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Hormones


  1. I was recenly diagnosed with hypothyroidism. I have read certain foods that should not be in your diet if you are on synthroid. Answer
  2. A friend of mine has just recently started herself on a starch diet (avoids eating breads, etc.) and has just noticed that her menstrual cycle has become irregular. Answer
  3. I have been experiencing a very rancid odor from my urine. I haven't noticed it with any certain foods or activities. I happen to also be on the pill. Answer
  4. I am taking an estrogen replacement and have a huge problem with water retention. How do they promote water retention? Answer
  5. I am taking estrogen and interested in getting back to what my weight was 2 years ago. I had a hysterectomy. Is it possible for me to still lose weight? Answer
  6. I need to lose about 50 pounds, but I have a thyroid problem. What kind of diet should I be on? Answer
  7. I am on thyroid hormone and cannot lose weight no matter what I do. Have you heard of the hypothalmus? Answer
  8. Is thyroid hormone used to treat severly obese people? Answer
  9. My friend has low thyroid hormone and is looking to get her old formula from Chile. Answer


I was recenly diagnosed with hypothyroidism. I take synthroid 25 mcg 1x/day. I had this when I was 13 and was able to get off the medicine when I was 14. I am now 35. All my doctor told me was to take the medicine 1 hour before eating.

I have read not to take any multivitamins/calcium supplements until about 4 hours after taking my medicine, so I take those at night now. My question is, I have also read about certain foods that should not be in your diet if you are on this medicine. Like spinach, broccoli or cauliflower. I have a salad for lunch most days and make it with spinach. I have the other two veggies with dinner most nights. Is this true that I shouldn't be eating these foods? I also read, go gluten free, but I don't know why I would have to do that either.

Can you tell me if there is a specific diet or any foods that should be avoided?

I am answering here and will refer your Facebook questions to this Ask the DietitianŽ hormones page.

First you should talk to your doctor about medication for hypothyroid and tests to ensure your blood levels are within treatment levels.

Vitamin supplements are best taken with meals or at bedtime for calcium.

Gluten free would not affect your hypothyroidism based on current research. So there is no need for you to avoid gluten unless your doctor diagnoses you with celiac disease.

Spinach is OK to eat with low thyroid. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower as well as soy can interfere with thyroid hormone production or use if cooked. Unless you also have an iodine deficiency as diagnosed by your doctor, these foods are not to be omitted. Iodine is necessary to make thyroid hormones. It is most commonly found in iodized salt and seafood. Since people are cutting down on salt, make sure you eat seafood at least weekly and that the salt you buy is iodized.

Constipation and weight gain is most common in hypothyroidism as well as fatigue, depression anxiety and menstrual irregularities. To counteract constipation, eat foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables for fiber. Make sure you are drinking enough fluid for a higher fiber intake. Your urine should be colorless or light yellow during waking hours. If you have gained weight and want to control your weight gain, use my Healthy Body CalculatorŽ to get a healthy weight for you. Then click on the healthy eating plan on HBC results page in Your Nutrition Facts.


A friend of mine has just recently started herself on a starch diet (avoids eating breads, etc.) and has just noticed that her menstrual cycle has become irregular. Do you know whether or not this is a side effect of a starch diet?

I appreciate your time.

Why your friend has chosen this kind of diet?

Suddenly having an irregular menstrual cycle is not normal after just starting a diet even where a food group is eliminated. I would recommend she visit her doctor to diagnose the cause.

It is possible that by not eating adequate calories and fat after one month a person could have an irregular menstrual cycle especially if the individual is or drops to a low body weight. Does your friend have any other symptoms like food aversions or distorted body image?

Starch (bread, cereal, rice and pasta) represents the foundation of a healthy eating plan, like the Food Guide Pyramid. The Food Guide Pyramid has six food groups from which a person can make healthy food choices to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. It is recommended that adults consume 8 to 10 ounces each day from this group. Whole grain products are particularly recommended for fiber content. Grains supply vitamins and minerals, along with starch and some protein.


I am a college student. I have a question which I have tried to research and figure out, but it has been to no avail. I have been experiencing a very rancid odor from my urine and it is almost constant - at least I haven't noticed it with any certain foods or activities. I happen to also be on the pill, but though it may have made the odor worse, the odor was there before I went on the pill about 3 months ago.

