Why Your Hormones Need Carbohydrates to Function

Why Your Hormones Need Carbohydrates to Function

Why Carbs are Good for Your Hormones

 

Low carb diets are all the rage right now in the nutrition and health world. And it’s true, cutting carbs can help with weight loss and health improvements for some people, mostly because of the caloric restriction.But for many people – women especially – keeping carbs too low for too long can have pretty unhealthy consequences, especially if you work out with any level of intensity. And even more so if you have hormone-related health issues like HPA axis dysregulation or hypothalamic amenorrhea, PCOS, hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue and Hashimoto’s.

If you’re sedentary, your carb needs are generally lower than someone who is active. Those who don’t train regularly might be able to get away with less carbohydrates overall. And even if you do work out regularly, you probably won’t immediately feel the consequences when you first cut most carbs from your diet. It may take a few months to see the long-term impact, but at some point, you might start to feel spaced-out, sluggish, cranky and sick.

 

Low Carb Diet & Your Hormones

Eventually, restricting your carb intake too much can lead to many hormone-related issues such as:

  • decreased thyroid output (hypothyroidism)
  • increased cortisol output (abdominal fat)
  • decreased or increased testosterone (low libido and osteopenia)
  • impaired mood and cognitive function (brain fog)

If you already had a pre-existing hormone related condition before cutting carbs, such as hypothyroidism, PCOS, missed or irregular periods, or adrenal fatigue; eating too few carbs will only exacerbate your condition.  And if you’re under a lot of stress already, going too low carb can cause further HPA dysregulation and increase its symptoms.

Your carbohydrate intake is a critical part of the equation when it comes to balancing your sex hormones, losing weight, recovering from exercise, supporting your thyroid, boosting your energy, and so much more. You may be wondering how carbohydrates affect your adrenal health. Reducing carbohydrates excessively can affect stress hormone production in many people, usually causing a significant increase in cortisol. This will directly impact your energy levels causing them to plummet and eventually worsen pre-existing adrenal fatigue.

 

The Basic Chemistry of Blood Sugar

Any time we eat, our food is broken down into macronutrients, micronutrients, and water. This complex process allows us to derive energy from our food, obtain essential vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, and collect the building blocks needed to make our immune cells, hormones, and neurotransmitters.

Carbohydrates are found in many different foods, and in different forms. After we eat, blood sugar rises as carbohydrates are digested and absorbed. This triggers the release of insulin, which helps shuttle glucose out of the bloodstream and into our cells. Insulin is considered an “anabolic hormone,” meaning it promotes the storage of glucose and the conversion of any excess into its long-term storage form: fat. We also have hormones that help us tap into stored glucose or generate more. This occurs when our blood sugar is low or when we have increased energy demands.

So, what does this mini biochemistry lesson have to do with adrenal fatigue?

As the name implies, adrenal fatigue involves a dysregulation in our body’s stress response. Initially this leads to elevated cortisol, a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. As adrenal fatigue progresses, the dysregulation often leads to low cortisol. Now here’s the catch: Low carbohydrate diets have also been shown to be a stressor on our adrenals.

 

Common Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue

-Tend to be a “night person”
-Difficulty falling asleep
-Slow starter in the morning
-Tend to be keyed up, trouble calming down
-Calm on the outside, troubled on the inside
-Tendency to need sunglasses
–Chronic fatigue or get drowsy often
-Crave salty foods

Any time that you are not meeting your body’s needs for energy with adequate fuel, you put stress on your adrenals, since they act as your body’s shock absorbers (allowing your body to adapt to stress). This means that any caloric abuse or nutrition neglect is something that your adrenals have to make up for– by producing stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) to get you through the day. Usually, the more severe the adrenal dysfunction, the longer the adrenal stress has been going on.

Additionally, when you inadequately fuel your body, it stimulates the use of glycogen (stored sugar in the liver) for energy. Once your glycogen stores are depleted, tissue breakdown begins (the breakdown of proteins and fat to make glucose [sugar] for energy). This process of muscle catabolism releases amino acids such as cysteine, methionine, and tryptophan, which are all anti-metabolic to your thyroid. This happens because it’s the body’s way of being very intelligent,  by communicating with your thyroid, and telling it to turn down the conversion of active thyroid hormone in order to save your body from running itself into the ground.

