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. 

Five Benefits of Eating Locally for Your Body and the Earth

Eating locally is not a new concept but has gained popularity in the last five years or so. We used to eat locally- it is just how we used to do things. We ate at home, around the table, with our family. We ate what we grew in our garden and on our land. 

Today eating local and sustainable is becoming a movement of sorts.

  1. Eating from locally grown food sources often means food has more flavor and is more nutrient dense. Along with nutrients, flavor peaks at harvest. When food is ripened in the field it has more flavor and better texture. It also doesn’t have to be treated with preservatives to keep it from spoiling. Nutrient loss begins the moment food is harvested. Broccoli begins to lose its cancer fighting properties within 24 hours of being picked. Much of foods medicinal properties were lost when we stopped eating locally. When your produce is picked at peak ripeness vs. being picked early and shipped across the country, you benefit from getting your food sooner. 
  2. Eating locally means eating seasonally too. Doing this adds variety to your diet because you eat what is available.  Processed foods make up 70% of the average Americans Diet. The world has over 50,000 edible plants and 3 of those (corn, rice and wheat) make up 60% of the worlds consumption. Building a meal around foods just harvested connects us to the calendar and to each other We are reminded of simple things like fresh watermelon at the end of summer or slicing a fresh juicy tomato. 
  3. When you buy from local farmers you are supporting the local economy. Large scale farms only receive $.20 for every $1.00 you spend. Local farmers receive 100% of the value of their product which they can reinvest in the local economy.  It is often cheaper for you to purchase from your local farmer especially when you consider you are getting a more nutrient dense product. 
  4. You support a cleaner environment. By keeping farms in your community you support green space in the community. Commercial or factory farms use harsh chemicals that damage the microbiome of the soil and depletes nutrients that would otherwise go into your food.  For example, almost everyone is deficient in magnesium because most of the soil is deficient in it as well. Local farms often practice sustainability and care for the land they use so it remains healthy.  They often use little to no chemicals on their crops, they compost, have a smaller carbon footprint and use little to no packaging.  Scientific studies have proven the nutrient density of produce to be higher when grown on land using sustainable practices. Industrial or factory farming pollutes the air, our surface groundwater and the communities in which they reside. Factory farms also degrade the quality of the soil. Today, because of the way we farm the topsoil is only about 8 inches deep when it used to be around 18 inches deep. For every bushel of corn harvested we lose two bushels of topsoil.  Confined farm animals generate more than 450 million tons of waste per year which is 3 times the amount that humans generate. The anti-biotics given to factory farmed animals (factory farms are the number one consumer of anti biotics) enter the environment through the ground water and through the meat of the animals as well. The manure from the factory farms causes high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen to go in to the water supply, hurting aquatic life. 
  5. You promote a safer food supply. The average commute for produce in the grocery store is 1500 miles before it reaches your plate. Buying fresh from the store often means it is harvested before it is at its nutritional peak (meaning before it is ready). The more steps between you and your food source, the greater chance of some kind of contamination happening.  Buying from a local farmer means you get to know who is growing your food. You can ask them questions about their practices as well. Usually they are happy to talk with you. 

Local does not always equal sustainability. There is no regulation in using the term local. Dont’ be afraid to ask about the farms production practices. Most family farmers will gladly tell you what they do. Check out this website or this website for more information on eating locally.  We ate at a restaurant tonight that sources all of their food locally when possible. I had a strawberry salad with greens grown in the restaurants back yard and locally grown strawberries. What a treat! Tell me in the comments below what are your favorite locally grown foods?

In Health, 

Stephanie

 

20 Ways to Tell Your Blood Sugar Needs Balancing

The regulation of our blood sugar is so important to our adrenal health. The two things really go hand in hand. If blood sugar regulation is not working well then you cannot achieve health. It is THAT important. Blood sugar dysregulation leads to oxidative stress. Basically what this means is that there is more free radical damage in our bodies because we don’t have enough anti oxidants to neutralize the free radicals created in our body. It also leads to something called glycation which is when proteins in your body become sugared over and can’t communicate with other cells in your body. Blood sugar dysregulation also messes with the energy output in your cells. Your cells create energy with glucose which is a form of sugar. Our body is continually monitoring the levels of glucose in our bloodstream to make sure it stays balanced. Having too much or too little triggers hormones to be released to keep the glucose levels normal.  We were designed to use unrefined carbohydrates as well as quality fats and proteins as our best sources of fuel. We are not designed to run on carbohydrates alone, especially refined and processed ones. 

