Is your thyroid medication actually working for you?

Do you take Synthroid or levothyroxine but continue to have symptoms of hypothyroidism?

One of the most common reasons that many people don’t feel great on T4 only medications (such as Synthroid or levothyroxine) is that their body is doing a poor job turning their medication (T4) in the active thyroid hormone T3. In order to feel energized, maintain your weight, and feel your best, you need high levels of T3 hormone which is the active thyroid hormone.

You can take medications which make your TSH and even T4 levels “normal” but if no one is testing your Free T3 levels you have no idea if your body is actually converting your medication into the active hormone.

Why do so many women struggle to convert their medication to T3? Well, there are several factors which can quickly derail conversion of T4 to T3.

Here are the most common factors that reduce conversion of T4 to T3:

  • Deficiencies of selenium, iodine, zinc, vitamin A, and vitamins B2, B6 & B12
  • Increased stress and high cortisol
  • High levels of cadmium, mercury, lead and fluoride
  • Starvation or very restrictive eating patterns
  • High carb/low protein diet OR very low carb diets
  • Chronic illness
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Certain medications: beta blockers, birth control pills, estrogen

Wondering if you’re having a problem converting your medications properly? Find a practitioner who will test your Free T3 and Reverse T3 levels. Click here to read by article about my 5 Essential Thyroid Tests.

Want to learn more about my approach to thyroid health?

Book your FREE, no obligation, 15-minute Meet & Greet consultation with me.

Vitamin D Deficiency: the missing key to your optimal health?

Vitamin D is best known for its role in forming strong, healthy bones, however, it also plays a critical role in the following areas:

  • Immune system
  • Hormone balance
  • Muscle function
  • Cardiovascular function
  • Respiratory function
  • Brain development
  • Anti-cancer effects

What are the best ways to get vitamin D?

Commonly known as “the sunshine vitamin,” the skin is able to make vitamin D when it is exposed to sunlight. There are also small amounts of vitamin D in foods such as fortified milk, and yogurt, cheese, eggs, cod liver oil, beef liver, and fatty fish such as salmon, trout, and tuna. However, it is very difficult to meet you requirements through diet alone.

How much vitamin D do I need?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults is 600 international units (IU) for adults, and 800 IU for seniors over the age of 70. These are the bare minimum amounts you need to prevent rickets but they are FAR from enough for most adults to optimize vitamin D levels to get all of its benefits (including anti-cancer effects).

According to the Vitamin D Council (and based on my clinical experience), most adults require 4000 IU or more during the winter months depending on their blood levels. Many adults who supplement the recommended 1000-2000 IU per day are still deficient when their blood levels are tested.

Factors that affect vitamin D status:

  1. Insufficient sun exposure: If you work 9-5 or are wary of the sun, and therefore don’t spend much time outside, or cover-up and use sunblock, you likely aren’t getting enough vitamin D from sun exposure. And if you live in Canada, it’s essentially impossible to make vitamin D during the winter, even on sunny days.
  2. Skin pigmentation: People with darker skin tones have more melanin in their skin, which can interfere with the amount of vitamin D that the skin can produce. While fifteen minutes in the sun may be enough for a fair-skinned individual, someone with a deep complexion may require as much as six times the amount of sun exposure.
  3. Age: Seniors have an increased risk of developing vitamin D deficiency for a few different reasons. As we age, we lose some of the ability to synthesize vitamin D from sunlight. Vitamin D also needs to be activated in the kidneys, which also decrease in function with age. Lastly, many seniors are housebound and therefore aren’t able to get adequate sun exposure outdoors.
  4. Kidney dysfunction: With age, the kidneys lose some of their ability to convert vitamin D into its active form.
  5. Digestive disorders/diseases: When the digestive tract is unable to absorb vitamin D, for instance, due to conditions such as Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and celiac disease.
  6. Obesity: Vitamin D is extracted from the blood by fat cells, thereby reducing its circulation throughout the body. Obese individuals typically require higher amounts of vitamin D supplements to prevent deficiency.

What are the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?

  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog/Difficulty thinking clearly
  • Fatigue
  • Mood changes
  • Frequent infections or slow healing time

How can I get my vitamin D levels tested?

