Today’s guest post is written by Elle Russ, author of Primal Blueprint Publishing’s newest upcoming title, The Paleo Thyroid Solution, which is available on Amazon.com. To learn more about Elle, you can visit her website, ElleRuss.com. Elle is not a medical doctor. Her story and advice below are not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat or cure thyroid issues, but instead to serve as a point of discussion between you and your doctor.
Chances are, you or someone you know has suffered from some kind of thyroid dysfunction.
There is a big discrepancy among experts’ estimates of how many thyroid patients exist in the United States. But the common assessment seems to be about 20 million Americans, while some groups estimate 27 million—with 13 million of them undiagnosed. Roughly 200 million people worldwide have some form of thyroid disease, and 60% of those with thyroid disease are undiagnosed and unaware of their condition.
Hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid disorder and the main subject of The Paleo Thyroid Solution, is disproportionately a woman’s disease. It’s chronically misdiagnosed; doctors often mistake the symptoms of hypothyroidism as symptoms of other conditions, without factoring thyroid dysfunction as a potential cause of those symptoms. Instead, the patient is given a prescription for the misdiagnosed condition (such as high blood pressure or depression)—and the patient remains hypothyroid and continues to deteriorate. Even when properly diagnosed, hypothyroidism is often treated with the wrong combination and/or wrong dosage levels of thyroid hormones along with the widespread unavailability of proper nutritional coaching. Both the absence of treatment and the widespread practice of mistreatment results in unnecessary suffering while creating a platform of disease within the body that eventually leads to other life-threatening conditions, such as diabetes/metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, depression, miscarriages, infertility, a variety of gynecological disorders, inflammation-related diseases, cancers, and more.
Twice in ten years, I struggled with hypothyroidism—I was slowly dying. I saw and corresponded with over fifty doctors during these two bouts, and no one knew how to help me either time. The reason all of those doctors failed to diagnose me is that they all ordered the same, incorrect blood tests, which is a widespread problem. I could feel my brain and body deteriorating rapidly, and I had developed a variety of other health problems caused by hypothyroidism and the low metabolic rate that goes hand in hand with it. It was frightening to say the least. If my thyroid condition continued to go unresolved longer than it had, I can only imagine the countless medical atrocities that would have ensued. I had already been misdiagnosed with another disease (PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome); I developed a uterine fibroid and a uterine polyp (which later had to be surgically removed); and I had alarmingly low hormone and nutrient levels of all kinds. What else was in store for me? How many more health disasters would I have experienced before I met an extremely premature demise? How many more years of my life would be wasted on this disease? These are the thoughts that motivated me to write The Paleo Thyroid Solution: so I could help save others from the grim reality of undiagnosed and mistreated hypothyroidism.
Ultimately, I took my health into my own hands—and without the assistance of doctors or medical professionals, I solved both bouts of hypothyroidism on my own (one bout was a Reverse T3 problem which is an ever-increasing problem in people who have not had a history of thyroid issues, as well as a growing problem for people on thyroid hormone replacement).
For one, you can’t live without it. Well, technically you can live without the actual gland, but you must give your body what the missing thyroid gland once gave you: thyroid hormones. The reason you cannot stay alive without a thyroid gland—or, more importantly, adequate levels of thyroid hormones—is that the thyroid is the master gland of the human body. The thyroid gland controls the metabolic rate of every organ in the body, from the production and regulation of sex hormones, adrenal hormones, body temperature, growth development, brain function, and heart rate, to every other element that keeps your body functioning. Inadequate or suboptimal levels of thyroid hormones in the human body will ultimately contribute to a miserable existence, likely rampant with diseases and health problems.
Adopting a paleo/primal lifestyle positively affects everyone’s fat-burning thyroid hormone metabolism more than any other way of eating and more than any other lifestyle strategy. This applies to people who currently don’t have thyroid issues and to people who take thyroid hormone replacement.