 

So how do you know if you have some issues with blood sugar imbalance?

  1. You crave sweets
  2. You wake up soon after falling asleep and have a hard time getting back to sleep
  3. You have binge type eating patterns
  4. You have an appetite that won’t quit
  5. You get irritable, jittery or hangry
  6. You get headaches that temporarily feel better after eating
  7. You crave coffee or sugar in the afternoon
  8. You are sleepy in the afternoon
  9. You get shaky if you miss a meal or eat later than normal
  10. You have a family history of diabetes
  11. You are thirsty a lot
  12. You have to pee a lot
  13. You crave bread, pasta or other refined grains
  14. You have poor concentration
  15. You have night sweats
  16. You struggle to lose weight even though you are eating a low fat diet
  17. You are frequently tired
  18. You get a boost of energy from eating
  19. You have anxiety or panic attacks
  20. You have spikes and dips in your energy levels throughout the day

If any one of these describes you then you are most certainly assured to have some issues with your blood sugar and probably your adrenals too. You see, the main organs involved in your blood sugar regulation are the Pancreas, the Liver and the Adrenal Glands. They each have a very important role in blood sugar. If they are constantly busy managing your blood sugar because you ate too many cookies or a huge bowl of ice cream or a box of crackers at work then they can’t do all the other things they need to do in a day, in a moment to keep you alive. 

Refined sugar is a recent invention compared to how long man has been around. We only have one hormone that lowers blood sugar and that is insulin. It wasn’t supposed to have the job of lowering blood sugar but to bring glucose to the cells.  The hormones cortisol, epinephrine (or adrenaline) and glucagon are all there to raise our blood sugar when needed.  It used to be that is what we needed- to raise blood sugar so that our brain, nerves and red blood cells got the glucose they needed. Today, we overload our bodies with sugar at around 200 pounds per person per year. 

So why do we love it so much?

Well frankly, sugar makes us feel good. It literally raises your endorphins but it also crashes and makes you feel worse after a short time. This is called the blood sugar roller coaster. It is addictive. So addictive in fact that in one study, mice chose sugar over cocaine. 

Our taste buds love it but our bodies do not. It is really hard on your body to be managing your blood sugar day in and day out. Your pancreas releases the hormone insulin which is just supposed to transport glucose to your cells from your blood so that it can be used for energy. When you overwhelm your body with sugar the pancreas will eventually wear out which leads to things like insulin resistance and then type II diabetes. Your adrenal glands will be exhausted from having to deal with managing blood sugar on top of all the other stressors in your life such as your emotional stressors, not sleeping or your every day frustrating commute to work. It will also depress your immune system. Your liver can end up having a hard time converting stored glucose back in to glucose for energy and you can end up with a fatty liver. 

You can develop something called insulin resistance where your cells decide they have had enough of insulin knocking at their door to deliver them some glucose and they just don’t answer the door anymore. This is when your blood sugar levels will be higher on a blood test.  You could have insulin resistance if you are tired all the time, can’t lose weight, you have joint problems, are depressed, have thyroid or fertility issues. 

Insulin resistance has a huge impact on female hormone issues like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, irregular periods and PMS. 

Consuming large amounts of sugar can mean you are what we call a sugar burner. This means your body is able to burn sugar or glucose rather than fat for energy. This here is key to weight loss for many people and if you have weight gain due to hypothyroidsim or Hashimoto’s, converting from a sugar burner to a fat burner can be ultra helpful in dropping some of those pesky pounds. Other signs you are a sugar burner are: 

  •     you are less satisfied after eating
  •     you are hungry all the time
  •     you can’t use fat for energy
  •     you crave carbohydrates and you eat them 

Reducing the amount of sugar you consume on a daily basis can turn this around and you can teach your body how to burn fat for energy.  All that extra sugar you have consumed in a day that your cells can’t use gets stored as fat. You can teach your body how to use it. 

Let’s talk more about how the adrenal glands and your adrenal health is affected by blood sugar imbalances. 

If you have Hashimoto’s you may not tolerate carbohydrates as well as other folks. Your blood sugar can rise quickly after eating carbs which can lead to too much insulin being released which can end up causing low blood sugar and make you feel anxious, nervous and tired. This also stresses your adrenal glands because cortisol is released when your adrenals are working overtime. Every time your blood sugar gets low epinephrine is released to help restore it to normal levels.  This can also mess with your immune system. 

Here are some general symptoms of low blood sugar: 

  •     brain fog
  •     blurred vision
  •     hard time sleeping
  •     heart palpitations
  •     fatigue
  •     dizziness
  •     headaches
  •     depression
  •     irritability
  •     cravings for sugar
  •     hunger

How do you avoid blood sugar imbalances?

Look at your diet. Look at your lifestyle. 

Do you eat a large amount of refined carbohydrates in the form of breads or cereals for breakfast? Do you skip breakfast? Do you eat things like pasta salad or a sandwich for lunch? Do you eat all the “good for you” yogurt you see in the grocery store? Have a look at the sugar content of your standard grocery store yogurt. It is pretty high. 

Are you running all the time with no time for rest and relaxation? 

 

Here are some generally good ideas for balancing your blood sugar:

  1. Have some protein at every meal (see this post for learning all about protein)
  2. When you first start to balance your blood sugar, eating more often is better- try having a snack between breakfast, lunch and dinner. Just something small like a few nuts or a piece of cheese
  3. Don’t have any sugar before bed
  4. Keep your caffeine intake to a minimum (really would be a good idea to take it out of your diet while you balance your blood sugar)
  5. Don’t eat any grains or dairy 
  6. Eat breakfast within an hour of getting up
  7. Avoid all sweeteners including artificial ones (limit your fruits to 1 serving a day at most)
  8. Keep the carbs to a minimum eating only complex carbs
  9. Consume high quality healthy fats

You would want to do this for about two weeks and then slowly add back things like full fat dairy and continuing to limit grains if you tolerate them. If you have Hashimoto’s you will want eliminate gluten containing grains for good. Eventually you may be able to tolerate some other grains once in awhile. I would not recommend switching your glutenful products with gluten free ones. They will react the same in your body as far as blood sugar is concerned.  Staying low carb is not beneficial for everyone. I find I have much more energy when I consume more starchy carbs regularly like sweet potatoes and veggies. I feel my best when consuming a significant amount of veggies daily. If you feel exhausted after awhile of being low carb it is a sign you will do better with more complex carbs in your diet and that is okay. 

You can try this on your own or you can come to me for help. I have a special plan just to convert you from a sugar burner to a fat burner that helps keep your blood sugar balanced which will help in the recovery of your adrenals as well.  Send me an email and we can chat about it!

Thanks so much for reading. I sincerely appreciate your time. Please tell me in the comments what symptoms of imbalanced blood sugar you might have. I look forward to hearing from you. 

In health, 

Stephanie

 

What could you have in common with 27 million Americans?

Thyroid problems affect around 27 million people in the United States. It is possible that you can have problems with your thyroid even if your doctor has tested you and the results came out “normal”.  Your thyroid is your body’s engine and it decides how fast or slow your internal systems work.

When it is doing its job you feel great. When your thyroid decides it’s time to hit the brakes you feel the weight creeping on, no matter how hard you try to keep it off.  You are tired ALL OF THE TIME no matter how much sleep you get. You can’t remember things or think clearly anymore and you think it’s just a part of getting older or busier with life. You’re not able to go to the bathroom regularly possibly and no matter the weather you are always freaking cold.

 

Possible signs your thyroid is off (hypo): 

  • morning headaches that wear off as the day progresses
  • depression
  • sensitive to cold weather
  • poor circulation in your hands and feet
  • muscle cramps
  • easily catch colds or viruses and recovering takes longer
  • your cuts heal slowly
  • you don’t have enough stomach acid affecting digestion
  • your skin itches and is dry
  • you retain water (edema)
  • the outer 1/3 of your eyebrows are either gone or are thinning

You may have one or several of these symptoms all pointing to hypothyroidism and your TSH tested by your doctor can show normal.  The thing with the lab ranges in conventional medicine are that they are based on the labs taken in prior years from sick and healthy patients. So all those people who went in for a thyroid test and had “normal” labs but left their doctors office still feeling like crap and for all those who had slightly elevated TSH levels but not high enough for the doctor to decide to put them on medication, your levels are compared to theirs. 

So here’s the thing, testing just TSH is not enough. I will explain more in a bit but first let’s look at the way things are supposed to work. 

  1. Your thyroid produces T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothryronine)- only about 7% of what is produced is T3. 
  2. Thyroid hormones travel through the blood stream bound to proteins that take them to your cells. 
  3. Once they are dropped off at your cells where they do their work they are called “free”
  4. T3 is the active form of thyroid hormone used by the body
  5. T4 is supposed to be converted in to T3. This mostly happens in the liver but the conversion takes place in other cells like nerve cells and muscle tissue like your heart. 
  6. Your body uses about 60% of the T4 produced. Some of the T4 is changed in to rT3 (reverse T3) making it unusable. Another 20% or so becomes active in the gut by your healthy bacteria. Your thyroid function depends on the healthy bacteria in your gut. 

Here is why TSH is not enough to know if your thyroid is working properly. TSH stands for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. It is a hormone released by your pituitary gland (your brain). This should not be the only test looked at to measure a functioning thyroid.

Let’s look at the possible tests that can measure thyroid function.

  1. TSH as talked about above. 
  2. Total thyroxine (TT4) measures the level bound with proteins and the levels not bound with proteins. This one doesn’t tell you much unless you measure the amount of T3 taken up by the cells or T3 uptake. 
  3. Free Thyroxine Index (FTI) tells you how much thyroid hormone is free or not bound with a protein. 
  4. Free Thyroxine (FT4) measures the amount of active T4 in the blood. This will be low if you are hypothyroid. 
  5. Resin T3 Uptake (T3RU) measures how many proteins are in the blood for binding to the thyroid hormone
  6. Free Triiodothyroxine (FT3) measures what is not bound to proteins and available for use by the cells. 
  7. Reverse T3 (rT3) measures the amount of inactive T3. More T3 becomes inactive when we are facing stressful situations both emotionally and physically. 
  8. Thyroid Binding Globulin (TGB) measure the amount of proteins in our blood bringing thyroid hormones to the cells. 
  9. Thyroid Antibodies (TPO Ab and TGB Ab) will measure whether or not your immune system has produced antibodies against your thyroid indicating Hashimoto’s or Grave’s Disease. 

If you have Hashimoto’s, in addition to the symptoms listed above you may also have the following: 

  • heart palpitations
  • inward trembling
  • increased pulse rate even when sedentary
  • feeling nervous or emotionally stressed
  • insomnia
  • night sweats
  • trouble gaining weight

 

Your inability to stay warm, chronic constipation, irregular periods or weight you can’t get rid of- these are signs from your body that something isn’t right. The systems within your body are speaking to you, maybe even yelling at you. When your thyroid slows down, so does everything else.  It is not all in your head. 

In Hashimoto’s the body attacks and destroys its own thyroid gland. Your immune system is running the show, not your thyroid. It is called Autoimmune Disease. Dr.’s generally don’t test you for it because it doesn’t change how they will care for you. They are going to give you your prescription and monitor the slow decline of your thyroid and adjust your medication accordingly. That is the standard practice. It is what they are taught.

What they are not usually taught is that you can manage your symptoms very well nutritionally because when you have Hashimoto’s you can do things to calm your immunes system the heck down. 

Around one in five people suffer from an autoimmune disease and it is estimated that around 30 million of those are women. The most common autoimmune diseases are thyroid related. That is around 7% or the U.S. population. 

If you suspect you may have Hashimoto’s you can ask your doctor to test your antibodies. If he or she won’t do it, find a doctor who will. It may take some leg work depending on where you live but you can find one. 

The test can show up as negative if your not having a flare up because your immune system can swing. If this happens, ask to have it tested again in a month or two.

Your thyroid can go from over active to under active from week to week or month to month. It can be because of a trigger such as a stressful event or even for no reason at all. Every time thyroid tissue is damaged the hormones stored there are released in to the blood stream causing a flood of hormone which will speed things up making you feel hyperthyroid.

Having this happen along with being gluten intolerant (you probably are), having celiac disease or being diagnosed with pernicious anemia is a sure fire sign you have autoimmunity. 

If you have Hashimoto’s then there is a good chance some of your thyroid has been destroyed so you will probably have to take your medication for the rest of your life. I lived with hyperthyroidism for ten years before being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s so I am one of those people.

Everyone is different so how your body decides to react will not be the same as someone else. 

Most cases of hypothyroidism are also Hashimoto’s cases. The reason for this is not clear but it is clear what you can do to help prevent further flare ups. 

Like I said earlier, there is a good chance you are gluten intolerant. Every time you consume gluten you are causing an immune response in the body.  The gluten molecules are very close in molecular structure to those of the thyroid gland. So close that your immune system has trouble knowing which one is which.

How in the world does this happen?

If you have an Autoimmune disease you have increased intestinal permeability or leaky gut. Around 80% of Americans are genetically susceptible to gluten intolerance where gluten will damage the intestinal tract causing little openings where the undigested gluten can reach the blood stream. Some of us have the ability to repair that damage better than others. If you are one of those who can’t repair the damage as well then you end up with an autoimmune disease. 

When your immune system defines gluten as the enemy, your time with bread is over. Every time you consume anything with gluten in it, your immune system is on high alert. You will be inflamed and your thyroid tissue is attacked. This inflammation can show up in a variety of ways like achy joints, rashes, respiratory issues etc. Again, it is all depending on how your body wants to react. Everyone is different.

Gluten isn’t the only big player in Hashimoto’s but it is a pretty big one. Some other things you will need to look at are: 

  • blood sugar imbalances
  • your stress level- lifestyle is huge for managing this and any autoimmune disease
  • vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • how toxic your environment is- your liver plays a role in converting thyroid hormones which it can’t do if it is over burdened with toxins and sugar
  • whether or not you are on birth control pills or your hormone production in general
  • besides gluten, what does your diet look like
  • are you making enough stomach acid
  • do you take or do you need probiotics

If any one of the above is out of balance you have work to do. Getting these things in balance is key to managing autoimmune disease. 

Managing your blood sugar is important for more than just thyroid function. Most of us have too much sugar in our diets which affect our thyroid and other hormones including those that manage stress such as cortisol. 

Cortisol is a key player in your stress management too. Do you take time for yourself? Do you exercise to manage stress? Do you do yoga or meditate?

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies play a role in how well your body can do the things it needs to do for good health. If you are not digesting your food because of low stomach acid or eating the Standard American Diet you are deficient in not only vitamins and minerals but in nourishment in general. 

We live in a toxic world. Your liver must be the one to clean up all the crap we take in through what we breathe, eat and put on our body. 

Birth control pills create too much estrogen in the body which makes your pituitary (brain) tired and creates too many proteins for your thyroid hormones to bind to. This means you won’t have enough thyroid hormone floating through the blood to do its job. 

Remember that some 20% of thyroid hormone becomes active in the gut in the presence of healthy bacteria there. If your gut flora is out of balance which is the case for many people, then you will have less active hormone to work with. You will also have the possibility of digestive issues of all kinds. 

You may be one of the 27 million Americans with thyroid problems but you don’t have to be one who is suffering through it. Or maybe you know someone who has hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s and they don’t know what to do.

Share this article with someone you care about. There is help out there and there is someone who genuinely cares that can help them.

 

What is Nutrition Part Four- Carbohydrates

Do you really need to eat grains? The great carb debate. 

The final post in my What is Nutrition series is on the ever controversial carbohydrate. Low carb, high carb, no carb, why carbs? That could be a line in a Dr. Seuss book! 

My 9 year old daughter was telling me she was learning all about nutrition from her gym teacher and how frustrated she was about the information she is learning because she knew her truth to be something different. I asked her what he told her class - “Oh Mom” she said, “He said we should eat grains at every meal.” I smiled. “And he said we should stay away from fats and oils and I KNOW that’s not true!”  She didn’t dare say anything- she is not one to draw attention to herself but her and her celiac friend in class knew differently. I told her if she was tested on the information and she wanted to put her truth as her answers that I would support her 100%.  “REALLY? You don’t care if I get all the answers wrong?” Not one bit! She thought I lost my marbles. 

Now, back to carbs!  What are they exactly?

Carbohydrates = Fuel  

They make up about 2% of your body. 

They are found in grains, vegetables, fruits and sugar. They are the preferred fuel of your brain. How easy is it for you to think clearly when it is 2 or 3 pm and you are feeling that mid day slump? All you want to do is nap and you have at least a couple more hours before you can leave work. So you grab a pick me up- probably some kind of cracker or sweet treat to get you through. I would sometimes consume a whole box of shredded wheat crackers or thin wheat crackers (organic of course so it was okay- little did I know). Story of my life for many years. 

Grains are not a necessary component of your diet. You don’t need them to live. You may hear that you need to consume grains because that is where you get your B vitamins from and while it is true that grains are a good source of B vitamins which are important for many processes in the body processed grains aren’t going to give them to you. 

Here’s why. 

Lectins. Lectins are in all of our food but the ones in grains (and legumes) are hard for you to digest and they wreak havoc on the lining of your intestines. They can be a major cause of leaky gut (intestinal permeability) which is thought to be the main cause of autoimmune disease. This is not to say that immediately upon eating grains you would have a leaky gut. The body is pretty amazing at working to fix any damage we cause it. It is the daily consumption of them year after year that eventually causes the body to say “Hey, I have had enough of this. Immune system: ATTACK”

Carbohydrates in general are not bad for you. In fact, carbs do a lot of great things for your body

  • They provide fuel for the brain as stated before
  • They are a quick source of energy for the muscles
  • They regulate the rate at which your body uses fat and protein
  • They are a great source of fiber

There are two kinds of Carbs out there: Simple and Complex (refined and unrefined)

Simple                            

Refined: white sugar, juice, corn syrup

Unrefined: fruit, raw honey, maple syrup

Complex

Refined: processed foods like bread, pasta, white rice, and boxed anything

Unrefined: vegetables, legumes, dried beans, brown rice, properly prepared whole grains

Refined carbs are usually overly processed in a factory while unrefined are most like what nature gives us (there is very little if any processing done). 

In general your ideal consumption of carbs should be 40% or your daily intake in the form of unrefined and mostly complex carbohydrates. 

The problem with grains is that many of you are getting them from those refined and simple sources like the whole grain cereal, bread with more than five ingredients on the label (ideally bread should be water, flour, yeast, some type of sugar and salt), pasta and anything that comes in a box. 

For some people (absolutely no one with autoimmune disease) grains are okay to consume occasionally- they were never meant to be eaten at every single meal. They should, however, be purchased whole, soaked and sprouted or fermented (think sourdough). This process breaks down the lectins and helps the body digest them better. 

Note: when you have any autoimmune condition you are dealing with a whole different deck of cards and should consider an elimination diet before you consume any grains. 

So how do you get enough carbs in your diet if you aren’t eating cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and pasta or rice with dinner?   You can get enough carbs in your diet from vegetables both non starchy and starchy. Keep the starchy carbs to about 15% of your total 40% intake for the day. 

What do you look for when choosing your veggies?

Ideally buying local, organic and seasonally when possible. This ensures that you will get the most nutrients from your choices provided you are digesting your food well. When this is not possible (who wants to wait until summer to buy broccoli?) Your best bet is to buy frozen veggies because they are frozen very soon after picking and their nutrient profile is greater than that of a fresh head of broccoli shipped from California to Nebraska.  I would recommend going to EWG.ORG and getting their latest list of the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen for fruits and veggies.

Putting it all together.

These four “What is Nutrition?” posts are a basic guideline for anyone to follow. 

  • Try to have a balance of 30% proteins, 30% fats and 40% carbs remembering this is a general guideline and you can adjust according to your situation. 
  • Choose variety, choose locally, choose seasonally
  • Make sure you have clean, pure, filtered water to drink
  • Avoid refined and packaged foods
  • Include raw foods in each meal including raw dairy if you can get it and tolerate it (most Hashimoto’s folks won’t tolerate any dairy), sushi, fruits and veggies and even steak tartare
  • Include fermented foods daily like raw sauerkraut
  • Soak, sprout and dehydrate your nuts and seeds (they will digest better, but again, if you are autoimmune- nuts and seeds are not the best choice)
  • Soak, sprout and ferment those grains before consuming them if you tolerate them at all


Beat those carb cravings and start feeling better by working with me. With a six month package you will get twice monthly meetings with me by phone, skype or in person to help you get back on track with your health. 

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In health, 

Stephanie