Everyone’s talking about gluten at the moment, so much so that if you mention you may have a problem with gluten you are normal met with rolling eyes or a comment like “you and everyone else…”
For those of us who genuinely react badly to gluten, this can be really tiresome and hurtful. Gluten is the root cause of many horrible symptoms in a lot of people and can cause and exasperate disease. I for one do not want to be unwell again (read my health stories here and here) and I know that eating gluten will set my health a long way back.
For those of you who brush gluten-free diets off as a fad, have a close look at the list of symptoms of gluten intolerance below and consider whether you’d like to suffer with them daily.
Symptoms of gluten intolerance:
Diarrhea and/or constipation
Unusually smelly stools
Lactose/milk protein intolerance
Numbness/tingling in hands and feet
Weight loss/poor weight management
Look out for my next post “The Truth about Gluten” – I’ll give you a run down of what gluten is and what happens when you have an intolerance to it.
Do you know you have an intolerance but are struggling to get gluten out of your life? Don’t worry! I’m launching my Go gluten-free online coaching package on June 24th 2016! This package provides you with information, tools and strategies to go gluten-free safely and easily and to make it stick – for just £40 (US$58) and in just 4-weeks!
Not sure if you have a gluten intolerance? This package is perfect – I will guide you through the process of determining whether gluten is the cause of your discomfort.
Just think, in a few weeks you could shake all those symptoms you recognised above and finally feel better.
Sleep has always been an important part of my life, and I’ve been able to sleep in some pretty spectacular situations – from a sun-warmed stone on a mountain top to the bouncing bow of a boat in the cold, driving rain. In hindsight, my ability – or need- to nod off was probably a symptom of my thyroid disease.
Recently I have met a lot of people with hypothyroidism, or suspect they have it despite their blood work being normal. Many of these people have a long list of symptoms that they have never associated with their thyroid condition and have lived with them for years. They are are used to feeling less than optimal and easily put these, often non-specific, symptoms down to age or lack of sleep.
But what if you could feel better? What if you could get rid of those aches and pains? Today I want to give you a more comprehensive list (but by no means exhaustive) of the symptoms you may experience with hypothyroidism – there may be more than you may realise.
Chronic symptoms of hypothyroidism can be reduced or eliminated through changes in eating habits and lifestyle.
I’m walking proof of this. I have gone from being bedridden, aching all over and barely able to move to, on the whole, being fully functional! I still get the odd flare-up, but there is usually a clear cause, such as over working, catching a horrible bug or letting my sugar consumption creep up. When this happens I know I have to go back to basics and “Reboot“, to get back on track. And it works.
If you have hypothyroidism, particularly Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and suffer from chronic symptoms it’s important you know that they are an indication that your body is not functioning at it’s best. You have those symptoms for a reason.
Masking symptoms with pain killers and supplements without addressing the cause can compromise your long-term health.
If you have these symptoms please know that you can feel better. It may take time. It may take effort, but it is possible! With no help or guidance from medical doctors as to how to manage my diagnoses (first CFS and then Hashimoto’s thyroiditis), just a prescription for Thyroxine, for a long time I thought I was going to be virtually house-bound for the rest of my life. Thank goodness I took control of my health and made the necessary changes to feel better.
I read and researched. I used my background in Immunology to understand the science behind my disease, then I listened to my body and used my knowledge of nutrition to heal and get as healthy as possible.
Here is a list of some of the symptoms you may have, even if you’re taking thyroxine. How many of these do you have?
Insomnia (yes, even with hypothyroidism)
Muscle and joint stiffness
Pins and needles
Puffy, itchy, scratchy eyes
Puffy hands and feet
Cold extremities/ low basal body temperature
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Eczema/ dry skin
Inability to cope with stress
I had more than 75% of these symptoms and I was misdiagnosed for 5 years. Now I live largely symptom free!
Get in touch to hear how we can work together to improve your health and get rid of your symptoms.
If you have some of these symptoms and haven’t got a hypothyroidism diagnosis, then it’s advisable to talk to your doctor. These symptoms don’t mean you DO have hypothyroidism and are not meant for diagnostic purposes. If you are at all concerned about your health, then make an appointment to see your doctor.
