Healing Time: How I reversed my hypothyroidism and pre-diabetes in 5 months
I reversed my hypothyroidism and prediabetes in five short months, and you can too.
During lockdown, I’ve concluded that physical health is one of our greatest assets. I’ve found that when my physical health is poor, it impacts on my mental health, and vice versa. There’s scientific evidence that poor mental health can worsen our physical health.
I’ve also found, though, that when I’m in good physical health it doesn’t impact positively on my mental health. With no pain or discomfort to distract us, we take physiological wellness for granted. Good physical health is our default setting. In my experience, mental wellbeing is the same, regardless of being physically well.
Hypothyroidism, insulin resistance, and pre-diabetes caused my physical health to deteriorate. The symptoms associated with being hypothyroid were especially trying on my mental health. Fatigue, weight gain, feeling cold all the time, and hair loss all increased my depression.
I was at such a low point emotionally that the steps I took not only saved my thyroid, but also my life.
When a blood test proved my thyroid hormones and glucose levels were out of whack, I felt frustrated. All I did was complain, and ask, “Why me?” My mental health deteriorated further than usual.
It was at that point I decided that I needed to fight back.
I didn’t want to be stuck in a downward health spiral, so I started researching. I came to realise that I could take my health into my own hands by adjusting my everyday life. I was open-minded to any and all changes.
And that’s what started this five-month process to regain my physical health.
Before I let you in on what I did, I want to share how the blood results changed over five months.
My thyroid hormones (T3, T4 and TSH) all went from hypothyroid to normal or almost normal. My thyroid antibodies (a potential sign of Hashimoto’s) are back into the normal range. Most of my symptoms have disappeared. Although I’ve not experienced a change in my dress size, my weight is stable for the first time in years
My insulin resistance remains, but my glucose levels are now perfectly normal. They are no longer see-sawing between pre-diabetic and full type II diabetes measurements. I’m prone to insulin resistance, due to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, but I hope this will reverse in time.
These are life-changing results in just five months.
Now for the caveat: we are all different. What works for me may or may not work for you. What works for me wasn’t recommended by my doctor to me, and I am not recommending it to you. I’m sharing the steps I took.
Start by finding out what your current blood levels are, and consult with your doctor to ensure you’re on the right levels of any medication. There’s no point starting any further ‘behind’ than you need to.
When you first start on lifestyle change, it is daunting. I have now stuck for six months to the protocol I’m going to share with you. I did not start out thinking I’d do any longer than thirty days. If you commit (and recommit) for shorter periods, you’ll find it less intimidating.
The Underactive Thyroid Diet That Changed My Life
I eat a high fat, moderately high protein, low carbohydrate (under 30g total a day) diet. I also intermittent fast for sixteen hours, six days a week, eating only in an eight-hour window. For me, this means skipping breakfast every day and finishing dinner by 8 pm.
“High fat” is a scary phrase to many of us, mostly due to outdated research on losing weight and staying healthy. I have a statistic that might be reassuring to you. My first triglyceride count was very high – this is increased by saturated fats. Five months, and a good deal of saturated coconut oil and ghee later, my triglycerides are normal.
I avoid gluten and grains (rice, quinoa, couscous, oats, gluten-free flour, etc.). You may not need to do this, but it’s worth eliminating them temporarily to see if it helps your symptoms. I did this with dairy for three months, but found it was unproblematic for me, and now I get to eat cheese again!
I’ve only eaten potatoes twice in six months! I avoid all starchy carbohydrates – sweet potatoes and squashes have become a big treat for me. Once you’ve done this for a week or so, you really won’t even miss starchy foods.
Soy was easy for me to eliminate, as were legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils, etc.). I wasn’t a big eater of those previously, so I didn’t notice their absence from my diet at all.
But now for the ‘biggie.’ The hardest thing to drop for me was refined sugar. I wasn’t a big muncher of sweets and desserts, but sugar is in so many things in the supermarket. Even things like dried fruit and pasta sauces can often have sugar added to them. I occasionally use yacon syrup or monk fruit sweetener as substitutes, and I don’t miss it anymore.
Eliminating sugar is the thing that’s had the greatest effect on my mental health. I now find I get far fewer mood swings and cravings.
Movement is the New Exercise
I cut out hardcore cardio in favour of gentle yoga, gardening, and some resistance training. Inflammation is already likely present in our bodies if our hormones are not optimal. I was creating even more inflammation by working out hard.
When you’re trying to fix something, the extra inflammation is unhelpful. I want to give my body the best chance at getting itself back into balance.
You Can Change Your Life
I don’t know if this will work for you.
I don’t know if your thyroid hormones will normalise, or your mood will improve.
But I do know that lifestyle change can make you healthier, physically and mentally, just like me.