Friday, 19 April 2013

One zillion questions related to nutritional science and thyroid function....

Good news, I’m happy to announce that we now have a wonderful programme confirmed for our November British Thyroid Foundation patient information event in London:

2nd November 2013: Nutritional science and thyroid function - We will have two speakers from the Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Surrey: 

  • Dr Sarah Bath will give a talk on: Thyroid function, iodine and goitrogens
  • Professor Margaret Rayman will give a talk on: Selenium and thyroid autoimmune disease.
Full details are on the BTF website.

I am very happy indeed to have managed to get these speakers. The topic is one that comes up time and again at our meetings – many thyroid patients, me included, are really crying out for reliable information on how nutritional factors might influence our wellbeing.

my supplement drawer, sigh
My own experience has been that making dietary changes has been exceptionally helpful in relieving symptoms which I had assumed were thyroid related. And I take various supplements, but I’m never entirely sure which, if any, are really helping me. I'm quite embarrassed about my monthly expenditure on supplements actually. But what's a girl to do??

While there are lots of opinions and many people who can talk from personal experience about what may have worked well for them, or for other people they may know, I never know who to believe or what it’s sensible to act on. Often, just a little bit of probing will uncover that nutritional advice being merrily doled out may not have a scientific basis. Mind you that doesn’t necessarily mean it definitely won’t work.  

My experience with going gluten free proves, to my mind, that just because science doesn’t understand everything, that doesn’t mean that trying something leftfield may not sometimes be effective. I’ve spoken to enough people who have had experiences of being very unwell who seem now to be radiantly healthy, and attribute their recoveries largely to dietary changes, to know that those people are doing something right!

Oh but the thyroid is a funny old thing and so interlinked with so many other things. I want hard facts. I want to hear from proven experts. I won’t just believe what I’m told just because someone else is sufficiently confident about their own opinion or personal experience that they will tell me it’s the truth for me too. I know that if I do the wrong thing it can have profound and sometimes very slow to materialise unfortunate outcomes. I have a zillion burning questions and I want a proper scientist to answer them. I know we won’t have time to cover everything that I and the rest of the London Group want to know. But I am looking forward to learning as much as I can from our two very eminent and generous speakers, who are kindly giving up their Saturdays to come and talk to us about what they know.

Here are some of the questions I'm hoping we may get answers to:
  •  Do we need to be careful not to eat too many goitregens? Are some worse than others?
  •  I became more hypothyroid after I replaced dairy with soya for a period of months, might that have been a factor?
  • Although I tested negative for celiac (while eating gluten) I feel much better since mainly cutting gluten and other fast burning carbs from my diet –  can you explain why that might be?
  • I take 200 iu selenium every day, is that a good idea? what is a sensible dose and should my levels be monitored?
  • Many individuals with borderline thyroid blood results, who are not prescribed thyroxine, consider taking iodine but we are told this could make them unwell, what advice would you give?
  • I seem very sensitive to sugar but I’m not diabetic, is there an autoimmune connection?
  • What moves are there to integrate nutritional science into the NHS  treatment of hard to treat thyroid patients?
  • How big an issue might food intolerances be in relation to autoimmune conditions in general?
  • How can we as patients help ourselves?
What questions would you add to the list?  We’ve got plenty of time before the meeting. This is a good opportunity to build a comprehensive list of what we’re all longing to know..... The likelihood is we will have at least one follow up talk nutrition after this initial one as it's such a big topic, although I've no idea who will be the best person to get, it's taken over a year to find Professor Rayman and Dr Bath. But by hook or by crook we will learn as much as we can, so that we can help ourselves to feel as well as possible!

Please post your thoughts below.

I'm also fascinated to hear from you if you have had an interesting (good or bad) nutrition related experience...

With love and light.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Foggity fog, damn creeping fog.....

