Elle Russ – Optimising Thyroid Function

Content by: Elle Russ

Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.

Stu: This week I’m excited to welcome Elle Russ to the podcast. Elle is a writer, health coach and host of the Primal Blueprint Podcast. She wrote the Paleo Thyroid Solution and is quickly becoming the leading voice of thyroid health. In this episode, we discuss all things thyroid, it’s role in the body, the most common causes of disfunction, and where to start when wanting to heal… Over to Elle.

Audio Version

Some questions asked during this episode:

  • What are the symptoms and most common causes of thyroid dysfunction?
  • Does conventional medicine and functional medicine differ in treatment?
  • What are the risks of undiagnosed or mistreated hypothyroidism?

Get more of Elle Russ:


If you enjoyed this, then we think you’ll enjoy this interview:

Amy Myers: The Thyroid Connection
Sandie Gascon – Heal Yourself, Mind, Body & Spirit
Dr Steven Gundry – Understanding & Addressing Low Energy

The views expressed on this podcast are the personal views of the host and guest speakers and not the views of Bega Cheese Limited or 180 Nutrition Pty Ltd. In addition, the views expressed should not be taken or relied upon as medical advice. Listeners should speak to their doctor to obtain medical advice.

Disclaimer: The transcript below has not been proofread and some words may be mis-transcribed.

Full Transcript



Hey, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition, and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions. It’s here that we connect with the world’s best experts in health, wellness, and human performance in an attempt to cut through the confusion around what it actually takes to achieve a long-lasting health. Now, I’m sure that’s something that we all strive to have. I certainly do. Before we get into the show today, you might not know that we make products too. That’s right. We are into whole food nutrition and have a range of super foods and natural supplements to help support your day. If you are curious, want to find out more, just jump over to our website. That is 180nutrition.com.au and take a look. Okay, back to the show.


This week I’m excited to welcome Elle Russ to the podcast. Elle is a writer, health coach and host of the Primal Blueprint podcast. She wrote the Paleo Thyroid Solution and is quickly becoming the leading voice of thyroid health. In this episode, we discuss all things thyroid. It’s role in the body, the most common causes of disfunction, and where to start when wanting to heal. Over to Elle.


Hey guys, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition, and I am delighted to welcome Elle Russ to the podcast. Elle, how are you?



I’m great. How are you?



Very well, thank you. Very well. Thanks for sharing some of your time. And I know we’re on different time… In time zones, so I’m a little bleary-eyed because it’s early and I think you’ve just experienced an earthquake, which you said, so you’re probably a little shaken yourself as well.



I woke up to an earthquake this morning. So I’m thankfully… You’re doing better than me right now.



Okay. So first up, for all of our listeners that may not be familiar with you or your work, I’d love it if you could just tell us a little bit about yourself, please.



Sure. I’m the number one bestselling author of the Paleo Thyroid Solution and also a book called Confident as FU*K, I’ll keep it family friendly. So the two areas, I’m a thyroid expert, accidentally. I suffered for many years and we’ll be talking about that. And then also one of my greatest strengths is confidence and self-esteem. So that’s another thing that I teach on. So I have courses in both of the books that I write about and also free masterclasses and lots of free information. So if after this and you’re listening to the thyroid discussion and you’re like, “I don’t totally get it, or I want more.” Just go to freethyroidmasterclass.com. It’s a two-hour video of me getting into the weeds on all of this, and it might shore up anything we might not mention here. So there’s lots of free information on my website for everybody to get educated without having to take my course or buy my book.



Wow. We’ll end this conversation right here. Thank you very much for your time.



I’m [inaudible 00:02:43].



No, that’s great. And before we get into the questions that I’d like to ask as well, I’m particularly interested in this topic because a couple of years ago when I was on interstate flight, I haven’t flown for a while because of kind of crazy restrictions and things like that. The inflight magazine had a whole page selling thyroid screening, and it said, “If you have any of these signs or symptoms, your thyroid could be dysfunction.” And I looked at them and it was everything under the sun, that you could attribute to yourself at any time, perhaps at all times. I’m too skinny. I’m carrying too much weight, I’m tired, I’m can’t sleep, everything, absolutely everything.


So really, really intrigued, probably to start off this conversation because I’ve heard you mention that the thyroid is classed as the master gland of the body. What does it actually do?



So the thyroid is a little butterfly shaped gland. And for men, it’s below your Adam’s apple. And so it’s in the neck of every human being, and even all animals have it too. It is in charge of the production and regulation of all of our sex hormones. And it’s also in charge of your heart rate and your body temperature. And essentially, the thyroid releases the only fat burning hormone really, truly in the body. So that is why people get overweight when they have low thyroid function. So as far as our thyroids go, it’s a Goldilocks situation. Not too hot, not too cold, not overactive, not underactive, just right. And so if it’s overactive, you have hyperthyroidism, which is very rare, and that’s not a big percentage of the cases. What is predominantly an epidemic all over the world, is 200 million people in the world have thyroid issues. 25 plus million Americans alone have issues, but 60% are undiagnosed.


Not only just undiagnosed. So the doctors are taking the wrong test and saying, “Yeah, it’s not your thyroid. Here’s some Prozac, or here’s some this or…” So let’s say, it’s the master gland that’s in charge of the production regulation of your sex hormones, and then suddenly, you are having hormonal problems, female or male. Let’s say you’re not getting erections in the morning and you’re a male. Let’s say you’re a woman and you have estrogen dominance or weird bleeding or infertility or anything gynecological, anything weird.


So, in this situation, if the doctor is not comprehensively testing the thyroid situation, what they will do is go, “Oh, you have a hormonal problem. Let’s patch that up. Let’s do some patchwork on you, and we’ll give you the solution.” So when I first started having a thyroid problem, it manifested itself gynecologically, in the sense that I kept getting my period, which we’re only supposed to get every 26, 28 days.


