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Low Carb and Thyroid Function

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  • #61
    I am very carb sensitive and have eaten 10-20g carbs daily for years. I'm also hypothyroid (Hashi's), and I don't experience any problems with my low-carb eating. This may be an individual issue--i.e., my body functions best on very low carb, so that may be why I have no problems.

    However, the 'conversion' issue is very different. I have Hashimoto's and 7 of 10 cases of hypothyroid in the U.S. are due to Hashi's (often undiagnosed because of so many false negatives--another story). In any case, about 5 years after diagnosis (I was undiagnosed but hypo for 5 years before that), I began experiencing conversion problems and had to add Cytomel (T3).

    I specifically asked my endo whether my low-carb eating (which he endorses) was responsible for my conversion issues, and he said--absolutely not. He explained that difficulty converting T4 to T3 is characteristic of Hashi's, and can be expected to occur at some time with anyone who has Hashi's. However, it's impossible to predict when it will occur. I should add that when it happens, the symptoms are so dramatic that it's impossible to ignore, since it's the T3 that controls our metabolism and affects how we feel.

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    • #62
      Everyone is different.
      Last edited by Wildapple; 01-07-2013, 01:38 PM.

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      • #63
        This is a brilliant thread - it's nice to see both sides of the argument laid out.

        I'm no expert, but I don't generally agree with people saying it should be one approach or the other. I do believe each case is individual, and people's genes have a role to play in the optimal diets for each of us.

        Chris Kresser (whether you take him seriously or not) says it better than me. He made an interesting point that the type of thyroid dysfunction determines what you should eat:

        "autoimmune disease is not only extremely complex, but also highly individualized. Hashimoto’s in one person is not the same as Hashimoto’s in the next person. In one person, Hashimoto’s could present as a Th1-dominant condition. In another, it may present as Th2 dominant. In still another, both the Th1 and Th2 systems might be overactive, or underactive. And each of these cases requires a different approach. For example, botanicals like echinacea and astragalus stimulate the Th1 system. If someone with Th1 dominant Hashimoto’s takes these herbs, they’ll quite possibly get worse. On the other hand, antioxidants like green tea and Gotu Kola stimulate the Th2 system, and would be inappropriate for those with Th2 dominant Hashimoto’s."
        Basics of immune balancing for Hashimoto’s

        Originally posted by Paleobird View Post
        Eastern medicine is what espouses tiger testicles and rhino horn as cures for infertility and impotence.
        You're thinking of Witch Doctors in some parts of Asia. "Eastern Medicine" is classed as Chinese Medicine or Ayurvedic (ancient Indian) medicine which predate Western medicine by millennia. They have become diluted over the years but in their original form they are quite scientific. Witch Doctors operate on superstition.
        "I think the basic anti-aging diet is also the best diet for prevention and treatment of diabetes, scleroderma, and the various "connective tissue diseases." This would emphasize high protein, low unsaturated fats, low iron, and high antioxidant consumption, with a moderate or low starch consumption.

        In practice, this means that a major part of the diet should be milk, cheese, eggs, shellfish, fruits and coconut oil, with vitamin E and salt as the safest supplements."

        - Ray Peat

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        • #64
          I 100% agree that Hashi's is very individualized. I feel like crap if my TSH goes over 2.0. Other people find they can tolerate (and feel fine) with TSH as high as 6-7 *but* they have to keep their TPO anti-bodies in check. Some even say that so long as their TPO AB's are in check that their TSH number doesn't even matter no matter how high it goes. The frustrating thing about thyroid disease of any type is that as important as the thyroid is, very few doctors understand it at all, and most will only treat lab results and not symptoms. That's unfortunate because I had to become *very* ill before I qualified for treatment with my old doc. Fortunately I have a new doc and she treats based on symptoms, using labs only as references.