 

How Many Carbs to Eat?

Here are my general starting points of the percentage of carbohydrates for hormone related health issues. But please keep in mind that your activity, stress, genetics and hormone imbalance will influence these recommendations:

  • For most women, I recommend a minimum of 25% of calories from carbs, particularly if you’re active.
  • For patients already dealing with an HPA Axis issue (“adrenal fatigue”), I start them at 30-40% calories from carbohydrates.
  • For women who are dealing with health issues surrounding fertility and hypothalamic amenorrhea, I recommend 40-50% of calories from carbs.

 

How do I  Know What MY Carb Needs May be?

In general, everybody has different dietary carbohydrate needs primarily depending on their activity levels and genetics, but also dependent on their age, gender, stage of life, and goals.

As I mentioned earlier, if you are sedentary you can likely eat fewer carbs and feel fine. However, if you regularly participate in intense, glucose-demanding activities like Crossfit, heavy powerlifting, and/or high-intensity interval training (HIIT), your body will begin to rely on stress hormones like cortisol to produce the glucose the brain and muscles need. When this happens, you may eventually develop symptoms associated with hormone related health conditions such as amenorrhea, hypothyroidism or adrenal fatigue.

 

Which Carbs are Best for YOU?

A hormone-supportive diet isn’t just about the quantity of carbohydrates. It’s also important to consider the quality of carbohydrates and the timing of when you’re eating them throughout the day. Choosing high fiber carbohydrates, such as those found in whole grains, legumes, and vegetables provide the essential nutrients needed to support proper hormone function. Also, the fiber in carbohydrates also helps slow the release of carbohydrates into the bloodstream, thus keeping blood sugar more stable. Whole grains are an incredible source of prebiotic fiber and have earned their rightful place in a diverse, healthy hormone based diet. They do this but maintaining your gut integrity, feeding your healthy probiotics foods they need to replicate and in turn create healthier hormones.

Another way to balance blood sugar is to make sure carbohydrates are paired with protein and/or fat at every meal and snack. Spacing carbohydrates out throughout the day is also important for adrenal function. This prevents blood sugar from dipping too low, which will also increase demand on the adrenals to release cortisol.

But to truly know which carbs are best for you, I’d recommend the Nirvana Diet™. I created this Diet to know exactly which foods, and in this case carbohydrates, you should be eating based upon your genetics. It takes the guess work out of knowing which foods are best for balancing your hormones!

The takeaway? Carbs are not the enemy. Eating quality carbs in balance with a whole food diet, can be supportive of all of your hormones in helping to regulate your body’s ability to stay balanced, happy, and regenerating stronger cells.

Decoding your Periods

Decoding your Periods

Hello Everyone! Welcome to Regenerate You, I’m Dr. Nirvana.

Even though you’ve probably got the hang of your cycle by now, chances are that some menstrual mysteries remain in question. Maybe your cycle is super long or short, or it’s irregular, or it comes with side effects like PMS—and you wonder if what you experience each month is normal. Or maybe new issues have cropped up, like really awful cramps or a heavier flow.

It’s important to pay attention to what’s normal and what isn’t during your cycle, because changes can provide clues to your overall health. On this episode, I discuss the basic  information you need to know, to help clear up the confusion about your periods once and for all!

If you’re looking for additional advice, feel free to visit my blog here. You can also stay connected with me on my Facebook page @DrNirvanaHeals or on my Instagram @DrNirvana.

Please remember to subscribe!

 

And remember, when you regenerate, there’s a new you every day!

The Link Between Thyroid and Cholesterol

The Link Between Thyroid and Cholesterol

Welcome to Regenerate You, I’m Dr. Nirvana!

Thyroid problems can have a ripple effect throughout your body, including your cardiovascular system. In particular, people with hypothyroidism may have higher cholesterol, which can increase the risk of heart disease and further inflammatory conditions in the body. On this episode I discuss the link between thryoid issues and cardivascular disease and what you need to know about this potential danger.