A simple blood test can be used to see if you have vitamin D deficiency. Your results can indicate the following:

vitamin D capsule

  • Severe Deficiency = less than 30 nmol/L
  • Deficiency = between 30 nmol/L and 75 nmol/L
  • Normal levels = between 75 nmol/L  and 100 nmol/L
  • Optimal levels = between 100-200 nmol/mL

How can I raise my vitamin D levels if I’m deficient?

  1. Get outside: practice safe sun exposure but don’t be afraid of the sun!
  2. Take a vitamin D3 supplement (dosing will be based on your blood levels)- gelcaps or drops are best for absorption.
  3. Get a series of vitamin D injections to raise your levels more quickly (as your Naturopathic Doctor if they offer these.

Resources

7 Common Causes of Fatigue

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Most people experience periods of temporary fatigue commonly associated with being overworked or overtired. Such cases usually have an easily identifiable cause and remedy.

Persistent exhaustion, however, is prolonged, profound, and is not relieved by rest alone. Described as a near-constant state of weariness, fatigue develops over time and diminishes energy levels, motivation, and concentration, while also impacting emotional and psychological well-being.

Below are some of the top causes of fatigue and their symptoms.

1. Low Protein Intake:

Protein is an essential building block of the human body. Vital organs, muscles, tissues, and even some hormones are made of protein. Proteins are involved in nearly every bodily function from regulating blood sugar levels to healing wounds and fighting infection. Because they are used to develop, grow, and maintain nearly every part of the body – from skin and hair, to digestive enzymes and antibodies – they are constantly being broken down and must be replaced through diet. While each person is unique in terms of their specific protein needs (based on body weight, gender, age, and activity level), on average, the recommended daily minimum intake of protein for men is 56 grams, and 46 grams for women. Symptoms of low protein intake include: low energy/fatigue, sluggish metabolism, poor concentration, moodiness, difficulty losing weight, muscle, bone and joint pain, blood sugar changes, slow wound healing, low immunity. Vegetarians and vegans, as well as those on weight loss diets, are among the groups that may be at risk of protein deficiency.

2. Iron Deficiency:

The signs and symptoms of low iron or iron-deficiency vary depending on its severity. Mild to moderate iron deficiency can have little or no symptoms. However, if the body continues to be deficient in iron, it can lead to anemia, and symptoms then intensify. The most common symptom of iron deficiency is extreme fatigue. This is because iron is critical in the production hemoglobin, a protein that helps red blood cells deliver oxygen throughout the body. Without adequate levels of iron, the body cannot produce hemoglobin, and as a result can leave you feeling fatigued. Iron defieciency is the most common nutrient deficiency worldwide.

3. Vitamin B12 Deficiency:

The human body requires B12 to make red blood cells, nerves, DNA, and carry out various functions. Like most vitamins, B12 cannot be produced by the body and must be obtained from food and/or supplements. However, many people do not consume enough B12 to meet their needs, due to dietary habits or restrictions (e.g. strict vegetarians) or because they have existing medical conditions that interfere with food absorption (e.g. celiac or Crohn’s disease). As a result, B12 deficiency is relatively common.

4. Vitamin D Deficiency: 

Vitamin D is essential for strong bones, and it also appears to play a role in insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and immune function. Canadians are at risk because of our long winters and it is essentially impossible to get sufficient vitamin D from your diet. Those who avoid the sun, have darker skin complexions, are strict vegans, or who are obese, may be at even higher risk of developing a vitamin D deficiency. According to recent research, roughly three-quarters of American adolescents and adults are vitamin D deficient.

5. Hypothyroidism:

Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, stems from an underproduction of thyroid hormones. Since the body’s energy production requires certain amounts of thyroid hormones, a drop in hormone production leads to lower energy levels, causing you to feel weak and tired. Approximately 25 million people suffer with hypothyroidism and about half are undiagnosed. Older adults, particularly women, are more likely to develop hypothyroidism.

