Thyroid & hormones

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Meat: The Ultimate Superfood

Why is meat such a staple across cultures? Because human life demands it, and it’s one of our most primitive needs. Eating meat is as vital to our survival as breathing. If we don’t provide our bodies with a regular supply, then our bodies begin to cannibalize our tissues to make up for the deficit. That’s when the slow reabsorption of body tissues begins, and we start to see issues like sarcopenia, which is the loss of muscle mass. We lose bone mass, which is about 40 percent protein. Our production of vital hormones, neurotransmitters, and basic cell functions start to fail. Eventually, our very existence becomes one of daily pain, weakness, and despair.

People who’ve adopted all-meat diets often report feeling two or three decades younger. Their chronic pains go away, their desire for life returns, and their diseases resolve or remit. For some people, the changes have been downright miraculous. People who have given up on life and suffer chronic depression have seen profound reversals in their mental states. For the first time in memory, they find that they’re happy and looking forward to life. Let’s talk about why these changes may happen.

Meat offers a tremendous amount of nutrition, even though it’s vilified for having cholesterol and saturated fat (which are vital components of the human body). As I like to remind people, meat is made of basically the same stuff that we are made of. If you want to build a car and you have access to a pile of car parts or a pile of computers, from which one would you draw your supplies? I can take all the nutrients from a rib-eye steak, which is made up of a bunch of animal cells, and then turn them into whatever my body needs.

Yes, we have a limited capacity to turn material from plants into what we need, but the process is much less efficient than drawing nutrients from meat, and it comes with some drawbacks. Meat is rich in several unique compounds found exclusively, or almost exclusively, in animal-based foods. These compounds include carnitine, carnosine, creatine, taurine, retinol, and vitamins B12, D3, and K2. These compounds offer some tremendous benefits.

Carnosine’s antiglycating properties can help mitigate the development of things like Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, and renal disease. Muscle levels of carnosine are significantly higher in people who eat meat compared to the levels in their vegetarian counterparts. By some accounts, carnosine may be one of the most potent antiaging molecules known.

Like carnosine, carnitine is found almost exclusively in animal products, especially red meat. Carnitine has several potentially beneficial effects in preventing and improving diseases. It has been shown to help with anemia, particularly for anemia associated with kidney dysfunction. It appears to improve the body’s use of glucose, and it may reduce the effects of diabetic peripheral neuropathy. In heart attack patients, carnitine has been used to prevent ischemia in cardiac muscle, and it’s even been shown to assist with resolving male infertility via an improvement in sperm quality.

Creatine (a supplement athletes commonly use and one of the few that’s been found to be beneficial after being rigorously tested), is another product found only in meat. Meat eaters register higher levels of creatine, and when vegetarians supplement creatine, they experience improved cognitive function. It’s also interesting to note that patients with Alzheimer’s disease have lower levels of creatine. Heart failure patients who receive creatine have shown improved overall performance, and type 2 diabetics who supplement with creatine have improved glycemic control, particularly when they also exercise.

Taurine is found in high levels in both meat and fish but is woefully absent from a plant-based diet. As you might expect, taurine levels are significantly lower among herbivorous humans. In animal studies, taurine has been shown to reduce anxiety. Perhaps that is one reason so many folks on a carnivore diet report a sense of calmness and a resolution of anxiety. Taurine is similar to carnosine and has been shown to inhibit glycation. It’s also a powerful antioxidant. Some evidence suggests that taurine contributes to preventing the development of diabetic renal disease.

Although zinc is not exclusive to animal products, it’s found in much greater quantity and is more highly bioavailable in meat, and numerous plants containing phytates interfere with zinc’s absorption. Accordingly, zinc levels are fairly low in vegan and vegetarian dieters. Zinc deficiency has been associated with poor learning capacity, apathy, and behavioral problems in children. In adult males, low levels of zinc are associated with erectile dysfunction and decreased sperm counts. Zinc also is essential in the formation of insulin and appears to have a protective effect in preventing coronary artery disease and cardiomyopathy.

Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is found exclusively in animal products, and experts advise people who abstain from meat to supplement it. One of the more common causes of deficiency is gastrointestinal malabsorption. Up to 62 percent of pregnant vegan women were noted to be deficient in B12, and up to 86 percent of vegan children and 90 percent of vegan elderly were B12-deficient. A deficit of vitamin B12 has been associated with several neurological diseases, including dementia; it’s also related to depression.

