Thyroid Discussion (Q&A) with Dr. Randy Lundell
“Food is medicine. Food speaks to your DNA. The right kinds of food can down-regulate disease, risk of cancer, improve hormone production, improve mood. . . it’s amazing when you can get people to change the way they eat, they’re always surprised how much better they feel.” -Dr. Randy Lundell
In this blog post, I will summarize the Questions and Answers that I asked in my interview with Dr. Randy Lundell of Spanish Fork, Utah. He is Board Certified in Family Medicine and believes in taking a personal and Functional Medicine approach to treatment. He has completed a Fellowship in Functional Medicine.
Q. Is there a test I should run to rule something out or identify the root cause of my thyroid condition?
(Summarized Answer): When you get a thyroid test with your doctor, they will often test a TSH. The first lab would be a Free T4 test, then a Free T3–check those two as well as Reverse T3. That is what slows your thyroid down. Check all of those to see the full function of the thyroid. You also need to check thyroid antibodies. This is where you see if your own body is trying to attack and kill your own thyroid. This is a condition called Hashimoto’s.
Q. Is there fallibility in the prescriptions being given to people with such a widespread epidemic?
(Summarized Answer): Levothyroxine is the #1 prescribed drug in the world. It’s even more common in women. Women who have thyroid conditions, 90% of the time will have Hashimoto’s (but no doctor is checking for it). Even if they do, they don’t know what to do about it. Levothyroxine is T4 and they don’t get the lab check on T3 to see if it is actually converting over to the active form of thyroid hormone.
People are prescribed these medications, then I don’t feel they’re being managed properly as far as the laboratory testing. That’s why I prefer other medications to Levothyroxine. I prefer something like an Armor Thyroid or Nature’s Throid–natural desiccated thyroid that comes from the thyroid of a pig. It has 80% T4 and 20% T3. Oftentimes when someone switches to that medication, they feel so much better.
Q. W hat is holding people back from switching to a desiccated hormone?
(Summarized Answer): Even going through medical school, I didn’t know that desiccated hormones existed. I remember learning about it when I finished residency and asked one of my colleagues if he ever prescribed it, and he didn’t even know what it is. Doctors are not being instructed there are other options. When patients go and bring it up with their doctor, the reality is the doctors don’t know about it so turn it down.
Q. What is the difference between Bovine and Porcine?
(Summarized Answer): The usual prescription is Porcine (pig). The only one that is available now is Armour Thyroid–and it’s my preferred one anyway.
Q. Is there a general description for when switching from a synthetic thyroid hormone to a desiccated thyroid hormone?
If you’ve been on a T4 Synthroid/Levothyroxine for a long time, women often come to me and say “it doesn’t feel like it’s working at all.” Usually when we switch them to a combination medication they usually say” I feel better already!” Over an 8 week period, we have them come in and check their blood test and lab test to ensure they’re in the numbers we’re looking for.Q. What are some of those lifestyle choices that potentially can aggravate or cause Thyroid Conditions?
(Summarized Answer): 90% of the time when the thyroid is not functioning properly, they have Hashimoto’s. This is where your body is attacking your own thryoid and trying to kill it. The next question we ask is ‘Why?.’
There are 3 things that have to be in place:
- You likely have a genetic predisposition.
- Environmental triggers: stress, sleep, improper food choices, environmental toxins, makeup, pollutions, pesticides, chemicals, hormonal changes, birth control, etc.
- Most people have Leaky Gut–most of you immune system is in your gut. So it leads to the attack on the thyroid.
Q. Are there specific foods to avoid for those with Hypothyroidism?
(Summarized Answer): I usually take people through an Elimination Diet. Of course gluten, dairy, corn, soy, peanuts, shellfish, and eggs for a period of about four weeks. It takes about four weeks for the immune system to calm down, After that period, I have them introduce each of those foods at a time every 3-5 days. They pay attention to how they feel so they can learn these are the most inflammatory foods that should be avoided in the future?
The questions to ask when adding foods back in include:
- How are sleep patterns?
- Any headaches?
- Any joint distress?
- Any stomach distress?