          I'm new to Primal, and have only been doing it for just over a month. However, I have found that when low carbing I am able to lose weight that my body stubbornly hangs on to when I eat carbs. I also don't have the wild sugar swings and the crash-and-burn that used to lead to me eating too much and often of the wrong foods because I'd grab whatever was handy. I don't eat nearly as often, or as much now. I feel warmer (which I think may be from the coconut oil?) and my hair loss seems fine. The sole thing that I noticed in my first month is that my menstrual period (sorry, guys) kicked in a week early and lasted for two weeks. I'm hoping that was due to stress (I lost my dog earlier this month and had to travel which I hate) and not due to the diet. I guess I'll know by next month. But so far it seems to really be working fine for me with my Hashi's.
          High Weight: 225
          Weight at start of Primal: 189
          Current Weight: 174
          Goal Weight: 130

          Primal Start Date: 11/26/2012

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          • #65
            There's something else to consider when people are already hypothyroid and begin eating low carb and experience 'symptoms.'

            I personally have never experienced the 'carb flu' that afflicts so many new low carbers, but from their description of how they feel, their 'symptoms' are very much how I experience low thyroid function. So someone who is hypothyroid and assumes that low carb is creating problems with his/her thyroid because of 'symptoms' may only be experiencing that temporary 'low carb flu.'

            Just a thought.

            As to the 'conversion' issue being dependent on how much glucose we provide the body, I've mentioned earlier that our body doesn't need glucose from carbs but will create what it needs from whatever food we provide--that's the basis of glucogenesis, another much-misunderstood idea. If I'm eating mainly protein, my body creates its glucose from that protein. I don't need to eat carbs.

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            • #66
              Originally posted by BestBetter View Post
              I've posted about this a lot, so I'm sure everyone already knows what I'm going to say.

              I've had hypothyroid symtoms for a long time (around a decade), but when I went low carb paleo/primal my symptoms got significantly worse.

              1) In the shower, I started losing handfuls of hair.
              2) I developed a chronic low grade depression with periods of extreme mood instability and anxiety attacks
              3) My cold sensitivity got worse
              4) I developed an extreme fatigue that made normal daily chores impossible
              5) My normally low body temperature got so low that I was practically a corpse
              6) I gained extra fat while eating very few carbs and restricting calories to 1,200-1,400/day

              I'm sure there was more, but those are the symptoms that come to mind immediately. Supplementing with iodine, taking vitamin D and cod liver oil and liver did nothing.

              I switched my diet to be more in line with the Perfect Health Diet, which is also an ancestral diet but promotes eating higher levels of healthy starches + carbs, and added a few Ray Peat tweaks (more organic sugars, salt, and less muscle meat, pregnenalone and DHEA supplementation) and Cold Thermogenesis (cold showers, ice baths, spot icing).

              My hypothyroid symptoms started improving pretty quickly after making these changes, and I continue to steadily improve. I test my body temperature almost daily, and it is slowly increasing.My fatigue has been decreasing so that I'm now able to do yoga and walk 1-2 hours daily, and I'm not losing handfuls of hair in the shower anymore and there is quite a bit of new hair growth. I overall feel better, and I'm actually slowly losing the extra fat I gained by eating primal high fat/low carb.
              I have been following a paleo diet for about a year now. My carb intake has probably been between 30 to 50 grams per day. I started noticing that my body temp was getting no higher than 97.5 F at any point during the day. My temp has always been a rock solid 98.8, my whole life, before starting paleo. I just just had my wellness examine through my employer and noticed that my LDL numbers are still rather high and my blood pressure is rather low.

              Capture.PNG

              I am beginning to think that the limited carb intake may be the issue. I also found the Perfect Health Diet and plan on upping my carb intake to between 75 an 100 grams through potatoes, white rice, fruit, and starchy tubers.
              Last edited by antharr; 01-15-2013, 12:50 PM.

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              • #67
                Welcome to the club. You've seen the light. You'll never convince the naysayers, who'll argue 1+1=3. Just ignore the low carb cult and do PHD. It's that simple.

                Actually, I missed your blood lab portion of the post. Here's the issue. The LDL skyrocketing could be due to your low FT3 or your ApoE4 genes. If your temp is low, you've lost significant weight, then it's obvious that your FT3 would be low-normal. Get it tested. That could be an issue, because it could come back up in response to higher carbs or it may not.

