An Interview with Matt Stone who is the author and independent health researcher behind 180DegreeHealth.com
1. It is a well-known fact that thyroid disease runs in the family. Many of Outsmart Disease readers are concerned about passing by the “bad genes” to their children and that they will also get the disease. What can be done as a prevention of autoimmune and thyroid disorders or do we completely depend on what we “inherit” from our parents?
Matt Stone: To prevent any inherited disease, certainly including a low metabolism or autoimmune tendencies, it pays to get your body in the best working order as possible. This usually gets back to the simple basics of getting plenty of sleep, minimizing stress hormone production in a multitude of other ways in addition to sleep, and eating a very thyroid-supportive diet.
The most metabolically-stimulating foods are sugar, starch, salt, and saturated fat. Calories are extremely important as well. No adult female of reproductive age should ever eat fewer than 2,000 calories per day, and 3,000 and higher would be a much safer target (on the flip side, you shouldn’t intentionally burn too many calories through excessive exercise either).
The food eaten should be highly digestible as well, devoid of a lot of coarse whole grains, raw vegetables, and the like. It is also extremely important not to consume excess fluids, and to keep the urine yellow at all times.
2. Most thyroid patients have multiple health issues such as adrenal and hormonal imbalances, blood sugar problems and nutritional deficiencies. Do you have any advice on how to heal thyroid and encourage the whole endocrine system to work in harmony and heal naturally?
Matt Stone: There is sort of tug of war that takes place between the adrenals and the thyroid. Thyroid hormone quiets down the stress side of the nervous system. Excess adrenal activity damages the thyroid. With hypothyroidism you are always going to see an increase in adrenal stress.
With hypothyroidism you are always going to see abnormalities with sex hormone balances as well – usually more estrogen and testosterone in proportion to progesterone in females.
With hypothyroidism and an overactive stress system you are likely to see lots of bone loss, tooth decay, and that kind of thing as well – regardless of nutrient intake, vitamin D status, or any of that.
Blood sugar and the lesser-recognized but often more prevalent blood salt levels are also dysregulated in hypothyroidism, and irregularities are the rule not the exception.
The endocrine system is one functioning, interacting whole. It’s usually superior to address the functioning of the whole system, and to understand the cross-relationships between different glands and different hormones.
As far as advice to heal it, some of the measures highlighted in my response to the last question are very effective. If I had to summarize it simply, it would be to overeat and oversleep until your body temperature rises to the normal 98.6F or above.
3. Many people with hypothyroidism also have diabetes or blood sugar issues. Is it possible to reverse diabetes and how different your recommendations would be for somebody who has diabetes AND hypothyroidism?
Matt Stone: There is a tremendous amount of variation between forms of diabetes. There are not just two types. Each case is unique. But a more typical case of type 2 diabetes is not difficult to reverse, and as far as I know it would be near impossible to have type 2 diabetes and NOT also be hypothyroid – or the more appropriate term “hypometabolic.”
To improve or even reverse a typical case of type 2 diabetes, you have to restore insulin sensitivity. I put all the emphasis on glucose clearance, or the rate at which glucose is cleared out of the bloodstream – the best indicator of one’s level of insulin sensitivity.
Let’s say you eat a slice of pizza and your blood glucose goes to 250 mg/dl one hour after eating it. Not good. But if you were to eat the same slice of pizza a few weeks later and your blood glucose peaked at 110 mg/dl, you would have improved your glucose clearance tremendously.
I take people through that process routinely, and it can be quite quick when you get it just right.
You usually see glucose clearance improving as the body temperature rises. My recommendations for an insulin-producing classic type 2 diabetic are identical to my recommendations for non-diabetics.
4. What are your thoughts on supplements? Some supplements such as seleno-methionine, NAC as a pre-cursor of glutathione and vitamin D seem to be helpful for people with autoimmune Hashimoto’s disease. Do we need them or there is a better way to ensure that we are getting an optimal amount of nutrients for thyroid health?
Matt Stone: I don’t have much of a problem with supplementation if it works. Ultimately I find the basics of getting the body’s systems in working order to be more powerful than any supplements though – things like getting the body temperature normalized, urine concentration and frequency normalized, digestion working properly, sleep quality and quantity improved, hands and feet warm, and so forth.