I am happy to help you make positive dietary and lifestyle changes alongside your medical doctor.
Take control of your health and feel better!
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P.P.S. Interested in health coaching but not sure what to expect? Have read of THIS page or send me an email HERE. You can have a FREE Discovery Session with no obligation to sign-up for coaching. Remember, I can coach you no matter where in the world you are!
Today I booked myself another blood test to check whether the thyroxine (levothyroxine, T4) dose I am on is keeping my other thyroid-related hormones within normal range. I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis – a chronic autoimmune condition that, if left untreated, can be a serious problem.
Each time I collect my thyroxine from the chemist he tells me not to have it with milk. I then tell him that I’m dairy intolerant so it’s not an issue. Recently I started wondering what it was about the milk that was a problem. And, are there other things we should be aware of that we aren’t routinely told?
Whether you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or another form of hypothyroidism, you need your thyroxine to be working so you feel your best and stay healthy long-term. This is important stuff!
This week I went back to the original scientific literature to check a few things out. Here are some of the things you need to know if you take thyroxine:
Most people on thyroxine have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis(Davis et al, 2015) – an autoimmune disease that will not go away. It seems that many people on thyroxine don’t really know why they are on it. If that’s you, don’t panic, just book an appointment with your doctor to check it out. Your doctor will explain the medical reasons behind you taking thyroxine and whether or not it is an autoimmune condition, and together you can take control of your health from there.
Thyroxine (T4) is the hormone our thyroid is struggling to produce when we are hypothyroid. It comes in several different forms, but the most common (especially in the UK) is tablet form of synthetic T4, commonly known as Levothyroxine.
Many things affect how well Levothyroxine works in replacing your natural T4 supply. For example, whether the dose is right, if we take it regularly and whether it interacts with other things that may stop it being absorbed properly into our body.
Levothyroxine guidelines recommend taking on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. This is supported by Bach-Huynh et al. (2009), who also recommend fasting for 1 hour afterwards, and highlight that it can take up to 4 hours for levothyroxine to be absorbed. The idea behind fasting is to maximise the chance of it being absorbed without something we eat interfering. Do you wait an hour to eat after taking thyroxine?
Common “morning” foods and habits that can reduce your thyroxine absorption include coffee, soy, grapefruit juice, high fibre foods (e.g. bran, granola and wholemeal bread) and multivitamins that contain calcium and iron (Andrade 2013).
Levothyroxine needs high stomach acidity to be properly absorbed (Centanni et al. 2006) – something people with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis usually lack!
Levothyroxine can lead to dairy intolerance as it inhibits lactase production (the enzyme needed to breakdown milk sugar).Unsurprisingly therefore, 79% of people with Hashimoto’s in one study were found to be lactose intolerant (Asik et al. 2014). Lactose is often used to “fill” thyroxine tablets, so if you’re concerned about this talk to your doctor about possible alternatives. I’m not sure if this was what my chemist was referring to – I haven’t come across any other milk-related problems with taking levothyroxine, apart from maybe that calcium reduces absorption, have you?
How do you know if your thyroxine is working?
If you keep going back to the doctor and get a higher dose of thyroxine, you may be doing something that is stopping it from working properly, and perhaps you should discuss this with your doctor on your next visit. Otherwise, try a few things. 1) do a Symptom check (I am a BIG advocate of this and use it regularly with my clients – it reminds us that we are experts of our own body and only we know how we feel). If you’re having the tell-tale hypothyroid symptoms of fatigue, aches and pains, brain fog etc, then it’s likely you need to review your thyroxine dose or the way you take it. 2) get a blood test and discuss with your doctor whether your hormone levels are within normal range.
Other factors can affect the dose of thyroxine you need, like life-stage and weight, so make sure you get checked periodically. Also, be aware that you can be within “normal” range and still feel rubbish – that is where point 1 comes in and you will probably need to consider dietary and lifestyle changes to reduce your symptoms. Give me a shout HERE if that’s you!
Do you have a “must-know” fact about thyroxine (preferably backed up by science)? Let us all know by commenting below.
Remember, if you have ANY concerns about your health or questions about why you are on thyroxine, please discuss this with your doctor (not google).
Don’t forget to share and like this post especially if you know someone who could benefit!