And I chalked it up like, “Oh, this is kind of a fluke.” I was 30, I never have a history of anything weird. That was the first sign. Now, when I went to the doctor and I was like, “Hey, this isn’t normal. I’m bleeding all the time. I’m having my period every other week.” He didn’t say, “This is strange. Why is somebody having their period, that’s off with no history? Let’s look into the cause and the background, which is the thyroid, which is responsible for producing the hormones that would be intact for her menstrual cycle.” Instead they go, “Oh, you’re bleeding? Here, we’ll give you a pill to patch that up. Let’s give you the birth control pill.”


So I bled through four of them, and then finally, in the end of the day and looked back, he tested my thyroid and he took a 1973 test. That’s an outdated piece of garbage, nobody ever should solely assess someone’s thyroid status on. And he hit my gym shoes with his hand as I was blowing up from small person to very huge and bloated and fat. And he hit my gym shoes. And he said, “Well, you just need to work out more and eat less.” And I was like, “Mofo, I’ve been working out two hours a day, bitch.” I couldn’t believe it. My hair was falling out.


I list over 40 symptoms in my book and also in my free thyroid masterclass. Or if you went to my thyroid course webpage, you’ll see the list of symptoms. And I had like all but a couple of them. So let me just rattle off a few of the big ones. Inability to lose weight, no matter what you do. You tried Keto, you tried this, you did this, you’re working out, da, da, da. You cannot lose weight. Some people don’t have that problem. It’s very rare. It’s very rare.


So if you don’t have the weight problem, you will have something like, you’re going to be exhausted all the time. You’re going to have brain fog. You can’t process things. You’re reading a paragraph, you have to reread it. You can’t remember numbers. You’re starting to speak dyslexicly. You can’t find the words. You’re being klutzy, you’re exhausted. You have a puffy face when you get out of bed. It takes you three hours to get your shit together and 10 cups of coffee, and you’re overwhelmed by a few tasks you have to do in the day. And that’s usually related to adrenals, which often suffer with thyroid. And we can get into that later.


The other would be temperature. You’d be freezing all the time. Now, here’s the thing, as I’m speaking with you, my hands are cold and my feet are cold. I’m not cold though. So your hands and feet aren’t supposed to be hot. But there’s a difference between feeling that internal chill and you know who you are because you’re always the person that’s cold when no one fucking else is cold, right? So that’s kind of the feeling. And the way that you figure that out, is you take your temperature, you take your temperature. We’re supposed to be 98.6 as human beings in the afternoon. Now, if you’re 98.4, is it like you have a thyroid problem? No. But we can assess our thyroid status by taking basal temps and afternoon temps. And if that’s something you just can do at home to go, “Do I have a thyroid problem?” It would be a great indicator. So it’s temperature.


What else happens? So because hypo is slow, sluggish. No metabolism, you’re freezing. The other part of that is, you’re constipated. I mean, nothing you can do. Horrible constipation, puffy eyes, and there’s all sorts of things. Dry, cracked skin, loss of curliness in curly hair and copious amounts of hair falling out, all sorts of other issues. There’s certain pains and aches and stuff, but for the most part, those are the general ones that people just… The one I like to talk about most is one. One that’s a little bit scary, which is the one that you feel like you’re getting dumb because that’s a hard thing to express when you’re young and you’re 40 or whatever, 35, and you feel like you’re getting dumb and old in the brain, and you start to question, like, uh-oh. That’s a weird thing for people to express. And that’s why I like to throw that one out there, because it not only manifests itself in general malaise and can be depression because in our brain, we have more receptors for that fat burning T3, biologically active hormone than we do anywhere else.


So that’s why neurotransmitters get off. You start to get depressed. And again, that’s why Prozac won’t help. If they didn’t rule out the thyroid, the Prozac will help you for three months, it’ll stop working because they never got to the root of it. Back to the hormonal thing, I always like to bring up this example of a 25-year-old male who came to me, who had low testosterone. The doctor just decided, “Oh, you have low testosterone, will put you on testosterone.” Instead of saying, “You’re 25, you’re a dude. You should never have issues with testosterone at this age, unless there’s a pituitary tumor or something we don’t know.” So we looked at his thyroid, he had a horrible thyroid problem. We corrected the thyroid problem. You take him off the testosterone, his testosterone comes back, right? Because once you start to introduce exogenous hormones, you’re shutting down that feedback. And for a 25 year old, so they didn’t even give his own natural production a shot. And did the testosterone help? No, it didn’t because he still had a thyroid problem.


So it should always be ruled out for psychological drugs of any kind that have to do with depression, anything with focus, right? So if you think like, oh, I’m ADD, get the thyroid checked first and rule it out. So same with hormonal stuff. “Oh, you have a hormonal balance.” “Do I?” Or is the hormonal balance caused by the thyroid? I was misdiagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome. Now, at the time, if you and I looked at the ultrasound, we would’ve concluded, based on every medical book of gynecology, that this was the case. It absolutely looked like it, but no one said why? They were just ready to put me on Metformin or Comet or whatever it was at the time, to deal with it.


PCOS is often related to insulin resistance. When you have no metabolism from low thyroid, you’re going to become insulin resistant. It’s going to lead to other things. So the thyroid is the master, everything from it, it’s a domino effect. So it’s accelerated aging, it’s increased glycation, but also, it is literally you falling apart and slowly dying. And that’s what it feels like. And it feels fricking horrible. And I spent seven years of my life, my 30s were completely blasted from struggling. I live in Los Angeles. I went to 25 endocrinologists, famous doctors on Suzanne Somers hormone books and all sorts of stuff. Nobody helped me. The only thing that helped me was educating myself. And then I ended up having to dose myself, ordering my own thyroid hormones over the internet, like black market garbage and had to do it myself.