I feel I have a well balanced diet and I'm in great shape, so what could this be? Perhaps the only "differences" have been a little lethargy and thirstiness. Last semester I had to crawl into bed after every class. This has gotten better though I feel part of it was stress. I am slightly embarrassed by this since I live with roommates and even my going to our health center told me nothing. Please at least give any possibilities. Diet? Infection? Disease?

Oh, I did have Lyme's disease for a couple years. Thanks for your time.

Odorous urine can be caused by many factors and you should have a complete physical including a urinalysis which should check for protein, sugar, ketones, blood and bacteria in your urine. You did not say what the college health service checked.

I would also recommend you keep a food diary for the doctor to discuss what you eat and fluids you drink. Do you drink at least 64 ounces of enough water so that your urine is colorless per day?

If your urine is positive for ketones, but not sugar, have you been on a high protein, low carbohydrate diet? If your urine is positive for ketones and sugar, then you may have diabetes. Excessive thirst and tiredness are other symptoms of undiagnosed diabetes. If your urine has protein, your kidneys may not be filtering right or you may have an infection. If your urine has blood or a urine culture shows bacteria, then you could have a bladder or kidney infection.

Are you sure the odor is coming from your urine or could it possibly be coming from your vagina? Is the smell only noticeable when you urinate or do you also notice it at other times? Do you also notice the odor when you shower? It is possible that you could have a yeast infection or an infection in your pelvis (pelvic inflammatory disease). Or if you are sexually active, it is possible you could have a sexually transmitted disease. Tell the doctor any symptoms you have and don't leave any out. The doctor will treat your information confidentially.

You need to go see a doctor as odor is usually a symptoms of something. It probably won't go away on its own as you mention the odor was present at least 3 months ago and could cause permanent injury to your urinary or reproductive system.

So considering the many possibilities, make an appointment for a physical immediately. If you still don't get a satisfactory answer from your college health services, make an appointment to see a doctor in a medical clinic where you are living. Don't accept a "we don't know" answer.

The only food I know of that causes an odor to urine is asparagus, but the smell occurs within 15 minutes of eating asparagus and is temporary, not at all like what you describe. Birth control pills don't cause an odor to urine either.


I am taking Prem-Pro--estrogen replacement and find a huge problem with water retention. I already watch salt, but today my physician said to not drink carbonated beverages. How do they promote water retention? Thank you so much.

You are absolutely correct to monitor the salt in your diet since a side effect of estrogen replacement therapy is fluid retention. However, I suggest you clarify with your physician why he/she chose to restrict carbonated beverages from your diet. For example, diet cola contains approximately 30 mg of sodium in a twelve-ounce serving. Gingerale, which is one of the higher sodium containing beverages has just 75 mg. A piece of bread has 123 mg in one slice. These values are not high, considering an adult could consume 2400 mg of sodium in one day.

There has been a fallacy surrounding sodium in carbonated beverages possibly because it is called soda. However, the carbonation is created by carbon dioxide (carbon and oxygen), not sodium. By the way, phosphorus can increase the loss of calcium.


I am a 48 year old female, taking estrogen (using the patch--.5). I am very interested in trying to at least get back to what my weight was 2 years ago. I had a hysterectomy this past July. My question is--is it possible for me to still lose weight? What steps should I take to do so?

Will rowing and stair stepping help me to achieve my goal? Thank you for any help you can give me.

Don't know what you weighed 2 years ago, but yes is it still possible for you to lose weight. Your metabolic rate may be lower though depending on whether or not you still have your ovaries (you did say estrogen therapy).

The best combination for permanent weight loss is diet, exercise and nutritionally analyze everything that you eat. Exercise increases your metabolic rate up to 15 hours afterwards. Rowing and stair stepping are good arm and leg exercises which depending on your heart rate, can be aerobic and help maintain your muscles which burn more calories than your body fat. What about exercising the muscles in your torso? Thirty minutes of exercise 5 times per week is recommended.

Set a realistic goal of losing 10% of your current weight and plan on 1 or 2 pounds per week. This will reduce your health risk. Use the Healthy Body Calculator to establish a calorie and fat recommendation for weight loss. Then implement a meal plan that follows this recommended intake.


