Seven Signs This Common Condition Is Causing Your Thyroid Disorder

Hypothyroidism (or low thyroid function) is on the rise and affects 1 in 10 women in North America. The most common cause of hypothyroidism? You may be surprised to know that it’s an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s Disease.

In Hashimoto’s disease, the immune system produces antibodies against the thyroid. Overtime, this causes damage to the thyroid gland and eventually hypothyroidism. While Hashimoto’s affects primarily the thyroid, it’s not just a thyroid condition – it’s an autoimmune condition.

Testing for thyroid antibodies is the only way to truly know if you have Hashimoto’s disease. However, these are some of the signs and symptoms I see in people who have an autoimmune thyroid condition. These are usually in addition to the ‘regular’ or classic symptoms of hypothyroidism such as fatigue, trouble losing weight, cold body temperature and constipation.

1. You still feel like $h*t on Synthroid
Maybe you’ve been on thyroid medication for years (or decades!) but have never felt quite right. While thyroid medication can improve the hormone levels in your blood, it doesn’t address the inflammation and autoimmune process that happens with Hashimoto’s Disease. Without treating the inflammation your symptoms can continue to worsen over time even with “normal” thyroid tests.

2. You have digestive symptoms like bloating, gas, heartburn, diarrhea/constipation OR have been previously diagnosed with IBS
What does the gut have to do with our thyroid? A healthy digestive system is key to proper immune function. If you’ve experienced long-term gut issues, have been previously diagnosed with “IBS” or have never been well since something like food poisoning, Hashimoto’s should be on your radar.

3. You experience random skin rashes or hives 
This is another sign that the immune system is out of control and reacting to things it shouldn’t be. It is also a tell-tale sign that the gut isn’t working properly (see above!)

4. You have joint pain or feel puffy all the time
Autoimmune conditions often affect muscles and joints and can lead to constant aches and pains. Swelling, redness, and pain are all signs of inflammation, which goes hand-in-hand with autoimmune conditions and Hashimoto’s disease.

5. You already have an autoimmune condition
Having one autoimmune condition increases your risk for developing others. Autoimmune conditions seen frequently with Hashimoto’s include Rheumatoid Arthritis, Celiac disease, Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Pernicious anemia, Vitiligo, and more.

6. Other members of your family have a thyroid condition
There is also a strong genetic link to Hashimoto’s and other autoimmune conditions. I often see autoimmune conditions being present in multiple members of the same family such as sisters, mothers and daughters. Remember, Hashimoto’s is much more common in females! If your family has a strong history of thyroid conditions, or a relative has been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s or other autoimmune condition, you’ll definitely want to pursue testing.

6. Your thyroid condition was first diagnosed at a young age or after the birth of a child
I often see Hashimoto’s being diagnosed more commonly in young women between 20 and 30 years old. Pregnancy and postpartum is another time where a change in hormones and the immune system can ignite an autoimmune thyroid condition.

The Bottom Line
If you have been previously diagnosed with hypothyroidism I encourage you to also have your thyroid antibodies checked to rule out Hashimoto’s Disease (Your MD or ND can do this). You’ll want to ask specifically for Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (AntiTPO) and Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TgAb).

You can also check out my other blog post here on what tests you need for a complete thyroid assessment.

Have questions? We’re here to help!

Dr. Katie Rothwell, ND

The 3 Thyroid Nutrients I Check In Every Single Patient

nutrient deficiency thyroid

Today I want to share 3 specific nutrients that I make sure to check in every single thyroid patient I see. These nutrients tend to be chronically low in most people with thyroid conditions and this alone can be a major contributing factor to symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, hair loss, muscle aches and more. The first step in many of my treatment plans is to improve these nutrients to optimal levels as it often gets people feeling better than they have in a long time!

1. Ferritin (Iron levels)

Hypothyroidism and low iron often go hand in hand. We can test your iron levels by looking at ferritin, a measure of iron stores in your body. The most common signs of low iron include fatigue, hair loss, feeling cold, weak or brittle nails, and palpitations or shortness of breath. Your thyroid also requires adequate iron levels for two key enzymes that are vital to thyroid hormone production and activation. Without iron, your thyroid just can’t function properly.

If you experience heavy menstrual periods (common with low thyroid function), are vegan/vegetarian, or have a chronic digestive disorder it’s even more important to have your ferritin assessed on a regular basis.

2. Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 deficiency is frequently reported in those with thyroid conditions and I certainly see this in practice. A 2014 study stated that over 55% of patients with an autoimmune thyroid condition had low B12 levels. A series of Vitamin B12 injections often does wonders for thyroid patients in terms of energy levels, memory and concentration, as well as aches and pains.

We get most of our B12 from our diet in the form of animal products, so if you are vegan or vegetarian you should definitely have your B12 checked more often.

Another condition called Pernicious Anemia commonly co-exists with autoimmune thyroid disorders. If you have pernicious anemia your body is unable to absorb B12 from food sources and you will require supplementation long term.

3. Vitamin D

Most of us know that Vitamin D can be helpful for our immune system, but did you know that it is also an essential vitamin for preventing and healing thyroid conditions?