                Second, I see that your LDL rose in response to being high fat and so did your HDL. You could be homo or hetero ApoE4 and, if so, then you need to go easy on Sataruated Fat. Yes, saturated fat. There are no sacred cows in dieting; every damn person is so different. About 25% of the population is ApoE4 and your story is so damn common that if I got a buck after reading about LDL and high TC after starting high fat or low-carbing, I'd be richer than Jeff Bezos.

                If you want, get 23andme tested. But no need. You need to do high-carb/lower fat Paleo. Not low fat, just lower fat. You could comparatively increase the MUFA portion but that would be somewhat difficult. You need to go from muscle meat, cream and butter to yams, sweet potatoes, and white rice. In other words, PHD, like you said. That will solve your problem in either case -- whether it's your genes or your thyroid. Your lipids reacted so quickly to fat, it probably is more ApoE4 than thyroid. But you're right, it's time to get off the low-carb bandwagon.

                Originally posted by antharr View Post
                I am beginning to think that the limited carb intake may be the issue. I also found the Perfect Health Diet and plan on upping my carb intake to between 75 an 100 grams through potatoes, white rice, fruit, and starchy tubers.
                Last edited by choppedliver; 08-25-2013, 12:24 PM.

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                • #68
                  Originally posted by Neckhammer View Post
                  I think this write up is good Low-Carb Diets and Hypothyroidism: A False Alarm A Worldly Monk.

                  There are several possible breaks in the chain that can lead to hypothyroid symptoms. What the cause is and how it's treated is all about determining at which point your hormonal conversions or production is broken. Just for instance, iodine is a bad option if you have Hashimotos, but low carb may be quite helpful for this autoimmune disorder.
                  Almost a year after you posted this, I just want to thank you. I recently had blood work showing a TSH of 13 and was concerned after seeing the discussion over on Chris Kresser's blog regarding Grain Brain and Chris's views on VLC on thyroid function. The explanation on A Worldly Monk fits with my experience so far - no hypothyroid symptoms, but a slightly elevated TSH. This makes sense since my T3 is probably lower due to lower blood sugar and less need to metabolize it.
                  Last edited by thomasbihn; 11-10-2013, 06:59 PM.

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                  • #69
                    Originally posted by thomasbihn View Post
                    Almost a year after you posted this, I just want to thank you. I recently had blood work showing a TSH of 13 and was concerned after seeing the discussion over on Chris Kresser's blog regarding Grain Brain and Chris's views on VLC on thyroid function. The explanation on A Worldly Monk fits with my experience so far - no hypothyroid symptoms, but a slightly elevated TSH. This makes sense since my T3 is probably lower due to lower blood sugar and less need to metabolize it.

                    Glad you found it . Yeah, interesting stuff in this area and theories abound. There are studies of centurians and their offspring having slightly elevated TSH. Not to state that a high TSH is necessary for long or healthy life, but its certainly a set of black swans to the other hypothesis.

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                    • #70
                      Originally posted by BestBetter View Post
                      I've posted about this a lot, so I'm sure everyone already knows what I'm going to say.

                      I've had hypothyroid symtoms for a long time (around a decade), but when I went low carb paleo/primal my symptoms got significantly worse.

                      1) In the shower, I started losing handfuls of hair.
                      2) I developed a chronic low grade depression with periods of extreme mood instability and anxiety attacks
                      3) My cold sensitivity got worse
                      4) I developed an extreme fatigue that made normal daily chores impossible
                      5) My normally low body temperature got so low that I was practically a corpse
                      6) I gained extra fat while eating very few carbs and restricting calories to 1,200-1,400/day

                      I'm sure there was more, but those are the symptoms that come to mind immediately. Supplementing with iodine, taking vitamin D and cod liver oil and liver did nothing.

                      I switched my diet to be more in line with the Perfect Health Diet, which is also an ancestral diet but promotes eating higher levels of healthy starches + carbs, and added a few Ray Peat tweaks (more organic sugars, salt, and less muscle meat, pregnenalone and DHEA supplementation) and Cold Thermogenesis (cold showers, ice baths, spot icing).

