Volume 02 – Thyroid Hormone T4 to T3 Conversion
This is possibly what’s causing the most confusion out there, that everyone with hypothyroidism thinks that it’s their thyroid that’s “broken”.
That may not necessarily be the case.
Logically, if the only thing wrong with you is that your thyroid isn’t producing enough hormones then getting your body to produce the thyroid hormone T4 or supplementing with T4 should fix the issue right?
Well, more often than not, this doesn’t solve the problem. People still get all the symptoms and in some cases feel worse!
That’s because the thyroid doesn’t function on its own.
Your thyroid produces mostly the thyroid hormone T4, but the cells of your body don’t use T4. The cells of your body use T3.
The liver produces most of the T3 your body needs!
That’s why hypothyroidism is not just a thyroid issue. It can be a liver issue.
Think of T3 thyroid hormone as a broken down or digested version of T4.
Basically the liver takes T4 hormone and it converts it into T3. Once the hormone is converted into T3, now the cells can uptake the hormone and be good.
When I learned about this, I started to realize why there is so much conflicting information and why the spreading of “wrong” information is epidemic.
A big one is “goitrogenic foods are bad for your thyroid”.
See, if your problem is that your thyroid isn’t producing enough hormones, then yes watch out for goitrogenic foods as you figure out how to get your hormones back in balance.
… but if your problem is that the liver isn’t converting T4 into T3, meaning your thyroid did its job, but the liver didn’t, then goitrogenic foods take on a different role. Some of the foods I used to fix my liver were goitrogenic… like kale.
I posted a video about a green juice recipe where I used kale and many people kept commenting “isn’t kale bad for you when you have hypothyroidism?”
Well, if your thyroid isn’t producing hormones, then yes it could affect it, but if your thyroid is working fine and it’s your liver not converting T4 into T3 then no, kale is not bad for you. Quite the contrary, kale will really help your liver convert T4 into T3.
Do you see how conflicting this can be for those who don’t research enough and just go by what “most” people do and say?
I used to think cholesterol was bad. Today, I can’t even imagine trying to get my body to produce the hormones it needs if I avoided cholesterol. I see it all the time, people thinking that they “eat healthy” because they choose turkey and chicken over beef.
The average hypothyroid person eats too clean not getting enough cholesterol & saturated fat, not enough protein (not the right kind at least), and too much sugar. If you follow this program, I’ll help you transition into something that works.
There are two main reasons I found the liver to be sluggish and struggle converting T4 into T3.
- Toxic liver
- Not getting the right nutrients
How to detox your liver so it converts T4 into T3
The first thing you have to understand is that the liver functions like a filter in your body. One of its jobs is to filter out toxins and other bad stuff from the foods and drinks you put into your body.
Now imagine a car that has never had its oil filter replaced… do you think that car would run without breaking down? probably not. You have to take care of the filters.
The body is the same, and one of those filters is the liver.
Cleaning the liver is something that takes a while, but it is the long term solution to converting T4 into T3.
This is cleaning 101 and just like cholesterol, my main goal is not to change your diet, but give you tools so that you can help your body function properly.
There are two main things I did that may sound too simple at first, but there’s a reason why I want you to think this way.
One was, I increased my fluid intake. Two, I gave my liver a break.
For the first, just by drinking more water your body will be able to clean itself and “unplug” itself. However, there are different things you can add to your water to make it so it does a better job at cleaning up.
What I personally used to clean up my liver was green juices.
Dark greens, especially the more bitter/spicy greens tend to work best to clean out the liver.
Just like cholesterol, the biggest enemy of a green juice for cleansing and detoxing purposes is sugar.
I can’t tell you how many people are “addicted” to sugar and don’t even know it until I ask them to go a day without sugar.
Drinking green juice does both for you, it increases fluid intake and it gives your liver a break.[/text_block]
Green Juice VS Green Smoothie
The juice alone doesn’t need to be digested since it doesn’t have pulp or fiber and is easily absorbed by the body.
A smoothie on the other hand, needs to be digested because of the pulp and fiber so you’ll be putting your digestive system and your liver to work. That means you won’t be giving your liver a break and chances are you will no longer remain in a fasted state.
In other words, juicing will give your liver a break where as doing green smoothies won’t.
There’s many other reasons why green juices work so much better for this, but I’m not saying to not drink smoothies, just understand that green juice is the tool we are using to clean the liver and help it convert T4 into T3.
The green juice I use doesn’t have sugar for this reason, and you’ll see why I use it as a tool more than anything.[/text_block]
Nutrients Needed to Convert T4 into T3
The one you may not have heard of and possibly the most important one is protein.
Now protein is a broad term so let me specify and say that you need high quality protein that is easily digested and available to be used by the body.
The more I understand protein, the easier it is to see why so many people are hypothyroid and don’t even know it.
Here’s how it works.
The body is not designed to absorb protein. Rather, it is designed to break apart protein and build its own.