Low vitamin D levels have been implicated in the development, severity, AND progression of autoimmune thyroid conditions such as Hashimoto’s Disease and Grave’s disease. Vitamin D can also be anti-inflammatory for the thyroid and has a role in reducing thyroid specific antibodies.

Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency include fatigue, muscle/joint pain, and frequent colds and infections. Our body makes its own Vitamin D but only with exposure to the sun. Many of us (especially as Canadians) are vitamin D deficient and require supplementation.

Test, don’t guess!
All of these important nutrients can be tested accurately with a simple blood test. Remember to check your labs carefully or review them with a knowledgeable health professional to make sure they are optimal, and not just falling within the ‘normal’ range. Your Medical Doctor or Naturopathic Doctor can run these tests, ideally alongside a full thyroid panel, which I talk about HERE.

Take good care!

Dr. Katie Rothwell, ND

 

References
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24630032
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19625225
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19625225
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25854833
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24532520

I Found More Rope

This week has been a bit crazy.

My oldest has been home sick for a couple days with a fever and bad cough.

The night times have been rough. I’m sure you can relate – no matter what age your kids are now. There are just some of those nights.

At the end of 2016, I made a list of all my “wins” and accomplishments. 

One of them was that I got up every night and night-time parented my kids. WIN!

I got up and comforted, cuddled and reassured either of them or both of them. Sometimes at the same time (those times are super hard!).

But there were times that it was really, really hard. There were times that I was at the end of my rope. That I felt like I didn’t have it in me.

Sometimes I would cry. Sometimes I would leave the room, let them cry while I took a time out to regroup and go back in and try again. Sometimes I needed some late night texts with my sister to get me through.

Somehow, I always found more rope.

I know we’ve all been there. When you’re exhausted and feel all alone and briefly hopeless. When you’re at the end of your rope, what do you do to find more rope?

The ability to bounce back….that’s called resilience.

And how do we build resilience in our children??

The #1 way is for those children to have one (or more) consistently supportive adult in their lives. A person who is their cheerleader and will be there no matter what.

So, if you’ve found more rope…and you keep on finding more rope when you’re at the end of it…you’re being that person to your child and building resilience in them.

Keep it going. One step, one night, one moment at a time. Sometimes those nights can be hard…but the cuddles are worth it.

Talk soon,

Whitney

p.s. join me over at Guiltless Grace on Facebook with some other supportive moms as we get through this together with grace and poise but without the mommy guilt.

“You actually spend time with your kids?!”

I was recently at my doctors office with both my daughters. The receptionist wanted to show them the dancing snowman she had on her desk. It was really sweet to watch my girls in awe of this magical snowman.

Then she said to me that the girls behaved so well and she could tell that someone actually spends time with them!

I was shocked. What did she mean?

She said it was obvious when she saw the children where the parent doesn’t spend much time with their child. Language is not as developed and behaviour is a bit worse.

I have been doing some research for my upcoming book. So I wanted to look into this further.

We all assume that spending time with our children is a good idea. But how much? What do we do during that time? What are the benefits?

  • talking with children helps develop language skills and stimulates brain development
  • the more words your baby is exposed to the better they are prepared to read on their own
  • children who were read to as newborns have a bigger vocabulary and more advanced math skills
  • the number of words a baby hears is directly related to her language skills
  • babies who’s parents spoke to them a lot had higher test scores at age 3 than those who weren’t as verbal
  • reading to them teaches them about emotions early on
  • reading shows her that reading is fun and not a chore, she will develop lifelong love of learning

Steps You Can Take:

  1. Do a Mommy Cooking Show – when you are in the kitchen and your baby is in her high chair, face her towards you and describe everything you’re doing. It will help her vocabulary and you’ll be spending time together!
  2. Visit your Local Library – I know I get bored of the books we have at home. They might too! If you keep switching up the books, this keeps her brain growing and learning new words, shapes, colours and emotions.
  3. Discuss the Emotional Situations in Books – studies have found that babies aged 19-21 months know the difference between right and wrong. Use their story books to explain different situations e.g. how to treat one another, feeling compassion for the sad elephant and happiness towards the animals playing nicely together. This gives her context to real life situations so she will start to develop empathy and a good conscience.

I’d love to hear about your favourite books!

One of my favourites is “Sometimes I like to Curl Up in a Ball” by by Vicki Churchill and Charles Fuge. It has lots of good fun and emotions, about playing fair, not always winning the race, and coming home for a snuggle at night. 

Dr. Whitney Young, ND. Super Baby Coach.

I’d love for you to join me in my moms group on Facebook called Guiltless Grace – how to raise a happy, healthy, & hearty kid without the Mommy Guilt. We share lots of things about food, exercise, play and overall raising healthy kids.

Resources:

www.parents.com/baby/development/intellectual/benefits-of-reading-to-your-newborn

Infertility & Alcohol Intake

I’ve had a few questions this week from men and women asking about when it’s ok to  drink while you’re trying to get pregnant. And how much can you drink?

