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Old 11-29-2013, 05:14 PM   #1
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Has anyone's thyroid/cholesterol worsened eating low carb or LCHF??

Hoping I can get some advice from people on this page. I'm a 42 year old female from Australia. I haven't posted on this forum for a couple of months, but I have been eating LCHF for around 5-6 months and have lost just over 10kg. My current weight is approx 107kg (so still obese).

I have just had some disturbing blood test results. I have always had perfect cholesterol (trig, LDL, HDL, total). I get it tested six monthly. It has gone from April's test results (first number) to now (second number) - HDL: 1.77 to 1.38, Trig: 1.2 to 2.5, LDL: 1.8 to 2.2, cholesterol: 4.1 to 4.7 The doctor is concerned.

What is even more concerning which, ironically, may or may not be the 'cause' of the high cholesterol numbers are my thyroid numbers. My TSH has gone from 3.3 to 18.1. My T3 and T4 have both fallen to below range This is while taking thyroxine (thyroid hormone replacement) so my TSH should be at 0.5.

I did some research and found that the cholesterol rise can be an effect of the thyroid problem so it *might* be that. However, what was disturbing - and some of you may be aware of this - is that there is a strong school of thought that low carb can destroy your thyroid. It is hotly contested (what isn't??? ) but I am sitting here wondering if maybe there is some truth to it....

So I am really confused as to what to do. I don't have a doctor to guide me through this (I mean a LCHF doctor) and, IF it is low carb that's doing this, obviously I don't want to further harm myself. Thoughts/advice welcome
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Old 11-29-2013, 05:23 PM   #2
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My thyroid is a mess, and we're still not sure I'm properly medicated for it (I've been on some meds that mask thyroid issues), but it hasn't been affected at all by eating LCHF. And my cholesterol has never been an issue.

I would bet that your cholesterol levels getting worse are a result of your thyroid tanking. That's a much more likely (and well-known) effect of a bad thyroid than speculation about the LCHF diet. And that's all that is right now, speculation. I haven't seen anything concrete that points to a LCHF diet being bad for the thyroid, while there's tons about the thyroid/cholesterol connection. Why would you assume the former instead of the latter?
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Old 11-29-2013, 05:32 PM   #3
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Truth is, I'm not sure.

I'm willing to accept the likelihood of my cholesterol worsening being a side effect of the thyroid going caput, but I'm concerned about the possible link between down regulation of thyroid being linked to low carb eating :/
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Old 11-29-2013, 08:27 PM   #4
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ok, here is a nearly definitive answer for you.

other cholesterol numbers can be tricky, but I venture to say that triglycerides NEVER go up when someone low carbs. while your triglyceride levels are somewhat genetically determined, after that they are pretty much linearly related to carb intake, particularly carb intake in the approximately 3-5 days before the blood draw. if this is going up, something else is going on.

good luck!
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Old 11-29-2013, 08:56 PM   #5
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Thanks for your response Ravenrose.

The trigs are a particular worry for me. They have always been "perfect" - I get them tested every 6-12 months. I can promise you I have been eating less than 30gm carbs for months and have been in nutritional ketosis for that whole time (other than a few occasions when I had a 'cheat').

That said, as Ntombi mentioned, there is a correlation between thyroid degeneration and worsening cholesterol/trigs. I have been eating lots of fat (obviously, doing LCHF) and my GP is concerned that is the issue. I doubt it, but I can't discount it outright because, honestly, I really don't know

My dad (who low carbs but doesn't 'high fat') wants me to quit eating high fat. I don't want to, but truth be told, this has given me a scare.

It's one thing to say it can't be this WOE, but it will take a leap of faith in some ways to continue as I have been. Like I said, I'm scared I am doing further damage

I should add, my GP has upped my thyroxine to 75mcg a day. I was on 50mcg. I am having more tests in the first week of January.

Last edited by Hot Potato; 11-29-2013 at 08:58 PM..
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Old 11-30-2013, 01:48 AM   #6
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I'd say it's probably your thyroid also. I had a time about 4 years ago when my cholesterol was up higher than I normally am. My thyroid numbers were up also. My thyroid meds were upped a bit, my thyroid numbers lowered back down, and my cholesterol numbers came down 30 points (I know we're on a different numbers scale than where you are but it's all relevent).

Thyroid can definitely affect cholesterol numbers.

Last edited by watcher513; 11-30-2013 at 01:49 AM..
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Old 11-30-2013, 02:51 AM   #7
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Hot Potato, it would really help if you put the lab range next to each result, then we could really see Where it is within the range(s).
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Old 11-30-2013, 03:32 AM   #8
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Sure thing

Lab Ranges -

Thyroid

TSH 0.5 - 3 (mine is 18.1)
T4 11 - 21 (mine is 11.4)
T3 3.1 - 6 (mine is 2.7)

Cholesterol

Total 3.5 - 5.5 (mine is 4.7)
Trig < 1.5 (mine is 2.5)
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Old 11-30-2013, 05:55 AM   #9
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I'm no physician, but I'd guess that your cholesterol issues are because of some thyroid dysfunction--based on my reading and my own experience.

My hypothyroid (Hashi's) was no diagnosed for several years, and during that time, my LDL cholesterol went up--and gradually lowered once I was diagnosed and treated. Low thyroid function is known to cause a rise in cholesterol.

However, your high TSH while being medicated suggests some problem beyond simply a slow thyroid, and the cholesterol may be related to whatever is going on. In my experience, once we're taking supplemental hormones, any changes are small and simply require a dosage adjustment. Your TSH went up rather dramatically.

As to your diet, I've been eating low carb for years, and my endo says there is no relation to my thyroid problems. I suspect the idea that low carb affects the thyroid is another one of those internet myths.

I'm glad you're having more tests in January, and I hope the problem is solved for you.
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Old 11-30-2013, 12:58 PM   #10
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I'm not an expert, but I did go though thyroid issues about 4 years ago and now I'm on 50mcg Synthroid. I never heard that LC can destroy your thyroid. Mine went kablooey years before I starting low carbing; I think it had something to do with menopause. I do remember that my cholesterol and trig numbers were bad during that time. The doctor told me to disregard them as that was because of my thyroid issues. Have your thyroid antibodies ever been tested? Mine were through the roof even before my TSH went up to 26 (and I was having symptoms), so my doctor knew right away that it was thyroid issues. I've been low carbing for about a year now without needing any change in my Synthroid dose, so, in my case, LC hasn't appeared to affect my thyroid. I think once your thyroid is back in sync, your cholesterol numbers will go back to normal. Maybe you should ask your doctor to test your thyroid antibodies. Good luck to you!
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