Heme Iron
Heme iron is another mineral found in abundance in red meat but absent from nonmeat sources. Unsurprisingly, a 2015 study of vegetarian women saw a 100 percent rate of some degree of iron deficiency anemia, which was more than double the rate of deficiency in their omnivorous counterparts. Certain plants, like leafy greens, soybeans, and lentils, contain non-heme iron, but those plants also can contain compounds like phytates and oxalates that limit iron absorption. Deficiency of iron has been shown to result in impairments in cognition and mental health status and a sense of general fatigue.

On average, people who include meat in their diets generally have better vitamin and mineral status than those who do not, and the vast majority of nutritional deficiency problems are in parts of the world where access to meat is scarce. In impoverished locations where meat is abundant, it’s not common to see nutritional deficiencies, whereas in poorer areas where people rely on a plant-based diet, residents frequently suffer from stunted growth and have numerous nutritional deficiency syndromes. Meat is indeed, a superfood!

Excerpted from The Carnivore Diet, By Dr. Shawn Baker.
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Thyroid tips by coach Karla H

I spent about 13 years as a vegetarian, over-exercising and slowly over time restricting more and more (soon after causing a binge eating disorder and bulimia)  and exercising more and more. I developed bradycardia (36 bpm heart rate) and was on the path for a pacemaker. My blood pressure teetered around 89/58 and I could hardly stand up from a seated or squatting position without wanting to pass out.

I had lost my periods for 2 years and had become hypothyroid and was being pressured to take desiccated thyroid meds. Within 3 months of dedicated carnivore, my periods came back regularly, my resting heart rate settled at 50-55, my blood pressure came up to 95/67 and I no longer have any signs of low thyroid.

Go Meat!

Thyroid function tips by coach Elizabeth B

Thyroid hormone is the first hormone to have evolved in multicellular organisms when they left the iodine-rich atmosphere of the sea to live on land. Iodine was so important the thyroid evolved to make sure it was always available to cells. Endocrinologists have postulated that thyroid hormone controls all endocrine organs. Thyroid hormone is the first hormone to develop in the fetus. First, the thyroid, then the central nervous system, develop, with the tissues from the neural tube making the thyroid and then the brain, for which iodine is essential. Thyroid hormones not only grow our brain but control development and tissue growth.

There are thyroid hormone receptors in all cell membranes, all mitochondria, and all cell nuclei. It is thyroid hormone, specifically T3, the active thyroid hormone, that sparks the release of energy in all cells. T3 stimulates and de-accelerates metabolism—lipolysis and lipogenesis, protein synthesis, protein degradation, glucose consumption in cells (important in blood sugar regulation), and glucose production are controlled by T3.

All nutrients, including fats and proteins can be turned into ATP within each cell, using enzymes in the mitochondria where carbon and hydrogen are released. These are then combined with oxygen to make carbon dioxide and water create energy. T3 hormone assists these enzymes, enabling fat and proteins, sodium, potassium, and other chemicals, to pass into the cell membrane. Thyroid hormone also allows waste to move out of cells. It is T3 hormone that initiates the process of energy production in the mitochondria. The thyroid makes 80% t4, 16% t3, and 4% T2 and T1.

Mostly T3, but also to some extent T2, control the metabolism of lipids, proteins, and carbohydrates, primarily through the oxidation of fatty acids in most tissues. We now know that T2 is also involved in energy metabolism, especially in liver, heart, muscle, and brown adipose tissue. T3 also maintains cellular DNA, so it is involved in regeneration and immune function.

Since thyroid hormones activate all cells, all physiological functions suffer without enough active thyroid hormone. Symptoms as various as acid reflux, sleep apnea, arrhythmia and insomnia, depression, anxiety, low steroid hormones, gastrointestinal problems, joint pain, chest tightness, anemia, menstrual disorders, atherosclerosis, losing hair, fatigue, weight gain— the list goes on forever—are related to inadequate levels of thyroid hormone. Perhaps it isn’t a malfunction in the organ itself—in your intestines, in your lungs, in your brain, in your heart—but a lack of energy required for it to function properly.