Get your doctor to prescribe to you a Glucose meter. If you are on the Elimination Diet, you may find your blood sugar gets under better control as inflammation comes down. You’ll find your blood glucose comes to be pretty consistent. If you introduce a food that is inflammatory, you will know pretty quickly as the numbers spike up more than they have over the past four weeks. This is a clue you have a sensitivity to that food.
Q. I can’t find a doctor to prescribe Porcine. What would you recommend?
(Summarized Answer): This is why people come see me from all over (Dr. Lundell does meetings by Skype). Many doctors have been trained to prescribe only Synthroid and Levothyroxine. The T3 is the most important lab on there, and if it’s not properly addressed that is a problem. Dr. Lundell can prescribe to anybody in the United States.
Q. Are there any foods that we should avoid if we want to make a difference for feeling better and prevent thyroid conditions?
(Summarized Answer): Gluten is always a concerning nutrition choice. If you have a family history of autoimmune disease, gluten tends to be one of those unfortunate foods that triggers conditions. A lot of people say ‘I can’t have sugar’ because they know it’s inflammatory, so they turn to artificial sweeteners. These can be fairly damaging for gut bacteria. Keep good gut bacteria as there is a connective piece with thyroid and the gut. A good majority of T4 medication, or if you internally produce thyroid hormone, is converted to T3 in your gut. So dumping a bunch of artificial sweeteners in your gut is not helpful.
Q. Is there a reason to supplement with Iodine for under-active thyroid?
(Summarized Answer): In terms of nutritional iodine, the majority of people in America are deficient in iodine. It’s important to do urinary testing to accurately know if you should supplement. If you keep it conservative, iodine is a great supplement for most people even with Hashimoto’s.
Q. What is Hyperthyroidism and what causes it?
(Summarized Answer): Both Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism are driven by the same thing. The body, due to genetics, gut problems, and environmental triggers, the body begins to attack the thyroid. Those with Hyperthyroidism (Grave’s Disease) can usually relate to the following description:
It’s like a light bulb burning in your house that doesn’t look right (unusually bright), then eventually, BAM, the light will burn out. Those with this condition will feel great, the thyroid goes fast, you get heart palpitations, you sweat, you can lose weight, but then BOOM, they will transition into hypothyroidism where the thyroid slows down and begins to transition more into a Hashimoto’s picture.
Q. Are there other tests to consider for Hyperthyroidism?
(Summarized Answer): Complete all the other tests as recommended for Hypothyroidism (T4, T3, Reverse T3, and Antibodies) and add the TSI (Thyroid Stimulating Immunoglobulin). Treatment is ultimately the same–looking for the root cause for why your body is attacking the thyroid.
- Do you have an environmental toxin?
- Does your gut have an infection?
- Do you have a gluten sensitivity?
- Do you have yeast overgrowth?
Q. How should those with Hyperthyroidism be eating for this condition?
The eating style is very much the same, and the similar foods to avoid include gluten and dairy.
Q. Should those with Thyroid conditions avoid Cruciferous vegetables?
(Summarized Answer): If you cook your vegetables, it certainly takes down the goitrogenic* effect (blocking effect of the thyroid), but the majority of people are not going to overeat their Cruciferous vegetables. Most of the time, we are just trying to get people to eat their vegetables. If people are concerned about this, cook them or steam them a little bit.
*Goitrogens are substances that disrupt the production of thyroid hormones by interfering with iodine uptake in the thyroid gland. This triggers the pituitary to release thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), when then promotes the growth of thyroid tissue, eventually leading to goiter. – Wikipedia
I hope this interview helped you learn more about what is in your control!
Check out some of the amazing women I have been blessed to work with and their inspirational stories here:
Remember to keep pushing for solutions, both with your education and knowledge, and then with your consistency and application. I know that is a HUGE part of the issue which is why I am a COACH. I would love to help you figure out the solutions in your own life to get and keep consistent.
#PowerYourBody one meal, one workout, one day at a time!
Love your bud,
PS if you have Snapchat, how about an add? It’s the most up-close-and-personal you’ll get to learning the day-ins and day-outs of this lifestyle as I live it! 🙂