So here’s some facts for us to consider when thinking about guidelines around infertility and drinking alcohol:

Male Infertility & Alcohol 

  • Alcohol is linked with testicular atrophy, decreased libido and decreased sperm count
  • Alcohol decreases semen volume, poor sperm morphology and motility
  • More alcohol in his system means more oxidative damage to his sperm
  • 10 or more drinks a week is associated with 2-5 times more miscarriages

Female Infertility & Alcohol

  • Women who get hangovers are more likely to be infertile than women who don’t
  • The amount that women can drink in a week isn’t clear
  • One drink a week to 5 units a day can have various effects including increasing the time to pregnancy, decreasing probability of conception rate by over 50% and decreasing implantation rate, increasing both the risk of spontaneous abortion and of fetal death and causing anovulation, luteal phase dysfunction and abnormal blastocyst development
  • 10+ drinks a week associated with 2-3 times greater risk of miscarriage
  • Alcohol consumption in the week prior to conception is associated with an increased rate of miscarriage
  • There is no amount of alcohol that’s considered safe during pregnancy

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is characterized by physical defects, brain and central nervous system problems, & social and behavioural issues

Alcohol:

  • Enters your bloodstream and reaches your developing fetus by crossing the placenta
  • Causes higher blood alcohol concentrations in your developing baby than in your body because a fetus metabolizes alcohol slower than an adult does
  • Interferes with the delivery of oxygen and optimal nutrition to your baby’s developing tissues and organs, including the brain

After conception – when does Implantation happen?

Implantation occurs from 6-12 days after ovulation. Some sources say the most likely day is Day 9.

So when can a woman actually “safely” drink while she’s trying?

  1. Theoretically you could drink from start of period to 6 days after ovulation. So that still gives you about 3 weeks a month you could drink
  2. Definitely stick to less than 10 drinks a week. A glass of wine some nights might help to calm nerves and get you “in the mood.
  3. He should stick to less than 10 drinks a week as well.
  4. Ask him to cut back around time of ovulation so his sperm swims straight
  5. If both of you can cut back without impacting your mental health, then that’s good. But remember, our motto is “have a baby without the crazy.” And if you’re on this journey a long time, that’s a long time to go without alcohol if that’s part of your social life. I get it.

Dr. Whitney Young, Naturopathic Doctor – Fertility Doc at Rooted

Book your Free Fertility Assessment with me to discuss your fertility and get your questions answered.

Links:

Mayo Clinic – Fetal Alchohol Syndrome

 

 

 

Enjoy your Holiday Meal Guilt free

I was talking to a friend recently, and she was telling me how she’s already tired of the holidays.

I said, “But they’ve barely started! How can you be sick of it already?”

Her response made me sad, because it reminded me of how things used to be for me as well. She said, “Kerri, I’m so tired of feeling guilty about food. I can’t wait for January when it will all be back to normal.”

This is not an uncommon feeling this time of year. Holidays bring treats, parties and big dinners. Food is intertwined with all of it. It’s what humans have done forever. We celebrate with food. Every culture has their special meals and foods.

For those with a strained relationship with food, this can be torture. The desire to retreat is strong – just disappear until it’s all over. But the draw to the food can be equally as strong, creating this incredible tug-of-war. No wonder it’s no fun anymore.

I asked my friend if she had ever considered thoroughly enjoying the holiday foods, completely guilt-free, even the foods that she considered not-so-healthy – in fact, especially those foods.

She looked at me like I was nuts. “I’d never stop eating, Kerri.”

So I told her about some interesting research that I had read.

In this study, they divided the people into two groups, and both were given the same shake under different pretenses.

One group was told that this was a healthy meal replacement with a reasonable calorie count and nutritional profile. The label on the shake reinforced that idea.

The second group was told that the shake was an indulgent treat, with more calories than it actually contained. The label showed that the shake lacked nutrients.

Each group had their grehlin levels measured after they consumed it, and again an hour or so afterwards. Grehlin is the hunger hormone. When it’s high, so is hunger. There are many hormones that contribute, but this is a strong one.

Both groups’ grehlin levels dropped after consumption, suggesting a sense of fullness and satisfaction. The big difference came later.

For the group that believed they were drinking a healthy shake, their levels were still stable an hour later. They stayed full and satisfied.

What about the group that believed they had indulged in a high-calorie treat? Their levels rose quite quickly after consuming it, and then dropped again. They were left hungry and unsatisfied. 

So what did we learn after geeking out on this research? That your mindset about the food you’re eating is going to greatly affect how satisfied you will be after eating. If you believe that you’re overindulging, then you’re not going to feel satisfied for long after said ‘treat.’ But if you sit down with your food and believe that it is a perfectly reasonable choice, your body will respond with satiety.

This was very interesting to my friend because she is a binge eater and she has always wondered why even after eating huge amounts of food her body never seems to feel full. Even if she feels physically full, her hunger returns surprisingly fast.

So the moral of this story is just change your mindset – easy, right? Ha, right! Look, I know first-hand how hard it is to change your relationship with food. It took me years to figure this stuff out. Just know that you are not alone, and that help is available.

I wish you all the best with whatever you celebrate.

Dr. Kerri

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