gain or inability to lose weight
- Mood swings, anxiety or depression
- Irregular periods
- Muscle pain
- Constantly feeling cold
- Dry skin
- Hair thinning or loss
- Brain fog and lack of concentration
Any of these symptoms sound familiar?
Nearly 30 million Americans suffer from thyroid issues, and about 60% of those people are unaware of their condition. That means millions of people are slogging through life, tired all the time while attributing it to nothing in particular.
Not to say if you feel any of these symptoms that it’s directly related to a thyroid issue, and you should always talk to your doctor and get tested before assuming anything. But the numbers are pretty crazy, right? Many people feel generally crappy and think it’s normal.
But we’re supposed to feel good everyday, guys! We’re supposed to wake up with lots of energy and a clear mind. And when we don’t, there are many things to consider. Maybe it’s due to a couple days of eating junk, a few nights of bad sleep, or plain ole stress.
But what if we’re doing everything right?
That’s how I felt. My diet hadn’t changed. I was active enough, taking the dog for an hour-long walk daily. I was stressed with work, but nothing I hadn’t handled before. Yet I was steadily gaining weight, felt a crippling level of anxiety everyday, was in a constant brain fog, and had trouble getting out of bed after sleeping up to 10 hours.
So when I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease and found out my thyroid had been affected as well, I was somewhat relieved. A bummer for sure, as if one alone wasn’t fun enough right, but at least I had some answers for why I was feeling so abnormal. Turns out many people who have untreated Lyme develop an underactive thyroid.
The thyroid gland runs the ship when it comes to our metabolism. It produces several hormones, and there are two in particular to note: T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). These regulate growth and metabolism. They help our cells convert calories and oxygen into energy, and work to increase our Basal Metabolic Rate (the amount of energy we burn sitting still).
Then there’s the TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone), which is produced by the pituitary gland and stimulates production of our T3 and T4 hormones. There are a few things this process relies on, including Vitamin D and iodine, and when everything is working swimmingly convert protein, carbs and fat into energy. But when our thyroids aren’t running optimally, neither are we.
A blood test can tell you if you have a thyroid issue. When my levels were tested, my TSH had jumped from a 1.6 (normal) to a 4.8, which could be considered in the hypothyroidism range. Different doctors will treat these levels differently, plus there are the T3 and T4 levels to consider. My doctor will typically treat a TSH over 4.5, but others may not treat below a 5. Since we’re treating the Lyme first, we want to wait to see if my levels go back down before going on medication. More on my protocol in a minute.
Hypothyroidism vs. Hyperthyroidism
Hypothyroidism = under-active thyroid. The thyroid gland isn’t making enough of either one of or both T3/T4 hormones.
Hyperthyroidism = overactive thyroid. The thyroid gland is making more hormones than you need, which causes the metabolism to speed up.
Diagnosis and treatment varies for both types, so talk to your doctor. I’d suggest an open-minded doctor who is willing to look at multiple factors including your symptoms, blood test results (a full thyroid panel) and your body temperature.
To be honest, I’ve been feeling really confused and frustrated about my thyroid. This is all a work in progress. Even with the help of a doctor, it’s an overwhelming thing to tackle. Since my levels are not insanely high and the root cause is likely the Lyme, I’m hesitant to automatically start a medication like Synthroid. On the other hand, I’ve been making a conscious effort in choices to support thyroid health and still am not feeling much better. So perhaps medication could help me return to some form of normalcy?
I’ll get my levels tested again soon and see where I am, and in the meantime continue with the protocol my doctor gave me. I also just ordered The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution by Aviva Romm, M.D., so I’ll keep you posted on insights there.
Diet: Cut gluten, dairy, soy, grains, corn, and eat organic as much as possible to avoid toxins. There are also certain foods that are known to support thyroid health, and some that can trigger issues.
Best foods for Hypothyroidism:
- Goji berries
- Coconut oil
- Coconut butter
- Leafy greens
- Brazil nuts
- Wild salmon
- Red peppers
Worst foods for Hypothyroidism:
- Raw cruciferous vegetables (kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc.) – though not as harmful when cooked as they’re easier to digest.
- High mercury fish (swordfish, ahi tuna, bigeye tuna, etc.)
- Artificial sweeteners
Apparently fluoride and chlorine are also not great for thyroid health. So things like toothpaste and tap water should be considered. There are certain filters that can be used on kitchen sinks and even in the shower.
Supplements: Thorne Thyrocsin (twice a day), Unda #3, #50 and #243 (8 drops twice a day of each). These legitimately taste like I’m taking a shot of Dubra and each time I feel like I’m in college again.
Managing stress: meditation, yoga, quality sleep and exercise. Low-intensity, aerobic exercise can stimulate hormone production.
The best we can do is experiment to figure out what works best for our own bods, you know? If you’re struggling with a thyroid issue, I feel you. You’re not alone! And if you don’t know where to start, take it one day at a time. If you’re looking for nutrition tips and recommendations, check out The Simple Cleanse. Pop your email in below and we’ll send it you for free.
Have you struggled with a thyroid disease or issue? Let me know in the comments so we can learn from each other!
Also published on Medium.