Blood tests, hypothyroidism and vitamin D

I’ve recently got back from a fabulous holiday in Costa Rica, Central America. I am super lucky to be able to go there; I have amazing family and friends there, it’s beautiful, very biodiverse, the people are delightful and you can walk into a lab like a highstreet shop and order any blood test you like.

I know that this is quite a privileged thing to be able to do, and I wouldn’t advise that you do it unless you know how to interpret the results or have a doctor who can help you with it (I also saw an endocrinologist while I was there).

In the UK getting your own blood tests done isn’t possible. Here your GP has to order the blood tests, which means they first have to think that the tests are worth ordering and that the NHS should spend money on them. Even then, the lab tech running the tests can decide not to bother if they don’t think it’s relevant (I’m not kidding, this has happened twice with my Husband’s tumour markers!). It’s therefore quite uncommon for vitamin deficiency tests to be run, for example.  We also don’t get the full thyroid panel, or levels of antibodies. This lack of monitoring can make it hard to determine whether the changes you are making to your lifestyle and diet are having a positive effect on your hypothyroidism.

I can walk you through the diet and lifestyle changes you need to help your thyroid in a safe and systematic way, that’s unique for you! Click HERE

So I went with a plan. I wanted to know whether the vitamin supplements I have been taking are A) having an effect on my vitamin levels (i.e. being assimilated properly) and B) whether I should continue to take them.

I try not to take vitamins unless I really need to. In a lot of cases it’s unclear what a high dose of some vitamins can do, and there has been a fair amount of bad press out there. On the other hand, we know our bodies need certain vitamins, and for hypothyroid people, vitamin deficiencies are common and often undermine the health changes you’re making. For me Vitamin D is an important one – many hypothyroid people assimilate vitamin D poorly, yet it has such a huge role in moderation our immune systems. We don’t really get it from our food, and in the UK, getting it through sun exposure can be challenging.  Personally, I take a high dose Vitamin D3 supplement. In doing so, I need to watch my calcium levels as these can drop. SO I was curious to see what my test results showed.

Interestingly, despite this high dose supplement, my vitamin D levels were right on the boundary of being deficient. This means one of two things 1) that my VitD levels without the high dose supplements are ridiculously low or 2) that the supplement isn’t being assimilated. I don’t know which is the answer, though I do know that I start to feel tired, lethargic and brain-foggy when I skip my Vit D for a few days.

Luckily my blood work showed perfect Calcium levels, so no worries there.

Of course I had anti-thyroid antibodies, as you’d expect with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and my white blood cells were slightly low – again common with my thyroid condition.

So, I’m sticking with the Vitamin D supplements and continuing to eat right and be well!  I’ll be back on the calcium-rich bone broth ASAP!

Caroline x

Vegetable of the Month – Beetroot for July

Eating with the seasons is the best way to nourish your body and to care for the environment. Fruits and vegetables bought out of season have usually traveled a long way and are may have less nutrients as they are picked before they are ripe. Many of us are familiar with the “ripen at home” range in supermarkets, which usually leads to produce going rotten before the ripen.

Solve this problem, support local growers and your health by eating seasonably!

Beetroot is a purple root vegetable, and relative of spinach, that many of us will have only ever eaten cooked and preserved in vinegar. There is a whole lot more to Beetroot! I can be eaten cooked or raw (as in juices and smoothies) and in sweet or savoury dishes.

I love to roast beetroot slowly in the oven (about 2 hours), then add it to a variety of dishes and salads. I also always eat the leaves. It’s important to get fresh beetroot, with crisp, fresh leaves. They can be wilted slightly and eaten like spinach.

Health Benefitsbeetroot 2

Beetroot is particularly high in Manganese – vital for bones, blood clotting, brain function and more – and folate, a B vitamin used for cell division and DNA formation (hence is necessity during pregnancy). The pigments that make beetroot red/purple are water soluble and provide both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory role capabilities.

Beetroot’s fibre and wealth of antioxidants increase antioxidants in the body and promote the growth of white blood cells – making it and ideal go-to food when your immune system needs a bit of a boost.

Beetroot also contains a high proportion of the amino acid glutathione, which is used in the healing and maintenance of our digestive tract. Beetroot is therefore particularly useful if you have suffer from digestive issues and suspect leaky gut (intestinal hyper permeability).

What’s your favourite way to eat beetroot? Let me know!