6. Insomnia/Non-restorative Sleep:

How much sleep a person needs varies but most adults require roughly seven to eight hours each night in order to function optimally. Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep, or cause one to wake up too early and not be able to fall back asleep. Insomnia can be caused by psychiatric and medical conditions, unhealthy sleep habits, specific substances, and/or certain biological factors. Nonrestorative sleep (NRS) is defined as the subjective experience that sleep has not been sufficiently refreshing or restorative. NRS is conventionally recognized as a symptom of insomnia or as a feature of medical conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome. In the case of both insomnia and NRS, you may still feel tired when you wake up, which can impact not only your energy level and mood, but also your health, work performance, and quality of life.

7. Adrenal Fatigue/Burnout:

Adrenal glands play a significant role in stress response, as well as in balancing hormones. Adrenal fatigue is a condition where the body and adrenal glands cannot keep up with the amount of stress that many people experience daily as part of modern life. Acute stress and/or chronic stress, lack of sleep, and poor diet and exercise can cause adrenals glands to become overloaded and ineffective. Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

  • Unrelenting tiredness
  • Fatigue despite adequate sleep
  • Body ache, muscle weakness, muscle tension
  • Poor focus, racing thoughts
  • Moodiness, irritability
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Dizzyness or feeling unsteady with position changes
  • Difficulty exercising or poor exercise recovery

References:

 

My Top 10 Weight Loss Tips

  1. Stay hydrated: fill up on water to control your appetite and reduce cravings.

  2. Eat a protein-rich (20+ grams) breakfast within 1 hour of waking up.

  3. Eat every 3-4 hours to help keep blood sugar levels steady and prevent cravings and overeating.

  4. Include some protein and fat with every meal.???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  5. Cover at least half your plate with vegetables.

  6. Get at least 7 hours of good quality sleep every night.

  7. Track everything you eat and drink to stay accountable.

  8. Practice relaxation on a daily basis.

  9. Eat the healthiest diet that you can maintain forever & enjoy!

  10. Stop aiming for perfection: aim to eat healthy 80-90% of the time.

Nutrient Profile: Zinc

36% of men and 40% of women are zinc deficient

What is zinc?

  • It’s the 2nd most abundant essential trace element in the body
  • It’s involved in immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, reproduction, behaviour and learning, and thyroid function
  • It’s essential for the production of stomach acid (HCL)
  • It’s required for a proper sense of taste and smell

What are the signs of zinc deficiency?

  • Learning and behaviour issues (hyperactivity, ADHD)
  • Mental health issues (depression, anxiety, mood swings, fatigue)
  • Hormonal imbalances: PMS, decreased thyroid function, low insulin levels
  • Skin concerns (acne, eczema, psoriasis), poor wound healing, white spots under fingernails
  • Low immune system
  • Low sperm count

 How do I know if I have low zinc?

Your Naturopathic Doctor can run 2 simple tests to assess your zinc levels:

  1. Oral Zinc Tally Test
  2. Serum zinc (blood test)

What foods are high in zinc?

  • Oysters
  • Venison
  • Beef
  • Spelt
  • Scallops
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds

 

3 Unhealthy Habits of 30-Something Women That Keep Them Feeling Tired All Day Long (Part 3)

Unhealthy Habit #3: VITAMIN SHORTAGES

A vitamin shortage simply means that you are consuming less vitamins than your body is using up. This creates a shortage which can definitely make you feel tired. The most common vitamin shortage that I see among 30-something women is an iron shortage. Iron helps to transport oxygen, so when there’s a shortage you feel tired, cold, forgetful, and short of breath. In my opinion, if your iron stores(ferritin)are less than 50, you have an iron deficiency (always ask your doctor what your levels are!).

3 Main Reasons for Vitamin Shortages

  1. You’re not eating enough vitamins
  2. You’re not absorbing enough vitamins
  3. Your body is using up more vitamins than you’re taking in

So why do vitamin shortages make you feel tired? Every single cell in your body needs vitamins to produce energy. If all of your cells have a vitamin shortage, they can’t make energy so that causes your whole body to feel tired.

How to Fix a Vitamin Shortage

The best way to fix a vitamin shortage is to start eating more vitamin-rich foods. The most nutrient-rich foods are fruits and vegetables. You should aim for 2 servings of fruit and at least 4 cups of veggies every single day. To get a wide variety of vitamins choose brightly coloured fruits and veggies that make up the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, and blue/purple. A good quality Green Powder supplement can also help replenish a vitamin shortage more quickly.

