Do you suffer with hormonal problems such as adrenal fatigue? Are you hypothyroid? Do you gain weight easily, have insomnia, or no energy? Do you have a low sex drive or cold hands and feet?
I've been suffering with signs of hypothyroidism ever since my daughter was born in 2007. I've been doing low carb to try to lose the weight.
Who knew that eating MORE carbs was just the ticket to help raise my body temperature and help my thyroid?
How I Raised My Body Temperature with Carbs
My average temperature has really been going up in the past few months.
Check this out:
It is pretty awesome to see that my average temperature is steadily rising. The past two weeks I am at a record high of 98.4! Getting tantalizingly close to my goal of 98.6.
I know I've got a lot of the symptoms of hypothyroidism. I've got the myxedema (more on that in an upcoming post), little red dots on my skin called petechiae, I have the extra 15-20 pounds that just won't budge no matter how much I limit my calories or my carbs, and of course I've got the low body temperature.
When your body temperature starts to come up, it's a sign that your thyroid is working better. So yay!
Carbs Are Your Friend
Carbs are getting such a bad rap on the internet lately, but you know what? We need carbohydrates just like we need protein and fat. If you dramatically reduce any one of these macronutrients, it can cause problems.
Go too low fat, not good. Not enough protein? Also bad. The same goes for carbs. Of course everyone is different and we all need different amounts of macronutrients. So you may need less than I do. Or maybe you need more. It really is an individual thing. But if you have hormonal problems, the point is to nourish your body as best you can and give it what it needs to recover. I know, I'm going to get angry comments that “waffles aren't nourishing” but you know what people, it is working for me. The numbers don't lie.
I really jacked up my intake of carbs in January. That's when I started eating grains as a part of breakfast, lunch and dinner. I also greatly increased my food intake in January, following Matt Stone's RRARFing plan.
I had increased my caloric intake a lot back in October as well after reading a few other books that discussed how not eating enough carbs — or enough food in general — can make hurt your hormones and make you put on weight.
Then in January I decided to go for it and increased it even more. I read Matt Stone's Diet Recovery e-book and it convinced me to give what he calls RRARFing a try. RRARFing is rehabilitative rest and aggressive refeeding.
I had been nervous to try RRARFing, because I was worried that I would put on a bunch of weight. I decided I had a lot more to gain than lose — in other words, I knew I needed to get my hormones functioning properly before I tried to lose weight. What's the point of losing weight when it's just going to keep coming back again and again because your thyroid is not working right?
So I took Matt's advice and ate a lot more carbs, fruit, starches, grains, and sweets — like maple syrup on my pancakes and jam on my toast. I ate a starchy carb or grains at every single meal. This is unheard of for me, since I used to feel guilty just eating a piece of bread. I had actually gotten to the point that I thought that there was no point eating fruit or rice, because they were not “nutrient dense” enough and they would make me gain weight. This is what most peopel are saying online these days, and I fell for it. Little did I know that it was doing damage to my hormones. (See my post: Why I Ditched Low Carb)
What am I eating? Waffles or pancakes with or oatmeal for breakfast (sometimes I also have eggs), crackers and cheese or a sandwich and chips for lunch, and pizza or pasta or meat and fish with rice for dinner. For snacks I've been eating fruit or fruit-sweetened yogurt. And I often eat cookies or biscotti or ice cream for dessert.
Yeah, RRARFing is fun!
Now, I did put on a little bit of weight in this past 6 weeks or so. My jeans are tight. But I haven't gone up a size. And this may be what my body needs to do in order to heal. I trust that when my temperature is nice and hot and my metabolism is humming, my body will balance itself out. And I'd rather get my sex drive and energy back and have a few extra pounds. Plus, I can't lose these extra pounds on low-carb anyway, so what's the dang point?!
I also started taking dessicated thyroid on February 18th and I will continue to take it going forward. After reading Hypothyroidism Type 2: The Epidemic by Dr. Mark Starr, I wanted to try taking the dessicated thyroid to see what would happen.
Clearly these things are working! Wheeeee! I can't tell you how happy I am to be at 98.4. I'm hoping I can get to 98.6 by next month. I'll keep you all posted.