I have been quiet on here again, did you notice? I didn't! Ha ha. No really, I didn't notice what was happening to me. I was slowly getting a bit hypothyroid again the last few months. It crept up on me. Slowly like a snake. it wound it's way around me and squeezed and I didn't notice I was fading away.....

This illness is nuts. Seriously. I think I've cracked it then it's like I've fallen through another trap door and there's a whole new set of lessons to be learned, assumptions to be adjusted, new stuff to be taken on board. And I just pick myself up and carry on.

So, to update you all...... Remember I told you I had my meds reduced in September last year? After going gluten free I was feeling so much better. I'd been able to come off T3 meds and was taking thyroxine only and feeling good and then became concerned I was actually becoming over active so was actually able to reduce the thyroxine dose slightly. And I was SO PLEASED!! It was like, hurrah, hallelujah I am on the mend. I have cracked this thing.

Well I carried on feeling pretty good for a few months. Over Christmas I abandoned my gluten free diet and I felt a bit rubbish again but I was relaxed about that. I just though, hey ho, festive season is here, I shall eat what I like and put on a couple of pounds and then go back on the straight and narrow afterwards and it will be fine.

cakes and mulled wine at Christmas

Then after Christmas we had a death in the family and I had to go overseas for the funeral and obviously while I was there I just ate whatever came my way because I wasn't going to be fussing about my diet when my family were grieving. And we all got into comfort eating a bit. Why not, right? Hard times call for desperate measures. Cake and chocolate is good medicine sometimes.

I got home towards the end of Jan and I just put the fact that I felt brainfoggy and tired down to the poor diet over a few weeks and I assumed it would sort itself out as I got back on track with eating well again.

It was mid March before I realised that something was wrong. I had been tired for weeks. It was getting worse not better. I was becoming forgetful and a bit clumsy. I would be walking up the hill to our house and feel like gravity was pulling me back down it. Ooh, err, better get my thyroid checked.

I'd had it checked before my trip abroad. It, (my TSH, I won't bore you with my other numbers), was 1.7. Up from 0.9 the previous September. Up from the very suppressed 0.01 or thereabouts it had been for the previous 18 months. I thought 1.7 was a pretty good number. If I felt good at 1.7 then  hurrah. My endocrinologist reckons being between 1 and 2 is probably optimal and that makes sense to me. I'd been too suppressed when I was taking T3 and it looked like it was slowly adjusting to a more sensible level.

But in March it had jumped to 3.4. And I felt awful. So now my dose has been ever so slightly increased again. And I am slowly starting to feel better. Phewwew.  Hopefully it won't take long before I am properly back on track.

Lessons learned:
  1. Meds adjustments can take a long time to reveal their full effect on the body. That's why it makes sense not to make lots of changes in a short space of time. We  need time to adjust. 
  2. Small adjustments can make a big difference. I was taking alternate doses of 100 and 125 micrograms back in September and we dropped down to 100mcg every day. That was, in hindsight too big a drop for me. My endocrinologist has now suggested I take 100mcg 5 days a week and 125 at the weekend. I am hearing more and more about people on very finely balanced doses. We really need thyroxine to be available in smaller doses.  (this is something the BTF is talking to drug companies about and can hopefully influence) 
  3. I need to listen to my body more and take action more quickly if I think I might be going hypo. My husband actually said to me in January he thought I might be getting ill again, but I poo pooed  him. I was so focussed on a positive view of the situation "I'm fine, I'm fine, I know what's going on here, I just need to eat less cake/ get over this lingering virus"  (oh fool me, there probably never was a virus, hypothyroidism was creeping up on me again). So as well as listening to my body more I also need to listen to my nearest and dearest who knows me so well and is so sensitive to what's going on with me. I hate going to the doctor because I don't want to be seen as a sickly person. But I am a sickly person and I need to pay attention and go for help when it's neccessary as help is at hand and I am going to be fine now. I know it. :) 
Hey ho, that's what's been going on with me. What's been happening in your world? Send me some #thyroidlife love please. I feel like I need it! 

#Hope :)