What are your favorite natural energy boosters?

 

3 Unhealthy Habits Of 30-Something Women That Keep Them Feeling Tired All Day Long!

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Unhealthy Habit #1: PROTEIN PITFALLS

Most women aren’t eating enough protein, and if they do, they tend to have most of it during their dinner meal. One of the most common nutrition mistakes that I see 30-something women making is skipping out on protein at breakfast and lunch. Think about your usual breakfast….you may have bowl of cereal, some toast or on a really busy day you grab a piece of fruit as you run out the door or even worse- you skip breakfast altogether!

Why is protein so important?

One of the reasons I love protein is that it helps us to feel fuller longer. Protein also helps to control your appetite and reduce food cravings, especially sugar cravings. If you don’t eat enough protein at breakfast and lunch, your blood sugar levels will crash (usually around 2 or 3pm) and you’ll be looking for somewhere to nap after lunch or bee-lining it to your nearest Starbucks for a dose of caffeine and sugar to keep you going. If you’re still not convinced, keep in mind that protein pitfalls can contribute to weight gain and hair loss!

How do I get enough protein?

Most women need about 20 to 30 grams of protein at every meal. What does that look like in terms of real food? Use your hand as a guide: the size of your palm is roughly 20-30 grams of protein. Choose lean and healthy protein sources such as eggs, plain yogurt, chicken, turkey, and fish. Vegetarian sources of protein include beans, legumes, nuts and seeds. Include these at every meal and watch how your energy levels will increase.

Read About Unhealthy Habit #2…..

I tested negative for Celiac. Can I still be sensitive to gluten?

In short, YES! There are 3 major categories of wheat or gluten-related diseases: celiac disease, wheat allergy, and gluten sensitivity. It can be very difficult to distinguish between the three based on symptoms alone. For this reason, food allergy/sensitivity testing can be very helpful in identifying what type of food allergies you may have.

Celiac disease

  • Affects approximately 1 in 132 individuals
  • Confirmed by a 3-part test: antibodies to gluten in the blood, atrophy of the small intestine (biopsy), and improvement with a gluten-free diet

Wheat allergy

  • Confirmed by the presence of IgE antibodies to wheat (blood test)
  • Food “allergy” symptoms tend to occur within 24 hours of eating the allergenic food (peanut allergies, for example, involve IgE antibodies)
  • Can present like celiac disease with symptoms including: asthma, eczema and digestive issues

Gluten sensitivity

  • Estimated to be 6 times more common than celiac disease!
  • Confirmed by presence of IgG and/or IgA antibodies to gluten (blood test)
  • Gluten sensitivity can be difficult to identify through food journaling because the symptoms resulting from the sensitivity can occur 24-72 hours after eating gluten and do not always affect the digestive system (see below)

The most common symptoms that can be caused by gluten sensitivity are (and frequency):

  • Abdominal pain (68%)
  • Eczema or skin rash (40%)
  • Headaches (35%)
  • Foggy mind (34%)
  • Fatigue (33%)
  • Diarrhea (33%)
  • Depression (22%)
  • Anemia (20%)
  • Numbness in arms, finger or legs (20%)
  • Joint pain (11%)

If you suffer from one of more of these conditions, consider eliminating gluten from your diet for a minimum of 3 weeks to see if you improve. Food allergy testing can also help identify food allergies and sensitivities to a variety of foods.

Contact me to find out if food allergy and sensitivity testing is right for you!

Source: Doherty, C. (2012). Defining Gluten Sensitivity. NDNR. www.ndnr.com

10 Steps to Clean Up your Diet

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1. Ditch Plastics

Plastics (from water bottles and food containers) can contain chemicals that have estrogen-like properties and have been linked to weight gain, diabetes, and infertility.

2. Drink Pure, Filtered Water

Unfiltered tap water can contain chlorine, fluoride and other chemical contaminants. Carbon filters (such as Brita) only remove small amounts of chlorine. The gold standard in water filtration is reverse osmosis. Check out EWG’s Water Filter Buying Guide.

