Low Carb And Thyroid Function

low carbs








In the last article I spoke about low carb raising cortisol levels and now in certain individuals anyway this is going to be something we need to pay attention to.  What happens with this is that lowering the carbs reduces our dietary intake of glucose, while increasing cortisol increases the amount of glucose our body makes, and the amount that’s added here can exceed the amount that’s reduced in one’s diet.

This isn’t the only concern of higher cortisol by any means, and high cortisol is an affliction in itself, and some of us are more prone to this than others, but if this is an issue, and there are symptoms associated with high cortisol beyond just raising blood sugar in diabetics, then this bears paying attention to, and you may even be wise to accept a little higher blood sugar to seek to better manage your cortisol issues.

You may also want to look to treat your high cortisol issues if you have them apart from the treatment of your diabetes, that’s another subject for another article.

The next thing we need to be wary of is low carb decreasing T3, the active form of thyroid hormone.  When we eat less carbs, our T3 conversion gets downregulated, which actually makes sense, as similar to the case with cortisol, our body senses this as a stressor, an inadequate intake, and looks to go into preservation mode here.

Our bodies were designed for feast and famine and this allowed our species to survive a lot of turmoil and even though we may be restricting these things on purpose, the body will still tend to perceive this as an event that it needs to intervene in for the interests of our long term survival.

So our metabolism becomes downregulated to a degree, and there’s no question of this being the case, and in some cases that may be fine as one may just adjust to it, and many do.  Ideally, there seems to be a transitional period where we see adaptation to the new diet, and the new diet generally requires less metabolic activity so we may achieve at least an acceptable degree of homeostasis.

So the keto people will say, well if you test the thyroid function of long term people in nutritional ketosis you will see that we are fine here, but keep in mind that the people with real issues get weeded out and have to abandon the diet, and it’s only the survivors that end up doing this long term, as people aren’t about to stick with something that makes them quite ill.

If you are suffering from reduced T3 conversion in the first place, and then you go with a diet that reduces this further, then you can certainly make your condition worse.  A lot of diabetics suffer from low thyroid function and many of them may make plenty of T4 but don’t convert it well, most of this conversion occurs in the liver, and we tend to have fatty livers and liver insulin resistance and both play a role in messing up our ability to convert T4 into T3 properly.

This is not an easy condition to treat by the way, it’s not a matter of just taking a prescription for T4 as that’s not the problem, and they wouldn’t give you this anyway because when you have this your T4 levels tend to be just fine.

There are some things you can do to help yourself though although that’s a discussion for another article, but one of the things you can do is to make sure you get enough carbs so you don’t make your thyroid condition worse.

Low thyroid function is also related to glucose metabolism by the way, if metabolism is downregulated, then our cells will demand less glucose and there will therefore be more left in the blood, in other words this will tend to raise our blood sugar.

It’s not hard to tell if you are messing up your thyroid function though, as you will either get symptoms of this or your symptoms will get worse.  In particular, since your metabolism is being downregulated further, a loss of energy will be one of the things that will really stand out.

When I first went on low carb I was so weak that people literally thought I was dying, and in the end I had no choice but to increase my carb intake, and it wasn’t that I was going as low as some people do, 50 grams a day or so which is pretty low but some do fine on less, but that sure wasn’t me.

You can get a full thyroid panel to see where things might be going wrong here, but there’s also an easy and very reliable test, perhaps even more reliable than the blood tests, which involves taking your temperature when you first wake.  If it’s below 97.5, you have issues with your thyroid, and the lower you go below that, the more serious the issues are.  You can also use this to measure your progress.

Mine tends to be well below that, although one time I did test out how a high carb diet affected this, and I actually got myself in the normal range here, although this involved more carbs than I could handle and my blood sugar suffered too much so I had to abandon that idea and continued to look for ways to restore this with a more moderate carb intake, which by the way can be quite a challenge.

So there can be competing concerns here and we often need to seek a balance between managing our blood sugar and managing our thyroid function, although the two are definitely related as well, as low thyroid function once again makes it more difficult to manage blood sugar.

So to be clear on this, as diabetics, and this includes all diabetics by the way, not just type 2’s, we need to ensure that we are not overloading our bodies with too many carbs.  Even though I do require more carbs than many diabetics, I still watch my intake very carefully, and had to drastically change my diet to accommodate this, and just about all of the things that people normally eat, anything with grains in it for instance, starchy vegetables, most fruit, and of course sweets are all out now.

We do need to pay attention though to not overdoing it and the point of these articles is to just make you aware that this isn’t just a game of limbo, you need to make sure you aren’t bending so low as to hurt yourself.

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