Caroline x

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Vegetable of the Month – Asparagus for June

Eating with the seasons is the best way to nourish your body and to care for the environment. Fruits and vegetables bought out of season have usually traveled a long way and are may have less nutrients as they are picked before they are ripe. Many of us are familiar with the “ripen at home” range in supermarkets, which usually leads to produce going rotten before the ripen.

Solve this problem, support local growers and your health by eating seasonably!

This month asparagus is in season in the UK (and from May to July). Asparagus is a flowering plant, from which the shoots are edible. Buy perky spears, not limp, and wrap in damp kitchen towel and store in the bottom of your fridge. It’s best to eat asparagus as soon as you can after picking, as the nutrient content diminishes reasonably quickly.

To cook, simply boil for 3 minutes, steam for 4-5 minutes or gently sauté. Many people like to add butter and salt. I find them delicious on their own!

Health benefitsasparagus 3

Asparagus contains a wealth of vitamins and minerals. It’s particularly high in Vitamin K, Folate, Vitamin B1 and B2, Selenium, Vitamin C and E, many of which are antioxidants and confer a wealth of health benefits.

Asparagus is known for it’s diuretic properties, helping us to eliminate waste, and therefore cleanse, by encouraging urination. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, due to the Saponins and is therefore considered potentially helpful in reducing risks of chronic inflammatory disorders and associated disease, such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Asparagus also great for maintaining a healthy digestive system, and is commonly used in traditional Indian Medicine, Ayurveda, for promoting digestive health. Asparagus is high in both fiber and protein (for a vegetable!) and it contains Inulin. Inulin is a carbohydrate that bacteria in our digestive system feed on. These bacteria aid absorption of nutrients, reduce allergies and help reduce the likelihood of colon cancer.

Happy Eating!

Caroline x

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5 reasons to be eco-friendly (apart from saving the planet)

I have always been aware of my impact on the environment and have tried to minimise it, but it’s all too easy to become complacent – to get caught up in consumerism and to find excuses for our poor choices.

Being eco-friendly can seem like and up-hill battle – remembering our reusable shopping bags, rinsing out the cans for recycling, car sharing and spending money on more sustainable choices.

Plus, it’s easy to turn a blind eye to the impacts of our daily decisions, particularly if there is no immediate personal cost. We don’t see the result of our activities – “out of sight out of mind”.

 So, apart from saving the environment, is it worth the time and the effort to be eco-friendly?   In my opinion? YES.

5 reasons to be eco-friendly (apart from saving the environment): 

  1. Save money: You can slowly but surely save a considerable amount of money by making sensible eco-friendly changes. Simply turning off electrical appliances when not in use, turning the tap off while your brushing your teeth and putting lids on saucepans while you’re cooking will all save you money. Further to those energy and money saving tips, making sustainable choices daily will also save you money, for example investing in LED bulbs, buying second hand furniture, starting a vegetable patch.
  2. Reduce chemical exposure: Exposure to chemicals is thought to be contributing to the rise in Cancer prevalence, endocrine disorders and fertility problems. Many chemicals used routinely in homes, like those in cleaning products, haven’t been safety tested (see REACH) – so their effects on our health are unknown. Replacing my cosmetics and cleaning products with natural, more eco-friendly, choices was a big factor in my recovery from CFS. Here are the chemical-free products I use now.
  3. Get moving: Choosing to walk or ride a bike rather than getting in your car will increase your incidental physical activity and have a positive impact on your health!
  4. Help your local economy: Buying local food and produce supports independent farmers and small businesses while reducing your carbon footprint and connecting you with your community.
  5. Boost your health: Eating fresh, wholesome, local and seasonal foods will keep you connected with your environment while providing you with the best nourishment – no need for all that processed, additive-riddled food from the supermarket!

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Making a Change

It’s hard to make changes, and it’s even harder to be the exception – to battle consumerism! But it is worth it and it is possible to make a significant difference with just a few small changes.

Start small and set yourself 2 -3 changes/goals and actions to implement this week. For example:

Goal 1. To take shopping bags to the supermarket. Action strategy: Leave some bags in the boot of your car.

Goal 2. To turn off electrical appliances at night. Action strategy: Walk through each room before bed and shut down every electrical item.

What ONE eco-friendly change are you going to make this week?

Ask me about NORWEX“Radically reducing chemicals in our home”. Eco-friendly cleaning products to reduce plastic and chemical use. 

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