Posts Tagged ‘thyroid’
Kale is such a nutritional superstar that it has an ANDI score of 1000, meaning that it contains the highest nutrient content per calorie of any food (along with other leafy greens like collards, mustard greens, and watercress). In addition, it is an excellent source of the often overlooked Vitamin K, which is poised to become the next nutrient media darling, (move over Vitamin D).
Kale is truly a superfood, but it’s a cruciferous vegetable and should be cooked. Like soy, raw cruciferous vegetables contain goitrogens that disrupt thyroid function. While consumption of goitrogens by those with robust thyroids might not pose any harm, a large number of individuals have compromised, undiagnosed, or subclinical thyroid issues. The simple act of cooking lessens the presence of goitrogens, increases the bioavailability of some nutrients, and helps break down the insoluble fiber for easier digestion. This last point is especially helpful if you (like me) have difficulty breaking down roughage. It is also important to remember to consume good quality fats along with vegetables to ensure the absorption of fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K).
- 16 oz Kale (frozen or fresh)
- 1/2 cup veg broth
- 1/3 cup raw brazil nuts
- 1 Tbs nutritional yeast
- 1 white or yellow onion
- 3-5 mushrooms*
- dash of granulated garlic
My husband and toddler likes this mixed in with quinoa. I like it thinned out as a base for soup. The possibilities are endless!
*I often use fancy dehydrated mushroom mixes and add them in with fresh mushrooms. Just rehydrate the mushrooms first to use in this recipe. To rehydrate, place mushrooms in a boil and cover with hot water. Let mushrooms sit for a couple hours before use. Alternatively you can cover with room temperature water and let sit overnight in the fridge. I’ve found that they often need a long soak time or they will be a bit rubbery.
The 2011 Sunscreen guide arrived in my inbox this morning thanks to one of my favorite organizations, the Environmental Working Group. If you are at all interested in keeping carcinogens, neurotoxins, endocrine disruptors, etc. off your skin and out of your body, then EWG’s Skin Deep database will be your best friend. Years ago, when I first found Skin Deep I dropped my “natural” Aveeno sunscreen into the trash. Reading the list of potential side effects of these everyday products is gross. And EWG just gets better and better all the time. The number of products they’ve scored in their database has grown exponentially.
Unfortunately, of the 65,000+ products that they review, they don’t have my favorite facial sunscreen: Eminence’s Tropical Vanilla Sun Cream SPF 32. Though the price is a bit prohibitive, it is the best mineral sunscreen that I’ve used. The “cream” part means that it is more moisturizing and it leaves much less of a white mask than the others I’ve tried. It also provides a sort of matte finish that I think looks a bit like wearing powder. Oh, and it smells amazingly edible.
However, I feel like all mineral sunscreens are somewhat terrible for running. Even in the non-warm Oregon spring, they are suffocating and seem to slide off. Oh the irony: Sweating in the sunshine only increases the need for protection, but sunscreens (and mineral ones in particular) don’t work well in a slippery environment. Regular “sport” sunscreens do better, but the chemicals really bother my eczema. The compromise that I’ve come up with is the occasional use of Alba Botanical ‘s SPF 45 Sport. EWG scores it as a 5, which is higher than I normally would consider using, but it seems to be less irritating for my hands and better at staying in place (and actually providing sun protection!).
As for my son… I just love everything California Baby. Maybe being born in the OC makes me biased?
I really never used to wear sunscreen. I told everyone that I drank enough carrot juice to protect my skin! And then one day something clicked… I think it was turning 27 and realizing that I was nearing the down-slide to 30 and middle-adulthood. It was like a hazard light went off in my brain: I AM AGING. Obviously this seems overly dramatic, but I have a mother who has always been obsessed with skincare and it was just a matter of time until I joined in the compulsion.
For me it’s not just about finding the MOST effective products, but also finding the LEAST toxic ones. Many active ingredients (like glycolic & salicylic acids) have been found to be potentially hazardous, but they give great results. Just like any effective medication, there could be some side effects… it’s just a matter of how much you are willing to compromise.
