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How to Understand your Thyroid Dysfunction and Hashimoto's Disease [E059]

Tune in to our latest episode all about how to understand your thyroid dysfunction. Hashimoto’s, autoimmune diseases and thyroid dysfunction are all in harmony with multiple systems of the body. Discover why you may be taking medications and not feeling better or you may feel like you have a thyroid condition and your doctor says your numbers are within ‘normal range’.

Table of Content

Understand Your Thyroid Dysfunction – An Introduction

Understand Your Thyroid Dysfunction - An Introduction
Photographer: I8r8oosh | Source: Unsplash

Dr. Bryan: Welcome back to the Wellness Connection show. I’m Dr. Bryan and I am here again with Dr. Olivia. We are going to continue to provide some content that can help you get well and stay well regardless of your condition and where your overall health is at this particular moment. But there’s a lot of people that are very familiar with the condition we’re going to speak on today. We wanted to just peel the onion layers back a little bit further and share some insight to understand your thyroid dysfunction.

What Is A Thyroid?

Dr. Olivia: The thyroid is a gland in your neck and its part of your endocrinal hormone system. And anything that’s a part of your hormone system works with other parts of your hormone system. So many people have thyroid type symptoms and let’s dig right into that. A lot of people have chronic fatigue. They can’t get going, they wake up with headaches, or they have a very low body temperature, especially in the morning. Some people have weight gain. Some people cannot lose weight. You see constipation, bloating, swelling, puffiness, brain fog, memory issues, hormonal imbalances, depression, anxiety, just to name a few.

Dr. Bryan: Who is most susceptible to understand your thyroid dysfunction?

Dr. Olivia: Women are a bit more vulnerable because our female hormones can block thyroid receptor sites. We do tend to see the symptoms more in women and even the diagnosis more in women. But men have thyroid issues. My dad has hypothyroidism, and they never checked him because we don’t check men and he randomly got it checked prior to a surgery before his hip replacement. As far as age, really the women and men. Let’s just say the women with these vulnerabilities. Symptoms tend to start around puberty, but most women won’t get diagnosed for one or two, three, or four decades later. These issues can be in the thyroid for a long time before you either get the proper testing. But even still most people aren’t getting the right testing.

Abnormal thyroid markers

Dr. Olivia: I would call thyroid dysfunction when your main thyroid hormone, TSH, which is not active thyroid hormone is going up and down and up and down and up and down. Or when it’s sitting like borderline abnormal. The normal ranges for thyroid are huge. Another thing with thyroid dysfunction is other markers which are rarely tested.

If you see elevated thyroid antibodies, you can see elevated thyroid antibodies for years or decades before you see TSH become abnormal. That’s the leading cause. The leading cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s. It’s estimated that 90% of people with hypothyroidism have Hashimoto’s, but they had Hashimoto’s for decades before the thyroid had enough damage and failed them. Thyroid dysfunction is – if you have antibodies attacking your thyroid, you’re going to have thyroid symptoms.

Hashimoto’s and Other Thyroid Dysfunctions

Hashimoto's and Other Thyroid Dysfunctions
Photographer: Road Trip with Raj | Source: Unsplash

Dr. Bryan: Let’s pause. What is Hashimoto’s?

Dr. Olivia: Hashimoto’s is the most common autoimmune disease in the United States. We’ve talked about this on previous podcasts where when your immune system gets confused and your immune system starts attacking healthy tissue. It’s when the immune system gets so confused and it says, I’m overworked, I’m stressed out. I don’t know if this is good or bad, so I’m just going to try to protect the body and attack it.

Dr. Bryan: Hashimoto’s is not the only type to understand your thyroid dysfunction. What are some of the other types that exist?

Dr. Olivia: There’s hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and Graves’ disease. All of that is the 10%. The 90% is Hashimoto’s.

They can eventually develop hypothyroid. Hashimoto’s is that there are these antibodies that are attacking your thyroid every day. The thyroid’s getting beaten up, abused, and bullied by these antibodies. Eventually it breaks down enough where you have hypothyroidism. But that bullying can go on for decades.

Dr. Bryan: I’ve read and heard different stats. I don’t know if they’re 100% true or not. Maybe you can validate them. But if somebody does have Hashimoto’s or an autoimmune issue, they are like nine times more likely to develop additional autoimmune problem.

Dr. Olivia: Absolutely. That’s one of the things we really want to do in the patients we work with. We want to protect the thyroid from the antibody attack. That’s part of our strategy. But another part of our strategy is protecting you from developing other autoimmune issues.

Lack of proper testing to understand your thyroid dysfunction

Dr. Bryan: Let’s talk about how you catch it early. I’ve heard you say over the years, and other people say that very few people are properly tested. If you’re looking for early detection to see if you really have any understand your thyroid dysfunction. What are some of the ways that you can actually be tested?