Hi there. I need to lose about 50 pounds but I have thyroid problems. Can you tell me how to go about and lose some weight. What kind of diet should I be on?

First if your are taking synthetic thyroxin pills, make sure you are taking a therapeutic dose. When was the last time your blood was tested for T3 and T4 levels?

Next, ask your doctor to refer you to a dietitian to help plan a healthy weight loss-eating plan. That should include a moderate reduction in calories, no lower than 1200 per day and low fat foods planned in 3 meals. Many foods are OK in moderation and very few foods such as sugars and high fat - high sugar sweets and desserts are omitted. Read the Overweight topic for more information.

Given your 50-pound goal, plan on reaching it in 5 to 10 months. You should also include regular exercise 30 -60 minutes, 3 to 5 times per week. If you don't know where to start, ask your doctor to refer you to an exercise physiologist or call your local health club. Research has shown the most successful long-term weight loss occurs with moderate changes in eating habits and exercise.


I am hypothyroid (on Synthroid) and cannot lose weight no matter what I do. I am not a big eater and chose many low fat items as part of the diet. I exercise 45 minutes per day (brisk walking). Is it possible that there could be another reason for the inability to lose weight. Have you heard of something called hypothalamus? I read a magazine article that says if this is out of whack, then no diet will ever work. Do you know how to correct this situation if you are familiar with it? The article was about acupuncture and herbs. What are your thoughts on this?

Your hypothalamus measures the temperature and solids in your blood. When your body temperature, glucose or salt in your blood goes too high, your hypothalamus signals you to drink fluids. The more recent research has focused on the hypothalamus as the organ that signals eating and satiety (feeling of fullness). Research on eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia) have focused on this gland and the secretion of several neurotransmitters (epinephrine, norepinephrine and serotonin as influencing eating behaviors.

I do not know about the influence acupuncture or herbs would have on weight loss though I have read many promising articles on the use of both in medicine.

I would suggest you ask your doctor to measure your blood to determine if you are taking enough synthetic thyroxin to be therapeutically effective for your metabolism. Many systems in your body are interrelated and dependent on many hormones and biochemicals to function normally. I would also suggest you ask to see a dietitian who can evaluate your diet and energy needs to make recommendations for weight loss.


Is thyroxin used to treat severely obese people?

No, thyroxin is not used to treat obesity. Thyroxin is used to treat people whose thyroid doesn't produce enough which can be assessed by measuring the amount in blood. Thyroxin is prescribed and usually taken for the remainder of life.

The body to regulate the basal metabolic rate uses thyroxin. (The amount of calories burned when a person is at rest.) If the body produces insufficient thyroxin, weight gain and fatigue are common. If excess thyroxin is produced the person's eyes will bulge out and weight loss is common.

If a person has insufficient iodine in their diet, they will develop a goiter, which is an enlargement of the thyroid at the base of the throat. If thyroxin is deficient during pregnancy, the infant is born with mental and physical retardation (cretinism). Iodine is an integral component of thyroxin. Iodized salt is a one-food way to get iodine into the diets of people who do not eat seafood on a regular basis.


My friend Dolores who suffers from hypothyroidism is looking to either get someone to make her old formula (Proloid) or try to obtain it from Chile! It was the only formula that worked for her. It was a natural thyroglobulin and we have been trying for a very long time to get this. She was on it 30 years and had no health problems. Our research tells us from the prestigious Dr. Broda Barnes that no nutritional supplement (herbs, vitamins) will work because you need the hormone (thyroxin) after you have went many years without it! ALL American thyroid medicines are useless!! Maybe you can help direct us to someone who could either make this for us or import it from Chile!! And yes, I have spoken with the FDA and it is O.K. to get this for personal use.

I do not know of any source of naturally derived thyroxin. Why don't you contact the drug company that formerly made it. My knowledge base is limited to drug nutrient interactions. And yes, your friend will have to take thyroid hormone for life. And no, there is no nutritional supplement, herb or vitamin that will substitute.

FYI Thyroxin, made by the thyroid gland at the base of your neck regulates the human metabolic rate. If your body makes insufficient thyroxin, you gain weight. If your body makes too much, you lose weight and typically such person's eyes bulge from the eye socket.






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