Folks often ask “what tests should I get?” when it comes to thyroid labs. Here’s a good basic list: Free T3 Free T4 TSH Reverse T3 TPO and TgAb (antibodies for Hashimoto’s) and TSI (antibodies for Grave’s). Note that upwards of 80% of those with […]
I often hear the question “what are your best tips for starting the AIP (Auto-Immune Protocol)?” Dramatically changing up your diet and lifestyle can be daunting, that’s for sure. So, as requested, here are 20 tips for starting AIP. First, the food part: 1) BABY […]
Fatigue is a huge issue from which many of us suffer. We’re talking beyond busy lives and being tired (aka not getting enough sleep at night). This is mind-numbing fatigue. Where you simply can’t move. Muscles don’t respond, your brain doesn’t respond. Like our little […]
So many of us with thyroid conditions are put on synthetic meds like Levothyroxine or Synthroid. These meds contain synthetic versions of the thyroid hormone T4.
However, many of us are “poor converters”. This means that our bodies have trouble converting T4 into the useable T3. This is a quick and easy explanation from Dr. Datis Kharrazian (if you haven’t read his book “Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms If My Lab Tests Are Normal”, I highly recommend a read, it’s well written and easy to understand):
“In the end, only about 60 percent of T4 is converted into usable T3. Twenty percent becomes reverse T3 (rT3), an inactive form the body cannot use. Levels of rT3 can become too high in times of major trauma, surgery, or severe chronic illness. Another 20 percent of T4 can be converted to T3 by healthy gut bacteria in the digestive tract.”
You can read the full post from Dr K here.
So, if you are a “poor converter”, your body may not be able to make that T4 to T3 conversion.
Levothyroxine is a T4-only med. Do you see where this is going? If you’re not converting well, your labs may consistently show low Free T3 in your body. And that Free T3 is what’s needed by the cells in your body for energy, gut motility (the opposite of constipation), body temperature (are you always cold?), mood, skin and hair issues… you know the laundry list of symptoms, so I’ll stop there!
Here are some things to consider if you are a poor converter:
- I was always in touch with my doctor about my labs and how we could tweak and improve them. This sometimes meant raising my meds, lowering them, or trying another med. If your doctor is not willing to discuss this with you, find another doctor if you can. This is your health, not your doctor’s. Find a doctor who will listen.
- Sometimes adding in T3 (liothyronine, one brand is Cytomel) or switching to Natural Desiccated Thyroid (NDT) which has both T4 and T3 hormones (Amour, WP, Naturethroid, etc) is the key to giving the body what it needs. But again, not everyone does well on NDT. One must be mindful of fillers in all meds and any sensitivities one has. For me, I also had to get my iron and cortisol in good shape before NDT worked, as both can affect how thyroid hormones work in the body. More on that in a future post.
- As you heal your gut (see above about the gut converting T4 to T3 – if the gut is not healthy, guess what may not happen? T4 to T3 conversion!) – which we do by removing gluten, dairy, and other inflammatory foods – and your detox pathways heal and open (liver is mentioned as another place where much of the T4 to T3 conversion happens), your body may regain the ability to convert. So stay on top of those labs and symptoms in your journal.
Moral of the story: If you suspect you are a “poor converter”, get that Free T3 lab as well as Reverse T3 to get the best picture of what’s going on in your body, and work with your doctor to find a solution that works for YOU.
See my post Thyroid Labs to Get for recommended thyroid labs.
Ready for change? Learn more about working with me one-on-one.
I have a few friends who have kids with ADHD, so this study piqued my interested. The study explores the correlation between zonulin and ADHD. Zonulin is a protein found in our guts that helps regulate “drawbridges” and “trap doors” found in the gut lining. […]
Functional medicine – what is it? What is a functional medicine practitioner, or functional MD? What is a functional medicine health coach? Good questions all! Functional medicine, in general, looks at the whole body, instead of just a part at a time. Everything is connected, […]
What is AIP? AIP is the AutoImmune Protocol (sometimes called AutoImmune Paleo). The most important thing to remember about the AIP is that it is NOT a diet – it is a PROTOCOL that includes dietary interventions.
Aside from diet, the protocol addresses lifestyle, sleep, and emotional health. If these things are not addressed, the diet part may not be enough to help you heal! Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but, if you work 60 hours a week and only sleep for 5-6 hours a night, that’s probably not helping your health.
And then there’s stress. Sometimes we can’t avoid it (your mean boss, rambunctious kids, rush hour traffic, a parent who is now living with you, health issues, etc.). However, balancing that stress and how we deal with it is key. Self-care in the form of meditation, exercise, and saying no when possible can all help with stress levels. Easier said than done, I know. I’ll be writing more about stress in future posts.
So, the diet part of AIP goes like this: You eliminate potentially inflammatory foods for a while (30 days minimum, but 90 days is better). Then you systematically and carefully add back in foods one at a time to see what you react to, if anything.
This process can take a while, sometimes years, so patience is key! If you have been sick a long time, you probably won’t heal overnight.
I did about 2.5 months of strict AIP before I added back in eggs. I have since reintroduced a few other things here and there (tomatoes, certain nuts, seeds, ghee, white rice among other things). Almost 4 years later I still feel my best when I’m strict with the diet part, but I can now have a cup of coffee, some tea, chocolate, a tiny bit of dairy now and then without “feeling it”. I’ve learned that reactions are cumulative for me, so I don’t push it with these non-compliant foods.
After AIP most of us have to dig deeper. For me, this was addressing heavy metal issues (I had a quite a few mercury amalgams and I was in NYC during 9/11). Everyone will veer off in different directions, but AIP should be the first step for all of us.
Ready for change? Learn more about working with me one-on-one.
It’s best to not take any thyroid meds prior to your labs, as T3 spikes rather quickly in the blood and may give you a false high reading in your labs – and your doctor may want to decrease your meds, which may not be […]
I get asked that question a lot. Heck, I even had that question at one time! A sports coach came to mind whenever someone mentioned the term “health” or “wellness” coach. The vision I had was of someone throwing things at you, telling you what […]
This website has been a long time coming, and I’m excited it’s finally up and running!
Within its walls, you will find, among other things, blog posts on various topics ranging from lifestyle to thyroid and adrenal health. And, of course, I love the subject of nutrition and all things AIP!
I am also enamored with the topic of behavior change and the processes involved in making lasting changes to create new habits – be they eating, sleeping, exercising, communicating with loved ones – for happier, healthier, more mindful living.
You’ll also find my reviews on various books and podcasts I’ve read and listened to. Learning about autoimmune issues can be overwhelming, but learning all that one can is so helpful, not only for a greater understanding of our conditions but also to be able to better speak with your medical practitioners about your care. That said, there is SO much out there. It is my hope to dig past the riff-raff and find only the best resources for you to read/listen to.
Occasionally I’ll post a recipe or two here, but I tend to keep food simple. Creating fancy dishes is not my forte. Creating simple ways of eating using simple ingredients, however, is. If you’d like a sampling of what I cook for myself, check out my Instagram account @autoimmunenutritioncoach. You can also follow me over on Facebook at facebook.com/autoimmunenutritioncoach.
I encourage you to subscribe and join my mailing list so you can catch my posts as they happen, I promise I will never give out your email/info and will never spam your inbox. And I’ll send you a free Quick-and-Easy AIP shopping list as a thank you!
Ready to dive in? I am. 🙂 Looking forward to getting to know you!
For more about me and my journey, visit the About Sandy page.