Hormonal shifts, stress and not-so-great eating habits wreak havoc on our thyroid — which is why 80 percent of us over age 45 have sluggish “metabolism glands.” And if you have symptoms like stubborn weight gain, low energy, brain fog, achiness, insomnia, intense PMS, or intense menopause, you could be among the millions affected. Good news: A new thyroid-healing twist on the famous keto diet promises radical relief in the blink of an eye.
We had volunteers test the approach, and at the end of 10 days, 98 percent of people had reduced their symptoms by at least 50 percent,” reveals Emory University–trained women’s health expert Anna Cabeca, D.O. Even dieters whose bodies once resisted letting go of a single ounce began melting up to two pounds a day. “That just blew my mind,” says Dr. Cabeca. “You can see a big a difference in a short time!”
Keto — But Better
When Dr. Cabeca found herself packing on pounds during menopause, she tried going keto. To her surprise, “I felt constant fatigue and was barely losing,” she recalls. “I wanted to figure out why, so I ran tests. It turned out my thyroid function was down, and my urine was very acidic.”
She dug into research and learned that common keto staples like deli meat and cheese create acidic compounds as they digest. “There’s evidence that excess acid puts a lot of stress on the body and especially the thyroid, a gland that keeps metabolism and stamina up,” she shares.
The impact is so dramatic, University of Texas scientists found folks with the most acid in their systems have BMIs 52 percent higher than those with the least. It led Dr. Cabeca to an “aha!” moment.“I knew keto had the potential to work better than other approaches, so instead of giving up, I experimented with keto foods that neutralize acid,” she says. That included salad, nuts, and guacamole. “Within days, I had more energy and clearer thinking — plus weight was falling off.”
Dr. Cabeca eventually shed 80 pounds and is now part of a “green keto” movement that’s helping thyroids and waistlines around the world.
Alkalizing Foods Supercharge the Thyroid
What sets alkalizing foods apart? They have fewer enzymes that turn into acid inside us, plus they’re often rich in acid-neutralizing minerals like magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Best bets include leafy greens, cucumber, broccoli, celery, and bell pepper. Nuts, seeds, eggs, and seafood are also great options. Studies show that consuming more of these foods lowers your overall acid level by as much as 68 percent — and per researchers at Tufts University, as acid drops, thyroid function improves enough to rev metabolism and boost vitality.
Another effect: Skipping acid-forming options like keto snack bars and hot dogs “helps reduce hidden inflammation throughout your body,” explains National Academy of Hypothyroidism founder Kent Holtorf, M.D. Turns out, inflammation triggers the release of hormones that interfere with thyroid function. Dr. Holtorf says that as inflammation subsides, the thyroid perks up nicely, boosting calorie burn by about 500 calories a day. Women report losing up to 22 pounds in 10 days on a keto-alkaline plan, and, adds Dr. Cabeca, “they feel amazing as the weight comes off!”
The Alkalizing Keto Diet Plan
Aim to fill 75 percent of your plate with non-starchy veggies (especially greens, cucumber, broccoli, celery, and bell pepper). Add a serving of protein (nuts, eggs, seafood, a little organic chicken, or grass-fed beef) plus two servings of plant fats (avocados, nuts, seeds, olives, olive oils). After 10 days, experiment with small amounts of healthy starches like beans and potatoes. As always, get a doctor’s okay to try any new plan.
Breakfast — Blend 1 scoop plant-based no-sugar-added protein powder, 1 Tbs. coconut oil, a handful of kale, 1⁄4 avocado, 8 oz. water and stevia to taste.
Lunch — 1 serving salmon or hard-cooked eggs over a large salad with acid-reducing veggies, sun-dried tomatoes, and olive-oil vinaigrette.
Snacks — Raw or steamed veggies (especially celery, cucumber, bell pepper) dipped in guacamole or olive-oil vinaigrette.
Dinner — 1 serving grilled or roasted chicken with seasoning to taste over a large serving of veggies roasted with olive oil.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.