The thyroid gland sits in the front of your neck and is innervated by sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves, one of which is the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve, also known as the wandering nerve, starts in the brain and travels from there to the tongue, thyroid, the heart (where it controls rhythm), the lungs, the stomach, and then to the intestines.

Not only are receptors for the active thyroid hormone T3 found in all cells, but because the superior laryngeal nerve, the branch of the vagus nerve that supplies the thyroid, contains both afferent and efferent fibers, inflammation in the thyroid can affect the function of the organs along vagus nerve. Inflammation in the various organs along this route can affect thyroid function. Inflamed thyroid tissue can also cause swelling and pain in the vertebra near the thyroid. Hence in some cases, neck pain is not due to degenerated bone tissue in the neck vertebra, but because surrounding tissue is swollen and impeding the proper movement of bones and ligaments.

Nutrition, intestinal function, and stress levels are the main causes of thyroid dysfunction. The production of thyroid hormone, as well as their transport around in the system, depends on adequate nutrition—a balance of raw materials for manufacturing, conversion, and transport.

Thyroid hormone molecules are made out of iodine and the amino acid tyrosine. The thyroid needs very particular amounts of different vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to manufacture hormones. But thyroid function also involves hormone conversion and hormone transport to target tissues. Without selenium, iron, and iodine, and other minerals, the three enzymes, deiodinase 1, deiodinase 2, and deiodinase 3, cannot be manufactured. These enzymes convert the inactive form of T4 into the active form of T3 and T2. There is also a T1, but not much is yet known about it’s function. Zinc and other minerals, both macro and trace, are essential for the synthesis of thyroid hormones in the thyroid itself and for the conversion of the inactive hormone thyroxine, T4 into its active form in peripheral tissues–in liver, kidney, heart, and muscle tissue. Specific proteins carry thyroid hormones to target tissues. Any digestive issues will disrupt this process.

Thyroid tissue itself suffers if the immune system mistakes the proteins on the enzymes that synthesize the nutrients to make hormones. If it mistakes them as enemies or antigens it will attack them, eventually destroying thyroid tissue. Autoimmune thyroid conditions are the most common of autoimmune disorders, and they are more prevalent in women. Autoimmunity can also be caused by inadequate nutrition.

Certain foods can trigger an autoimmune reaction because they cause inflammation. None of these foods are of animal origin, specifically soy and some vegetables, such as raw cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli. Instead, animal-based nutrition will ensure you get all the raw materials you need to optimize thyroid function. Removing plant foods from your diet not only eliminates trigger foods, but also takes out foods that can interfere with the absorption of iron, B12, and other B vitamins, as well as goitrogens, that prevent iodine absorption, all essential to thyroid function. These nutrients are especially important during puberty, when the thyroid is busy forming sexual characteristics.


Chronic stress will make the thyroid suffer as well. The thyroid is a very sympathetic organ. It is stimulated by, and interacts with the sympathoadrenal system—the sympathetic nervous system and the adrenal medulla, whose activity is controlled by the hypothalamus and the brainstem. The thyroid is constantly responding to catecholamines—dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine—synthesized by the adrenal glands. This means the thyroid reacts to temperature by warming you up or cooling you down. It also means that it responds to stress, be it physical or mental. Childhood trauma can damage thyroid function.

What the thyroid doesn’t need is carbohydrate. Starvation suppresses thyroid hormone conversion. This is because starvation, or any kind of stress, causes the thyroid to down-regulate conversion in peripheral tissues by the deiodinase enzymes. TSH and T4 hormone levels do not go down. The T3 levels go down. In starvation. and with isocaloric diets, T3 conversion is suppressed because T3 stimulates physiological processes. All biochemical and metabolic processes have to be curtailed with reduced nutrient intake, as there are fewer raw materials to go around. T3 conversion is suppressed to prevent the degradation and synthesis of the body’s own tissues. What T3 is available has to go to heart, kidney, and brain function. Growth and regeneration must be suspended. The studies that demonstrated reduced T3 conversion on low carbohydrate diets were done with low-calorie low-carbohydrate diets. In fact, studies that used high-fat diets with normal calorie intake showed no reduction in T3 levels.

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