                      My hypothyroid symptoms started improving pretty quickly after making these changes, and I continue to steadily improve. I test my body temperature almost daily, and it is slowly increasing.My fatigue has been decreasing so that I'm now able to do yoga and walk 1-2 hours daily, and I'm not losing handfuls of hair in the shower anymore and there is quite a bit of new hair growth. I overall feel better, and I'm actually slowly losing the extra fat I gained by eating primal high fat/low carb.
                      hello!

                      after how much time by adding carbs did you notice that your hair stop falling out?
                      i have a same problem I have been adding carbs for 10 days now but still didn't notice any positive changes.

                      beside that I am confused about how many grams of carbs per day... I have 62 kg, been in ketosis for 6 months now
                      @goodiesforme

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                      • #71
                        I will say that I did VLC for quite some time with some good results. After awhile though, I did experience fatigue, lower body temperature, etc. Part of it might have been because of spontaneous low-calorie intake due to the VLC/ketogenic nature of my diet. Hard to say. I was stubborn in admitting my symptoms because of the very real original success I had going paleo/primal. I will simply say that introducing carb refeeds was a huge help. Body temp jumped back up, brain functioned better, and felt more energetic. And this was not the low-carb flu. I went through that when I first when low-carb, and it quickly subsided, leaving me feeling better than ever. I was always jokingly called a radiator by my girlfriend because I tended to run warm. However, I suddenly took to wearing more layers to bed and tucking my shirt in and stuff like that because the cold was bothering me so much. It felt like I was in a hibernation mode to be honest. I now have a more moderate approach to carbs, but I do think they are a part of the equation. I think if you experience hypothyroid like symptoms and are VLC, experiment upping them. It's that simple. Don't wait for the science to settle all of this. You may be waiting a long time.

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                        • #72
                          yep low carbs makes me feel like all my limbs have lead for blood. low carb is about as extreme as fruitarianism. its a Fad imo led by bloggers opinions and taken as fact by the flock who follow every little fad in the hope of some miracle cure that hasnt been discovered in the last 2000 years of relative high brain power.

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                          • #73
                            I think that people who say "low temperature = low thyroid" are vastly overgeneralizing. Lots of factors come into play such as overall caloric intake, testosterone levels (this influences basal metabolism more than you might guess), adrenal hormone status (dhea can influence testosterone and cortisol can indicate stress which can bulldoze your metabolism if left unchecked), so it's really not right to simply say, "I feel cold all the time, must be low thyroid!"

                            It's tempting to do, but it's too simplistic and there are lots of other possibilities to investigate before one leaps to conclusions.
                            "The cling and a clang is the metal in my head when I walk. I hear a sort of, this tinging noise - cling clang. The cling clang. So many things happen while walking. The metal in my head clangs and clings as I walk - freaks my balance out. So the natural thought is just clogged up. Totally clogged up. So we need to unplug these dams, and make the the natural flow... It sort of freaks me out. We need to unplug the dams. You cannot stop the natural flow of thought with a cling and a clang..."

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                            • #74
                              for sure, man those same symptoms can be a million things. as a hashimotos sufferer i get swings between feeling the cold and feeling the heat. i dont think ultra low carb is good for anyone. sure its a tool for bodybuilding when carb cycling, but thats all it is imo. healthy carbs are as important as healthy fats and healthy protein.

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                              • #75
                                Being cold or at least colder than you were previously could be a sign that you've burned a few pounds too. I mean less fat is less insulation on the body, so being colder could potentially just be a sign that you lost a few and if you give it some time, it should probably balance out into a new norm.

                                This would be a GOOD thing that can sometimes result in lower temps!

                                So it's not so cut and dry.
                                "The cling and a clang is the metal in my head when I walk. I hear a sort of, this tinging noise - cling clang. The cling clang. So many things happen while walking. The metal in my head clangs and clings as I walk - freaks my balance out. So the natural thought is just clogged up. Totally clogged up. So we need to unplug these dams, and make the the natural flow... It sort of freaks me out. We need to unplug the dams. You cannot stop the natural flow of thought with a cling and a clang..."

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