One things that kill me are parabens. These are simply chemical preservatives added to products to make them last longer on the store shelves. They have been linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, mutations, and they are an endocrine disruptor (ie. they mess with your thyroid & hormones). So why are cosmetic companies still adding these harmful preservatives to everything from makeup to shampoo to lotions? We know they’re bad and many “natural” companies have abandoned them… there’s really no excuse.
And onto the hottly debated topic of Sunscreen. Studies have linked certain UV filters to the transsexualization of male fish, hormone disrupting activity and low birth weights in infant girls. One of these culprit chemicals is oxybenzone, which is common in many sunscreens. To lower the toxicity of sunscreens look for physical and not chemical blockers (ie. zinc oxide) in their non-nano form. This means that the particles are large enough to sit on the surface of the skin. The downside to this is the dreaded pasty-ghost-white film… but many products are getting better. A way around this is to use a tinted moisturizer with spf on your face.
The cosmetics database from the Environmental Working Group, a DC-based nonprofit, has 1,000′s of products rated on their safety levels. It’s a wonderful resource to lookup your favorite products and see their toxicity level. I used to buy Aveeno’s Positively Radiant facial sunscreen until I looked it up a couple of years ago. Today we are so bombarded with environmental pollutants and toxins from every angle (food, water, air, homes, etc.) that it is no wonder that an alarmingly high number of us have some kind of hormone, auto-immune, endrocrine (thyroid) or adrenal problem! One of the easiest things we can control is what we put onto my body.
Here’s the 2009 Guide to Sunscreens. Now, I’m off to enjoy the nice weather!
Also check out: Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
Selling the bakery has really been an impetus for me to address some underlying health issues that I have been let sliding for some time. Yesterday I had an appointment with a naturopathic doctor here in Portland to talk about solutions to my low iron levels, digestive troubles, and fatigue. I also have an appointment with a new endocrinologist next week!
I know it might seem like anyone who is able to run 70 mpw should have plenty of energy, but it’s all relative. I used to have energy coming out of every pore of my body… I never sat still!
Any athlete who is trying to push their body in any capacity, even if it is just recreationally, knows when something is off. As athletes we demand more from our bodies and frankly require a higher level of health. Having a doctor or health care provider that understands this is IMPERATIVE. I always try to get referrals or interview a doctor before I see him/her to make sure that they work with athletes, or in the very least understand the increased demands that training places on the body. This goes for Primary Care Providers, ND’s, Acupuncturists, Masseuses, OB’s, Endocrinologists, Allergists, etc. They have to be willing to treat your symptoms and not treat to a broad desired range that might work for the general public.
For instance, some doctors consider a “normal” serum ferritin (shows how much iron is stored in the body) range to start as low as 18 mcg/L and I’ve even seen ranges starting as low as 3 mcg/L! A common recommendation is for runners to be over 30, however, many top athletes and coaches strive for ferritin levels over 100 mcg/L. It’s one of those things that is very dependent on the athlete. We have a girl on our team who has naturally high iron, and she starts to feel terrible when her ferritin gets down to the 60′s. This is why regular blood tests are a good idea, so you have a health history and can see changes over time. We test our team 2 x per year to establish baseline levels and make sure that everyone is staying on top of things.
The increased demands that endurance sports place on the body just mean that we have to pay extra attention and make it important to find great partners in your health. If you aren’t receiving the treatment that you need, don’t be afraid to show your doctor research and get second or third opinions. Be your own advocate!
I guess this is the time of year when people when people get sick. For some reason this year it seems like everyone in Portland has been sick in the last month or 6-weeks. I am actually finally feeling better after two weeks of achy-tired-yuckiness. Did I say tired? I meant exhausted. It took me a week to realize that I was actually sick, and not just suffering from some strange sudden-onset of chronic fatigue syndrome.