I shouldn’t have to. I live in Los Angeles. I had insurance. I went to all these doctors and nobody knew. So I’m accidentally a thyroid expert, but I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to have a science background to grasp it, because I don’t. I have a philosophy degree, and you really only need to see it in a certain way to get it. And so it seems confusing, but I believe that the way that I describe it, and we can do more here or in other interviews or other areas, I’m coming from the place where everyone’s listening, which is like, “I don’t know what the hell.” And I’m like, “Yeah, I didn’t either. So let me explain it to you and you’ll be able to understand it. Because I once also didn’t.”


So the other lesson of my book and my journey with this thyroid, which has now helped 1000s of people all over the world, is you must become your own best health advocate. No doctor’s going to help you. I put my health into the hands of doctors and they didn’t know what the hell they were talking about. Is it fair? No, they went to medical school. Should they know? Yes, I wish they did. I wish they did, but they don’t, some of them don’t keep up on their medical stuff. They’re not geeking out on it. And they also have learned stuff that is outdated now, 30, 40 years. So most of the doctors in the world are uninformed when it comes to thyroid.And the endocrinologists, who are supposed to be the expert in it, are even more uninformed. So that’s why it’s confusing. We’re going to doctors, who you think should know about this stuff. They are the expert, and yet they are not testing properly, then they’re not assessing properly, then they’re not treating properly.


So any one of those three things can happen. They might test correctly, not assess correctly. They might… So that is where you have to get educated. It’s the people that have come to me or taken my course or read my book or coached with me privately, that gain the knowledge that finally empower themselves to help their doctor practice medicine with them. The more educated you are, the more likely they’re willing to take a chance, even if they don’t fricking know if that’s the right thing or not. But if you’re on top of it, you know what I mean? So I know I’ve babbled on there, but I wanted to get all that out. We can go anywhere from here.



Oh, look, absolutely. First question is, I don’t know why, but I kind of think… Is this predominantly a female issue?



It is. It predominantly affects women, absolutely disproportionately. So it’s like I think one in every eight women in their women in their lifetime will come across a thyroid issue. And sometimes it can happen after pregnancy. So they give birth and they swing one way or the other. Sometimes it can correct it. I’ve seen people who went through a pregnancy and then afterwards they’re like, “Oh, I don’t need thyroid hormone anymore.” So those are some interesting things, at least with women’s stages of life. But it does affect women, more than it does men, which why men might be discounted.



Yeah. Okay. So from a sinister perspective, if you wanted to break somebody’s thyroid and just send it down into this spiral of dysfunction-



Yeah, yeah. I’ll tell you what I’d do.



What would you do?



I’d send them on a walking tour of Chernobyl.



Oh, right, okay. Okay.



Radioactive. Yeah. So first of all, hopefully no one’s going to be going on a walking tour of Chernobyl anytime soon, but if you did, you’d want to bring iodine with you. So yeah, I would send them off to… Or have them drink copious amounts of chlorine, fluoride, anything.



Yeah, tap water.



Anything that’s anti-thyroid. But definitely, the biggest thing would be a launch nuclear bomb anywhere near them.



Well, given that you don’t have access to nuclear warheads. I mean, is it a mismanaged diet and lifestyle, as well?



It is. And so here’s the other part of it. When I wrote the Paleo Thyroid Solution, people would think like, “Oh, I get the gimmick. You got fat with thyroid, and now you use the paleo diet to get slim.” Sure. Hey, look, that’s part of it. But that’s really… What’s the most important element to understand there, is that paleo, primal ancestral nutrition, which is all really the same sort of paradigm, is the ultimate in blood glucose management and adrenal management. And so that is why it does go so hand in hand with the optimization and metabolization of thyroid hormones and our whole entire feedback loop.


So the paleo primal lifestyle is why I push it. It’s because it really is aligned with our thyroid feedback loop. I’m the only one who’s made that connection, and that’s why it’s a popular thing. I mean, other people’s sense have been like, “Okay, I get it.” So that is why it’s really the best for the entire thyroid hormone feedback loop. And then also, here’s another reason. So I have hypothyroidism. I take thyroid hormone every day to not be hypothyroid. So my temperature is just as good as yours. We’re fine. We’re the same body, we eat the same. We gain weight, we eat the same, we lose weight. I’m normal now because I take thyroid hormones every day. You don’t always need thyroid hormones. Sometimes literally, a natural paleo protocol can help. And here’s how. There are autoimmune forms of hypothyroidism.


So everyone’s heard maybe, of something called Hashimoto’s. It’s very common. So Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disease that affects your thyroid, and it does so like every other autoimmune disease. So with type one diabetes, the kind you’re sort of born with, that you don’t eat yourself into, after a while, the body, the immune system keeps attacking the pancreas. It sees it as an enemy. And so the pancreas gives up and stops producing insulin, and now you have to go on insulin. So with Hashimoto’s, what happens is, it sees your thyroid as an enemy, it starts to attack it and murder it, rendering it eventually, going to have some problems. And so that’s how that autoimmune disorder works.


What we know for sure about autoimmune disorders, but particularly Hashimoto’s, is that gluten 100% ignites the antibodies because the protein and gluten does endocrine mimicry on thyroid tissue. The immune system sees it as like uh-oh. It becomes hyper vigilant. It starts to overreact. All right? And then that’s what drives up the antibodies. Antibodies equal inflammation equal begetting more problems. So your goal, as anyone with an autoimmune disorder, MS or rheumatoid arthritis, I don’t care what it’s, your goal, is to get those levels down to undetectable levels or very low.


