When determining if you have a thyroid function disorder you must get the right testing done. First, you must identify and consider all of those factors I wrote about in the last article as primary insults to the thyroid and resolve them. Direct nutritional support of the thyroid is often secondary to long term resolution of thyroid problems. Find the cause of the thyroid problem, don’t just treat the symptoms of thyroid disease. This is so important, and I can’t stress it enough. Everyone is different and so there are many causes of dis-ease to the body including your hormones.
A real-life case
Patient: Female, 38-years-old on Synthroid.
Her medication was not working, and she was still having signs of low thyroid. All nutrients failed to make a difference. The patient relayed that she was following a healthy diet but after reviewing her diet, I noticed she was eating a lot of soy. After she stopped all use of soy products, all symptoms of low thyroid improved, including her hot flashes and her need for Synthroid. She was eating breakfast bars, meal replacement shakes, using salad dressings, and snacks all that contained soy. Since her primary source of protein was soy this was an easier case to help. Lesson? Totally avoid soy.
The Asian Theory: Asians have lower incidence of breast, prostate and colon cancer. Can this be attributed to soy consumption? They also have higher incidence of esophagus, stomach, thyroid, pancreas and liver cancers. Can this be attributed to soy consumption? Asians typically consume 10 grams per person, less than two teaspoons.
“Soy Prevents Osteoporosis”
Truth: Soy blocks the absorption of minerals via a high Phytic Acid content.
“Hot Flash Relief”
Truth: Soy is a hormone modifier.
In 1992, the Swiss health service estimated that 100 grams of soy protein provided the estrogenic equivalent of a birth control pill. Soy can actually cause hot flashes. We have had many patients relieve their hot flashes by avoiding soy.
Soy and Thyroid Function
Soy contains goitrogens - substances that depress thyroid function. In 1997, researchers from the FDA's National Center for Toxicological Research made the discovery that the goitrogenic components of soy were the very same isoflavones that are supposed to be so good for us.
25 grams of soy protein isolate contains from 50 to 70 mg of isoflavones the minimum amount claimed to have cholesterol-lowering effects. It took only 45 mg of isoflavones in premenopausal women to exert significant biological effects, including a reduction in hormones needed for adequate thyroid function. These effects lingered for three months after soy consumption was discontinued.
[Cassidy, A. et al., "Biological Effects of a Diet of Soy Protein Rich in Isoflavones on the Menstrual Cycle of Premenopausal Women,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1994) 60:333-340.]
Type of Soy to Eliminate
Tofu, “Soy Protein Isolate” [Isolated Soy Protein], “Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein”, “Texturized Vegetable Protein”, “Soy Protein”, and Soy Protein Supplements.
Other factors that can cause thyroid disorder
Common factors that can cause thyroid disorder besides soy are starvation, stress, acute illness/infection, diabetes mellitus, uremia, selenium deficiency, chlorine, fluoride, mercury, and arsenic. Drugs that alter thyroid function are aspirin, estrogens, propylthiouracil, Iopanoic acid, amiodarone, propranolol, glucocorticoids, dopamine, octreotide, lithium, iodide, amiodarone, aminoglutethimide, colestipol, cholestyramine, nicotinic acid, furosemide, fenclofenac, mefanamic acid, salicylates, aluminum hydroxide, ferrous sulfate, sucralfate, tamoxifen, heroin, methadone, mitotane, fluorouracil, androgens, anabolic steroids, phenobarbital, rifampin, phenytoin and Tegretol. Ok…that’s a long list!!
Tests say my thyroid is normal, but …
I have heard multiple times from my patients, “I’ve been tested and the doctor says my thyroid is normal. What’s wrong with me?”
Lab values have changed over the years. You have to have an even lower thyroid function for your medical doctor to make note of it. Lab values change because they are based on the average health of Americans as a whole. Does it mean they were wrong about the values? It means that Americans as a whole are exhibiting lower thyroids.
When I was tested and realized I had thyroid dysfunction I was on a quest to figure out why. I was 60 pounds overweight. And that was after a year of dieting and gym work outs! I felt like a failure.
I was DONE!
When I actually did a full blood panel with all thyroid markers, I discovered an immune response. My body was attacking my own thyroid gland. I wanted to know what foods were causing my immune system to be so reactive. When I eliminated the foods I was sensitive to (gluten, dairy, and soy were big triggers for me), I lost 20 pounds within 2 months. Wow!