That all being said. The lack of energy inspired me to think about my thyroid again…. and I started surfing to see what I could find. This was my big discovery:
Wow. I love the idea that doctors need to start treating the symptoms again and not just the lab results. I do think most of us are under-medicated when it comes to the thyroid. (I keep holding out hope that the celiac disease has caused my elevated thyroid antibodies… and that if enough time goes by on my gluten-free diet, my thyroid will magically be better again! but that is beside the point)
Hypo-thyroid patients used to receive enough medication so that their symptoms were alleviated. Now, as most of us know, doctors shoot for our TSH to be in a targeted range. The problem is that where you feel your best can be at different places within that range. It turns out TSH is pretty individual.
One thing is certain: Doctors like tests. They like hard “science” and measurable data. They like numbers they can monitor. (kind of like cholesterol, but that is another can of worms entirely)
I would love to find a good ND to compliment the treatment I already get. It is an avenue that I haven’t really explored, but one that seems like it might be very beneficial.
Levoxyl- on empty stomach of course… sometimes I’ll set my alarm and go back to sleep.
Midday or later morning:
L-Tyrosine (Thyroid support)
Kelp (Thyroid support)
Before Bed at Night:
Rhinocort Aqua Nasal Spray (for my allergies)
I don’t take a multi because I don’t like having everything in one pill. It is convenient though! I just want to make sure that I give myself a fighting chance at absorbing everything… especially since my intestines are in a rough shape.
Any to add?
1. Foot Strike Hemolysis—red blood cells are destroyed by runners’ feet pounding on the ground. You literally squish them as you strike the ground. This loss can be even more intense at altitude.
2. Sweat & Urine—small amounts of iron are lost in sweat and urine and these amounts can add up over time and worsen in hot weather.
3. GI & Menstrual Bleeding—small amounts of iron are lost due to bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract that is common with intense training/racing, while larger amounts can be lost through a regular menstrual cycle. If your cycle is causing you to lose more significant amounts of blood due to an extended length, heavier flow or increased frequency, you should report this to your doctor so that she can try to find the cause.
4. Low Iron Intake—runners who follow the traditional high-carb/low-fat endurance diet often do not consume much red meat, which is the best absorbed source of dietary iron. Many runners also tend to under eat in an effort to maintain an artificially lower weight. There is evidence that this type of calorie restriction lowers metabolic functioning and over the long term may lead to a sluggish thyroid or hypothyroidism.
Hematocrit— the percentage of red blood cells in the blood
Ferritin— the body’s stored iron (primarily in bone marrow, liver, and spleen)
Iron-Deficiency Anemia—clinically low hemoglobin or hematocrit levels
(B12 deficiency can cause another type of anemia, more common in vegetarians than meat eaters because B12 is difficult to get from a vegan diet)
Iron Depletion—low ferritin levels (for running purposes 30)
What exactly is ferritin again?
For one thing, different people seem to require different levels to feel good. One athlete may perform best as long as her ferritin is over 40, while another may require double. When fine-tuning for performance enhancement, it is best to track ferritin levels over time, that way you can get a baseline level of what might be normal for you. Unfortunately, few people think to go in for blood tests when they are feeling fine. Some sports medicine docs and coaches like an athlete’s ferritin to be above 100. It is commonly accepted in the running community that a score under 30 means you should be pumping some iron into your system, in whatever form necessary.
Serious female runners should have their iron levels checked a minimum of twice (preferably four times) per year. Competitive male runners should be tested annually, and those with a history of iron depletion (or vegetarians) should be tested at least twice per year. To ensure consistent results, always have your blood tested before running (i.e., when you are well-hydrated), because dehydration will make your iron levels appear higher than they are. Again, the major iron status tests of interest to runners are: hemoglobin, hematocrit, red blood cells and ferritin. And, depending on how savvy your doc is, you may have to specifically request the ferritin to be checked. Unfortunately, it is still not a commonly performed test by many family practitioners.
More on iron supps and common signs of deficiency in another post.
Today I got the results from the team blood test we had on Wednesday.