So anytime you feed it beef, chicken, fish, etc., what the body is doing is breaking down that protein into amino acids and then taking those amino acids and building its own protein.
Any protein that can’t be broken down is considered an intruder, and it will be attacked by the body. If the body can’t break it down, it will build mucus around it and that will cause inflammation or an allergic reaction or both.
Gluten is a protein that is very hard to digest which is why you see so many people getting off of gluten start to feel better. Now I don’t like the gluten-free diets out there, but understand that the reason they are feeling better is because gluten will cause inflammation for this reason, it’s a protein that’s hard to digest.
So for hypothyroidism, what you need to understand is that if your liver is not getting enough protein that is easy to digest then the liver won’t be able to convert T4 into T3 and the end result is hypothyroidism.
Let me re-phrase this to make sure you understand it.
I was eating a lot of protein, but my body was not digesting protein properly. The end result in my case was that
a) I had undigested proteins lurking around my body causing inflammation.
b) My liver was not getting the protein it needed to convert T4 to T3
Now here’s where it really gets ugly.
If the liver doesn’t get protein from your diet, the body will seek out protein to make up for it. You can very well be eating enough protein, but your digestive system may not be functioning up to par and therefore your liver may not be getting adequate protein.
If that is the case what happens is that your adrenal glands kick in. They secrete the stress hormone cortisol to break down muscle so it can get protein.
When this happens it creates a vicious cycle because cortisol inhibits the liver from converting T4 into T3 and that makes you hypothyroid.
So follow along…
No protein means the liver can’t convert T4 into T3
No protein means the adrenals will seek out protein from your muscle
Adrenals release cortisol to break down muscle and get the protein the liver needs.
Cortisol inhibits the liver from converting T4 into T3 and the system is now broken.
Worse, when the adrenal glands kick in and start releasing cortisol, that’s what makes your hair thin out and fall off, it’s what makes your nails brittle, and what makes your skin dry.
The long term solution is to fix your digestive system which is what I’ll cover in next week’s newsletter. The short term is to feed it easy to digest protein.[/text_block]
This Week’s Homework
This week is about making sure the liver can convert T4 into T3.
I want you to notice the synergy effect of doing last week’s homework with this week’s homework.
Also, notice the pattern that for this to work best you have to cut back on sugar.
So if you did your homework last week, you should be taking either the short bursts of cholesterol by eating at least 800 milligrams of cholesterol (about 4 egg yolks) the night before and avoiding sugar at least 2-3 hours before you consume cholesterol.
This week we’re going to add to that, but you can do this separate.
One very important thing to know is that hormone production works best when the body is in a fasted state. It takes about 12 hours to go into a fasted state. If your last meal was at 6pm then by 6 am you’ll be in a fasted state.
So if you give your body cholesterol the night before and avoid eating solid foods until it is done processing that cholesterol that’s when it will work best.
To do so, I personally drink a green juice in the morning with no sugar. This green juice is now serving 3 purposes.
- Cleaning my liver
- increasing fluid intake
- Lengthening the time I’m in a fasted state.
All I do is replace my breakfast with a green juice and slowly with time as the liver gets clean it will begin to function properly again. You’ll feel the brain fog go away with this. I don’t eat my first meal or break my fast until noon or 1 pm.
When I do, I will leverage the fact that I’m in a fasted state to make my body function even better.
The magic bullet in this case is eating the right protein.
I’ll talk more about protein and different foods you can eat so you can design your own diet that fits your lifestyle and goals, but for now let’s focus on fixing you.
The best protein you can take at this stage for this purpose is bone broth.
Good bone broth is actually more gelatin-like instead of liquid. You can make your own, but real bone broth takes about 2-3 days to make.
I prefer to just buy bone broth protein powder instead so here’s a recipe to add to your arsenal of thyroid tools[/text_block]
Real Avocado Breakfast
- 1/2 Tsp Matcha Green Tea Powder
- 1 Cup Almond Milk
- 1/2 Small Avocado
- 1 Scoop Vanilla Bone Broth Protein
- 2 Ice Cubes
You can drink this any time of day, but if you want the synergy effect of what I do, then here’s the real order you should do this.
The night before eat your thyroid hormone booster dinner.
In the morning, drink your green juice.
Fast for as long as you can and break your fast with this bone broth breakfast smoothie.
Bone broth protein is the easiest protein to digest I know of that you can start using today and feel your liver function again if your problem is converting T4 into T3.
Although using bone broth is a good long term solution, if you are having trouble digesting protein, then your thyroid issues may be more likely gut related.
In most cases it is a combination of all three… low thyroid hormone production, poor liver function and poor gut function.
Next week’s email newsletter we’ll go into how to fix your gut so you can digest protein better and move into more advanced topics for hormone production and liver function.
Hope you have enjoyed this newsletter so far, so please feel free to reach out to me and let me know how you are doing with this information so far.[/text_block]