A Guest Post by Matt Stone, an Author of Diet Recovery: Restoring Hormonal Health, Metabolism, Mood, and Your Relationship With Food
Matt Stone is the author and independent health researcher behind 180DegreeHealth.com. In 2005, he launched a full-scale independent investigation into human health through disciplines as diverse as nutrition, exercise, the culinary arts and traditional agriculture, to paleopathology and psychoneuroendocrinology.
It soon became clear that the typical ideas that the mainstream medicine and nutrition have about health don’t make much sense, are not congruent with history or even the most basic logic, and are often wildly misinformed.
Thus was born 180DegreeHealth; the name implies both a 180 to our standard health advice and Matt’s aim of turning a 180 on the alarming health trends of today, including the dramatic and exponential rise of obesity, type 2 diabetes, tooth decay, crooked teeth, mental disorders of all kinds, autoimmune disease, allergies and asthma, heart disease, cancer, early puberty, and even nearsightedness.
His pledge to readers is to provide the most logical, unbiased, worthwhile, effective, and accurate discourse on human health in existence. Follow along with him and his life’s work, and together, help build the foundation of knowledge and understanding required to improve our own health while we ensure the well-being of many generations to come.
Thyroid Rehab – The Diet and Lifestyle Approach
One of my main missions as an independent health researcher and writer is to encourage people to attempt to solve their own problems before turning their health over to another authority. Neither the mainstream medical establishment, nor the alternative health realm, have particularly good track records with substantially helping people to overcome debilitating, degenerative health problems.
Medicate them with herbs, drugs, tinctures, and little magic tricks sure– but that’s far from identifying the root cause of the problem, understanding it, and addressing it in a precise and intelligent manner.
Some, like myself, aren’t satisfied on a physical orintellectual level with “relief.” I want more. I want to know where health problems come from instead of attributing the development of a disease to bad luck, genes, or other stork-like creatures that aren’t all that different from having a disease blamed on evil spirits or karma. So, I have spent the better half of a decade trying to dig deep into where many “modern” diseases come from and what to do about them.
My search has steered me repeatedly towards the basics, and away from the nebulous and complex. In the simplest sense, stress and inflammation are the universal causes of what we experience as disease. One of the reasons that they are such universal causes of disease is that stress and inflammation suppress the thyroid system, the system that in turn triggers the production of energy and other vital functions at the cellular level.
So, in the most basic sense possible, a huge percentage of health problems both minor and major are caused by producing way too many stress hormones and inflammation, in turn suppressing the thyroid system.
The result is that we often start to experience any number of different low metabolism symptoms, including autoimmune disease which can damage the thyroid system further in an even more direct fashion (via Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis).
The ways in which a low metabolism can manifest in various ailments is grossly under appreciated by the mainstream. However, every system of the human body is affected by a drop in metabolic rate, as cellular energy production is central to all physical and even mental processes.
This can result in everything from dry skin to constipation to difficulty swallowing to frequent infections to low sex drive. The amount of symptoms one can experience is so vast that author of Hypothyroidism Type 2, Mark Starr managed to fill a whopping 85 pages in his chapter entitled “Symptoms.”
But most people seem content that they have some sort of inner defect “in spite of” their otherwise perfect health, healthy diet, or whatever else they take pride in. It’s easy to reach for supplements, thyroid medication, or other elixirs when the first signs of hypothyroidism set in – such as low body temperature, cold hands and feet, below-normal blood pressure, fat gain, or digestive problems.
What I’ve found is that this state of functional hypothyroidism (regardless of what a blood test shows, a low metabolism is allow metabolism), most easily diagnosed with a reduced body temperature and generally feeling cold – especially in the hands and feet, usually has a cause. And, when you understand what’s triggering this, the solution is completely under your control.
We could talk about the causes for days. Any number of different things can trigger the onset of a low metabolism. I have a health website that attracts health fanatics, so the most common triggers I see are restricted diets, overexercising, and weight loss. These are some of the most powerful and reliable triggers known, and are practiced at one point or another by just about every health fanatic, myself included.
I try my best to discourage people from abusing their bodies with hardcore diets, self-starvation, and hours of unwanted exercise – habits that have quickly become the norm over the past few decades (meanwhile, the New York Times reports on a falling average body temperature in their article “Rethinking 98.6”).