Dr. Olivia: Thyroid antibodies. You check TPO, thyroid peroxidase and thyroglobulin, or what’s called anti thyroglobulin.

Dr. Bryan: I know they are not typically standardly looked at.

Dr. Olivia: They are not. Let me tell you why. If you have elevated thyroid antibodies, your immune system is attacking your thyroid. That’s Hashimoto’s. There’s no medication for it. The world of primary care of hormone health of endocrinology says it doesn’t matter. I disagree. We’re just going to have to agree to disagree because it does matter.

Dr. Bryan: If I do get early diagnosis and I do find out that I have understand your thyroid dysfunction and I do have elevated antibodies, is it a life sentence or is there something I can do?

Dr. Olivia: It’s not a life sentence. There are things you can do, and the earlier you pay attention to it the better. Because those are the people where I see it go into remission. It never goes away. I have worked with a handful of patients who had an autoimmune disease that went into remission and their doctors told them you were misdiagnosed. You didn’t really have this autoimmune disease because it doesn’t really go away. Well, we know it doesn’t go away, but what we do know is it goes to sleep.

Foods To Avoid

Foods To Avoid to understand your thyroid dysfunction
Photographer: Marta Reis | Source: Unsplash

Dr. Bryan: Are there such things as like foods that are not good for the thyroid, and what those look like?

Dr. Olivia: I love that question. And honestly, I’ve read a majority of the books. I have seen a majority of the science and research, and there’s truth to validate virtually everything that people are saying. But how you approach the thyroid is 100% dependent on what the thyroid is doing. You do not approach the thyroid the same way in somebody with Hashimoto’s versus without Hashimoto’s. If you do not have elevated thyroid antibodies, there are other things you want to do.

Let’s go back to bad foods. If you have elevated thyroid antibodies, you have to avoid gluten like the plague. Your risk for celiac is significantly higher. And when you have a confused immune system, what we know especially with Hashimoto’s is that when you eat gluten, it increases the attack on the thyroid.

Another thing not great for thyroid health is soy. We have so much proof of this. Another thing are artificial sweeteners. A majority of the people that come to me that are not health conscious are drinking sucralose or Splenda. Bad idea. It attacks thyroid tissue.

Another conversation is goitrogens. Those are foods that are like cruciferous vegetables. It’s not that you have to eliminate cruciferous vegetables. You don’t want to go over two cups of raw cruciferous vegetables daily. And I evaluate people’s diet for a living. I have people fill out food logs. I almost never see somebody eating more than two cups of raw cruciferous vegetables daily.

Thyroid-Friendly Foods

Thyroid-Friendly Foods
Brazil Nuts | Source: Wikipedia

Dr. Bryan: Are there actual foods that you would recommend that are good if you have a thyroid problem to consider putting into your diet?

Dr. Olivia: Probably the best food I can advise people to eat is Brazil nuts. Brazil nuts are rich in selenium. They’re one of the most selenium rich foods. I evaluate people’s diet all day. Do I see people that eat nuts? Heck yeah. I see people put in their food logs where they eat raw almonds and walnuts and pecans and macadamia nuts. I almost never see somebody eating Brazil nuts.

Brazil nuts are very high in selenium. Selenium is one of those nutrients that’s good for immune health but it also protects the thyroid from the antibody attack. The only thing I will say about that is there’s an inconsistent amount of selenium from one Brazil nut source to another. I can’t sit here and say Brazil nuts have 400 milligrams of selenium. No. A batch you pick up at Costco might have 50. Then a batch you pick up at Dierburgs might have 100. There’s really inconsistent amount found.

Another thing I think of would be pumpkin seeds. Because pumpkin seeds are really rich in a lot of minerals, but particularly magnesium. And one thing we know about magnesium, is it improves the sensitivity of your thyroid receptor sites. When your thyroid receptors are very receptive, they can absorb thyroid hormone very efficiently. That’s how to understand your thyroid dysfunction.

Medicines and Supplements For Thyroid Dysfunctions

Medicines and Supplements For Thyroid Dysfunctions understand your thyroid dysfunction
Photographer: Angel Sinigersky | Source: Unsplash

Dr. Bryan: Let’s jump all the way to medicines. Are there situations where people need to stay on the thyroid medicine no matter what? Are there situations where people are able to get off their thyroid medications?

Dr. Olivia: Not as much, but yes. Here’s the scenario. By the time you end up on thyroid medicine, your thyroid has so much damage and it is permanent damage. Your thyroid has been under attack for decades and it could be irreparable. It’s just the reality of it. You’ve got to really get to testing your antibodies as early as possible. Some people can reduce the need for medication or even remove it but that’s usually not people that have had these problems for 10, 20, 30 years. The medication out there that 99% of the population takes is T4.