So, part of paleo primal is the elimination of grains, particularly gluten. And so just right there, just right there, people have been able to turn it around. You can stay off thyroid hormone replacement and even save yourself if you catch Hashimoto’s early and adopt the right diet and principles. And you might be able to push that away for a while, because again, the antibodies are low, the attack is not happening. So you could also be on thyroid hormone right now, feeling great. Maybe your doctor has it dialed in and you’re on the right amount, just like I am, and your life is normal, but you may not be feeling the antibodies in the background. And this happens all the time. So people with Hashimoto’s, who might even be properly treated, okay, they will have these antibodies in the background that they can’t really feel, but it’s a silent killer.


So most doctors don’t realize that you can do something about the antibodies. They just go, “Oh, well, you have Hashimoto’s, you have antibodies, there they are.” They don’t say, “Hey, hey, get rid of gluten.” You can just do that. We also have other protocols within the paleo world, like the autoimmune protocol, which people have found. If you’re not aware of it, just Google it. Google various food lists. People have come to a consensus on certain food items and seasonings, possibly affecting people with autoimmune disorders, like cinnamon being high in histamine or eggplant, tomato, even eggs. So there might be an extra level of deep nutritional figuring out, you might have to do with Hashimoto’s. Sometimes just eliminating gluten is all you need to do. And then, they don’t even know they’re hurting themselves.


So this is the case with every autoimmune disorder, including MS. And if anyone knows anyone with MS out there, my friend Palmer Kippola, wrote a book called Beat Autoimmune. She suffered for 20 years of horrible MS symptoms, finally cured herself through functional protocols. But when she quit eating gluten, within a week, her stomach issues went away. And within one month, every MS symptom went away, and she hasn’t had one since. So Seamus Mullin, famous chef, cured himself of rheumatoid arthritis through food. Same story. There are so many people that have done this.


So autoimmune disorders are not life sentences, and neither is hypothyroidism. But that would be the difference. So I don’t have Hashimoto’s, I have hypothyroidism, so can I eat gluten? Sure. I’m not really going to, it’s going to be occasional. Could I eat it more though, than you with Hashimoto’s can? Yeah. And you should probably check yourself if you have Hashimoto’s. I’m not saying you can’t have New York gluten filled pizza a couple of times a year, but you’d want to mitigate those kind of glutenous cheats, and you’d really want to go for the gluten-free pastas, or whatever else it is, to provide you the texture you want of grains. But not… So at least gluten has to be eliminated. But paleo eliminates all grains, for the most part. So that is why, that’s the connection, the various connections there, if that made sense?



It does. No, it makes perfect sense. And so a little bit of a backstory from my end as well. So I have three daughters. So I’ve got twins at 14, and my eldest is 17. And a couple of years ago, probably three years ago now, Grace, the youngest of the twins, by minutes, had to go into the hospital because she was experiencing stomach discomfort and a whole heap of issues, literally, with a digestive system. And so she got screened and scanned, and they said, “You have ulcerative colitis.” And of course, I’ve been in this health space for so long. We went through this whole thing and met with the gastro team, and I said, “Well, what should I feed Grace?” And they said, “Well, it doesn’t matter what she eats, she’s young. Just get the food into her.”And in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, that is absolute nonsense. I’m not putting up for that whatsoever. So I reached out through the podcast and dialed into a number of specialists in Crohn’s, colitis.



There some great ones.



And had some great conversations. And we put Grace on strict paleo. And within two months, she went back for her checkups and they said, “What have you done? Because she’s not presenting any symptoms anymore.” And I said, “Well, we’re pretty diligent with what she eats.” And they said, “Well, you don’t really have to be.” And I said, “Oh no, we like to be.” And so to this very day, the girls eat beautifully. And I understand what you’re saying about gluten again, because I’ve had truckload of conversations with specialists in that area, who have said gluten is kind of different in as much as, don’t think of it as a dimmer switch, you can turn that dimmer down and the light goes down a little bit. And if I’m sensitive to gluten, I’ll just eat a little bit less. They’ve said, it’s a switch. It’s on or it’s off. You are either fostering inflammation or you are not. And so-



That’s right, and that’s another thing. So I have a good friend who’s celiac, and they’re not super sensitive, where their food couldn’t be cooked in a facility that had gluten, if it got a little dust on it or something. But we were at a restaurant and they were like, something was breaded or covered and they couldn’t make it gluten-free. And he was like, “Oh, I can just scrape it off. If it’s just a little bit, I just get a little bloated. It’s not a big deal.” And I said, “No, no, no. What you don’t understand is, while you may only feel that little bit of tiny, not a big deal, celiac bloat. It is absolutely effing with your immune system causing inflammation at that moment. You don’t want to trigger it. You don’t want to trigger it.” So even though you’re like, oh, it’s just a… It’s like the person that’s got a little heartburn and I’ll take Pepcid AC. Dude, the heartburn’s the message, man. That is a message.


And also, yes, Crohn’s, colitis, oh my gosh, we have seen such success with paleo and also carnivore. There’s a lot of people that I know, and I’ve had clients who literally cannot exist without just straight up carnivore, and that’s what’s right for them. They eat any plant matter, they’re toast. Well, thank God they have meat.


So you have to find out what’s right for you. But the goal, again, with Hashimoto’s or Graves’ Disease, now Graves’ Disease is the hyperthyroidism autoimmune igniter. And that also is, again, paleo prescriptive. So it’s not some gimmick. Oh, paleo, yeah, you’re like your ancestors. There are real serious reasons here. There are disease related reasons. And just so you know, there’s one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen is my friend CJ Hunt’s documentary called The Perfect Human Diet. And it’s like the quintessential paleo documentary. And in it, paleontologists who look at samples and they could tell, oh, this is a cow from 5,000 years ago or whatever. They never saw rheumatoid arthritis on the archeological record until grains came on the scene 10,000 years ago. They didn’t even see that disorder at all. So interesting.


