This one food helped blunt my cortisol and improve my thyroid

Some science:

T4 is the inactive version of the thyroid hormone and as a precursor for the ‘active’ version, T3. T3 is the catalyst for weight loss, warm limbs, and a good mood. T4 makes up about 90% of the thyroid but must be converted into T3 before it can be used. However, if your body is stressed or on a calorie-restricted diet, a signal is sent to change the ratio and you can produce more reverse T3.

 

Reverse T3 is an inactive metabolite of T4 and provides a mechanism for your body to slow down metabolism in order to save energy. Basically, T3 provides a feedback system to keep you in balance under normal conditions. However, if you are stressed or on a calorie-restricted diet, a signal is sent to change the ratio and you produce more T3. This will slow down your metabolism by raining in the production of T4. This means you continue to have low thyroid (hypothyroid) symptoms.

Repeat after me: Stress makes thyroid stimulating hormone less reliable.

 

I use my accurate thermometer every morning to measuring my waking (basal) temperature to track my cycle so I know when I’m ovulating and how my health is. Low body temperature is sometimes correlated with low thyroid. Normal body temp is between 36.5 and 36.8 but depending on your cycle and other facts this can change things a little. Never the less, if your basal temperate is constantly below 36.5, you have low thyroid function [1] — hello to ME.

 

As mentioned earlier, long-standing stress causes you to make less free T3, the active thyroid and too much reverse T3, which blocks thyroid-hormone receptions. The adrenal glands secrete cortisol and that regulates your response to stress. Countless studies have shown that chronic adrenal stress impacts the functioning of your hypothalamus and pituitary glands which directs the production of your thyroid hormone. Stress enters your body via parts of your brain and your response to stress is via a hormonal control system called the hypothalamic-pituitary-gland (HPA) axis which sets off a chain of reactions through your body of fear. Too much stress throws off the balance of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid and there is a proportional decrease in thyroid function. Also, when your body is flooded with cortisol, this slows down the HPA axis[2] , thyroid hormone and thyroid production.

In a nutshell: When your cortisol goes up, your thyroid hormones go down.

 

Studies have shown that going too low carb can actually disrupt the thyroid for some people. Additionally, women often do much better with some carbs in our diet because of our hormones. Cycling in and out of ketosis is a great way of being on a mostly low carb diet, without disrupting your lady bits.

 

Dr Alan Christianson conducted a clinical trial with people that were in some stage of adrenal fatigue. The idea is that carbs elevate blood sugar more than protein and fat and when you elevate blood sugar, you cause your body to make more insulin to manage the increase. Kind of like a seesaw (as one goes up, the other comes down). He basically got people to eat healthy carbs like root veggies at night because it was supporting the shutdown of cortisol which allows you for a better night’s sleep. In a nutshell à lower carb meals allow cortisol to stay high and higher carbs push cortisol down.

 

This is where having a low carb breakfast is great because it keeps cortisol high, but having some healthy carbs at night can blunt cortisol making your sleep more restorative and allowing your body to rest and repair (hello increase temp!!). Having quality sleep not only improves your thyroid but is also a long-term factor in weight loss, inflammation and overall health.

 

Having high cortisol also blocks or lowers the production of thyroid hormones, sex hormones, growth hormones and melatonin (sleeping hormone). So not only am I helping my thyroid but I’m also helping my body to feel relaxed, safe and balanced so that I can get my period back as I haven’t had it since before my accident (due to stress).

 

 

 

Estrogen and progesterone are made in your adrenals and your ovaries but will be shunted towards the production of more cortisol when a woman is under chronic stress. This is because your body thinks you are running from a saber-toothed tiger, and so clearly it is much more important to boost your cortisol and adrenalin so you can run fast, rather than having a baby. (You can’t really have a baby and be in danger at the same time now can you??).

 

Additionally, when your stress is high you can lose your period (like me) or get bad PMS. When stress is high, cortisol rises and progesterone production is lowered.

