About Me

Thyroid Update

Although I didn’t expect a miracle, I did hope that doing the Whole30/strict Paleo diet in July would have a positive influence on my thyroid. Clean eating = healthy body = happy thyroid…right?

When I had my blood tested in June, my TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) level was outside the upper limit of the normal range, so I figured a month of Paleo eating was just what I needed. Whole foods! No alcohol! My body would love it! My doctor scheduled me for another blood test in August and I was looking forward to seeing what the results would be.

The normal range for TSH values are 0.3 to 3.0. If you’re below 0.3, you have hyperthyroidism. If you’re above 3, you have hypothyroidism. For reference: When I first started taking thyroid meds in 2009, my TSH was 5.2. For the past few years when I’ve had check-ups, my TSH usually hovers around 2.5. Definitely not at the low end of the range where I’d prefer to be, but still “normal.” In April of 2012 my TSH was at 3.8, and in June it had risen to 5.4.

I had my blood tested again last week. My TSH is now 6.3 — higher than it was in June, higher than it was in 2009 when I originally started taking thyroid meds, higher than I’ve ever tested before. Needless to say, I was surprised and disappointed.

I didn’t expect to see super-great results, but I also didn’t expect for it to be worse than it was in June. However, it did explain why I’ve felt more tired lately, to the point where I’ve been taking long naps on the days I’m not at work (and I often wish I could take naps during the workday as well!).

In years past if I took a nap on a weekend (which happened rarely), I didn’t need to set an alarm because I’d wake up naturally within 20-30 minutes. How has that changed? Well, I left work early last Friday afternoon and when I got home, I laid down for a quick nap — and ended up sleeping for 1.5 hours. On Saturday afternoon I slept for 2 hours (which is the longest nap I believe I’ve ever taken, at least on a day where I had a normal night’s rest the day before and wasn’t sick). I think the only reason I didn’t take another nap on Sunday was because Paul and I were out late on Saturday and I slept in until after 10am.

Since my TSH level continues to rise, my doctor decided to increase the dosage I take. (I’ve been on the same prescription strength of Levothyroxine since 2009; this is the first time my dose has changed.)

If I sit here and think about all the stuff I’ve done since early 2012 to improve my thyroid function, the list seems pretty significant. I’ve said before that I’ll do whatever it takes to feel better, and I think I’ve proved that:

  • Spent extensive time reading about what I can do to control/improve my hypothyroidism (both online and books)
  • Drastically reduced my consumption of gluten and refined sugar. (While I’m not at 100% elimination, my indulgences are rare.)
  • Stopped eating goitrogens in raw form. No more snacking on raw broccoli and cauliflower.
  • Increased my consumption of thyroid-friendly foods like coconut oil, avocados, fish, etc.
  • Went on the Whole30 and eliminated grains, legumes, and dairy for a month. I’ve added a bit of dairy back (in the form of cheese and a little bit of Greek yogurt), but for the most part I continue to keep these things out of my diet.

I admit, doing all that stuff but seeing my TSH get worse — it’s definitely frustrating. However, it doesn’t make me want to go back to eating like I was before. I do believe that the changes I’ve made are positive, even if they haven’t necessarily helped the one area I was most concerned with improving.

I knew before I enacted all these changes that you can’t heal an underactive thyroid with diet alone — usually when someone goes on thyroid meds, they’re on them for life. In my case, I think genetics plays a part, too. My dad has hypothyroidism and has been on meds for about 12 years (at a higher dose than what I take) and his sister, my aunt, is on them as well (but a lower dose than what I’m on).

What you can do with your diet is make positive changes that leave you feeling better and more energetic. I’ve tried that (and will continue to do so), but maybe a higher dose of thyroid hormones is something I needed as well. I’ll see how things look when I get my blood tested again in another 6-8 weeks.

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12 Comments

  • Reply ElissaM August 15, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Interesting post Z. It’s nice to have such a thorough update. I’m sorry that your thyroid problem is worse instead of better but it’s nice to have a reason for why you have been so tired.

  • Reply cebrought August 15, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    That sucks! I was hoping for great results for you. I definitely feel your frustration. I am having mine tested again in a few weeks and I am hoping for some improvement. My last test was around 5.0 and I am not on any meds yet. I was using this time to see if I could turn things around on my own first.

    • Reply Naturally Minimalist August 17, 2012 at 2:27 pm

      That is sweet of you to say! So you must have just been recently diagnosed? I did the same thing when I was first diagnosed in 2009 — waited a few months to see if I could make things better on my own. (Unfortunately it didn’t work; my TSH ended up getting worse so I ended up filling the prescription.)

      I hope you have more success than I did!

  • Reply Wendy August 16, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    I’m hypo as well — when we catch up we should talk about our wonderful thyroids. I lost over 100 pounds and still take synthroid 50mcgs. blah

    • Reply Naturally Minimalist August 17, 2012 at 2:25 pm

      I’ve been on 75mcgs for the past three years and was just bumped-up to 100. ๐Ÿ™

  • Reply Alexandria August 22, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Have you ever tried Thytrophin PMG by standard process? It was a MIRACLE drug for me (in addition to some supplements from my naturopath). I believe it works by tricking your body into attacking the supplement instead of the thyroid. I had hyperthyroidism but this supplement works for both hyper and hypo, in fact, if you google it almost all the reviews are for hypothryroidism. I’ve also found that the less carbs I eat the worse I feel. Maybe you went too low carb or your body really needs some grains?

    • Reply Naturally Minimalist August 23, 2012 at 12:44 pm

      I’ve never heard of it, but I’ll definitely look into it. Thank you!

  • Reply Leah August 27, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    This is all new information for me. Thanks for sharing so much of your life ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope your retest goes much better. Even when explained, being fatigued all the time is no fun.

  • Reply Maria August 29, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    The problem with Levothyroxine is that it does not work as it is a synthetic product which the body cannot utilize properly. I was on levothyroxine for many years, always feeling tired and unwell until a friend told me of Natural Thyroid Hormone. Natural thyroid hormone contains all the hormones that the thyroid gland produces including calcitonin which is essential in calcium metabolism.

    The book “Overcoming Thyroid Disorders” by Dr David Brownstein, a specialist in this area is a good starting point and will explain better than me what needs to be done.

    In my case my hypothyroidism was due to autoimmunity. The autoimmunity was caused by a leaky gut and intestinal dysbiosis from long term antibiotic treatment when I was younger. The Gaps diet with its fermented foods, the probiotic VSL3, a product called Vegepa and Armour Thyroid obtained from Canada (not the american one as it formula was changed and it is no longer as effective as it used to be) seem to keep me in good health and with a low level of antibodies against the thyroid.

    I hope this helps.

    Maria

    • Reply Naturally Minimalist September 1, 2012 at 10:54 am

      I’ve heard the same about Levothyroxine. The issue is that when I switched to NatureThroid (after seeing a holistic doctor), my thyroid level got worse. I could have continued to see her and have her tweak my dosage, but seeing a holistic doctor is really expensive. So I went back to my primary care doctor, and now I only pay my tiny co-pays. Unfortunately, that is a factor.

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