3. Go Organic

Organic food contains less pesticides and chemicals and isn’t raised using hormones or antibiotics. The most important foods to choose organic are dairy, meat, and the Dirty Dozen fruits and vegetables.

4. Choose Your Meat Wisely

Whether or not meat is “healthy” is in large part determined by how the meat is raised. Conventionally raised animal meats are often a rich-source of inflammatory omega-6 fats, and may have antibiotic, hormone, and pesticide residues. Choose organic meat whenever possible. Chicken should be free-range or pastured; beef should be “grass-fed” NOT grain-fed.

5. Choose Free-Run Eggs

Free-run eggs contain higher levels of vitamins A, E, B12, and folate and more omega-3 fats than conventional eggs.

6. Avoid Artificial Sweeteners

Completely eliminate all artificial sweeteners from your diet such as aspartame, acesulfame potassium (Equal, NutraSweet), and sucralose (Splenda). Watch out for hidden sources of artificial sweeteners such as chewing gum, fat-free yogurt, and low-calorie and calorie-free drinks.

7. Limit your Sugar Intake

Your intake of added sugars (excluding fruit) should not exceed 25 grams per day, the equivalent of 6 teaspoons. Start reading labels for sugar content and avoid concentrated sources of sugar such as specialty coffees/beverages, fruit flavoured yogurt, breakfast cereals, fruit juice, energy drinks, sports drinks, and soda.

8. Eliminate Refined Vegetable Oils

Most vegetable oils are refined, processed, and contain large amounts of omega-6 fats which in excess can contribute to inflammation and diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Eliminate all refined vegetable oils: canola, vegetable, soy, peanut, safflower, and sunflower and choose healthy oils such as: olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and flaxseed oil.

9. Go Wild for Salmon

Most salmon you’ll find at the grocery store is farmed Atlantic salmon. Farmed fish contain more mercury and contaminants and less healthy omega-3 fats. Choose wild Pacific salmon such as Coho, Chinook, and Sockeye.

10.Remove Common Food Allergens

The most common food allergens are: Milk/dairy products, Eggs, Wheat/gluten , Peanuts, Tree nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, etc), Fish, Soy, and Shellfish. Ask your Naturopathic Doctor to help you identify food allergies (and sensitivities) through an Elimination Diet or Food Sensitivity Testing.

3 Nutrition Tips for Weight Loss

There’s a lot of nutrition advice out there for weight loss. Some of it good, some of it is downright questionable! My approach to weight loss is about making small yet significant changes consistently over time. You may not lose 10 pounds in a week but you’re less likely to have to lose those same 10 pounds over and over again.weight-loss-b

Here are 3 of my  top nutrition tips for weight loss:

1. Choose your calories wisely.

Yes, it’s true that in order to lose weight you must burn more calories than you consume. But the quality of your calories is as important as the quantity! Rather than spending your time counting calories, spend more time choosing foods rich in nutrients to make your calories count. The 3 main sources of calories in your diet are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. These 3 types of nutrients all have different impacts in the body in terms of our metabolism, blood sugar levels, hormones and cravings. This brings us to point #2…

2. Eat to Boost Your Metabolism

 One of the simplest ways to rev up your metabolism each day is to eat a protein-rich breakfast within 1-hour of waking. Healthy protein sources include eggs, plain yogurt, lean meats, fish/seafood, beans/legumes, hummus. Once you’ve had breakfast, you want to continue providing fuel for your metabolism but eating a meal or snack every 3-4 hours. This helps to keep blood sugar levels stable, prevents over-eating at meals, and wards off those late night cravings. You can also try adding foods that help with thyroid gland function (which sets your metabolism) such as seaweed, seafood, brazil nuts, and pumpkin seeds.

3. Keep blood sugar and insulin under control

There is a key hormone that you must address to lose weight: insulin! Insulin is released whenever your blood sugar levels rise, for example after meals. Insulin takes sugar from your blood and stores any excess as fat. To make things worse, insulin loves our tummy so if you tend to gain weight around your mid-section, insulin is likely involved. Which foods trigger the release of insulin? Carbs and sugar! To help keep your blood sugar and insulin levels in check:

Looking for guidance and support to help you lose weight naturally?  I can help!

Book your free 15-minute Meet & Greet to learn more about my weight loss program.