Rashi Chowdhary. To Vogue India, she is the winner of the Nutritionist of the Year Award 2019. To India, she is one of the leading celebrity nutritionists with clients to boast of including Bahubhali’s Tamannaah Bhatia and the new sensationin Bollywood Rakul Preet Singh. To Dubai, the place she now calls home, she is the creator and face of the Protein Bake Shop. To me…she is my friend of a decade long friendship that grew through our own personal ups and downs. She is also the woman who helped me balance my hormones and start magically living a life free of hormonal issues just by changing the way I eat.
In this series, we decided to do topics that affect a large majority of the population – both male and female. This is a three part series and you will be getting different fun material that will hopefully change your life. This series will cover Thyroid issues, how to manage having thyroid, how to ween off medication and how to manage weight gain or emotions that come with hypo and hyper thyroid. So, without any further delay, let’s get started with the basic insight on thyroid from Rashi:
Thyroid seems very common these days in both women and men. What is the root cause of thyroid? Is it something we eat that ends up triggering it over time ?
We use to believe that thyroid is genetic and only if someone from your family has it, the chances of you having thyroid at some point were high. Now we know that this is far away from the truth. Before I dive into why we get thyroid issues, I really wanted to talk a little bit about some uncommon symptoms that go unnoticed and can delay diagnosis. Living with Thyroid can be really hard and knowing that you have it can help you put efforts into the right direction and get started on healing it.
If you resonate with any of the following symptoms, please get your Thyroid levels tested.
- SIBO can be very common amongst thyroid patients. I don’t usually like making my clients do too many tests cause the diet I give is super anti-inflammatory, I do a 2-4 Week gut cleanse with most clients and know that even if they have a digestive issues like gas, bloating, belching etc, all of those anyway disappear in less than 2 weeks, if they continue, then I make them run some tests and most often the ones with SIBO, take longer to heal and also have underlying hypothyroid that has gone unnoticed.
- Period Issues: I’ve spoken a lot about this on my Instagram, Both hypo and hyper thyroid can have an effect on our menstrual cycles so irregular periods, very scanty bleeding or heavy bleeding and mood swings.
- Loss of smell or taste for food: Hypothyroid particularly can have an effect on your sensory pleasures like taste and smell when it comes to food. This is also one reason, people tend to gain weight cause they can’t taste and smell food the way they use to so they feel the need to eat more to feel satisfied.
- You skin turning slightly greyish and really dry, losing one third of your outer eyebrow and sudden hair loss are also signs of thyroid, but these are not uncommon nor are they early signs.
Coming back to the causes, we now know, most people have auto immune Thyroid and have no clue about it.
So the first cause I would like to cover is this. In auto immune thyroid, your body starts to attack your own healthy thyroid cells, it confuses it for an unhealthy foreign particle. Your body thinks it ix protecting you, but actually it is just working against you. From all the research I’ve done, one of the reasons this particular cause is so common is because of the consumption of wheat. Even if it’s organic. The structure of Glaidin in wheat is very similar to that of the cells of thyroid gland, Wheat ,on getting digested, has an acidic reside and also causes inflammation in the gut. Your immune system is actually trying to protect you by attacking the Glaidin cells but due to “molecular mimicry “ it attacks the healthy thyroid cells causing Auto immunity.The solution is to drastically reduce the consumption of wheat in every form. There are other reasons for auto immunity as well. It could be a medication ( which is why it is important to ask your doctor about side effects before popping any pills)
The second and lesser known reason why thyroid disorders are so common amongst women is because we menstruate and that causes a whole lot of fluctuations in Progesterone, Estrogen and other hormones. Since so much is now changing with how we are externally, the amount of stress we take, the type of jobs we do , that sometimes, internally,, our body finds it hard to catch up. Our hormonal shifts are natural but our inability to balance those and our inability to create a nourishing environment mentally and physically to heal them is what causes disorders like Hypothyroid. Have an important business trip coming up, and we will pop a pill to delay our period, if our partners don’t want to use a condom for protection, we pop a contraceptive DAILY, bloat, feel like throwing up but still continue to have it so they can enjoy sex (I have no issues if you love sex without a condom too, but if its taking a toll on you, please speak up) We are sleep deprived some days because we have deadlines to reach and the stress we put on ourselves to keep it all together causes more hormonal chaos. All of these lifestyle issues coupled with the fact that we have hormonal shifts every month, makes women at a higher risk of developing Hashimotos, which is an auto immune hypothyroid. We are 5-8 times more likely to have thyroid than men. Lastly, for a lot of women, taking OCP’S has become very common and we now know that taking OCP’s depletes our nutrient stores specially zinc. Zinc helps in the communication between your thyroid hormone and cell receptor. Just by depleting zinc, the pill can prevent you from making and activating thyroid hormone.