And then when I look back and did research for my book, the first known thyroid incident or whatever, that was recorded was something like 12,000… I don’t think it was BC, let’s just say 12,000 years ago, if the hell I might be getting the thing wrong. But it was in ancient China, and I looked it up, and at the time, the emperor’s name was Emperor Five Grains. And I thought, “Oh, okay, well that makes a lot of sense. They just infiltrate grains into that area at the time, and he was known as the Five Grains, and they all got their ass handed to them because they all ate a bunch of grains. I don’t know, that’s just a interesting little coincidence or whatever.


But yes, so even though I don’t have Hashimoto’s, if I do eat gluten too many days in a row, I still feel it. It’s still really not a great thing. Rye, wheat and barley are known to cause intestinal permeability in all humans. Just lay off it. Do 80-20, do your best. Choose gluten-free options. I even do gluten-free pasta. They’ve got it down pretty good now, do you know what I mean? If I want something with that. But for the most part, I try to stay away from grains. And so grains and dairy, which are both inflammatory, are extremely limited or eliminated on the paleo diet, which is why it naturally just helps with so many different issues.



Yeah, no, I think so. And especially when you pull those out as well, because often they’re filler foods. There’s not a whole heap of nutrition in there, but it’s replacing something that you could be eating perhaps, that offers way more nutrition.



Well, and Mark Sisson, who’s my mentor, he makes the point of, no one has ever eaten a grain by itself. No one eats bread plain without butter. No one eats oatmeal without fat, sugar or whatever. Or honey or whatever, the nuts or whatever it is. No one’s just sitting around eating plain pasta. Even little kids, they want butter on it. That’s it. Fat is what makes that shit taste good. Otherwise, it’s just beige sludge. So you’re right, it’s filler. There’s other ways to fill that. And after a while, you get used to having less carbs. As you go down the paleo primal road, what happens is you become more calorically efficient, you’re able to eat less and have the same satiety, but then also you become more metabolically efficient. You really don’t need as much. You don’t need as many carbs.


And again, I just suggest everyone go check out Mark’s Daily Apple. Look at the 21-day blueprint transformation. You can get a bunch of free paleo articles there about why grains are bad and all this kind of stuff, and start to look around and there’s probably a free meal plan or something there too. And just try paleo for a month. And when I say try paleo, I wouldn’t even mean reduce calories, people. I mean, don’t, in fact, don’t reduce calories. Just eliminate the food items. Get rid of the canola oil. Start there. Don’t do it all at once. You and I both know everyone loses when they’re like, “I’m going to do bootcamp, divorce my husband, do a YouTube video about my transformation.” How about you just stop eating that one thing? Just that one thing. So not all at once, and no one’s asking you to sacrifice, but I would start to get used to eliminating certain foods.



Yeah, that’s great advice. And I’ve distilled that down because I get asked a lot of questions by friends and family and friends of friends, as well. “What do I do? It’s the new year, I want to lose some weight.” And it can be so nuanced. This conversation can go down so many different rabbit holes. But now all I say is, “Well just try this. Don’t put anything in your mouth that contains vegetable oils. Just start there.” And oftentimes, that’ll close the door on most of your processed, packaged supermarkets food.



That’ll close the door on most protein bars.



Yes. Yeah, yeah, absolutely right. Absolutely right. So intuitively, you are guided onto a whole food approach to eating, which is a winner because at the end of the day, it’s all about nutrient density. And if your body is receiving the nutrients that it requires to function optimally, then you are going to be more in that optimization space, rather than the survival space. Because I see grains as survival foods. You can survive on them, but you’re not going to thrive. No way.


So yeah, it’s interesting. I’ve had so many conversations through the years of, “What should I do?” Well, it’s all about reducing insulin and try and pull back the industrial seed oils, processed carbohydrates and added sugars, et cetera. All of the above. And like you say, it just gets too tricky. People are like, I just don’t know what to do.



Well, here’s an easy way for everyone to look at it, when they’re like, how many carbs? How many macros? Do I need a calculator? You don’t need a calculator, but what you need to do is just start learning what things are. A few things that you might eat regularly. So for example, if you love baked potato, well, one whole baked potato is about 64 grams of carbohydrates. When we’re talking paleo primal nutrition, we are really looking at eating no more than a total of 150 grams of carbohydrates a day. You better be a bricklayer or an NBA athlete to go above that. So most people don’t need that. Most people are eating more than that. So a bunch of asparagus cooked, hey, that’s 24 grams of carbohydrates. Yeah, it’s a vegetable, but it counts as a carb. In a day of 80 or 120, what are you going to do? Are you going to have the green juice, where the total thing is 25 grams of carbs, or are you going to eat it?


So you’ve got to start gauging, oh, a pint of blueberries, 14 grams of carbs. Now, we don’t do this BS with subtracting the fiber for net carbs. We just do total carbs. So, that’s the best place to start. I don’t even care if someone’s overeating fat and protein. I would like them to get the carb thing under control because listen, that’s the most important, is your blood sugar, your blood glucose. Every time you’re on a sugar burning train, where you update every two, three hours and you’re like, “Oh my God, I’m hangry. I’m hangry.” Every time those dips happen, your adrenals respond. They don’t like it, and they’re putting out cortisol, which is only getting you fatter around the middle and causing inflammation in a negative way.


Cortisol can be great, when you did a sprint session. Totally different story. So this is really about, I don’t know, maybe you have something to contribute, hopefully you understand where I’m going with that.



Look, I look at it as food freedom. So, over the years I’ve experimented with everything under the sun. So every single type of diet, and now I’m into an animal-based whole food diet. I have food freedom. So my morning for breakfast typically would be mince meat and eggs and some avocado and maybe a few veggies thrown in. That will get me through to two o’clock in the afternoon. I don’t even think about food, but I have come from a place where I started off with oatmeal and bananas and I was snacking on-



Couple of hours later, or you’re hungry, right?



Oh, not even that. An hour later. And I was constantly searching for food. I don’t even think about it because I’m out of that calorie prison and I have food freedom and that’s so liberating.