But regardless of how you personally have managed to shutdown your metabolism – via a lack of sleep, constant exposure to allergens, marathon-running, working too much, a stressful event such as death in the family, low thyroid or otherwise – the first step that I believe everyone should take is to attempt shutting down stress hormone production and bring the metabolism up to its normal or even above-normal level.
While my research into the best way to achieve this is ongoing, the conclusion of my exploration on this topic thus far points to the following things being most effective in increasing your metabolism without drug or supplement intervention. I call them,
The Anti-Stress S’s…
1. Sleep –9 hours per night seems to be biologically and historically normal for humans prior to the development of artificial light, television, computers, and all the things that have a tendency to keep us up late beyond what our natural cues tell us. I recommend starting with an increase in sleep to 9 hours or more in every 24-hour period. Sleeping is the most inherently anti-stressful thing a person can do.
2. Sugar –Sugar has gotten a bad reputation, perhaps because most sources of sugar in the human diet are highly refined and contain absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever. But sugar is a powerful substance in reducing the production of the stress hormones – known as the glucocorticoids.
Frequent sugar consumption seems to be particularly therapeutic for those with a natural adoration for sweets, assuming you can eat these foods without feeling guilty. Dried fruits, fruit, juice, maple syrup, black strap molasses, soft drinks or sports drinks made with cane sugar, and desserts like ice cream and cheesecake are my most frequent recommendations.
3. Starch– Starchy foods also shut down glucocorticoid production, and seem to have properties that sweet, sugary carbohydrates do not possess. Some do better with sugar. Others better with starch. But in general, most do better with combination of both sugary and starchy foods mixed together – especially early in the day when stress hormones naturally peak in a normal person.
Most people’s tastes dictate a blend of sugar and starch, and following one’s cravings and tastes is often the most efficient way to capitalize on the destressing properties of food in general.
4. Salt –Salt is a remarkable substance because it raises core body temperature, stimulates metabolism, reduces stress hormone production, and otherwise does amazing things for someone with a low metabolism. While excess salt consumption is harmful and unnecessary, eating plenty of salty foods is a tremendous asset.
My primary focus of late is really encouraging people to increase their ratio of salt and overall calories in proportion to fluid intake until their urine frequency has reached once every4-6 hours. When this is achieved, core temperature rises and hands and feet tend to get much warmer.
I look at the warmth of the hands and feet, as well as the tip of the nose as prime indicators of how much physiological stress one is under – as secreting too many stress hormones shuts down blood vessels in the extremities and makes them colder than they should be.
5. Saturated fat – Over the past century there has been a huge shift away from saturated fat consumption and a move towards greater consumption of polyunsaturated fats like soy, corn, safflower, sunflower, cottonseed, and canola oils – all of which hit the market place very recently in human history.
Polyunsaturated fats are directly antagonistic to the thyroid system on multiple fronts, while the saturated fats are not. Some, like the short and medium chain saturated fats found in butter and coconut fat are highly stimulatory to the thyroid system.
This doesn’t require over thinking, but just a simple switch from using vegetable oils and margarine in your home cooking to the use of coconut oil and butter when feasible. If you don’t like the taste or odor of coconut you’re in luck, as refined, expeller-pressed, odorless and flavorless coconut oil is superior to the stronger-tasting virgin oils and is far less expensive.
This is the just a small, digestible glimpse into the many thousands of hours of research and experimentation I have done. But it’s a great start that will likely open you up to the possibility that you are, in fact, able to help yourself tremendously with diet and lifestyle choices that are entirely under your control.
Do you have cold hands and feet, feel constipated, have multiple unexplained symptoms, thinning hair and are unsure of what to eat to support your thyroid, increase your metabolism and finally lose weight?
Low thyroid, being on an overly restricted diet and some “healthy” exercise all can make you feel this way due to dramatic drop in your metabolic rate. Your metabolism controls everything in your body and so does your thyroid.
In his book Diet Recovery: Restoring Hormonal Health, Metabolism, Mood, and Your Relationship with Food Matt Stone describes his proven approach he already uses with hundreds of people like you on how to increase your metabolism to the optimal level. Typical person who is on thyroid medication has to stop taking it or need to reduce their dose following Matt Stone program in order to avoid hyperthyroid symptoms.
P.S. Do you like what you read and would like to read more? Subscribe to the Outsmart Disease thyroid blog updates and get your FREE e-mail course Nutritional guide for Hashimoto’s disease.