Please, please, don't take supplemental iodine if you have autoimmune hypothyroidism (Hashimoto's disease), which is by FAR the most common reason that people (especially women) are hypothyroid. All the guidance on living with this condition suggests that excess iodine worsens the condition; it has nothing to do with inadequate iodine. If you're that worried about it it would probably be OK to use iodized salt, or take a multivitamin (it's hard to find one without iodine, I've looked). Or just eat some fish regularly. I've been reading a lot about this taking iodine business over the past week or so and I think people are messing around with something they don't understand well at all. I'm not an expert either, but I think this iodine supplementing recommendation is quite dangerous when you don't understand just how prevalent Hashimoto's is.
One way in which Paleo helps with thyroid problems is:
In his book, Brownstein says that almost everyone is deficient in iodine, and that with iodine supplementation people will start to flush bromine out of their bodies. Our need is probably greater now than in paleolithic times because of water fluoridation and chlorination, fluoride toothpaste, bromated flour and vegetable oils (sometimes used in softdrinks), etc. whether paleo or not. It may be difficult to get enough iodine through dietary sources alone.
We began to supplement with either Lugol's iodine or Iodoral tablets several months ago. My wife, who has Hashimoto's (from before we went Paleo I hasten to add) noticed a significant improvement in her thyroid numbers and dropped about ten pounds with no other lifestyle or dietary changes. I also lost a few pounds.
For me the bottom line is:
As far as I know (I have an auto-immune hypothyroidism, btw), as long as you're getting enough iodine, you should be OK. That means having a decent seafood intake, since you'll be going light on the salt. There are rumors of improved thyroid function for some, but nothing solid that I've seen.
I can tell you that in my experience, the hypothyroid symptoms have gotten better since I went Paleo. My energy levels, skin texture, etc. have all improved. It didn't fix my thyroid, of course, but it has mitigated symptoms. I do eat a decent amount of fish, though, so my iodine intake's good to start with.
You can have thyroid anti-bodies years before there is enough damage to the thyroid to cause hypothyroidism. A change in diet could be co-incindental.
I discovered mine quite by accident, when I had a general checkup last year. My TSH was slightly high - but my thyroid anti-bodies very high.
No symptoms, at least nothing that had changed recently. If anything all my other problems were cured with paleo - many of them are associated with hashis, like blood sugar issues, menstrual issues.
I started to take iodine but it made things horribly worse. TSH went from 4 to 13 in a few weeks and I started to get an enlarged thyroid and weight gain. Scary. Be careful with iodine.
I've been strict paleo and especially gluten free, my anti-bodies have started to drop and my TSH is back to 4.5
I feel normal again.
Check out Datis Kharrazians thyroid book
This thread at the PaleoNu forum might be of some use:
Original, forum question: Paleo triggers hypothroidism?
Dr. Kurt Harris' answer:
Any semi-starvation diet, including one based on low carb, can decease metabolic rate reflected as decreased peripheral or tissue t3 levels - this happens to conserve energy. It has nothing to do with hypothyroidism, which by definition means the thyroid gland is unable to produce thyroid hormone.
So don't starve yourself and there is nothing to worry about.
Possibly, considering the major source for the people is iodized salt. Add a sea vegetable every other day or so. You should gain adequate iodine this way.
Check out EAT, MOVE, THRIVE. Check out the Nori chips...yum.
I have hypothyroidism, and in my opinion, nothing related to it has any quick answers. It took years before I was diagnosed even though I had classic symptoms.
I was eating a SAD diet when I got hypothyroidism, not Paleo.
I know that some people have reported developing hypothyroidism symptoms after being very low carb for a very long time. I also read somewhere that such hypothyroidism could be a temporary adaptation, a bit like peripheral insulin resistance that goes away as soon as you eat more carbs.
I would be interested to know about people who have been vlc for a great while and who experienced that. One of my pseudo-scientific theories is that while vlc is beneficial overall, higher carb consumption, at least once in a while, might be needed for some hormone regulation. After all, I don't think that any traditional cultures went vlc forever, I mean, even the Inuits sometimes had berries, even if it was once a year. Ketogenic diets are good for repair and junk protein recycling while insulin is a growth factor and I think we need both periods of repair and periods of growth.
Anyways, I would appreciate the input of anyone with any hands-on experience with that.
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