We all have a story – something that has led us to where we are today. My health, and that of those around me, has repeatedly shifted the course of my life, changed my perspective and led to some serious personal development.
I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis – an autoimmune disease that causes hypothyroidism.
This diagnosis came after I had been gluten-free for about 6 months, having put the family on a gluten-free diet because of symptoms my son had (dry skin patches, distended stomach etc). One day I came across a lonely packet of normal (full of gluten) biscuits. Being human, I couldn’t resist and I tucked into them. The next day my thyroid was the size of a tennis ball (or there abouts!).
Aside from “Gerty the Goiter” I also had or developed these lovely symptoms:
Joint aches and pains
Carpel tunnel syndrome
A blood test showed that my Thyroid Stimulatory Hormone (TSH) was ridiculously high at 96 (normal levels are approximately 4). My TSH was so wildly out of range because my immune system had been attacking my thyroid gland and preventing it from producing adequate amounts of the hormone Thyroxine (T4). As a result my pituitary gland was churning out TSH to tell my thyroid to produce more T4, but to no avail. I also tested positive for thyroid auto-antibodies.
Hence, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Finally I had a reason for feeling tired and cold my WHOLE life (or at least since I was 15).
So, I was put on Thyroxine (replacement T4 hormone).
It occurred to me prior to taking it that Thyroxine stimulates metabolism. I was already struggling to maintain my body weight and, sure enough, as soon as I took the Thyroxine my body crashed. I became bedridden within 24hours and all my symptoms had worsened – it felt like my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) days.
I had to take control of my health immediately. I did so by radically, but safely, adjusting my diet and lifestyle. Within two weeks I had more energy than I had had for years and my thyroid/CFS symptoms disappeared.
Looking back, I now know I was right to go to the doctor as a teenager with fatigue, as a student with exhaustion, anxiety and muscle aches and as a post graduate with persistent colds and lethargy. Each and every time I was dismissed as needing more sleep or for just being “a student”. In reality my body was struggling to deal with an autoimmune disease.
I don’t blame the doctors for this. Yes, it’s frustrating, but really it is a reminder that we need to be proactive and tenacious about our health – reconnect with our body, listen when something is wrong and then take action.
I’m being proactive about my health by concentrating on reducing the effects of this incurable disease so that I stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible!
Do you have thyroid issues? What are your symptoms and how do you keep them under control?
I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) in 2010. I had been struggling to function for nearly a year and been told repeatedly that nothing was wrong with me – all tests were normal. I got CFS as I was writing my doctorate thesis and after having a really bad stomach virus that my body simply couldn’t recover from.
I was bedridden and/or housebound on and off for about 18months. I had extreme fatigue, brain fog, headaches, fibromyalgia – muscle aches and pains. I was uncontrollably losing weight, despite a voracious appetite, and my digestive system was playing up. At one point I also lost my vision.
It was a really hard time, though in amongst it all I completed my doctorate (yep, with brain fog…) and got married (albeit in slow motion)! Despite those achievements, I faced the terrifying possibility that I wouldn’t ever be able to work or to have a family – how could I have kids if my arms were too weak to hold them?
It was time to take control of my health. I slowly managed to get myself functioning again by making significant changes to my diet and lifestyle. I have to keep a close eye on my health, particularly in light of a new diagnosis, but I am now able to have a busy, full life and I have two kids (who I can hold, cuddle and run around with!).
Here are 10 things I learned from CFS
We don’t have an infinite supply of energy – diagnosed as a twenty-something this was news to me! It shouldn’t have been – I had spent a lot of my life feeling exhausted, but I had never really acknowledged or accepted it. It wasn’t good enough to be tired all the time – “I shouldn’t need to rest”, “I should keep going”, “naps were a waste of time” etc. I inevitably would pour another coffee or eat something sugary to see me through, then crawl into bed at 9pm.
Energy should be spent wisely – Once you realise you only have a certain amount of energy to spend in a day, and that that amount is somewhat limited, you have no time for people and things that waste it – and that’s ok.
Who gives energy and who takes it away – I realised that I invested a lot of energy into people. When I had CFS those who contributed to my life in some positive way and those who drained my energy became strikingly apparent. This was a really important life lesson. I stopped following-up with the “takers” and I felt immediately better. This was a clear lesson in self preservation.