Drum roll please…..Ferritin is 16!*
Because low iron is so prevalent in distance runners, (why? see my post entitled Running Into the Ground) we screen our athletes twice a year with blood work from the health center. The woman who stuck me with the needle asked me what year I was when I got on the table. She was embarrassed when I told her my age and that I’m a coach. At least she complemented my veins.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t wait that long to get tested. At the end of June I began a pretty steep decline. I went from feeling somewhat decent on runs, to starting to get tired, to having an allergy induced asthma attack while running on Wildwood. That hasn’t happened to me in a few years- and it has only happened 4 or 5 times in my life. I do know from experience (and the allergist) that it is brought on by exposure to the allergen AND severe fatigue. Since the allergy tests revealed that I am basically allergic to Oregon, or at least all of its trees and grasses, I knew that fatigue was the main culprit.
The heat over the fourth of July in Ashland only made me feel worse, so I emailed my Endo in Houston to ask for some blood work. I was overdue in checking my thyroid’s status anyways. The only red flag from the results was, of course, my iron. Ferritin was 6. Again. Again! I thought the gluten-free diet was supposed to be helping, but apparently my intestines are still not in shape.
So it has been 5 or 6 weeks of stomachaches now. 5 or 6 weeks of reading gluten-free forums and message boards in search of some kind of help from the celiac community about how to overcome the chronic anemia. I have known about my iron issues since college. I was even sidelined my sophomore track season with chronic anemia. At least now the malabsorption problems have been somewhat explained. (i.e. in people with celiac, gluten destroys the microvilli which line the intestine to aid in capturing nutrients).
I’m trying to figure out how to go about getting a drip or even injections, but I am without insurance…. so who knows. I am just anxious to get rid of the stomach pain and GI problems again. I can only liken it to eating a steaming bowel of hot buckwheat**….EVERYDAY!!!
* The level of ferritin in your blood is a measure of your body’s iron stores. Ferritin is a protein containing iron stored in your bone marrow and liver. My highest recorded ferritin has been 18, the lowest was 5. Under 30 is a red flag. Ideally, much higher is better for performance.
**I actually did this by accident 3 weeks into my gf life- thought it was the cream o’rice cereal. Paid for dearly for it for three days afterwards.
On the bright side, the rain does make it much more pleasant to bake. It is hard to believe that we’ve had such a dreary August. It is usually the only consistently nice month in the Northwest. Classes start on Monday and most of the team is back already. They had their camp over the weekend and we have our first practice on Friday. And just like that *** my weekends are booked until Christmas break.
Yesterday we went out to Sauvie Island to run the loop, to celebrate the end of our Sunday running freedom. It was beautiful, but it actually sprinkled on us for a little while. To be honest, I love the sun- but I don’t live in Oregon to put up with 90 or 100 degree weather like we had last summer. Ian often laughs and says that I “have the narrowest temperature range he’s ever seen.” It’s true. I HATE being hot- I absolutely wilt- and I get cold easily.
My tolerance, however, has been so much better since starting the thyroid medication. The difference was dramatic and the first thing I noticed. I used to get COLD. REALLY COLD. It would seep in and settle deep inside and I would feel like I was going to die. I know that sounds terribly over dramatic, but I did actually feel like I would die. The only way to warm up was to submerge myself in a boiling hot bath.
I’m not saying that the thyroid meds turned me into a Polar Bear. I’m still not like one of those middle aged men who wear t-shirts when it’s 40 degrees and refuses to don close-toed shoes. The pills just took the edge off. I still get cold (more easily than most), but I don’t feel like it will kill me.
Actually, I’ve been lucky with the thyroid medication- I haven’t had to tinker with the dosage at all since starting it last November. I know that is pretty rare and my good friend has had a much harder time. I’m still holding out hope that the Celiac caused the elevated thyroid antibodies and if I remain gluten free for long enough, maybe my thyroid will self correct. I know it is a long shot and I’m not into the idea of going off the thyroid medication in the mean time, so I’m not sure if it would know to correct if I’m medicating it? Maybe that is faulty logic?
There seems to be a growing number of people who think that athletes may, in part, cause the thyroid disorder from overtraining and undereating. It is an interesting theory.
I’m also holding out hope that my long time battles with anemia will go away with my gluten free lifestyle. So far, it’s a no go…. but iron is another story altogether…