5. There is an increasing trend of using autoimmune Paleo protocol to treat autoimmune conditions. I got very different responses from my readers: While some of them improve their symptoms, lose some weight and have more energy others are not getting much better. What is wrong with Paleo diet and why people are getting mixed results?
Matt Stone: Removing a bunch of foods from the diet can medicate some problems in the short-term, but it’s not necessarily a cure, if that makes sense. And eating a highly restricted diet, for numerous reasons including spontaneous reduction of calorie consumption, can be antagonistic to thyroid function.
The Paleo diet in particular, because of its typical bias against carbohydrates and high muscle meat consumption, is very anti-thyroid and triggers a lot of catecholamine production. This creates what I refer to as the “catecholamine honeymoon,” and why you see many people losing weight, having more energy, and having less inflammation – even feeling somewhat euphoric when they switch to a new diet or exercise program. But it’s usually short-lived.
Many of the benefits go away and even reverse themselves completely in about six months. I’ve written about this in great detail in my book, 12 Paleo Myths: Eat Better Than A Caveman, as well as cataloged with great precision some of the health problems that can emerge while following a Paleo diet.
6. Most Outsmart Disease readers who have low thyroid gain weight easily and have difficulties to lose weight with hypothyroidism. When people submitted questions to you they wrote that they feel like they are doing all they can but not losing any weight and/or have a constant battle to keep weight off. How to increase your metabolism and lose weight with hypothyroidism while also keeping the thyroid and autoimmune Hashimoto’s in check?
Matt Stone: There is no known way to lose weight and keep it off, or to lose weight without having metabolic rate come to a standstill. The world’s leading obesity researchers have come up with absolutely no solution, because there is no reliable, simple solution for reducing fat stores.
Less than 1 percent of people who lose a substantial amount of weight keep it off for more than five years.
“Trying” to lose weight, or what is referred to as intentional weight loss, is a known trigger of autoimmune disease and a reduced metabolic rate.
In my experience, dieting is the most common trigger of these issues in the modern world.
The most important thing people need to achieve before even considering weight loss with hypothyroidism is reaching weight stability eating a sustainable, calorie-rich diet with a reasonable amount of exercise. This can take months. At this point the body temperature is usually normal or greatly improved, the body’s systems are functioning much better, and health problems of all kinds are less severe.
For someone with diagnosed thyroid disease this is a great accomplishment. But this is just the first step in pursuing any kind of weight loss with hypothyroidism. The best weight loss is that which happens spontaneously as a result of improving metabolic rate and living a healthier, more stress-free life.
Some people do achieve this – certainly far more than 1 percent like the standard dieting approach to weight loss. Whatever you do, be patient, listen to your own biofeedback to make sure your metabolism is staying up, and don’t try to force the weight off.
You’ll likely just become fatter and sicker over time if you do try to force anything or resort to extreme measures to prevent weight gain.
7. For those who want to start right now is there a book that will line out a shopping list, meal plan and recipes?
Matt Stone: My book 180 Kitchen is a great primer on the food component of things, but it’s incomplete without some of my other work – Diet Recovery in particular, which lines out a very specific protocol for raising metabolic rate and helps to increase your metabolism.
The most efficient route is to just call me by booking a time with me via the Get Help tab on my site, a service I offer by donation. When I talk to people in person I’m able to customize things in ways that I simply can’t in a book meant for a general audience.
I focus on things like circadian rhythms, specific meal timing, and tweak things like the water content of food to achieve maximal increase in your metabolism with a minimal reliance on overfeeding to achieve it.
P.S. Matt has had very little difficulty with helping people to increase metabolism and bring low body temperatures up to the magic 97.8 degrees F or above (axillary/armpit temperature) when they start to lose weight even with hypothyroidsm.
Another COMMON result for people who are on thyroid medication and follow Matt’s program is that they reduce or stop taking thyroid drugs to avoid hyperthyroid symptoms as a result of the thyroid recovery and over-medication. As Matt wrote in one of his articles: “In fact, I would gladly put my protocol up against thyroid medication any day, as temperature gains from 95.0 F to the upper 97’s is something that my followers regularly achieve in as little as 30 days.”
His approach is truly a groundbreaking nutrition and lifestyle discovery although it’s not recognized as such by any “authority”.
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