It is. And it’s funny, the oatmeal thing is the thing that people can’t fucking get. That’s the last one. They’re like, but oatmeal? But my cholesterol, but oatmeal? Oh my gosh. My mother figures, she has been eating a big bowl of oatmeal with fruit. She’s on Weight Watchers, by the way. Loves it. I still feel that there’s some stuff that’s not great about Weight Watchers and I don’t suggest it, but if it works for you. And, so one day I was like, you’re eating this big bowl of… This is the most disaster. And then she was hungry a couple of hours later. So I told her, I said, “Listen, if you’re going to be doing this, if you can’t give this up, then will you at least pour a spoonful of unflavored collagen into this oatmeal or something?” So she does it for a few days and she calls me and she goes, I don’t know if this is possible, but I’m not hungry now, where my normal lunch was.



Yeah, the power of protein.



And that just goes to what you’re saying. So here’s the thing, if you’re out there and you really still can’t give up your oatmeal, which you should, but let’s say you can’t give it up, that’s fine. Throw some protein in there, please.



Yeah, yeah, exactly right. Exactly right.



Do something to mitigate the macros of what’s happening there. It’s too much of a spike, or do half of the fruit, half of the whatever it is. I’d rather have people do what you’re doing for breakfast. But again, to each their own, it’s just you have to make sure you’re satiated. If you’re hungry a couple of hours later, you did… Something went wrong. The other thing too, is that when you have a thyroid problem, it almost induces an eating disorder because again, you have nothing to really burn what’s coming in, but yet you need energy. But the thing that’s burning the fat is also the energy giving hormone. It’s T3, it’s the thyroid active hormone. And so you don’t have that to give you energy or burn fat. So now your adrenals take over and they’re like, “We need to get her out of bed.” So they are like, over pumping cortisol as an energy hormone to be like, “Get going. We got to get her up.” Now your adrenals become fatigued, which usually goes hand in hand.


When these things happen. What you’re doing is your body’s craving energy because you don’t have any of the thyroid energy life giving hormone T3, that you’re like eating disorder level craving food. I once thought that I would have to go to Over Eaters Anonymous. It’s almost like when you are hypothyroid and it’s not a food or lifestyle thing that can fix it. And people try to go towards like, “Oh, what’s this fat adaptation and primal paleo living?” And they’re like, “It’s not working. I’m not satiated.” You’re like, “That’s probably an underlying thyroid problem because you should be. And if you’re not, you’re over craving because again, you’re not getting energy from anywhere.” Because your body’s just reaching for carbs and glucose. So you become a sugar addict. And then that breeds other problems, right? Candy, it’s just a downward staircase of garbage that happens.


And so if you have tried any of these modalities for a month and you’re feeling like something’s just wrong with me, I’m craving and thinking about food all the time, that also could be a sign of hypothyroidism.



Yeah. Yeah, I’m with you. I mean, that way of eating is, I read a quote somewhere last week, and it essentially said, just give the body what it wants and it will work properly. It doesn’t not want to work. But unfortunately we are continually giving it the wrong things and sending the wrong signals. But let’s just say that we go to the doctors and we have all these symptoms and we think, “Oh, it must be my thyroid.” We get checked, the lab results come back, and you probably hear this a 1000 times, your lab results are normal, off you go.



Oh, all The time.



So where would we go?.



By the way, every time you hear it, it’s wrong. Just so you know.



Yeah, I think so. So why are they-



Every time where someone’s like, “My doctor tested my thyroid and it’s fine.” I go, “Not buying it.” And every single time it’s not fine. Just so you know, it really has never happened once where it was fine.


There’s some people that have come to me thinking they had a thyroid problem and their labs were fine, but it’s the one where it’s like my doctor says it’s great. It never is.



So why is that? Why do lab results come back normal? And if they do, what dow we do?



So let’s talk about what normal is. So I’ll give a great example. Okay, so I’ll rattle them off here really quick. They’re also in my free thyroid guide, in my free thyroid masterclass. You can get these there or replay this. If you want to know, do I have a thyroid problem? Then we’re going to take six tests initially. Now there’s other peripheral tests. Do I have a B12 deficiency or other related things? But if you’re just like, I wonder if there’s something off with my thyroid. You want to get six tests, you always want to get tested a couple hours after waking up, water, black coffee, tea is fine. Don’t get it after three o’clock in the afternoon after you’ve worked out and had a day. Just, you wake up, you do nothing, you don’t exercise, you’re sitting around, you go get tested.


You get tested for TSH, that stands for thyroid stimulating hormone. You get tested for free T3, free as in F-R-E-E, like freedom. Free T3, free T4, reverse T3. And then you always want to rule out Hashimoto’s, and most doctors only test for one antibody, not the other. You could have both, or you could be positive for one and not the other. You want to get both tested. The name of those antibodies tests are, the first one is TPO antibody, that stands for thyroid peroxidase antibody. And the second one is TG antibody. And that stands for thyroglobulin antibody. So TSH, free T3, free T4, reverse T3, TPOAB, and TGAB. If your doctor has not tested any of these, you’re likely dealing with an uninformed doctor, particularly if they don’t test the reverse T3.


Most idiot dumb dumbs out there, test only TSH or only TSH and T4. If you go back to your labs and you’re listening out there and you’re on thyroid hormone right now, you’re still not feeling right or you think something could be better. Yeah, go back to your labs. Did your doctor take the comprehensive test I just said? If they didn’t, I’m sorry to inform you, you need to run, you need to educate yourself because you’re going down the wrong road here and you may not be optimized. And then what happens with that kind of doctor, when you come in with depression, they go, “Well, it’s not your thyroid. Your thyroid’s fine. We’ll just give you Prozac.” And you go, “Okay, they must know about my thyroid.”