Food allergy kits
There are a lot of different food allergy kits out there. I run IgG and IgA though www.foodallergy.com. Doctors are the only ones that can order the test for you, so if you want to run this test let me know by emailing me and I will see if I can order you one. This test was a lifesaver for me and one of the many steps I did to recover. Some other noticeable labs were mild anemia, low phosphorus, high calcium, high magnesium, low potassium, low globulin and low vitamin D.
Hair testing is important, too, because it can show heavy metals and reveal minerals you may be low in, like copper, selenium, iodine, and zinc. If you would like to see an example of one of my reports you can here.
Basal Metabolic Rate
Remember, your thyroid’s purpose is to provide you with your Basal Metabolic Rate. This is the rate at which you heal and repair. It also determines how fast chemical reactions occur. With a low thyroid, your digestion will be slow, energy is going to be low, and you are going to have a difficult time controlling cholesterol. And, by the way, when your doctor finds out you have high cholesterol … do you think he checks your thyroid to see if that what is causing the problem?
How long does it take to see a difference?
It usually takes about 2-4 months minimum for the thyroid to start to functioning again after you find the root cause of the dysfunction and address it.
YOU CANNOT JUST STOP YOUR CURRENT MEDICATION!
If you are on a medication, don’t assume you are now healthy. The fact is you’ve doubled your problems.
- You have not taken care of your original problem ... you’ve only masked the symptoms.
- Now you will have to battle the side effects of the drug.
Most drugs aren’t studied long enough to determine long-term side effects. What about the chemical cocktail syndrome? If it is a drug that is causing your weight gain, try to optimize your health so that you no longer need that medication. Seek a qualified nutritionist. This is a person who does not have you write out your daily consumptions. It shouldn’t be that important because, obviously, what you’ve been eating has gotten you in the position that you are in. They will do objective testing [blood work, urinalysis, etc.] to determine what supplements you need and how much. They will also have you re-test to determine if what you are doing is working.
What vitamins do YOU need and how much?
Getting a nutritional blood analysis will help take the guesswork out of what vitamins YOU need and how much YOU need to take.
Then, RE-TESTING will help you determine if what you are doing is working.
What about Grave’s Disease?
I recently received an email asking about Grave’s disease, which is another thyroid disorder.
Here is a case example:
Lindsay was diagnosed with Grave’s disease. Her mother, Kim, was threatened with child protective services if she didn’t do the recommended radiation/surgery.
Lindsay wore orthodontic braces. Her house had been sprayed for termites. She drinks soft water. She has headaches and nosebleeds every day. She has no energy, is always hot, and has trouble sleeping. Lindsey’s mother called to let us know that the family’s well water had been tested and results indicated that there were total coliform bacteria in the water.
After working with her a few weeks, I called and spoke with Lindsay’s mother. She reported that Lindsay’s headaches are much better; less frequent and less severe. They used to be so bad she couldn’t watch TV or do her homework. Whereas before, she could hardly do anything, she was now “perkier” and eating well. Her color was better. She was taking her supplements, smiling more, more positive, getting involved in her life more, and in general, felt better. Although still tired, it was less than she had been.
Later, Lindsay’s mother called to report that the Arsenic levels for their water were 9.3 ugl -- with the high end at 10. Lindsay’s 13-year-old brother developed dermatitis all over his body along with a lot of allergies. They are getting the house tested for chloradine.
A month later, I talked to Lindsay and her mother. Lindsey continues to do better on all counts. Kim mentioned the fact that the bags under Lindsay’s eyes are also getting better. The water test came back negative for chloradine.
Don’t compare yourself with others!
These case studies are to help you understand that every case is different. Don’t compare yourself to others. This will drive you crazy. We are all uniquely and wonderfully made. We are all imperfect.
Learn to look at the positives about you and gradually work to improve yourself and be honest with yourself.
The bottom line
When the various amino acids, proteins, and hormones are out of sync in your body, there are a variety of diseases and symptoms that may appear. Altered thyroid function can produce symptoms that are pretty vague. Instead of chasing symptoms, proper testing is advised to avoid taking medication or even supplements that you may or may not need. It is important to do a comprehensive blood test and hair tissue mineral analysis to detect deficiencies or toxicities that may be affecting your health. This testing is also important to know exactly what vitamins or minerals your body needs to work efficiently.
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I hope my column speaks to you and you can wake up each morning with a purpose. What I do every day is a calling, and I give God the glory for allowing His gifts to work through me. I do believe in miracles, because I get to see them every day! For more information you can go to www.nomoremedsmovement.com and sign up for my closed Facebook group #NoMoreMeds-Community for more healthy tips.
Dr. Corinne Weaver