Guest Author - Jim Lowrance
In this wonderfully written book by Mary Shomon, one of the most concerning problem-areas for thyroid patients is addressed in detail, namely the problem with weight gain and difficulty losing weight. This is a common complaint heard from treated thyroid patients who find that it requires a great deal more effort for them to control their weight, than before they experienced the onset of thyroid disease. As a male hypothyroid patient, I too can attest to an ongoing struggle with weight loss/control but I also see the added importance in addressing this problem with the fact that thyroid patients are at higher risk for other metabolic related diseases, including diabetes. These are the reasons this book is such an important resource for thyroid patients to take advantage of.
The Thyroid Diet Part I:
In Part I of Mary’s book, she begins by covering information on the symptoms, diagnosis and treatments for thyroid conditions because a weight problem can arise in people who are unaware that they have thyroid conditions. This part of the book looks at risk factors for thyroid disease, missed cases of thyroid dysfunction due to improper testing to detect it and people who have borderline thyroid conditions that doctors may not be willing to treat. All thyroid conditions are discussed in this section of the book, including hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid), hyperthyroidism (some treatments result in hypothyroidism), goiter, nodules and thyroid cancer and how these are also treated. She also includes information in this section on challenges that may arise in getting properly diagnosed due to doctors who may not order all the necessary tests. She points out that in addition to TSH, tests for thyroid antibodies (for thyroid autoimmunity) and testing of Reverse T3 and TRH (Thyrotrophin Releasing Hormone) to monitor conversion of T4 into T3 in the body may also be needed. Mary discusses treatment for hypothyroidism and looks at the different types of thyroid hormone replacement therapies that are available and the importance of optimized treatment for best results. Good nutrition and natural supplements are included subjects in this section, including vitamins, minerals and other natural helps that can be incorporated into treatment for hypothyroidism. It was great to see information included on things you should avoid in your diet, including “goitrogen foods” (listed in the book) which can contribute to goiter and reduced thyroid hormone levels.
The Thyroid Diet Part II:
In Part II of the book, Mary gives wonderful, easy-to-understand but detailed explanation describing the metabolic process of food being converted into energy for the body (metabolism and gluconeogenesis). She includes information on the role of insulin, glucagons, leptin, ghrelin, cortisol and adrenaline (metabolic hormones) in this process and how imbalances developing in these delicately balanced hormones, can lead to problems with weight gain and health disorders, including metabolic syndrome and diabetes. She goes on to describe what it means to be “metabolically efficient”, meaning you strike a proper balance between the proper foods you eat, proper aerobic exercise, proper nutrition and hydration and taking into account menopause, which can highly effect hormonal balance in affected women. Inflammatory response in the body is also discussed and how it can point to hormonal imbalance and affect weight control in the body (an aspect I found highly interesting).
The Thyroid Diet Part III:
Mary further addresses weight loss issues (hindrances) in Part III of the book, giving further attention to blood sugar balance, the effects of allergies (including food intolerances) and toxins on metabolism. I was especially interested in the included information on the adrenal hormone imbalance subject, where she discusses “Adrenal Fatigue” which occurs commonly in thyroid patients. A common fungus overgrowth problem (yeast infection) is also discussed which is caused by the candida fungus, referred to as “Candidiasis” and can be a result of too much refined sugar in the diet. Mary discusses treatments for this yeast overgrowth that can hinder weight loss, including diet changes and natural supplements that can help including probiotics and anti-fungal drugs required in more severe cases. Another common health disorder negatively affecting digestion and the body’s ability to absorb nutrients is addressed called “Celiac Disease” a chronic disorder caused by an allergy to gluten (wheat, barley, rye and possibly oat products). Mary points out that even without having this disease, people can be gluten intolerant with similar negative results and that if it is suspected, tests to diagnose the problem may be needed so that a gluten-free diet can be started to help in recovery and prevention of the disease-effects. She also points out that parasites (parasitic infections) can have negative effects on metabolism and weight control, as can an imbalance between zinc and copper levels in the body. Tests that can determine a patient’s status in these areas are discussed as are treatments and diet-change options to resolve the problems when found. Mary includes information on prescription drugs that can contribute to weight gain and lists a number of natural supplements that can help with weight loss. Also included is a look at mind-body and spiritual aspects that can contribute to overall balance of health. She also goes into the subject of stress, anxiety and depression (these can also affect metabolism) and gives an overview in regard to prescription drugs that can be administered for problems in this area, when they are resistant to natural supplements, diet and exercise. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is included as a subject as well as self-help relaxation techniques, deep breathing, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and other stress reducers. Finally, Mary gives a great run down in regard to exercise, things that can hinder your ability to get proper exercise and how to overcome those and benefit the best possible from a proper exercise regimen.
The Thyroid Diet Parts IV and V:
In Parts IV and V, Mary helps readers to look at options for developing the best possible diet plan for their individual needs. These sections contain informative graphs breaking down the details of each diet plan and includes a check list that helps you determine the best diet for you as an individual. A Body Mass Index is also included to help you determine your best weight level in setting a realistic goal to achieve your desired weight. The nice thing about these sections is that you can try different options if one doesn’t work the desired results for you. She also suggests lots of recipes with a breakdown chart for each, showing the amounts of calories, fats, carbohydrates, fiber, sugar and protein they contain. She also points out foods high in protein, those that are low-glycemic (low sugar, starch and fat) and provides a chart that distinguishes between beneficial and non-beneficial fats. Also found are suggestions on how to determine the size portions you eat of the foods you choose, the importance of including proper amounts of fiber, water and positive hope/attitude. She includes chapters on more specialized diets and procedures that patients may consider when weight loss is especially difficult, including prescription weight loss drugs when needed. She also helps us identify those things we need to avoid in our diets, including alcohol, caffeine, refined sugars and some artificial sweeteners.
It’s hard to know where to stop in this review because there is so much great information in this book and I’ve barely scratched the surface. I’ll simply end in saying it is a great overall resource to help thyroid patients develop an effective weight loss plan and diet for improved health and quality-of-life. With so many suggestions and options included, you’re sure to find the right plan for weight loss and weight control in this remarkable book and I highly recommend it to my readers.