 

This might explain it well:

 

 

Okay, so my experiment:

 

I ate sweet potato at night with dinner covered with LOTS of coconut oil, cinnamon and some salt (so fricken YUM) and then I would measure my basal temperature the next morning. My app allows me to write notes in when I’m filling in my temperature so I would make sure to record that I ate sweet potato last night with dinner. All the increases you see here from the red line forward I was eating sweet potato. Before this, I had undergone my surgery and the stress was REALLY creeping up on me from not having my independence, lack of sleep, and just overall emotional crap. All the dips you see are the nights that I didn’t eat sweet potato. – funny, huh?

NB: My cycle is 100 days long right now so just excuse that haha

 

I even tried other factors like not having sweet potato some days and doing two meditations in the day/ having a stress free (lol jokes that never really happens) and my temp didn’t rise!

 

 

Whether it is the carbs or the vitamin A (it’s important for your thyroid and besides chicken livers, sweet potato is a great source of vit A), I’m not sure of, but I’d encourage you to try it out and see if you notice a difference. I’m still on the journey of trying to heal my thyroid back into the healthy range, but sweet potato is seriously helping (I think it’s also helping my soul haha). Here is a study showing that having HEALTHY carbs at night actually can induce weight loss.

 

 

This information is not meant to treat or diagnose, I am simply sharing what has worked for my body, and I encourage you to experiment with your body in a safe and healthy way.

 

 

[1] Sund-Levander M, Forsberg C, Wahren LF. “normal oral, rectal, tympanic and axillary body temperature in adult men and women: a systematic literature review.” Scandinavian Journal of Caring Science 16(2)(2002): 122-28

[2] The HPA axis is like a PSA to your body. Your hypothalamus tells your pituitary gland (the boss of your adrenals) to tell your body there is fear and you need to run for your life. Normally, your HPS tells the adrenal glands to increase cortisol production and then via a feedback loop, the increased cortisol stops the HPO which settles down until the next event. However, with overexposure to stress, the cortisol is so busy flooding your blood that it forgets to remind the HPA to calm down. As a result, your HPS keeps telling your adrenals to make more and more cortisol and this leads to high blood pressure, high blood sugar and a poor immune system.

Oils: The good, the bad and the ugly

This article was written for Yoga213’s blog 

 

 

With so much information out there about the foods that you ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’ be eating, it’s easy to get confused. As a starting point, just eat real food and avoid processed foods as much as possible. Being aware of what you’re eating is half the battle. However, there is one group of ‘foods’ that I recommend you stay away from because it is one of the most toxic, dangerous and degenerative things to put in your body. Introducing….VEGETABLE OIL.

 

What are vegetable oils? They are oils that have been extracted from various seeds.

 

Vegetable oils go by the names of canola oil, sunflower oil, rice bran oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, rapeseed oil, safflower oil and peanut oil. Also, it doesn’t matter if the company has plastered ‘organic’ over the bottle. Organic or not organic, don’t eat it.

 

All the studies and reports that you’ve heard of telling you about the dangers of saturated fat and cholesterol are often funded by vegetable oil companies or have the healthy user effect[i] [1]. Take the American Heart Association (AHA) who recently published that vegetable oils are healthier than natural oils like coconut oil and grass-fed butter. [2]  Some of the sponsors included the Canola Oil Council! [3]

 

After decades of us being told that lots of carbs are healthy and low fat is the way to go, people are fatter and sicker than ever[4]Prior to Key’s campaign (he popularized the idea that fat clogs our arteries), people ate far more saturated fat and cholesterol but heart attacks were so rare that they were basically unheard of! Over the past 100 years, butter consumption has dropped to less than a quarter of what it was and vegetable oil has gone up five-fold. [5] [6]

 

So, what are some hard scientific facts about why you should avoid these toxic fats at all costs?

