February 27, 2009

Soy's Link To Hypothyroidism: It Almost Happened To Me

The past few months have been a bit rough on me. You see, last October my doctor told me I wasn't getting enough protein. Naturally, being a vegetarian, I upped my soy intake to solve the problem.

My December diabetes lab tests showed I was developing Hypothyroidism. The results were still in the "normal" range, but borderline. My doctor suggested that we redo the tests in January to see if it would get any worse.

Two weeks went by and my husband randomly read a blurb in Men's Health magazine that soy may inhibit thyroid hormone and cause Hypothyroidism. I instantly cut out all soy from my diet, and my January lab tests came back normal!

I am completely shocked that my Endocrinologist was not aware of this soy/Hypothyroidism relationship. Diabetics have a higher incidence of developing thyroid disorders than non-diabetics so this is crucial knowledge for diabetic vegetarians. I would think all Endocrinologists would tell their patients, specifically their vegetarian patients, about the risk of eating too much soy.

This experience confirms my philosophy that doctors do not know it all. While I respect them and understand how vital they are to helping me maintain my health, I am truly my own best advocate. I believe all diabetics need to research their diseases and symptoms as much as possible, and stay actively involved in the health care decisions that many people just let doctors make for them.

Having family and friends who are aware of your diabetes and are looking out for you is also an important part of staying healthy too. If it weren't for my husband having his eyes open, I'd probably be starting a lifetime of thyroid medication right now.


BoulderTherapist said...


I am a type 2 vegetarian... but following a low carb diet which essentially boils down to eating soy protein, nuts and seeds, some eggs and cheese and vegetables. Did you cut out soy completely still? I've been a veg head for nearly 40 years and have taking synthroid for a decade or more. I don't know if they're necessarily related however; I've heard/read of the correlation before also. Seems older folks get hypothyroid condition whether or not they are veg heads, so I've ignored this data for now about the relationship with soy and thyroids. Managing the vegetarian and very low carb diet is challenging enough! It would be very difficult if soy were eliminated completely, don't you think?

Sarah Savage said...

Thanks for your comment and question. It's been really tough but I've almost completely removed soy from my diet. I limit myself to having soy once a week. I've taken to eating egg whites with most meals. I don't even try to incorporate them into the meal, just eat a plate of egg whites on the side. It might be a bit easier for me since I still eat fish occasionally. My thyroid tests have been normal ever since I cut out soy, so I'll probably stick to it. I admire your persistence at keeping a strict vegetarian, low-carb diabetic diet. It's no easy feat! Keep on keepin' on and thanks for reading!