So what’s really the key? So let’s just talk about normal results. So let’s look at free T3. Now, ranges in Australia, Canada are different, but we always go with the middle of the range, in terms of normal people with no metabolism problems.We’re not talking about elite athletes, just normal people that are fit and doing well in life that have no symptoms. Those people, like you probably, would get tested in the morning and your free T3, on a scale of 2.0 to 4.0, would be 3.1. That’s average. That’s standard. That is normal, for normal people, who are not on thyroid hormone replacement and everything else.


Now, if someone’s free T3 instead of 3.1, right in the middle of the range, was like 2.7, it’s still in the range. If there’s not an L or an H next to it, what we’re not talking about what’s in the range, we’re talking about what’s optimal. As with everything, vitamin D range is about 30 to a 100. If yours is at 30, good luck. You’re hating it. Mine’s at about a 100. I have high vitamin D I make sure it’s up there. You want 70 to 90, ideally in a range of vitamin D from 30 to a 100. So with free T3, ideally in this world, you would want it to be in the middle of the range.


Are there exceptions? Yes. So you’ve got the Ben Greenfields of the world, the Mark Sissons, people who are extremely fit, ripped, carnivore, whatever, bodybuilders. They might have a lower free T3, but no symptoms. They don’t have a thyroid problem. They have lower free T3 because they’re free T3 efficient. They might be carnivore or something else. So in the absence of symptoms, if you have no problems, usually thyroid results aren’t a problem. You can be discounted though, when you’re a couple points below the range and they still say, “Well, it’s normal.” But it’s not optimal. And so that’s kind of with everything in life, it can be within range. Is it optimal? Yeah. Well, I had a B12 issue. My B12 is at 200 at one point. Well, in the range of two to 900, it should be around eight. So you know what I mean, what’s optimal? So that’s what we’re looking for.


And so all of those tests are necessary to assess if one is missing, you are missing a big part of the picture. Or if you are discounted by a doctor, like, “Oh, we don’t test that.” It’s because they have high ego and they don’t know what it is and they’re just not willing to admit it, which is also a red flag because you shouldn’t have a doctor. The doctor should be like, “Oh, that’s interesting. I got to look into that. I mean, I don’t know what that is, but y’all test it, but I’m not… I’ll look into it.”



Yeah, curiosity. No, absolutely. So I wanted just to touch then on the book. So the Paleo Thyroid Solution. So if somebody has been through the hoops and they are experiencing a whole heap of signs and symptoms that you discussed earlier, perhaps they’ve had a test, it’s come back normal, but they know that something is wrong. So just run us through what we might expect with the book. In as much as, I’m guessing that it’s pretty much a framework, a blueprint that takes you on a step by step journey to say, check these things, do these things, keep-



It is.



Keep following.



Well, it’s journey of not only explaining paleo primal health in depth and what that means, the connection between that and thyroid, how to diagnose and look at thyroid, how to look at lab results. It’s a great resource, but also, again, freethyroidmasterclass.com. And if you don’t want to watch the masterclass plus the downloads, you can just go to freethyroidguide.com for just the PDF that says, here are the questions you should ask the doctor, to see if they even know what they’re talking about. Or here’s how to find a good doctor. Here are the list of tests that I just mentioned.


So these free guides are great. There have been people that have even watched my free thyroid masterclass and been like, “That was enough. I figured it out. Thanks.” Great, because you know what? I suffered for years, for years with no information. I am so… Look, we all want to make money from books and courses. That’s wonderful. I don’t care. I’d rather solve the problem. I’m giving you so much free information. So free thyroidmasterclass.com, and that comes with the free thyroid guide. I would watch that. That’s going to give you a really good in-depth tutorial to understand how the thyroid feedback loop works, what T4, T3 means, how to look at it.


And then if you really need to dive deep, my Ultimate Thyroid course is the most comprehensive on the planet. There is literally nothing like it, and it is 30 hours long. That is a like a semester in college, and it has in-depth tutorials on gut health and detox and thyroid with Dr. Gary Foresman. It has New York Times bestselling author, Brad Kearns in there, elite athlete talking about paleo, primal, keto. We have Palmer Kippola, cured her MS, talking about autoimmune disorders.


So it is very comprehensive and it gives also, tutorials on me going through 25 examples of blood work, male, female, how to look at it. What do you think could happen here? What would be some solutions? Because the most important part of this, is practice and you understanding. Your doctor may retire, you need to know about your disease and how to fix it so that you can help someone help you, or help yourself. In my case, I helped myself. If I had not persevered with learning about this, I don’t even know if I’d be alive today to have this conversation.


So I want to implore everybody. I’m offering this. I wasn’t around, for me. I’m giving everyone what I wish I had. So aside from, you can look at free podcasts of me like these or whatever, but freethyroidmasterclass.com and anyone can go to elleruss.com. I have lots of free stuff. I also have a free confidence masterclass, if you’re interested in that.



Brilliant. Great place to start. We’ll put all of those links in the show notes. So we’re kind of coming up on time, but I wanted to add, well just prod some of these people out there that might be thinking, “You know what? Yeah, I don’t feel great, but I’m okay. I’m going to get through this.” So my question to you is, risks of undiagnosed or mistreated hypothyroidism, what could we be concerned about?



It is accelerated aging. So what comes with that? Ultimately death. Let me just be real clear. So it is extremely rare that anyone is born without a thyroid gland. If they do not catch it right away, not only will mental, intellectual disability, retardation set in, death could also come in if they don’t catch it quickly. You cannot live without a thyroid gland, aka thyroid hormones. So if your thyroid gland was removed because of thyroid cancer, let’s say, okay, and you’re stranded on an island, they’re going to be the first to go. If I need to cannibalize someone, I’m like, we’re going to kill Joe. He’s going to go anyway, he doesn’t have a lot of time, let’s get him now.



Stoke up the fire.