If you’re looking for additional advice, feel free to visit my blog here. You can also stay connected with me on my Facebook page @DrNirvanaHeals or on my Instagram @DrNirvana.

Please remember to subscribe and to share this Podcast!

 

And remember, when you regenerate, there’s a new you every day!

The Link Between Food Intolerance, Hormones and Your Gut Health

The Link Between Food Intolerance, Hormones and Your Gut Health

Welcome to Regenerate You!

If you find yourself struggling with food intolerances of any kind, then it’s most likely causing an imbalance in your hormones as well. And if you’ve been diagnosed with low testosterone, PCOSestrogen dominancethyroid issues, or insulin resistance; then your food sensitivities are making them worse.

In this Podcast, I discuss how they’re linked and where to begin to help heal and regenerate your body from the attack on your immune system.

If you’re looking for additional advice, feel free to visit my blog here. You can also stay connected with me on my Facebook page @DrNirvanaHeals or on my Instagram @DrNirvana.

Please subscribe and share this podcast to spread the health.

 

And remember, when you regenerate, there’s a new you every day!

Understanding your Thyroid Labs

Understanding your Thyroid Labs

Decoding Thyroid Lab Values

Understanding what type of thyroid condition seems to be a common question I receive. One of the questions I am most frequently asked is, “what are the most important thyroid function tests to check to assess your thyroid’s function?” The appropriate tests, along with what your thyroid lab results really mean, are two of the essential topics to understand…to determine if you genuinely have thyroid dysfunction or not. So I thought I’d put together this reference guide to help. With this table in mind, let’s discuss what each lab test means.

 

TSH

TSH tests pituitary function and can be used to diagnose thyroid disease.

  • If TSH is high – this can be a sign that you are under-producing thyroid hormones and you are hypothyroid
  • If TSH is low – this can be a sign that you are over-producing thyroid hormones and are hyperthyroid, or that you are on too much supplemental thyroid hormone. Supplemental T3 or natural desiccated thyroid hormone with T3 can artificially suppress your TSH, so in the absence of symptoms, it could be perfectly normal.
  • If your TSH is ‘normal’ – for example your TSH falls within the normal reference range, this could indicate that you do not have thyroid dysfunction. However, “normal” and “optimal” levels have two very different meanings. So, if you still have symptoms and are in the “normal” — not “optimal” — range then you likely could have thyroid dysfunction

 

Free T3

Free T3 may be the most important measure of thyroid function in the serum because it measures the free and active thyroid hormone. T3 is more biologically active than T4.

  • If FT3 is high – indicates that your thyroid is overactive or hyperthyroidism
  • If FT3 is low – you may not be converting T4 to FT3 very well and you could have hypothyroid symptoms even if your TSH and FT4 are within range. This is one of the most common causes of low thyroid or hypothyroidism I see in my practice.

 

Free T4

Free T4 measures the amount of free T4 in circulation. Once TSH signals to your thyroid to ramp up the production of its hormones, it produces the four different types of thyroid hormone – T1, T2, T3, and T4. The primary output of your thyroid is T4, which is a storage form of the hormone. It is circulated throughout the bloodstream and stored in tissues so that it’s available when needed. I liked to measure Free T4 (FT4) since it is unbound and able to act in the body.

  • If FT4 is high – it can indicate an overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism
  • If FT4 is low – it can indicate an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism

 

Total T3

Total T3 includes measurement of bound T3. Bound T3 is not considered active like free T3 but total T3 gives you a more stable long-term marker of T3 in circulation.

 

Thyroid Antibodies

The thyroid antibodies include thyroglobulin antibody, thyroid peroxidase antibody and thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin. The presence of these antibodies in your serum may indicate an autoimmune disease which is damaging your thyroid gland. Thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOAb) attack an enzyme used to synthesize thyroid hormones and are commonly elevated in both Hashimoto’s and Graves’ Disease patients. Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TgAb), attack thyroglobulin, which your thyroid uses to produce its hormones. These are typically elevated in Hashimoto’s patients.

