Everyone knows that protein is important for thyroid health.
Yet, did you know that some protein sources can cause more harm than good?
Just trying to get more protein into your diet isn’t enough.
The source of that protein matters and is important too.
When it comes to protein powders, there are literally dozens of different types available. Most are useless (or dangerous) in my opinion.
Whey protein is amongst the most popular.
Yet, did you know that hypothyroidism and whey protein are a dangerous combination?
Sure, there are many different brands of whey protein all claiming to be something special.
It doesn’t matter, and I’m going to show you why in a minute.
First, you have to understand this…
The Hypothyroidism-Tryptophan Cycle
With hypothyroidism, there are many thyroid-suppressive feedback cycles that develop which keep you trapped in your hypothyroid state.
For example, I’ve written about the importance of breaking the Hypothyroidism-Serotonin Cycle. You can read more about that by clicking here.
The Hypothyroid-Tryptophan Cycle is a deeper part of that cycle.
Take a look at this study:
Thyroid peroxidase activity is inhibited by amino acids.
“The inhibitory amino acids contain side chains with either sulfur atoms (cysteine and methionine) or aromatic rings (tyrosine, tryptophan, histidine and phenylalanine).”
This study shows that tryptophan is one of a few amino-acids that can directly inhibit your thyroid gland from producing thyroid hormone.
In hypothyroidism, your tryptophan levels rise which further suppresses your thyroid.
This results in that nasty Hypothyroid-Tryptophan Cycle, which looks like this:
- Hypothyroidism increases your conversion of tryptophan into serotonin.
- Serotonin increases your adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH).
- ACTH activates your adrenal glands to increase cortisol production.
- Cortisol breaks down your muscle tissue, releasing more tryptophan (amino-acid) into your bloodstream.
- The rise in tryptophan suppresses your thyroid.
- That tryptophan is then converted into serotonin, and the cycle continues.
In other words, hypothyroidism causes your tryptophan levels to rise, which in turn makes you more hypothyroid.
So, it should make sense that as a hypothyroid sufferer you want to keep your tryptophan levels low to help break this cycle and improve your thyroid health.
But, what does this have to do with hypothyroidism and whey protein?
Why Hypothyroidism and Whey Protein Are a Dangerous Combination
You now know that keeping your tryptophan levels under control is an important part of improving your thyroid health.
As it turns out, whey protein causes a big problem when it comes to tryptophan:
Whey protein rich in alpha-lactalbumin increases the ratio of plasma tryptophan to the sum of the other large neutral amino acids and improves cognitive performance in stress-vulnerable subjects.
“RESULTS: A significantly greater increase in the plasma Trp-LNAA ratio after consumption of the alpha-lactalbumin diet than after the control diet (P = 0.0001) was observed;”
This study shows that supplementing whey protein increases your blood tryptophan levels by 42.4%.
That’s bad news for your thyroid!
Using whey protein perpetuates the very thyroid-suppressive Hypothyroid-Tryptophan Cycle that we’re trying to break.
If whey protein isn’t a good option, then what is?
With my clients, I use a protein source that helps boost thyroid function instead of hurting it.
The protein source I’m referring to is Collagen Protein.
Here are a few reasons I use Collagen Protein Powder with my clients…
- It contains no tryptophan.
- It’s rich in the anti-inflammatory amino-acid glycine (collagen protein contains 29% glycine as opposed to whey protein’s 1.8%.)
- It balances other thyroid-suppressive amino acids.
- And ultimately, it helps support health thyroid function.
Want to learn more about the benefits of Collagen Protein and how it can help boost and protect your thyroid?
I talk more about this and how to use collagen as part of your healthy thyroid diet in this post about “5 Ways to Boost Your Thyroid with 35 Grams of Collagen per Day”.