It was in month 7 post that I discovered my glucose was swinging between 50 and 250 mg/dl. Up till that point in time, I had been eating my regular diet, with plenty of cookies and pizza thrown in for comfort food, since there wasn’t much else giving me comfort at the time. I had read about any number of diet and supplement things to try when I was initially floxed, but of the floxed people who recovered, many had not made any diet changes as well. So there was a lot of controversy about this. And, I was healing well during this time – slow, but steady progress, and at month 6 post I was thinking I might be able to return back to work by the one year mark. My diet had never been that bad overall – but compared to what it’s “supposed to be” once you develop a chronic illness, it would be considered “toxic” to some. I think people with chronic illnesses tend to forget that there are billions of people on this planet way healthier than we are, living their lives and thriving on dairy, wheat, carbs and even soda, alcohol, and processed foods. I happen to know a lot of them, and they’re all older and healthier than I am. At any rate, this is when I made my first radical diet change, to a very low carb meat and vegetable diet, and started intensely tracking my glucose. Being “hyper” with T3 flares, or “hyper” overall increased my baseline fastings and overall glucose values significantly, preventing the lows, but keeping me in the “pre-diabetic range” despite a low-no carb diet. There was a strong diurnal cycle with glucose as well, and I had a strong and regular “dawn effect” due to cortisol peaking about 4 am a good 10-15 points higher. When I was on TH meds, the hypoglycemic episodes stopped; the lowest my glucose would go would be about 80 no matter what I did. But it was also a struggle to stay out of the “pre-diabetic” range no matter what I did, which bothered me. I tried just about every glucose lowering supplement out there, to no avail. The one exception was iodine. Iodine was the one thing that had an immediate, noticeable, and measurable effect on my glucose. Just a little bit of iodine would drop my glucose a good 20-30 points for several hours. I don’t know why, but I’m assuming it was helping to drive the glucose into my cells. After several hours, the effect would wear off. But it was consistent and dramatic, and I became pretty convinced that iodine, whether via TH or alone, plays a big role in glucose homeostasis. I don’t know that T3 had this effect on me; onset of action taking T3 was much slower due to the fillers in the tablet, so maybe that’s why I didn’t notice this effect. Or, it may be a difference between T3 and iodine for me.
In hindsight, and knowing what I know now, I think changing my diet so drastically to low-no carb was a big mistake. For starters the first 50 years of my life I had thrived on a lot of carbs – think “carbo loading” before those 50 mile bike rides or hockey games, etc. And I’ve never felt good on a lower carb diet – I appeared to really need carbs for energy and to keep up my weight. Three weeks after starting this diet, I crashed with my first (Nov 2010) Hashi’s flare (an acute flare that landed me in the ER), and I believe this flare may have been in response to cutting out my main sources of iodine and selenium (milk and cheese and eggs). I didn’t know I had a struggling thyroid axis at that point in time, and I really think this was enough to “put me over the edge”. Over the next several years, I became aware of the pattern of flares occurring whenever my body “perceived” low TH/Iodine, and flaring seemed to be the way my body dealt with that. I also felt terrible physically on this diet, but I persisted because it was supposed to be “good for me”, and, of course, I was narrowly focusing in on my glucose. If I had to do it all over again, this is one thing I would definitely change. I would have stopped the pizza and cookies, but I would have kept the dairy and eggs and made sure I got at least 150 grams carbs in the form of quinoa and beans, for example. I would NOT have loaded up on iodine/selenium supplements or taken megadoses of either – this recommendation is based on what I learned about my thyroid status and ability to handle iodine and selenium in hindsight. If I would have started these, I would have started out with very very low doses and very very slowly increased over time, monitoring blood work carefully. Overall, I think getting iodine and selenium via dietary sources would be best overall, such as through eggs and dairy in my case, and even seafood if that’s something a flox victim could tolerate. I also wouldn’t have switched to such a meat heavy diet, given that I had not eaten red meat, chicken or fish in the prior 20 years or so. I’m certainly not against eating healthy, and I realize plenty of people thrive on the low carb Paleo type diets, but I really think it was my downfall. I think it was just the last straw for my thyroid axis. My encephalopathy symptoms started in earnest with that Nov 2010 flare, and I never was able to recover fully from that.