  • If your antibodies are elevated – your immune system is attacking your thyroid and you have autoimmune thyroid disease, or you are on the autoimmune spectrum.

 

Reverse T3

Reverse T3 helps measure the conversion capacity of your thyroid gland. Your body also uses a portion of the T4 to create Reverse T3 (RT3), another inactive form of thyroid hormone. RT3 can attach to the receptors for Free T3 to slow down your metabolic processes.

  • If RT3 is high – you are likely converting too much T4 to RT3 and not enough to FT3, which can cause hypothyroid symptoms even if your TSH and T4 levels are optimal. In addition, I look at something called the RT3/FT3 ratio. I like that to be less than a 10:1 ratio.

 

 

What you Should have Checked

Most conventional medicine doctors only check your Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) levels. If you are lucky, they will test your Free T4 levels to see if you are low on the storage form of thyroid hormones. However, as we’ve just covered, there are many factors involved in optimal thyroid function, so those two levels alone don’t tell the whole story. To get a complete picture of a patient’s thyroid health and medication needs, I recommend ordering all of the thyroid tests listed below:

  • TSH
  • Free T4
  • Free T3
  • Reverse T3
  • Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPOAb)
  • Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TgAb)

 

Optimal Thyroid Lab Ranges

In my Practice, I have found that the ranges below are the ones in which my patients thrive. I listen to my patients as well and take how they are feeling into account.

  • TSH 1-2 UIU/ML or lower (Armour or compounded T3 can artificially suppress TSH)
  • FT4 >1.1 NG/DL
  • FT3 > 3.2 PG/ML
  • RT3 less than a 10:1 ratio RT3:FT3
  • TPO – TgAb – < 4 IU/ML or negative

 

Being educated about what’s going on with your thyroid will help you make the best choices when determing the next step in taggling your thyroid questions!

 

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The Difference Between Oral and IV Vitamins

How IV Therapy Benefits You More Thank Oral Supplementation

What if there was one thing in your body that had the power to control the way you look, feel and think? And what if supporting this one thing was the key to unlocking everlasting health? Sound too good to be true? I’m here to tell you that not only is this a fact, but it’s this vital organ in your body that serves as a common denominator for most of today’s health problems. I’m referring to your gut.

The current Merck Manual lists 14 main gastrointestinal disorders, with up to 14 subdivisions within each of the principle groupings (Beers, 2006). Add to this the finding that many other disease states affect the gastrointestinal tract significantly, and both give us a strong reminder that our gut has a major influence on our health. Intravenous (IV) therapy can be a useful adjunct to the oral treatment of gastrointestinal diseases.

This is because by the time symptoms of disease have made their appearance, it is sometimes too late for oral vitamins and minerals to make much difference. Nevertheless, these same vitamins and minerals, given intramuscularly (IM) or intravenously, can benefit many diseases. We know that the health of the GI tract affects the overall health of all body functions and the well-being of every individual. We approach the problem of disease as a problem of the cell. What the cell needs to be maximally healthy is always found in nature. However, to be effective, these nutrients must be admitted into the cell.

When given in high concentration, IV or IM nutrients enter the cell by sheer force of numbers. Administering nutrients in a concentration great enough to force those nutrients into the cell by means of a high-concentration gradient as well as the ability of the cell wall to absorb them, is highly beneficial. Highly concentrated on the outside, the cell membrane is semi-permeable meaning that it admits the nutrients into the cell due to the high-concentration gradient that was created.

The only way to obtain this high concentration is by IV or IM administration. With the GI cells, the IV route is especially useful for this purpose, because it’s immediately absorbed. When oral absorption is not effective, the parenteral route proves to be the most effective option.

So if you find yourself suffering from any GI issues (gas, bloating, acid-reflux), hormone imbalances, hypothyroidism, menopause, Hashimotos, or even trying to prevent the common cold; an IV would be the best option for you. And for every one of my patients, I custom-make each and every IV, so that you get exactly what you need. No cookie cutter recipes in my office!