So again, it’s life giving. You cannot live without it. So then what’s life like with subpar, low thyroid output? Oh, then you get one ailment, then you get another ailment, then you get another ailment. And that’s what happened to me. Now you get PCOS, now you have a hormonal inbound. So again, all these things are corrected by correcting the thyroid. So you will go down a very slippery slope into other ailments, and then the doctors are going to try to do a quilt patchwork operation on you, without looking at the whole of you.


And honestly, it’s not the master gland because I said so. It just is. I mean, it technically is. And yes, doctors should know more about it. Luckily, my book and all the work I’ve done throughout the globe has really helped a lot of doctors. I’ve been really impressed with some doctors who have reached out to me to say, “You know more than me and thank you and let me ask you some questions.” That’s the kind of doctor, see, they’re not riddled with ego that they can’t go. I can learn this. And maybe someone who doesn’t have a medical [inaudible 00:45:26] reaction might know some more about this. And the bestselling thyroid books have been written by patients, not surprisingly. We know how it is. And I also know how it feels to be hyperthyroid because I was on too much medication at one point. And that’s not fun either.


And what hyperthyroidism, even though that’s not mostly the subject of what we’re talking about, hyperthyroidism, is hypermetabolic situations. So hummingbirds don’t live long. It’s like rapid heart rate and we out, and we’re dead. So you really don’t want that situation when people are like, “Oh, we’re going to get up my metabolism.” You’re like, you want a normal metabolism. The species with the fastest metabolisms die.


So hyperthyroidism is again, very dangerous because it affects the heart and body temperatures. So you’re hot, you’re sweating, your heart’s racing. You could have a heart attack. But also its hypermetabolic and what happens is, at first, sometimes people think hyperthyroidism is, seems kind of cool because they’re like, “Wait, you mean I can eat whatever I want, not gain weight and just poop it out and sounds great.” No, it’s a level of anxiety, nervousness, uncomfortability in the brain and body that is really horrible. It’s also very dangerous and you want to eat more.


So even though you might be skinny and pooping all the time, at first, it could eventually backfire. One of the greatest examples of this is the rapper, Missy Elliot, she’s an old school rapper from back in my day. But back then she was very large and she was not the picture of Graves’ disease.But it makes sense to me because when you have Graves and you have hyperthyroidism, you’re getting too much T3, you’re hypermetabolic, you’re burning a lot, your appetite’s increasing, it screws with your blood glucose and blood sugar and cortisol. And you can’t get into keto either way, hypo or hyper. So you could be trying modalities, but are you trying them on a broken system? And so that’s why it’s usually people who’ve done every diet, they go to keto and they’re like, “Oh my God, nothing’s working. I’m getting fatter.” And you’re like, that’s a good sign that you might have a thyroid problem because you’ve tried everything. So hopefully that cleared up a little bit more.



It absolutely does. Boy oh boy. Well, the solution is-



[inaudible 00:47:40].



Yeah, no, that’s virtually a wrap. I mean, we’ve got so much information there and obviously the best resource I believe, and I’ve done a lot of research into you, and also the people that recommend you, as well. All the big hitters in the industry are praising you like a demigod. So, thank you so much. Last question, just based upon everything that you know. What are your daily non-negotiables? These things that you slip into each and every day, and they don’t necessarily have to be associated with supporting your thyroid, just supporting your overall health and wellbeing.






Sleep. Yeah, right. It’s the biggest problem.



Listen, I know people hear this all the time. If I get less than eight hours or seven, don’t talk to me. And if I don’t get sleep for a couple days, I’m not happy about it. It ruins my next couple of days. You can’t catch up on sleep. Get it. This is something people are either complaining about. “I’m so tired.” You go, “What time you get to bed?” “12.” “Well, what time you wake up?” “Six.” That’s on you.



That’s right.



So sleep is non-negotiable. And if you have trouble sleeping, do everything you can to fix it, because that’s going to change your life. That’s going to change your life. That’s the best reset. You’re going to have liver problems and all sorts of other issues if you struggle with sleep consistently throughout the year. So I make a point of that. I make sure I get home early and look, sometimes I have to rally. If I know, oh, I got a late night thing, I’ll take a nap. I mean, okay, sometimes you get screwed up because there was a wedding last weekend. And all right, so I’m off my normal thing. For the most part, I try to keep that regular schedule and I’m trying to get eight to nine hours every night.



Yeah, well no, that that’s right. We call it the biggest pillar, the most important pillar in the foundation of health. Because if you don’t have that, everything else crumbles. You wake up, hangry.



You can eat perfectly and be a disaster. And I know people who eat really well and they have issues with insomnia and they have a lot of problems.



Yeah, no, good to hear. No, actually it’s a great validation because it’s ridiculously important. Fantastic. Well, Elle, that was a great conversation. So much information that is going to be so valuable for all of our listeners. So just to reiterate where we can send them again, so the best place to get more of you, your books, your podcasts, your videos, where do we send them?



You could just go to my first name and last.com. So that’s E-L-L-E R-U-S-S.com. Elleruss.com. If you want to check out some of the free master classes, just click on free stuff. There’s a bunch of stuff there for you. And then also you can click on courses, podcasts, and you can even click on media if you want to hear more. You can also Google my name and 70 to a 100 interviews will probably come up. Probably mostly thyroid and the other other is confidence. So yeah, check it out. And then I do have a podcast every week where I interview people and mostly self-help, but some health people as well and so come give a listen.



Brilliant. We will share it with our audience. Elle, thank you so much. It has been an absolute pleasure.



Thank you.



Thank you.

Elle Russ

This podcast features Elle Russ back to the podcast. She is the author of Confident As Fu*k and The Paleo Thyroid Solution – a book which has helped thousands of people around the world reclaim their health. She is also the screenwriter of the award-winning documentary film Headhunt Revisited. She... Read More

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