If one is on thyroid meds how should they manage taking the meds? Do Certain foods help the absorption better ?
Before we jump to medication, I highly recommend if you are reading this and you are concerned about your thyroid gland, get a complete thyroid panel done. You need to get the following done. TSH , total T3 , Total T4, Free T3, Free T4, and Anti bodies ( TPO + TG) Reading these levels properly is very important.
TSH is the hormone that tells your thyroid to make more thyroid hormone. TSH test becomes worthless..If your hypothalamus and pituitary are not doing their thing cause the stops on the signaling pathway can get messed up for various reasons. You can’t rely onTSH alone, if you have symptoms.
Regular ref range is 0.5 to 4.7 but in most cases above 2 means you will have symptoms and can treat this as a warning sign.
Your thyroid makes mostly T4, also known as thyroxine. Thyroxine is the storage form of thyroid hormone — it circulates in the bloodstream, then your tissues store it. When an area of your body needs energy, it gets converted into the active form, T3. .
Optimal Free T4 range: 10-23 pmol/L (but above 11 means the imbalance has already started)
Free T3 – TRIIODOTHYRONINE
When your tissues ned energy, they convert T4 into Free T3, the active form. Sometimes your thyroid makes sufficient hormone, but you don’t convert it, so you’ll get hypothyroid symptoms. This is generally the reason your energy levels fizzle out mid way in the gym.
Free T3: above 5.5 pmol/L means thyroid function is moving towards hypo.
Antibodies (TPO + AT)
If either one or both of these antibodies test high, that means your immune system attacks the thyroid. That means you have one of two autoimmune thyroid diseases — Hashimoto’s thyroiditis if you’re hypothyroid, and Graves’ disease if you’re hyperthyroid .Ideally both should be less than 10 or negligible but if they are a double digit or more, it is a cause of concern.
Is it possible to manage this over time with just nutrition? What are your recommendations to get off the meds, lose weight and feel better ?
YES! Of course it is and you will be surprised to see how the levels mentioned above will start to improve and change within 6 weeks of doing some of the stuff that I’m recommending.
Food to avoid/ Minimize to heal thyroid issues:
We’ve established that gluten causes inflammation that slow down thyroid function. It triggers auto immune response in the body that attacks the thyroid. Many clients who struggle a lot have benefited with just excluding gluten from their meals. Wheat, barley, rye, and spelt have gluten. Make sure you avoid all the wheat products too, semolina, vermicelli, broken wheat, wheat pastas, breads, cakes of corse.
Next on the list is.. no surprise.. Sugar! Cause its what any inflammatory disease feeds on! The inflammation increases every time you have sugar which hinders healing of your thyroid.
Third on the list is Soy. It’s a big no because it’s a genetically modified food and also it has phytoestrogens which makes the hormonal imbalance worse. So keep off edamame, tofu, mock meats and use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce!
Here’s one more food you need to avoid SPECIALLY if your thyroid antibodies are high and your thyroid problem is auto-immune. Most of my clients resist this one, But only those who are able to actually stick to this long term, are able to reverse autoimmune Thyroid!!! LENTILS!! you need to avoid legumes and lentils. These have lectins that worsen the auto-immune response. Lectins block the thyroid hormone and you may end up with thyroid receptor problem, where the cells become resistant to the hormone. In this situation, the thyroid hormone pills will not help at all and your dosage will go on increasing and so will the weight!
Avoiding these foods will allow your thyroid to heal; it will make you feel much better and will resolve many of your symptoms too. This is the reason I put up the story about “only people who are really dedicated to the process can see progress when it is autoimmune” It’s hard, but at least there’s hope for a cure in food.
Nutrient deficiencies and thyroid
Whether you want to prevent or heal your thyroid, here are some basic nutrients that are directly linked to Thyroid when they are deficient.
Iodine (1mg), Omega 3 (2000mg), vitamin A (2tsp spirullina OR 1000 IU), vitamin D (1000 IU), selenium (200mcg) and zinc (50mg) are crucial for thyroid hormone production and activation. Iodine is naturally available in sea vegetables, fish. Salmon, herring, walnuts, flaxseeds, have omega 3. Green leafy vegetables, carrots, chicken liver can give you vitamin A. Brazil nuts, gray niger seeds, sesame seeds, flaxseeds contain good amount of selenium. Zinc is available in cashews, egg yolk, chicken, lamb.
You can include these foods in your daily diet but the amounts won’t be adequate to meet the requirements. It’s wise to get these nutrients through supplements to ensure you get enough of them to treat your thyroid.
To Be continued–Coming up–real life clients who successfully healed their thyroid through Rashi’s recommendations and meal plans!
To contact Rashi or follow her on Instagram and Facebook, see her information:
YouTube channel: youtu.be/KaAvdzJzyLE
If you missed the previous posts from Rashi, please take a browse through her interviews on Reshie Rambles: