Help for Hashimoto's Episode 13

Q.  How do you push through the fatigue? I just want to get my life back on track.

 

Q.  I’ve got hypothyroidism/Hashimotos. Around noon I start getting tired and it can get to the point of dozing off. I've had every thyroid level possible checked and it's within normal range. We've actually checked it numerous times. I've had my b12 and folic acid checked along with my hormone levels, vitamin levels, and had a CBC done. Everything is good. I'm wondering if maybe we are missing something. Could I have something that we haven't checked for yet. I've also got bipolar2, depression/anxiety and ptsd which I take Topamax for. I also take Levothyroxine for my hypothyroidism.

First let’s talk about Topamax. I want you to know what you are on.  Your doctor should be testing your kidney and liver function and your blood should be tested to be sure you are able to process the drug well. They can become toxic very quickly.  

You should not drink alcohol while on this medication as it interferes with the effectiveness and it can make you sleepy as well as slow your heart rate. 

Antacids will keep you from being able to absorb this medication as well as any nutrients from your food. 

Fiber supplements can reduce the effectiveness of this medication. 

This drug will cause you to be low in folate or deficient in it. 

It has not been approved to treat PTSD but is endorsed by the National Alliance on Mental Illness to treat bipolar disorder and other mood disorders. 

Common side effects: 

Diarrhea, Dizziness, Double vision, Fever, Hair loss, Loss of appetite, Mood changes, Nausea, Reduced perspiration, Sinusitis, Stomach upset, Taste changes, Tingling or prickly skin sensations, Tremors, Uncontrollable eye movements, Urinary tract infection, Weakness, Weight loss.

 

With that being said, let’s move on and talk about fatigue. 

 

This is a super common issue for those of us dealing with thyroid issues and there are a number of reasons why fatigue could be your issue. 

Anemia.

You can have anemia from a deficiency of B12, Iron or folic acid. Your doctor may check your iron levels but do they check B12, folic acid and ferritin? Any one of these can contribute to fatigue.  And just because your lab says you are in the normal range doesn’t mean you are in the optimal range. j

Normal ferritin levels are between 12 -150 ng/mL. Mine is currently at 17 and I struggle with energy often. Some thyroid experts would say that optimal ferritin levels should be at 90-110 ng/ml for good thyroid function.  If you are still losing your hair- it could be an iron deficiency. 

And B12 values from your doctors lab may include values from people who were deficient in B12 so you can’t always rely on the lab values. “normal” is between 200-900 pg/mL but under 350 can give you neurological symptoms.  

Food sensitivities, not food allergies which is when your immune system reacts to protect you like when someone’s throat closes off in a nut allergy.  This alerts the IgE part of your immune system and happens as soon as a food is ingested. The IgA and IgG sections of the immune system will react to foods in what I would call a sensitivity or intolerance. These can cause us to be fatigued. 

IgA reactions happen in the intestinal tract which can cause inflammation there each time we consume a particular food. This will damage the intestines and can cause us to be unable to absorb nutrients from our diet. You may have symptoms like diarrhea or looser stools, constipation, reflux or you may not have any symptoms at all. You can end up with conditions like IBS, gas, rashes on your skin, acne, asthma, headaches, irritability and fatigue.  Celiac disease is in this category. 

If your T3 is low and you have high Reverse T3, this will affect your energy. T3 helps our cells make more energy. Reverse T3 makes T3 ineffective so that we are slowed down a bit. If Reverse T3 is high, we will not have any energy and one of the biggest reasons this might be high is due to stress. Another problem could be that you are not converting T4 into T3. This can be due to stress, or even nutrient deficiencies either due to low stomach acid or a compromised gut. You might find you need to be on a medication that has T3 in it. 

If your TSH is high, you will not have energy. Not all lab values are created equal here. You need to make sure that you are in a good range. Lab values for TSH are made up from a population of all kinds of people- those who are seemingly healthy and those who have undiagnosed thyroid problems and even the elderly who often have lower functioning thyroids.  The best reference range for most people is to have a TSH around .5-2 uIU/L. Personally,  mine is lower than .5 and I feel pretty good on that.  If you are taking NDT you can have a TSH that might look hyper and if your T3 is in normal range you probably feel pretty good. This can cause alarm with your doctor but try to have a conversation with them about it. 

How is your blood sugar?

This is a really really big one because it affects our adrenal glands which also have a role in energy. The good old blood sugar roller coaster will cause your adrenals to become weaker or cause the signaling between your brain and your adrenals to not work well leading to what is called adrenal fatigue or HPA axis dysfunction. For people like us with Hashimoto’s we may not tolerate those refined carbohydrates very well at all. Sometimes we get a big release of insulin when we consume sugary or refined “white” foods that others might not. So our blood sugar goes up really fast and we may have too much insulin in our blood which causes us to crash with fatigue and even anxiety or nervousness. This stresses our adrenals and leads to more fatigue.

Adrenal health is important for energy. If you are suffering from Adrenal fatigue you likely don’t have much energy to speak of even if this is the only thing you are dealing with. This is such a big deal and it takes some time to bring your adrenal health back in good standing. You need to avoid caffeine, keep your blood sugar balanced, make sure you are sleeping well and resting when you can, managing stress and probably supplementing. You can listen to Episode 7 of this podcast for more on adrenals. 

Having good digestion is key to energy. 

Many of us will be nutrient deficient and usually deficient in those nutrients that help our thyroids to function well. Just having hypothyroidism makes it harder for us to get our nutrients out of the food we are eating. This means the digestive system has to work a little harder to break down our foods and this can cause a lot of fatigue. We often have lower levels of stomach acid and most of us don’t eat when we are relaxed and we certainly don’t take the time to chew our food well. Right there is three strikes against us in the energy department. 

When we are not relaxed when we eat, we are not in “rest and digest” mode or what is called parasympathetic mode. This means we are in fight or flight mode which is not a good environment for good digestion. We already are not making enough stomach acid because we have symptoms of hypothyroidism, then we are not relaxed so we make even less. Then we are not chewing our food well- like 20 chews per bite to break it down. So, we have all this food in our stomach, not enough stomach acid and it is not being broken down. Our digestive system is working extra hard to try to break this stuff down- using all kinds of extra energy and that makes us tired. Then you have undigested food going through your intestines. You have leaky gut or intestinal permeability and these undigested food particles are then getting in to your blood stream causing your immune system to go on alert and inflammation occurs in the body. Fatigue is going to be a factor here. 

If you have low vitamin D, you can have fatigue. Get some sun. Lay in the sun for 10-15 minutes or go for a walk on a sunny day and expose as much skin as possible. Take a supplement of D3 if needed and make sure to have your levels checked by your doctor. Low D is a factor in autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s. 

A good diet will go a long way to helping you with your energy problems. High quality proteins and veggies along with a small amount of fruit. The big foods to eliminate for us are going to be gluten, dairy, eggs, nuts and I would try to eliminate nightshades to see if you feel better. This is basically called an elimination diet and is important for you to start to feel better, have more energy and bring your body back in to balance. 

You can find Hydrozyme at www.getbiotics.com use code DFILC163 to access. 

Help For Hashimoto's Episode 10

Welcome to episode 10. I hope this day finds you well and that everyday in every way you are getting better and better. 

Let’s get started. I got a question from Jordan. 

Hello Stephanie,     

    I'm very intrigued by your podcasts and enjoyed the free EBook! I was diagnosed with hashimotos auto-immune 2 years ago I've been on levothyroxine and my t3 remains high my T4 remains low but my tsh is always within normal ranges! My hair is terribly dry, brittle and gray and at the ripe age of 30 I'm heading to being bald! My bowels are Terrible to the point I was believing I had Celiac's or a gluten or wheat allergy until I listen to the podcast! I'm extremely overweight and I'm working hard on that as I'm 60lbs down! I have several of the symptoms of the adrenal fatigue except once I fall asleep I stay asleep and want to sleep hours upon hours! I'm writing to you to see if you could recommend to me some vitamins or suggestions so I can feel better. I'm a single mother on a extremely tight budget!  Thank you for your time! 

        Jordan

In the early stages of hashimoto’s people can have symptoms of both hypothyroidsim and hyperthyroidism. You can have palpitations, tremors, be really thin and have anxiety. You can have the dry brittle hair that is falling out and you can feel like you are going crazy. 

In hashimoto’s, your immune system is attacking the thyroid gland causing bits of thyroid hormone to be released in to the blood stream making you feel like you are experiencing hyperthyroidism. 

So what is happening? What will the issues be that you may have?

  • food sensitivities
  • nutrient deficiencies
  • adrenal fatigue
  • possibly an infection in your gut
  • poor detoxification- you are not able to clear out toxins

Any or all of these will keep your immune system on high alert and continue the attack on your thyroid. 

The high T3 is probably what is causing your hair to fall out. This can be indicative of high antibodies and since you have a diagnosis of hashimoto’s this could be what is going on here. You can ask to have your thyroglobulin antibodies along with the thyroid peroxidase antibodies tested. This should confirm why T3 is high. 

Low t4 can indicate disease in the thyroid or a problem with the pituitary gland or the signal that tells your thyroid to make more thyroid hormone. Your TSH is in the normal range, you said- I assume that is conventional range. If it is above three, functional medicine would consider that high. So, The pituitary gland would release TSH if t4 is low and a high TSH level would probably mean the thyroid itself isn’t working well and you would have hypothyroidism.  If t4 is low and TSH is not high then the pituitary gland is not signaling correctly. This is something you would want to discuss with your doctor. 

You also need to take a look at all of these things to bring down the inflammation and hopefully put your hashimoto’s in to remission. 

You may have deficiencies in the micro minerals like selenium, zinc, vitamin D, iron, B12 and B vitamins in general. First and foremost though you need to see if you have low stomach acid.     

Let’s start with Selenium: 

Many of us with hashimoto’s are deficient in this micro mineral which can be one of the things that causes us to get hashimoto’s. It helps to break down and make neutral the free radicals made during thyroid hormone production. If we are low on selenium, damage to the thyroid can occur and our ability to convert T4 to the T3 (which is what our cells take in) is affected. Take around 200 micrograms of this one. It has been shown to help reduce thyroid antibodies. 

Vitamin D:  

This helps to regulate our immune system and remember that hashimoto’s is an immune system problem first and foremost.  Your levels should be around 60-80 when you have it tested for optimal immune system regulation. 

D3 is the more absorbable form and you should make sure that it is in a capsule or liquid form with some kind of high quality fat like olive oil or MCT oil (a broken down portion of coconut oil). It is a fat soluble vitamin so you need to take it with fat for your body to use it. 

Good food sources for vitamin D are cod liver oil, fish, eggs and sunlight

B12-

If you have major fatigue, you should have your levels of B12 tested. It plays a role in digestion too so you want to make sure you are, again, making enough stomach acid. Most of us with hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism have low stomach acid. 

When you have low stomach acid, you don’t digest your food well which means your body has to work harder to break it down which requires energy. 

One of the possible causes for the low stomach acid is a B12 deficiency. And a B12 deficiency can cause low stomach acid. Vicious cycle. If you don’t have enough stomach acid you can’t get the nutrients including B12 and iron out of your food. You won’t be breaking down your meals as well and this can lead to food sensitivities. 

Betaine HCl with Pepsin. This is stomach acid in capsule or pill form. I recommend starting out with around 150mg pill to see where you are at. It will help you digest and break down your food better so you can use the nutrients in your food. 

Next, Probiotics. 

Intestinal permeability plays a pretty big role in autoimmune disease. One of the things linked to it is having your gut bacteria out of balance. Having more “bad guys” than “good guys” can cause gut issues and anxiety. You have about 100 trillion bacteria in your gut. 

Start with a 10 billion CFU per capsule and increase every couple of days until you see or feel die off symptoms. The die off is the bad guys dying out and the good guys taking over. The bad bacteria will release toxins that might make you feel bad for a couple of days. This can also exacerbate the inflammation and immune response so make sure  you have good eliminations and are drinking plenty of water. 

One of the best ways to get a lot of good bacteria in to your digestive tract is by consuming fermented foods like sauerkraut- not canned sauerkraut but the raw fermented kind found in the refrigerator sections of stores or find it at farmers markets. Or make it yourself. It is so easy to do and really inexpensive. 

Here is a good explanation of what leaky gut or intestinal permeability is and how it affects the immune system from Sean Croxton: 

“think of a window screen. And I say, “It’s a hot day. You open up the windows. And the good air comes through to cool the place off. And it feels nice and good and what not. But it keeps all the bugs, the flies, the gnats and the mosquitos out of the house. And that’s how the gut works. It’s very selective about what it allows through into the bloodstream or wherever.

“But if some kid came over to your house and started poking big holes in your window screen, then what happens is you open up the window. And gnats might come in. Flies might come in. What do you do? You start grabbing a magazine and like whacking away and stuff. And that’s what your immune system does, right? It says, “Wait. This isn’t supposed to be here. So let’s start whacking away.” And now we’ve got a problem. We’ve got an overactive immune system.”

Glutamine- 

This will help heal your small intestine where intestinal permeability happens. It helps to repair the lining of your small intestine where new cells are made every 3 or so days. 

Zinc can also be helpful in repairing leaky gut and in helping you make enough stomach acid. 

If you are dealing with any kind of adrenal fatigue: 

This would mean your brain is not communicating with the pituitary gland to help your adrenals manage stress. This is called the HPA axis and it also helps to regulate the immune system. When we are stressed, this system doesn’t work well. 

If you are dealing with adrenal fatigue you may feel: 

  • overwhelmed
  • tired even with 8 hours of sleep
  • like staying in bed in the morning
  • a craving for salty foods
  • daily things are too much to handle
  • brain fog
  • little to no sex drive 
  • like you can’t make a decision

Adaptogenic herbs like American Ginseng, ashwagandha, Asian ginseng, Cordyceps and Chaga mushrooms, and/or holy basil and licorice root may be helpful. 

You should work with a practitioner to find out if you are in need of supplementation here. 

Some things that can help you manage your hashimoto’s is your diet. 

  • Being gluten free, dairy free or try an elimination diet to help you figure out which foods you are sensitive to. This will also naturally help you balance your blood sugar which will also help give your adrenal glands a break. 
  • Make sure you are eating protein of some kind at every meal, including breakfast and eat breakfast within an hour of getting up. Don’t skip any meals and don’t do any fasting. 
  • Eat 4-5 meals per day for a week or so to give your blood sugar regulation system a break. 
  • Have a snack of protein and fat or a starch before bed. Make sure any carbs you are eating are eaten with protein. 
  • Avoid caffeine

A word of caution on supplements. Please don’t go buy them at your local big box store or the corner pharmacy store. Don’t buy them on Amazon either. I suggest at the very least to buy from Vitamin Shoppe or from your local food coop or even Whole Foods. You should work with a practitioner that can help you find just what you need though

The reason for this is there is no regulation on supplements. They don’t have rules in manufacturing or labeling. Some supplements won’ t even have the ingredients stated on their label or the dose can be way off. Some might have gluten or dairy in them and you might have a sensitivity to it. This is one case where quality really matters. 

A practitioner should be able to find what is most bioavailable for you since there are multiple chemical formulations of certain nutrients and some work better than others. Some are more expensive than others to manufacture. 

You also need to make sure you start with low doses so as not to over do it.  You just don’t know how your body will react to a new supplement. Starting slowly with lower doses will help you catch a reaction to it before it gets too bad. 

There is no magic supplement that will fix the hashimoto’s or anything for that matter. Some of these will definitely help you on your journey to healing or remission or whatever you want to call it. 

My top picks would be Hydrozyme from Biotics which is a lower dose stomach acid supplement and diet changes first and foremost. You can get that by going to www.getbiotics.com and using my practitioner code DFILC163. 

When starting a dose of stomach acid, remember to take a few bites of your protein based meal, take a pill, take a bite of food, take a pill and you do this until you feel a little burning sensation. Then you know to take one less than what gave you the burning sensation. 

Thanks so much for listening. Please tell anyone you know who has been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s to listen in and if you would be so kind as to leave a review on iTunes so more people can find this podcast that would be great too. My goal is to help as many people as possible to feel better and beat this disease. 

Got a question about your thyroid or hashimoto’s? Please send your questions to helpforhashimotos@gmail.com or head on over to my website and fill out the contact form there. 

You can find me at www.outofthewoodsnutrition.com or www.helpforhashimotos.com  I’m on Instagram at @Stephanieewalsntp which is where I post the most and on facebook at Out of The Woods Nutrition

See you next time. 

Help For Hashimoto's Episode 7

Help For Hashimoto's Episode 7

Today we are going to be talking about the adrenal glands. I had a question from someone asking me what the adrenal glands were so here you go! 


Adrenal fatigue symptoms: 


Being a night person, hard time falling asleep, slow starter in the morning: 


All signs that your cortisol rhythm is out of balance causing cortisol to be high at night and low in the morning. It should be the opposite. 


Do you tend to be keyed up and have trouble calming down?


This is a sign of increased adrenal output or hyperadrenalism. Having high cortisol with low DHEA can cause this. In the beginning stages of adrenal breakdown, the body’s response to stress is to increase the cortisol output from the adrenal glands. If the stress never stops, this process doesn’t stop and you will eventually have adrenal fatigue. 


Do you get a headache after exercising?


This means your adrenals

Read More

Help For Hashimoto's Episode 3

I have been eating nothing but raw vegetables and water for 6 days. I have gained 3 pounds. I am at a loss. I have taken more D3 and B12. I have added magnesium to my diet. I am exercising even though I am exhausted all the time. I have resorted to taking sudafed because it makes me have energy.......please help. I have been to 2 different endocrinologists and they refuse to help. I have been gluten free for 6 weeks. What else can I do?

 

  1. with raw veggies only for 6 days…. How much were you eating. It could be that you were not eating enough and your body was starving and holding on to weight.
    1. If you were not eating enough it could deplete the adrenals and then you have an issue with cortisol. This is our main stress hormone and when it is working normally it can be anti-inflammatory and key for fat burning. It also helps keep our blood sugar and our blood pressure up. So, if you were not eating enough, your blood sugar would be low and cortisol would be released to save the day. This can be a problem if it is constantly working to help manage your blood sugar whether too high or too low. Cortisol is supposed to be low in the evening to get us ready for sleeping and higher in the morning so when we wake up we feel ready for the day. If this is not you, then you probably have an issue with your cortisol being out of balance. When cortisol is low it can affect your ability to tolerate your workouts, meaning you are exhausted after a work out.  Exercising too hard can wear out your adrenals and to work on healing them and getting them working properly again you need to slow down the workouts to basically just walking up to five days a week for an hour. 
        1. If you have low cortisol you will have symptoms like: 
          1. needing a pick me up in the morning or afternoon to keep you going such as coffee or in your case, sudafed to ramp you up. 
          2. cravings for salt in general, or sugar or starches between meals
          3. you feel burnt out or don’t handle stress well
          4. you feel like you need sunglasses even on a cloudy day
          5. Your blood pressure is low or you get dizzy when you stand up quickly from a sitting position
        2. If you have high cortisol
          1. you might have extra fat around your mid section
          2. you feel tired even after sleeping a full night
          3. you have poor digestion
          4. you might wake up tired and achy
          5. you have trouble falling asleep
      1. High cortisol issues and low cortisol issues can happen at the same time. They can sort of wax and wane. It is higher when we are dealing with chronic stress which can be physical or emotional and physical stress can include what is going in internally with your body and thyroid issues. When stress is chronic (and the diet and exercise you describe would be very stressful for you right now) you can get puffy, wired and tired, and you may gain weight. 
    2. This could have been detoxifying to your body and released something that your body couldn’t get rid of so you gained weight because we store toxins in our fat tissue. 
      1. If your detoxification pathways are not open (liver, skin, lungs, eliminations) and this diet of raw veggies over the last 6 days really cleaned things up internally but those toxins had nowhere to go then your body could have shuttled them in to your fat tissue. 
      2. All raw veggies can be hard on our digestive tract too. You might consider starting with some bone broth and cooked veggies before continuing with all raw veggies. You can steam veggies, cook them in broth (the most soothing to our digestive system), roast them, grill them or satue them in some healthy fats like coconut oil or olive oil. Broth will have minerals and collagen that are soothing and even healing to your digestive tract, especially the small intestine. 
    3. Were you avoiding fat because you were worried it will make you fatter?  This is not always true and consuming a small amount of healthy fats everyday is necessary for our cells to be healthy. Each cell is made of a layer of fat and we need healthy fats to make up the building blocks of our cells. This helps waste be removed from our cells and get nutrition in to our cells. 
  2. It would be nice to know amounts of D3 and B12 you are taking. 
    1. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin with defieciency being a contributor to autoimmune disease. We make vitamin d from cholesterol in our skin cells when we absorb UVB radiation from the sun. We need vitamin d for many processes in the body including the regulation and absorption of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium and for our bones to mineralize and grow. It plays a role in regulating the release of serotonin which we need for our mental/emotional health and for good digestion. It also helps us heal and helps to regulate our immune system but it doesn’t work on it’s own and supplementation with a high dose is not in and of itself a solution. WE need to take it with other fat soluble vitamins (A, E, K —-D protects against A toxicity and A protects against D toxicity and large amounts of A&D increase the need for K—-consuming liver is a great way to get all of these from food.) and we can’t use or assimilate our fat soluble vitamins with out taking them with fat.  There was a study done around 1980 with Wheat Bran showing the possibility that it can prevent us from absorbing vitamin d, creating a possible deficiency. 
        1. food sources of vitamin d besides liver are: 
          1. salmon
          2. sardines
          3. tuna
          4. eggs (if you tolerate them)
          5. shiitake mushrooms
    2. B12
      1. we need this to help with the metabolism of carbs, proteins and fats in our cells and it is really important in making and regulating DNA, making fatty acids and in energy production. 
      2. We need good gut bacteria to be able to use most of the B12 we take in so getting it from food is always best. Also, you can only get B12 from animals (unless you supplement) like shellfish, and meat products and it is produced by the animals gut bacteria. 
        1. sardines have the highest amount of B12 per serving 
        2. then salmon, tuna, cod, lamb, scallops, shrimp, beef
  3. Exercise- if you are exhausted, then don’t exercise. Go for a walk. This will help your adrenals heal. Anything you do while working on healing your adrenals should not be debilitating, grueling or super competitive. Yoga, tai chi, kick boxing, swimming, walking, even dancing. Do something enjoyable and start slow and work your way in to it. Most important is to do it at your own pace. You might be overexercising. 
    1. Again, when the adrenals are off this can lead to weight gain. 
  4. You have been gluten free for 6 weeks. This is great. Gluten is not the friend of someone with Hashimoto’s or thyroid issues so staying off it is a good first step. What else can you do, you ask?
    1. you can eat at least one pound of veggies, cooked and raw, remember I said cooked will be gentler on your digestion. Eat a wide variety keeping in mind the autoimmune protocol and nightshades (peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, etc) being inflammatory for some of us with thyroid issues. 
    2. consume about 25 grams of protein each meal for four meals or work in 100 grams of protein in a day. 
      1. one serving of salmon should have around 22 grams of protein and a small chicken breast should have around 28grams
    3. Get some healthy fats in your diet
      1. avocado, avocado oil, olive oil, olives, coconut oil, coconut milk, nuts if you tolerate them, ghee if you tolerate it. 
    4. Fruits in small amounts and stick to berries mostly but get a variety. 
    5. Spices and herbs are also great. Be mindful of pepper and seed based spices if you are doing the autoimmune protocol. 
  5. Avoid
    1. gluten and grains
    2. dairy
    3. sugar
    4. alcohol
    5. Coffee won’t help your adrenals 

 

 

I’m trying to find the limits/dimensions of my food sensitivities and figure out how to navigate eating out and would like to start introducing nightshades but am a little confused because my dietician says if you’re sensitive to one nightshade, you’re sensitive to them all. (I am gluten, dairy and sugar-free. I was full AIP for months, but have started reintroducing foods.)

 

For context, my three exposures:

1st and 2nd - I ate 1/4 of a fresh tomato and about 20 hours later felt extremely anxious (8 or 9 out of 10) and one of those times I had heart palpitations.
3rd - I took a chance and ate meat marinated with bell peppers. No reaction, which was great. Maybe being in the marinade isn’t enough exposure? Or maybe because the meat was cooked? Curious what is going on. 

 

 

  1. Nightshades: 
    1. contain a couple thousand different species of plants, most are inedible and poisonous. Eating too many of these can kill off our cells and contribute to a leaky gut and really eating too many can actually be poisonous. It is thought that low level exposure can contribute to health problems over time. 
    2. Which foods are considered nightshades?
      1. bell peppers, hot peppers and spices made from them
      2. tomatoes
      3. ground cherries/gooseberries
      4. eggplant
      5. goji berries
      6. pimentos
      7. potatoes
      8. tomatillos
      9. ashwaganda (a popular herbal adaptogen for adrenals)
  2. Reintroducing foods. 
    1. How many months did you do full AIP?
    2. Waiting until you are in feeling your best and your labs look good to do reintroductions is ideal. This gives your gut a chance to heal and bring down any lingering inflammation. 
      1. also making sure stress is well managed is important. Don’t do reintroductions during a stressful time in your life. It can likely set your recovery/remission back quite a bit. 
      2. If you have been aip for a month or longer you can consider reintroductions if you have good digestion, you are not getting worse rather than better and you can manage your hashi’s/thyroid problems well. You may still need medication and that is okay. 
      3. Don’t start with foods you know you have an allergy to. 
      4. If you have a reaction to something, it is likely you need to work on healing your gut more. 
    3. How to reintroduce a food
      1. Start with one food, you pick it but here is a suggestion of where to start: 
        1. egg yolks
        2. legumes (green beans and peas)
        3. spices
        4. oils made from nuts or seeds
        5. ghee
      2. Eat the food you pick 2-3 times in one day and then don’t reintroduce another food for about a week. 
        1. start with less than a teaspoon or so of the food you picked and then wait for about 15 minutes. If you notice any symptoms immediately, stop and wait a week or so to try again. 
        2. no reaction, have a small bite, wait 15 more minutes, then a slightly bigger bite, wait for a couple of hours and pay close attention to how you feel. 
          1. symptoms can be digestive, changes in energy, cravings, sleeping issues, headaches, dizzy feeling, runny nose, more phlegm coughing, clearing your throat, itching, aches, skin rashes, mood issues. 
          2. you can eat a bigger portion at a meal on the day you reintroduced it if this reintro went well. 
        3. wait 4-7 days before introducing another food if that went well. 
        4. If reintroducing a spice, you can reintro it in smaller amounts than I just suggested as it is consumed in small amounts. 
      3. You might find that you can tolerate a food on a rotation type basis or just every once in awhile but not everyday. This is okay- it helps ensure you get some variety in your diet. 
      4. Keeping a food journal can be very helpful to try and pinpoint where something went wrong. 
  3. I have not read anywhere about all or nothing with nightshades. Based on the way reintroductions are suggested in the autoimmune protocol community though, it looks like sweet peppers and paprika are introduced in stage three and the rest of them in stage four. 

Elemental Diet Day Two

After day one I slept great but woke up with a massive headache so I think maybe dehydration and/or detoxification is at play here. I also have a good coating of white on my tongue which means yeast. There is so much sugar in this formula that it can really do a good job of aggravating a yeast overgrowth. 

 I started my day with 2 scoops in 12-13 ounces of water around 9am and finished off a second round of 2 scoops in 12-13 ounces of water with added MCT oil and the herbal supplements to keep the Candida at bay around 11:30 am. So far so good except I am not sure leaving the house is a good idea since eliminations are quick to come and I feel like I need to be near a bathroom.

The surprising thing for me is that I feel really good. My energy today is pretty good. My mood is positive and I don’t feel like just lying on the couch. I am actually getting some things done while working from home. I had several burning eliminations that were basically water and what looked like yeast through late afternoon. The rest of the day was great. 

My second round of 4 scoops or my lunch started around 1pm with two scoops, no extra MCT oil since eliminations are frequent and really watery with what I presume is a lot of yeast exiting the premises. So two scoops with 12 oz of water at 1pm and the second two scoops finished at 4:30 pm with a round of burning elimination loaded with possible yeast and nothing else. I am having a desire for a sandwich for some odd reason but no cravings for anything at all. This formula keeps me feeling pretty…. I don’t want to say satisfied but I don’t feel the need for anything else. I don’t really even miss chewing all that much. That is so weird. I have quite an empty feeling in my gut probably because it is empty and I was out in 84º weather this evening for about an hour and it took about the full hour for my feet to warm up. It felt good to be out in the sun. 

I finished the night off on the couch with 2 more scoops at about 7:45 and then didn’t finish the last two scoops because I just wasn’t hungry and I am getting really sick of drinking the formula and even more tired of the taste. My energy was still good, I had laid on the couch to watch some tv with my daughter. We went to bed around 11:30. I read for a little and went right to sleep and slept through the night. I woke up around 6:30 feeling pretty good. 

Today I did not feel hungry once. I experienced a bit of shakiness from low blood sugar only once but that was because I didn’t have scoops 5 and 6 until late in the afternoon when I should have been having scoops 7 and 8. I had zero food cravings all day long. My energy was level and good. I felt pretty clear headed and was in a really good mood. There was no negative track of thoughts playing in my head which is quite normal. The other nice thing, for me at least, was I didn’t think about food or cooking or what to eat. That was great. Not longing for a certain food was really nice too. I just didn’t think much about it. 

Read about my first day on the Elemental Diet here. 

Let's talk about this diet. What are your thoughts? Do you have any questions?

How do you get rid of Candida?

Are Christmas Cookies Your Gateway Drug?

The other day I heard a radio show host say that she was never doing a cookie exchange again.  She said she had too many cookies and they were just a gateway drug for her. One led to another.  This time of year we tend to throw caution to the wind and indulge in the sweets which can make us crave more and more and more. 

Christmas cookies or the sugar in them, particularly, are definitely my gateway drug.  I so loved hearing someone on the radio say that because its exactly how I feel. I end up walking around the house after eating some sugar, looking for a fix like an addict. I am opening cupboards and standing there, staring at the lack of treats in my house. There is nothing there for me to get my fix. 

What if that fix you need is less about willpower and more about a beast within you that is causing you to crave it. That beast is affecting your mood and even your overall health. This beast has a name. It is called Candida Albicans. 

Candida is a pathogenic or opportunistic yeast that is quite common and can overgrow in the intestines. We all have candida albicans within our gut. That is not the problem. The problem is when it overgrows. When other “normal” bacteria are killed off by antibiotics, this yeast can rapidly increase and create an imbalance with the beneficial bacteria within our gut. This can cause problems with the skin in the form of rashes or even yeast infections. 

Long term infestation of candida in anyone with a weakened or compromised immune system as in the case of someone with an autoimmune disease can result in an overgrowth of the yeast. It can then morph in to a form of fungus and grow roots that set up shop in your intestinal tract.  When candida sets up shop like this within the body it gets to work making all kinds of toxic byproducts, some as toxic as nail polish remover, to be absorbed in to the blood stream. Now, the body naturally makes toxins through metabolic processes which the liver cleans up so they can be eliminated. The liver naturally has a ton of work to do for you each day so candida calls for overtime and sometimes the liver just can’t keep up. If your liver can’t keep up your body will create antibodies to the Candida creating system wide problems and you start to see symptoms like described below.

In addition to the liver playing a huge role in processing the toxins that candida creates, your spleen gets involved if you have intestinal permeability. The spleens job is to get rid of pathogens, viruses and bacteria, things that make us sick. It is now having to work extra hard too.  

 

What are the symptoms of Candida overgrowth?

  • recurrent skin fungus infections or nail problems

  • headaches, brain fog, fatigue

  • cystitis or prostatitis

  • mood swings, depression or confusion

  • PMS

  • recurrent herpes

  • joint pain

  • intense cravings for sweets, bread or alcohol

  • indigestion or reactions/sensitivities to foods

 

Of course, Candida overgrowth is more common in women than men and can affect our hormone balance which can lead to abnormal and painful periods. If you have had a c-section, both baby and mother are at risk for it. These cravings for sweets can be driven by the yeast because that is what they feed off of. 

How do you know if you are likely to have a Candida overgrowth?

 

The following are factors that play a role in Candida overgrowing in the body: 

 

  • frequent long term use of antibiotics

  • being on the birth control pill

  • too much alcohol or caffeine

  • recurrent yeast infections or prostate problems

  • regular use of drugs containing cortisone

  • chronic stress, chronic fatigue

  • sensitivity and or exposure to molds, damp places or certain smells

  • depression, mood swings or confusion

  • intense sugar cravings that feel bigger than you

  • recurrent ringworm, athletes foot, jock itch or nail problems

Untreated candida can take over in the gut creating inflammation throughout the body. These cravings listed are sometimes totally out of our control because something inside us is wanting those things to stay alive and grow. This overgrowth creates system wide inflammation which is why see the symptoms and factors that play a role in the overgrowth. Our bodies are innately intelligent with all the mechanisms needed to keep us healthy but sometimes whether through diet and lifestyle or necessary medical treatment we knock things out of balance. This is when the pathogens like candida can take that opportunity to thrive. 

It is crucial to create the proper balance of bacteria within the small intestine and the colon for good health. Without it, we are not digesting our food well and we are not making B vitamins or vitamin K. The intestinal bacteria play a role in the final stages of digesting protein and milk products. Without this healthy balance of bacteria we end up with poor digestion, an unhealthy or damaged gut lining (where nutrients get absorbed) and possibility for food allergies to develop. Your energy levels drop, your metabolism isn’t working like it should, your thyroid slows down and you end up with adrenal fatigue. You have to look at the whole picture. When one thing is out of whack within us, it affects the whole of us. 

Bacteria is the oldest living organism at around 10 trillion years old which is very much a part of us. They play a crucial role in keeping our immune system working properly so we can thrive. The U.S. went through a “kill all bacteria” phase with the use of bacteria killing soaps and hand sanitizer and bleaching surfaces in schools. Women and doctors are scheduling c-sections for convenience. At some point bottle feeding our children was promoted heavily so there is a whole generation of kids who were not breastfed. Vaginal births and breastfeeding is where babies get to build their immune system. 

How do you treat candida overgrowth?

1. Don’t allow them to thrive and multiply.

Candida needs sugar to thrive. It feeds off of fermentation. Cancer feeds on the fermentation of sugar as well. Clearing up an issue like candida can also reduce your risk of cancer. So the first thing you need to do is not to feed it any sugar.  Candida live on mostly simple sugars like processed refined foods, yeasts and fermented foods, fruits, juices, dried fruit, alcohol, cheese, vinegar, breads or other yeasted or fermented products like soy sauce. 

What you can include in your diet is vegetables, meat, fish, soaked and sprouted whole grains, nuts, seeds and the occasional egg. Yogurt with beneficial bacteria if you tolerate dairy products would be fine too with homemade being best of course so you can control the ingredients. You need to make sure you are absolutely not eating any sugar at all. You are also going to have to avoid anything that is fermented. 

2. Supplement with anti-fungals and address the whole body. 

You will want to heal your gut and repopulate it with good bacteria. You need to make sure you are making adequate stomach acid and that all of your detoxification pathways are working properly with elimination being one of them. 

If you have candida, you are inflamed. Your gut is inflamed too. When then gut is inflamed you may not digest your food well allowing it to ferment and feed the yeast. You may need to supplement with stomach acid (Betaine HCl) or digestive enzymes. 

Nystatin is often prescribed by doctors and it will kill the yeast. The problem with Nystatin is that the yeast or bacteria can become resistant to it, so you can’t just take a prescription and think you are going to get rid of it. The good thing about it though is that your body doesn’t absorb nystatin, it just goes in there and kills off the yeast.  

While the yeast are being killed off you can run in to symptoms of die off such as headache, fatigue, flu like symptoms or worsening of already existing symptoms. Enemas can be very helpful every few days or a colonic every couple of weeks. 

Natural remedies that help to kill yeast or keep it from growing are caprylic acid, fresh garlic, or extract of garlic, oregano oil and herbs like pau d’arco or taheebo. You can also use things like food grade Diatomaceous Earth which will go in there and act like little razor blades to the candida and won’t harm the body at all. You can follow that up with bentonite clay and drink lots of water and both soluble and insoluble fibers so you can get all the toxins out of the body. 

3. Restore or repopulate the gut. 

Here we are restoring the good bacteria in the gut. Lactobacillus Acidophilus is the main bacteria used to repopulate the colon but it is wise to mix up the kind or strains of bacteria you use to ensure good gut health. Acidophilus DDS-1 has been shown to have an anti-biotic effect on pathogens in the colon and inhibit the growth of candida albicans and helps restore the bacteria that produce B vitamins. DDS-1 and other bacteria are beneficial in other ways too such as having an anti-viral effect helping reduce the severity and incidence of cold sores, canker sores and herpes outbreaks. 

When you have an overgrowth of yeast, they take nutrients from you, ferment the foods you have eating and cause gas and bloating. Adding probiotics will help to reduce these symptoms. 

One thing you have to remember is that digestion is one of the main foundations of our health. It that is not working properly, nothing else is going to work either. Taking supplemental digestive support will allow for the proper breakdown of foods to amino acids, essential fatty acids and you will be able to absorb and assimilate the minerals and vitamins within your food. This will aid the healing process allowing you to feel your very best and become quite clear about your health. 

Getting rid of candida takes patience, time and diligence. The protocol can last several months depending on how severe your candida is. In the end you will find you have more energy, bloating will disappear and you will feel so very good. 

Five Things I Learned on the Autoimmune Protocol

Deciding to take on the Autoimmune Protocol was not easy for me. Here I am eleven months in to it though and it feels much like it did after having been gluten free for at least as long. It is sort of just second nature for me now. I have reintroduced most foods like green and red peppers, tomatoes, pepper and other spices, eggs and some grains like rice and corn (always organic, and only occasionally), legumes, peas and some seeds (only occasionally). I have not reintroduced any nuts because they had started to create an immediate reaction on my tongue and throat. 

I reintroduced eggs in the form of carob brownies. That was a big mistake. I should have reintroduced them the way suggested in all the autoimmune books out there where you take a small amount, wait 15 minutes then add a little more. I just don’t usually have the patience or the time to do such a thing so I just go with the flow. I made these brownies from a recipe I had found via google and ate half the pan in 12 hours. It was a small pan and only two eggs were in the whole recipe so I thought it would be fine. Nope. It was not. I found myself extremely irritable and really irate over little things the next day (like in the 13th and 14th hours of consuming these brownies). I flipped out on my kids over a power cord that had gone missing. I couldn’t stand to be with myself. It is hard enough to be a parent and then you throw in all this autoimmune stuff on top of it. Man, I feel sorry for my kids. So, knowing that the eggs were the only new ingredient that I had not eaten in 8 months means that they are more than likely a forever no food for me. A couple weeks later I ate some gluten free crackers with hummus. Turns out they had egg yolks in them (no wonder they were so good) which I realized after eating them when I read the package. Same thing happened again except not as intense. 

I have not yet reintroduced eggplant mostly because I only eat it once or twice a year in a Paleo lasagna dish from the Everyday Paleo Italian Cuisine cookbook by Sarah Fragoso.

I have learned a lot about myself these last eleven months. I have a strained relationship with food that goes back many many years. Doing this elimination diet has taught me a lot about that relationship and also: 

I needed to eat more vegetables and particularly greens. 

I am one of those people who uses carbohydrates for energy way better than fat. I took an Organic Acids Test with a friend who is studying with Dan Kalish and she discovered my cells can’t convert fat and protein to energy as well as they can carbohydrates. This, combined with my Hashimoto’s means I should be eating way more quality carbohydrates than I was. If I am being honest with you, most of my diet consisted of proteins, fat and sweet potatoes with a vegetable in the evenings at dinner. This here speaks volumes to my relationship with food. I know better for goodness sake, I am a Nutritional Therapist. More than half my plate at each meal, including breakfast is veggies which has helped me feel so much better, especially when it comes to the energy I am feeling. 

2. I need to practice better self care. 

I had gotten pretty good at allowing myself to sleep in when I didn't’ sleep well the night before. I didn’t worry too much about the laundry piling up and not getting folded for weeks.I let myself be okay with that or at least I tried. If I was too tired after cooking a meal or batch cooking for a few days worth of food, I just let the kitchen be dirty. I left the dishes unwashed until the next morning when I knew I would have enough energy to clean up. Sometimes my husband would take care of it if he was home. That would always be an extra bonus. I worked really hard on not feeling like a failed wife and mother if the house was a pit. I knew I had a lot on my plate and still do with three kids, a husband who travels for his job, owning my own business and all the other stuff that comes with life. What I wasn’t good at was forgiveness. Forgiving my body for being in dis-ease. Forgiving myself for getting my body to the point of dis-ease. I needed to work on just letting go. On not taking shit so personally all the time. I had to let go of wanting to control all the outcomes. Of wanting to control how my body was behaving. Letting go of my kids not being little people anymore but kids who need to grow themselves and make their own decisions and their own mistakes. I had to work on letting go of all the stuff my husband did or said that irritated me. I had to learn to respond to things, life, better. I have had to work on not sweating the small stuff. I am a work in progress. I am okay with that most days. I have started to meditate more and that has been so helpful. 

3. I need to forge and nurture friendship. 

I am an introvert. I am also a homebody. I don’t love crowded places all that much. My close friendships are few and far between with my best girlfriend living 4000 miles away. This makes it a little hard to go out for coffee (or tea for AIP) on a whim. She did just come visit me though so we are both a bit recharged for the time being. My therapist tells me that it is important for me to work on relationships so that I can remain “recharged”. 

I changed my diet six years ago. I started out being just gluten free, then dairy free, then more Paleo except I ate a ton of organic corn chips…. These changes brought about changes in relationships too. My parents quit inviting us over for dinner. My friends thought I was on some freakish health kick. They probably thought, “oh boy, here we go again..”. I lost some friends. They quit asking me to go out for girls night. Some other things happened too that broke up my core group of friends that had nothing to do with me and so I was really starting over in the friendship department and after I started looking after my health and going to school for nutrition, I just didn’t work to keep those relationships good. I found new friends who thought more like me when it came to health and wellness. I have to work to keep and maintain those friends which I am never really super good at so here is to changing that about myself! Growing and nurturing these friendships so they are stronger will be key to maintaining some sort of wellness. Community is important for everyone but most especially when you are working on getting well again. 

4. I need to learn balance. 

Being so restrictive with a diet like the autoimmune protocol can lead you down a path to disordered eating. You have to be able to find a happy medium. I found myself worrying about every little thing I ate. I stressed out over how I was going to do this or that when i could only eat these few things. First of all, I had to look at this from a whole different perspective. There really is a lot of foods you can have on the autoimmune protocol. A lot of vegetables. A lot of starches. A lot of fish. A lot of offal. I don’t like fish, seafood or organs and have no plans in the immediate future to make any of them a regular part of my diet. I know it is key to healing on AIP. I am not there. I don't’ tell my clients they have to eat it but that they should. I also tell them I don’t eat it. 

I have not had a health relationship with food. I was/am addicted to sugar. I was/am a snacker. I like junk food. I still snack and eat some junk only now junk food consits of sweet potato chips or plantain chips. I maybe snack too often still but usually it is when i am stressed or when I have not eaten enough and am still hungry. What I am working on is not feeling bad or guilty about eating something. The stress of that just makes healing take longer because your cortisol and adrenal glands get involved in stress and they contribute to my already screwed up system. We are all works in progress, right. Strive for progress, not perfection. 

The other day I went out for lunch with a colleague and friend. We ate at a really high quality restaurant that sources locally when possible. I ordered a chicken curry dish. It had peppers and rice and I ate it full well knowing that I may have some issue later but I didn’t stress about it. I enjoyed it rather than stress about what was on the menu. Sometimes I found myself in a restaurant, usually with family, where my choices were few. I look back now and see that sometimes I took it personally that there were few items on the menu for me to eat. Now I see how ridiculous that is but I am pretty sure I am not alone in that thought process. Not taking it personally any more but that doesn’t mean I don't’ get a little frustrated when the menu sucks. 

5. I will not and cannot identify as being sick or having an illness. 

I do not want to let my autoimmune diseases get in my way of living. I don’t want them to take over my life so I don’t let them have top billing. I am me first. I am a mother, a wife and a business owner. I am a Nutritional Therapist. I am living with Hashimoto’s and Psoriasis but they do not own me. They do not take over my life. Sometimes they remind me to slow down. To eat a little better and to relax but they will not be me. 

Does Being on The Autoimmune Protocol Suck?

Autoimmune disease comes in all different forms. I have been on the autoimmune protocol for about 11 months.  I spent a whole year before going on it contemplating whether or not I should do it.

It is daunting. Overwhelming. A. Lot. Of. Work. All that cooking. I got used to it. 

I had questions. What will I be able to eat? Will I be able to go out to eat? Will I be able to have any fun? What will a social situation look like? I adapted. 

I have had such a love for food my whole life. It was my friend when there was no one else. It was love. It was comfort. It was my everything. It was the way I showed love or that I cared about someone. I cooked for them. I baked. I loved to bake. Bread, cake, cookies, brownies, muffins, more bread, more cake. What my kids didn’t eat I did. I love sweet things. I love chocolate. I loved sugar. None of this is allowed on the autoimmune protocol. So, you bet, I took a long damn time to decide to do this knowing what I would have to further cut from my diet. We can be positive and say, “Look at all the good stuff you CAN have.” Well. You can have a lot of stuff. Lots of vegetables. Veggies up the wazoo. You can have beef heart! And Liver! Yum! Do you hear the sarcasm? When 39 years of your life is consuming the Standard American Diet (SAD), this feels like kind of a big deal. Especially if you have emotional ties to food. 

I know I am supposed to be eating those nutrient dense offal things. I am not because I can’t get past the idea of what it is. The texture even. Gah! No thanks. 

When I did this. I was all in with what needed to be restricted. But I was not adding in any offal. So I didn’t and you know what? I still felt really good. My thyroid numbers got better. Then, as I started to feel better I added some foods back in. Not in the “proper” way but in a way that worked for me which was like this: You put pepper on that meat? Okay. Let’s see if I have a reaction to it…. No reaction. Okay. Pepper seems to work.  

One day in August I made plantain brownies with carob. The recipe called for 2 eggs. I ate half the pan in about 12 hours and had a major reaction but it wasn’t how I expected. Not even 12 hours in to eating those brownies did I become so irritable that I could not even stand myself. I couldn’t believe it. I was raging. My poor kids. So, no eggs for me. I reinforced that idea when I mistakenly ate some gluten free crackers that had egg yolks (no wonder they were so good) as a snack before bed and the next day became increasingly irritable. That really bums me out. I liked eggs. I know that I dot’ want to live life in a state of constant rage though so I am willing to cut them out. I am not happy about it. Don’t get me wrong. I am actually a little pissed. I have a pity party every so often and do the whole “why me?” thing but then I let it go. The more I do that the worse it gets. 

Now it is 11 months in and I have let some things slip. I have a vegan gluten free bread every so often and some Mary’s Gone Crackers crackers on occasion. They don’t seem to wreck my digestion and if I don’t eat them every day it seems to be fine. 

I have decided that if I am so restrictive with my diet, I am unhappy. I do my very best most of the time and on occasion I do enjoy something off the protocol and I don’t feel bad for it. I still always eat gluten free but occasionally have some dairy. Dairy and I don’t get along so if I have it, it is usually just a tiny bit. Like a lick of ice cream or a dab of butter. I definitely feel better when I stick closer to the protocol. I have not reintroduced peppers or eggplant but have done well with some of the nightshade spices like chili powder. I am not so sure on tomatoes though. I have to do a "real" reintro to know for sure. That would mean just eating tomato instead of adding tomato in to a recipe and wondering if that is what has caused the issue. I'm not very diligent about doing a proper reintro of a food. I let life get in the way. 

The real killer for me is sugar. I am addicted and I have intense cravings which are related to a yeast overgrowth which I am working on killing off. Too much sugar has resulted in me having to deal with psoriasis and this last go round with it gave me two new patches to deal with. Needless to say I got really mad when these popped up. I first got mad at myself for eating stuff I know is bad for me and then I got mad that I just can’t be normal. That is the most frustrating part for me. I just want to be like every one else sometimes and I can’t. When I look back on my life though it seems like I never have been able to be like every one else. When I try to be I find Idon’t feel like myself. So I have come to realize that my path is to take the road less traveled and see what I find. For me that is this new life of stress management, sleeping when I need to and eating so that I don’t continue to stay sick. Being well means different things for different people and my mission is to help you figure out what well means for you. 

What do you do that makes you feel good?

The Importance of Sleep in Chronic Illness

I have been having lots of trouble sleeping over the last couple of months due to a change in my thyroid medication. It has been so frustrating for me but also for my entire family. You know the old saying, “If Mom isn’t happy, then no one is happy”. That could not have been more true for me over the last couple of months. One can only go so long without sleep. I was averaging two nights a week of only about 4 hours of sleep a night. Not enough for anyone to function properly on, that’s for sure! I become irrational and downright awful to be around when I don’t get enough sleep and it takes me a couple days to recover from a night like that. Once I am starting to recover it would happen all over again. It has been a never ending cycle of misery for everyone. 

I have slept well the last week or so and really feel like a totally different person. I attribute this feeling to a few things. First, I was sleeping through the night, duh. Second, I started the Autoimmune Protocol about 6 weeks ago and last, I went on a sugar detox with my RESTART class so I have not had any sugar for the last two weeks (only a green banana, half a grapefruit or a green apple for fruit each day). So I have been sleeping really good for the last week. I am so grateful. 

Since I was having issues with my sleep and I know lots of people with Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s also have problems sleeping I thought I would dive in to the subject for you. 

Most people are not sleeping enough. That includes everyone, not just those of us with thyroid problems. The average amount a person sleeps per night has gone down around 2 hours from 50 years ago. 

Adequate sleep is imperative to avoid chronic illness. It is more important than your diet, exercise and stress. Sleep also helps you heal when you are sick. There are studies to show the role sleep plays in healing from breast cancer- you need to sleep when fighting such an illness. 

While you are sleeping, your body, including your brain, is detoxifying. While you sleep, your brain cells get smaller to increase the space between them so the toxins can easily be flushed in to the blood and filtered through the liver and kidneys. If you are not sleeping long enough or deep enough this waste can build up effecting your brain health and function. 

You might remember from science class the five stages of sleep that go in a cycle. We start at stage one when we first fall asleep and also when you can wake up really easily. You then move on the stage two which is a deeper sleep where your brainwaves slow down. Next you fall in to deep sleep with slower brain waves. Stage four is similar to stage three but has only slow brain waves. Stages three and four are the hardest to wake someone up in. Lastly, you have REM sleep and your brain waves get faster, almost as if you were awake. This is when you are dreaming. This cycle continues through the night. 

How do you ensure a good nights sleep?

Listen to your body. Your brain has a clock (circadian clock) which controls hormones in your body that tell you it’s time for you to go to bed. Those electronics and tv shows you have on while its dark out mess with those hormones that tell you it’s time to go to bed. It is time to get in tune to your body. 

How much sleep do you need if you have an autoimmune disease?

Probably more than you think. The average adult needs seven to nine hours per night. If you have an autoimmune disease like Hashimoto’s you may need nine or ten. I have been getting seven to eight hours and feeling pretty good although, too many days of that I am dragging. I have always needed at least 8 hours of sleep. With chronic illness, it is probably more like nine or ten. I don’t make for a good late night date. That’s for sure. 

How do you know if you are not getting enough sleep?

  • you need to set an alarm to get up in the morning
  • you may have to force yourself to get up after the alarm goes off
  • you sleep in on the weekends or when you get a chance
  • you get less than 7 hours of sleep a couple times per week.

If you are getting a half hour less each night than your body needs, it can affect your weight and your metabolism. 

Not getting enough sleep affects your cravings, insulin resistance, mood and your overall health.  It affects your ability to think clearly, remember things, make good decisions or any decisions, and eat more among other things. 

The biggest issue for Hashimoto’s sufferers is how lack of sleep screws up your immune system and can make things worse. That could mean your antibodies remain high or get higher rather than reducing when your diet and lifestyle are otherwise perfect. That is how important it is that you get to sleep. 

Your body also cannot repair itself like it needs to when you are not getting enough sleep. Tissue repair happens during sleep and your regulatory T cells (cells that help regulate your immune system and fight off autoimmune disease) can work on keeping you healthy. If you are not getting enough sleep, you don’t have enough of these cells to keep autoimmune disease in check. 

If you have an autoimmune disease, you need to make sleep a priority. 

  • Sleep in a dark, cool room (65 degrees is ideal)
  • Use a white noise machine
  • Get a alarm clock that wakes you with light
  • Try sleeping on your back with your head and knees supported
  • Wear blue blocking glasses when the sun goes down 
  • Re-evaluate how much time you spend on social media at night
  • Do something relaxing before bed rather than watch tv such as talking to someone at home, read a book, take a bath
  • Develop a nighttime routine made for rest and relaxation
  • Go to bed early and wake up early. This is ideal. 
  • If you are doing everything right and you still can’t sleep, you may want to re evaluate what you are doing.  

Take a look at your diet. Are you eating enough? Having low blood sugar in the middle of the night will play a role in your waking up and not being able to fall back asleep. 

How is the stress in your life? If you are like me, you are stressed out because you are not sleeping enough! Stress also screws with your immune system so it is imperative to manage it which is a whole other blog post. 

  • Are you exercising at all?  It will help you sleep better. Get out and go for a walk at the very least. 
  • Meditate. Listen to Episode 9 of my Real World Paleo Podcast to learn about how to meditate. 
  • Cut the caffeine out for a few weeks to see if that helps
  • Make sure you are getting adequate amounts of protein, fat and whole food carbohydrates by eating real whole foods and cut out the processed foods. 

I hope you are all sleeping well. Working with me, we can discover what you need to do to get the best nights sleep you can. Fill out the contact form on my website and I will contact you within a day or two about what we can do together. 

Sleep well. 

In Health, 

Stephanie