Synthetic T4 is known as Synthroid or Levothyroxine. Synthroid’s the brand name, Levothyroxine is the generic. It’s a synthetic T4 that makes sure TSH level is normal. What people need to understand is those are inactive thyroid hormones.

The biggest frustration I hear is when people who take this medication, their levels go in the normal range and they still don’t feel better. They’re not losing weight, still depressed, constipated, hair’s falling out, bloated, swollen, and retaining water. Those are not active thyroid hormones. T3 is your active thyroid hormone. There is a medication for that called Cytomel or liothyronine. But most people don’t even have their T3 levels checked. They just have T4 and TSH.

Supplements for your thyroid

Dr. Bryan: The next bucket would be supplementation or nutraceuticals, natural ways to support and strengthen or care for your thyroid. What comes to mind there?

Dr. Olivia: If you are listening to this, please hear me loud and clear. You cannot take high dose iodine if you have elevated thyroid antibodies. That’s a bad idea. That might make you feel better temporarily.

If you don’t have elevated thyroid antibodies and you want to take iodine, I like to take a look at checking. I adapt blood iodine levels. The best nutrient for the thyroid is going to be selenium. Zinc improves the absorption of selenium. If you can find some type of supplementation that has both of those combined, that’s going to be what you want to take. Next is magnesium. We know magnesium improves the thyroid receptor sites. Another very important ingredient is inositol. What we have found is inositol improves a lot of the brain type symptoms because it improves nervous system function.

If you can find sexy supplements that have these things together, the better. They’re better in combination than they are individually. I have to stress that detox is so important. And the reason that detox is so important, is because your thyroid hormones are converted in the liver. I do want to talk just a little bit more about thyroid testing, other thyroid hormones, and also how sex hormones and cortisol hormones play into thyroid health. Again, if you have an autoimmune disease, if you have elevated thyroid antibodies, you’ve got to do some work on the gut. Because that is where a majority of your immune system lives, is in the gut.

Other thyroid markers to check to understand your thyroid dysfunction

Dr. Olivia: Two thyroid markers that I really like to see outside of, just T4, TSH, free T3, thyroid peroxidase and anti-thyroglobulin. I also like to see a T3 uptake and a reverse T3. What a T3 uptake tells me when it is abnormal, is that that person has taken hormones in their lifetime.

Maybe they were on birth control, maybe they were on hormone replacement therapy, and those hormones have blocked the thyroid receptor sites. We want to get those hormone receptor sites unclogged. How do we do that? Detox.

Another thing I like to see is reverse T3. Reverse T3 tells you if cortisol is affecting the absorption of thyroid hormones. Cortisol affects energy, sleep, blood sugar, blood pressure, belly fat. We see cortisol imbalances all the time in people that have normal thyroid testing.

Dr. Olivia’s Thyroid Shield

Dr. Bryan: Obviously, you’ve been working on trying to create a simple solution for a thyroid supplement that can benefit a lot of people. Why don’t you tell us about what you created?

Dr. Olivia: I contacted some of the largest nutrition companies in the United States, and I said, “Hey, I really like your thyroid formula, but based on the science, the research, and what I see clinically, I do not like iodine in this product. Would you be willing to make a product for me that’s iodine free and I will buy more than enough to make it worth your while.” And I heard, no, from the biggest company. No, from the second biggest company.

And then the third biggest company said to me, “We hear you, we are working on creating an iodine thyroid supplement, but it’ll probably take us a few years.” I’ve been working on this literally for two, three years. I created thyroid shield. And it’s intended to protect your immune system and to protect your thyroid. Thyroid shield is like putting in ADT, you’re putting in a security system that is protecting your thyroid from an immune attack.

Anybody can take it. The ingredients are selenium, which you’re not going to get enough of in your diet. Zinc, inositol, and I put an adaptogen in it that helps your body adapt to stress. This is like a multivitamin for the thyroid. It’s going to give your thyroid the nutrients it needs in an iodine free formula so we don’t potentially risk making your immune and autoimmune antibodies go up.

Dr. Bryan: We’ll put a link directly to the drolivianaturals.com. That’s going to have basically where the thyroid shield product will be housed.

Closing Thoughts To Understand Your Thyroid Dysfunction

Dr. Olivia: My closing thought is this. I didn’t want to work with thyroid cases. I did not. Understand your thyroid dysfunction found me. When I started researching the thyroid and speaking to endocrinologists, primary care doctors, and OB/GYNs, I was floored by the lack of understanding and the lack of education when it came to the thyroid. I had to do so much studying and research and was blessed to come across some things locally. But for a lot of my continuing education on thyroid, adrenals, autoimmune disease, detox, I had to travel the country to get this information. There’s such a lack of knowledge in our conventional medical system around this. It’s scary how little people know.

Dr. Bryan: Awesome. Hopefully this knowledge, this information, this wisdom that we’re sharing will help somebody get well and stay well. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s it for today.

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