Notes on My Average Temperature Chart
This is an average of my daytime temperature, not my basal body temperature (BBT), which is taken first thing in the morning.
On the left, I included my average temperature for May, 2008, just because I happened to have an old spreadsheet from when I was taking my temperature. I think around that time we were about a month into doing the GAPS Diet, and I was supplementing with iodine, dessicated adrenal gland, cod liver oil, etc.
Next I included an average of the first two weeks in December, an average of the first two weeks in January, and an average of the first two weeks in February and then the last two weeks in February.
I wish I had an average for say, last summer, when I wasn't eating enough and was eating more low-carb, and I was not taking any iodine or glands. Unfortunately I wasn't charting my temperature back then. I do know it was consistently in the low to mid-97s.
Why Chart Your Temperature?
Why is it so important to chart your temperature and what can you learn from it? If your temperature is consistently low, that's a sign of low thyroid function. If your temperature is up and down every day, that's a sign of adrenal fatigue.
Ideally your temperature should be a stable and steady 98.6 degrees Farenheit.
As you work on raising (or lowering, if you are hyperthyroid) and stabilizing your temperature, charting helps you to see if what you are doing is working.
How to Chart Your Temperature
Charting your temperature is the most important thing you can do to balance your hormones. If you are trying to raise your temperature and heal your hormones, you need to start charting.
What you do is take your temperature three times a day, ideally 9 am, 12 noon, and 3 pm (but just do the best you can). If you can't get around to taking it three times, then just take it twice, or at the very least, once.
Then you take the average of those three temperatures and plot it on the graph. You can do this on graph paper. I like to do it using a Google Docs spreadsheet.
If you take your temperature three times during the day, put a 3 on the chart. Put a 2 if you only take it twice, and 1 if only once. Also, you might want to make notes of any changes that could impact your temperature, such as an illness, a stressful event, or a change in diet or supplements.
If you prefer, you can also take your temperature only in the morning. That is called your Basal Body Temperature (BBT). I prefer to take an average of three temperatures throughout the day.
If you use the basal body temperature, you are aiming for at least 97.8 pre-ovulation. (Your temperature will be higher post-ovulation.)
Here's here's a picture of my chart for December:
And here's a picture of my chart for February:
As you can see, the temperatures are along the left —- on the vertical Y axis (in Farenheit). The X (horizontal) axis represents each day. I charted a number on the X axis which represents my average temperature each day.
You'll also notice that the temps in February are a lot closer together than they were in December — not quite as jagged. And it's starting to make a straight line — which is a good thing.
As I mentioned, you could do the same thing with a basal body temperature (BBT). This is what many people recommend, including Matt Stone, Broda Barnes, Mark Starr, et al.
How to Take Your Temperature
I like the Vicks SpeedRead Digital Thermometer recommended by Matt Stone. It's so cheap, you can buy a few of them and put one by the bed, one in the kitchen, one in your purse or backpack, and so on.
The most accurate way to take your temperature is rectally, but not everyone is going to be up for that. Some say the underarm reading is the second most accurate, and then there's oral. I usually do oral.
(Note: I just took my basal body temperature this morning and registered 97.7 both orally and under the arm. I did not try the rectal reading.)
If you're consistently a nice, toasty 98.6, and you don't need to raise your temperature, you don't have to check it obsessively every day and chart it, but we should all be taking our temperature periodically to make sure we are healthy.
And remember, folks, this is not just about hormones. Taking your temperature is a critical way to monitor your health. I think everyone should be taking their temperature on a regular basis.
Learn More About Body Temperature and Hormones
I got a lot out of reading these books and highly recommend them:
Diet Recovery by Matt Stone
Hypothyroidism Type 2: The Epidemic by Dr. Mark Starr
Where to Find Dessicated Thyroid, Adrenal Gland and Iodine
I use and recommend the following supplements. Check with your doctor or health practitioner before starting a new supplement.Natural Sources Raw Thyroid (90 cap) Standard Process Thytrophin PMG 360 T Standard Process Adrenal Desiccated 90 T Optimox Iodoral 180 tabs
Share Your Comments Below
Do you chart your temperature? If so, have you had success raising your temperature? What are you doing and what is working for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
If you have questions, please comment.
Photo credit: Sick by Claus Rebler, on Flickr