I am an introvert – and proud! – Despite having a keen interest in psychology, I hadn’t previously dwelt on, or investigated, which area of the various personality continuums I fall into. A very good friend of mine recommended I read “The Introvert Advantage”, by Marti Olsen Laney. For me it was life changing! I strongly related to this description: “Introverts draw energy from their internal world of ideas, emotions and impressions – they are energy conservers”. I realised that I had been living under the guise of an extrovert – perhaps to “fit in” to the extrovert world of science (which is bizarre as many scientists are introverts!).
Physical activity doesn’t have to be high energy – many people with CFS are told that exercise is good – and for some a staged exercise regime works well. For a many years before CFS I would push myself into going to the gym, to swim or go to aerobics classes. In all honesty I hate the gym. I find nothing pleasurable in going at all, and now that makes sense. I much prefer being physically active outside, surrounded by nature or by positive non-judgemental people – its energising. I also realised that I don’t need to keep up with other people’s expectations of what a healthy exercise regime should be – its unique to me.
My biggest energy drains – small talk, rubbish television, sugar, caffeine, anxiety, anger and stress.
My biggest energy sources – one to one conversations with interesting people, time alone being creative and thinking, taking the time to enjoy and savour a really good cup of tea (caffeine-free), yoga, warm and nourishing food.
My body knows what it needs – I just have to listen. For a long time my body had been giving me signs that things were not going well, but I did not acknowledged them. Had I been more connected with they way my body felt, and had a higher respect for it, my dip into the world of CFS may not have been so dramatic.
Epsom salt baths are amazing – I believe everyone can benefit from bathing in Epsom salts! It rebalances magnesium deficiencies, soothes aching muscles, helps with sleep and is thought to encourage the elimination of waste and toxins (sip water while you bathe).
What matters in life – who and what deserves my precious energy. I decided that I deserved my energy – my health was worth fighting for, that I wanted kids and opportunities to live a full life. My kids and family are worth my energy and so are the unique and beautiful people that I am lucky enough to call friends.
This is my experience with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and I believe it was directly related to my recent Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis diagnosis. Everyone’s is unique – from the triggers to the symptoms and the factors that help or hinder recovery.
It turns out I’ve had an under-active thyroid for the past 17 years. I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune disease – my immune system attacks my body.
Your thyroid is pretty important. It’s responsible for producing hormones that control metabolism, digestion, heart, brain development, muscles… the list goes on and on. It’s therefore unsurprising that when it goes wrong the list of signs and symptoms is pretty lengthy – and it can be very debilitating.
Like so many people, my signs and symptoms were put down to “being a teenager” then, “being a student” then just “working too hard” or “not getting enough sleep”…
Tired, cold and in pain became my norm.
I wish I’d known about these 10 signs when I was 15:
Fatigue/exhaustion. We’ve all been a bit over tired, but the fatigue I am talking about is on a different lever.
Anxiety – triple checking the car is locked or suddenly being nervous about leaving the house or driving the car.
Muscle and joint aches, pain and weakness(fibromyalgia-like)– Oh the pain!
Scratchy, full and sensitive eyes – Mine felt full of sand and about to pop out.
Brain fog – yep, I had brain fog throughout school, my degree and my PhD – brilliant!
Depression, lack of motivation and difficulty handling emotions – It’s hardly surprising with this list of symptoms, but it is more than that.
Being cold, especially hands and feet – there was a reason I moved to the tropics!
Weight problems – uncontrollable weight gain, or in my case weight loss.
Sleep problems – wakefulness due to anxiety, being wakeful in the night and being unrestored by sleep.
Hair loss and thin, grey hair – beautiful!
This is by no means an exhaustive list of thyroid signs and symptoms.
The good news is that many if not all of these signs can be managed through diet and lifestyle!
I am now fully functional, having been housebound for about 18months a few years back. I’m on thyroxine and I have made some dietary and lifestyle changes that me I no longer have aches and pains and my hair is slowly growing back.
Want some help getting your thyroid under control? Get in touch here for a FREE Discovery Session to find out how I could help you.