Here are four processes of fat-burning metabolism that apply to everyone (people taking thyroid hormone replacement and for people who have no thyroid issues):
The thyroid gland outputs T4 and T3?(or you take thyroid hormone replacement)
Your body converts the T4 into the active, fat-burning T3 hormone
The T3 arrives at work (the cells)
The T3 “punches in” to work (enters/affects the cells)
There is really only one thyroid hormone that we know for a fact is critical to life, and that hormone is called T3 (triiodothyronine). T3 is extremely powerful and is responsible for fat burning, brain function, body temperature, healthy heart rate, healthy blood pressure, physical energy, and more. T3 is energy. Having adequate levels of T3 contributes to lean muscle mass and calorie burning. T3 is what keeps your body temperature at an average of 98.6°F in healthy humans. And if you don’t have enough of it, that can lead to a whole host of hypothyroid problems.
I had all but three or four symptoms on this brutally long list. Many hypothyroid symptoms are not visible to others, and oftentimes doctors and family members/friends think these symptoms are in one’s head, somehow fabricated by hypochondriacal tendencies. These symptoms are not only real, they are rampant in people suffering from undiagnosed or mistreated hypothyroidism.
Cold hands/feet and generally being cold regardless of the weather
Insidious weight gain
Inability to lose weight no matter what you do
Low energy and stamina
Serious depression or general malaise
Needing a nap every day
Sluggish reflexes or clumsiness
Dry cracked skin on heels, ankles, and elsewhere
Hair feels like straw or like a rubber band when touched or pulled
Hair loss or loss of curliness in curly or wavy hair
Inability to focus and concentrate
Mixing up words in speech (sort of like dyslexia of the mouth) and difficulty finding/remembering words
Lower/deeper voice or scratchy/raspy voice
Brain fog and forgetfulness
Menstrual irregularities such as heavy bleeding, constant bleeding, uterine fibroids/polyps, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), miserable and long-lasting PMS.
Fibrocystic breasts (also an indication of estrogen dominance)
Infertility and miscarriages
Weak, brittle, cracking, breaking, splitting fingernails
Achy muscles and overall soreness
Blood pressure issues (high or too low)
Itchy inner ears (It’s like trying to scratch an itch that you cannot reach, even with a cotton swab. This one drove me nuts!)
Heavy legs when walking (feels like you are walking with cement legs)
Unhealthy/concerning cholesterol results
Low body temperature
Uncomfortable feeling in the throat/neck area
Digestive problems (gas, abdominal bloating)
Problems at work or the inability to function well at work
Relationship issues with family/friends, romantic partners, etc.
Increased or uncontrollable cravings for sugar and carbohydrates
Allergies (rare allergies are often related to untreated or mistreated Hashimoto’s)
Messy handwriting (Issues with brain-hand-muscle dexterity)
Heart palpitations (Often related to adrenals and/or low iron.)
Restless legs (Often related to low iron.)
Compromised immunity (Getting colds and/or flus more often)
Extended recovery needed after exercise and sore after exercise
Sensitivity to light, sounds, and smells (Often related to adrenals.)
Low or zero sex drive
Moody, sensitive, easily agitated, and feeling overwhelmed by simple everyday tasks
Swelling and inflammation
Puffy eyes and face upon waking – overall puffiness and bloat
Myxedema (Swelling of the skin and underlying tissues is typical of patients with underactive thyroid glands. Discoverable by visual assessment and not being able to pinch a miniscule bit of skin on the outside of your arms, near your shoulders. Instead one is only able to pinch a thick, large portion of skin.)
A growing “tire” of fat around your waist (thyroid and adrenal related)
Constant thirst and water won’t quench it
Feeling as if something wrong is happening to your brain, as if you are getting “dumb” and losing your cognitive abilities
The Paleo Thyroid Solution dispels outdated, conventional thyroid wisdom still practiced by uninformed doctors, and provides the in-depth guidance necessary to solve hypothyroidism, achieve vibrant health, and optimize thyroid fat-burning hormone metabolism. It contains the only lifestyle and weight loss plan specifically targeted for maximizing thyroid hormone metabolism in harmony with paleo/primal/ancestral health principles.
If you or someone you know is suffering from thyroid issues, just know that there is hope, and don’t believe any doctor who tells you that your symptoms are permanent or something you’ll just “have to deal with” throughout your life. It is my mission to help thyroid sufferers get on the right path to wellness and transform from being fat, foggy, and fatigued to FIT, FOCUSED, and FULL OF LIFE!