  1. Industrial fat products are toxic to our arteries because they contain delicate polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that are prone to oxidative damage, especially when exposed to heat and when removed from the antioxidants that protect them from that oxidative damage.
  2. Vegetable oil depletes your brain of its antioxidants
  3. Vegetable oils impair brain development through direct mutagenic effects on DNA
  4. It turns our immune system against us, causing food and diseases to trigger nerve degenerating reactions
  5. It impacts the gut thus impacting the brain.
  6. Vegetable oils make your brain more susceptible to damage by sugar
  7. Your blood vessels cannot work correctly after you have eaten vegetable oil
  8. Vegetable oil destroys complex nutrients and will deposit loads of bad fats into your tissues where they can find a spot and blast your tissues with free radicals
  9. Free radicals make your arteries extremely crispy and they generate inflammation – think about fried chicken skin … it tears more easily than raw chicken skin, right? Well, free radicals make the arterial wall into a kind of crunchy, crispy chicken skin. Now the artery can easily rupture and bleed. If your blood ever comes in contact with collagen directly, it will clot, causing a heart attack or stroke, it’s not fat that shuts off the blood flow.
  10. After you eat these distorted fatty acids, they can reproduce inside you – creating more free radicals
  11. Vegetable oils can disrupt normal metabolism so badly that a child’s dynamic symmetry is lost and the skeletal proportions become imbalanced
  12. If you eat enough trans fats, cellular dysfunction will impair so many cells in so many tissues that the cumulative effects will disrupt basic function like blood circulation and eventually kill you 
  13. Heart disease is now the number one cause of death in both men and women and vegetable oil has gone up five-fold in the past century – they are both linked
  14. One of the initial steps in making vegetable oil involves the use of hexane,a component of gasoline. It then takes 20 or so stages to bleach and deodorize the dark, gunky crap [7]

 

 

So, what oils are safe?

 

Olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil are all safe oils to use. Plus, grass-fed butter, lard, and ghee are all healthy fats to use. A meal that is complete with animal fat or healthy fats actually help us to absorb and taste other nutrients. This is why [good]  oil or butter on foods make everything taste so damn delicious! [8]

 

You see, saturated fats (present in butter, lard, coconut oil and traditional fats) can resist a kind of heat damage called oxidation. Monounsaturated fats have room for a little oxidation to squeeze in but it’s not easy. So, monounsaturated fats like olive oil resist oxidation, however, it’s still recommended to not cook at high heat with it. Cooking under 190c is ideal to prevent the oil from going rancid.

 

Benefits of good fats:

  • Omega 3 fats found in olive oil, avocado, coconut oil, and ghee help your body to reduce inflammation and fight off environmental toxins.
  • Coconut oil contains many different strains of healthy fats that help your gut, brain, inflammation and even help you lose weight.
  • Saturated fats are stable in the body and assist with a healthy immune system, heart, and metabolism
  • Normal hormonal production and balance are reliant on cholesterol. Your hormones are built from cholesterol and we cannot function without it
  • It was found that ‘elevated’ cholesterol in women of all ages and the elderly was demonstrated through data from studies to actually be a positive marker of longevity! [9]

 

Vegetable oils are commonly found in all packaged foods and many restaurants and cafes cook with it too which is such a shame and it is because of a lack of education and cost saving. To create more awareness and action, when going out, please ask the chef to cook in olive oil or butter for you. Just the simple act of asking for a healthy oil gets people thinking about the impact that vegetable oil is having. And hey, maybe show them this blog post!

 

You can find loads more information about fats, inflammation, gut, and hormonal health in my 8-week program or you can purchase my eBooks that contain loads of easy, fuss-free recipes that your body will love.

 

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3077477/

[2] http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2017/06/15/CIR.0000000000000510

[3] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002934306006747

[4] http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2017/06/15/CIR.0000000000000510

[5] Know Your fats: the complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils, and Cholesterol, Mary G Enig, Bethesda Press, 2000, p94

[6] The cholesterol Myths, Uffe Ravnskov, New Trends Publishing, 2000, p30.

[7] Deep Nutrition , Shanaham, Catherine, Flatiron Books NY, (2008)

[8] Absorption, Metabolism and transport of carotenoids, Parker RS, FASEB J, April 1996, 10(5):542-51

[9] Hulley, S.B., et al, 1992. “Health Policy on Blood Cholesterol. Time to Change Directions.” Circulation 86:1026-29

[i] The healthy user effect in this case, is pointing out the fact that many of these studies are comparing the typical animal eater with the typical vegetarian. Meat eaters are typically more likely to be consuming bad quality meats, grain, sugars and fewer vegetables whereas vegetarians are generally more health-conscious people. This results in the studies showing the meat eaters have a higher risk of diseases compared to vegetarians. However, this is biased and skewed. They haven’t compared a very healthy meat eater, with a vegetarian but rather based these statistics off a generalisation.