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?

What I ate for a week on the Autoimmune Protocol

I remember knowing in my gut that taking on AIP was inevitable if I really wanted to feel good. It took me quite a while to come to terms with giving up more foods and not feeling angst over the decision. When you love food, when you were an emotional eater, this can be a real struggle. So in light of that, I thought I would just share what my meals looked like for the past week starting with last Wednesday. 

Wednesday- 

Breakfast: celery root soup and a pork patty with sweet potato hash browns mixed in. 

Lunch: a big salad with turkey (I buy half a turkey breast and roast it and eat it all week long or my kids take some for their lunches), roasted sweet potatoes, olives, plain broccoli slaw (bought at the store, pre shredded), olive oil and balsamic vinegar. 

Dinner: baked pork chops with salt, garlic powder, onion powder and italian seasoning with roasted brussels sprouts, and fennel with bacon and garlic. 

Thursday- 

Breakfast: A protein smoothie (Designs For Health Pure Paleo Protein- technically not AIP), frozen banana and a handful of frozen cherries with coconut milk and Vital Proteins gelatin or collagen

Lunch: Salad with chicken, sweet potatoes, olives, broccoli slaw, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. 

Dinner: Hamburgers, roasted sweet potatoes, sauerkraut, roasted broccoli and bacon

Friday- 

Breakfast: protein smoothie just like the day before. Celery root soup. Pork patty mixed with shredded sweet potatoes. 

Lunch: A great big salad with turkey, olives, leftover veggies from last nights dinner, broccoli slaw, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. 

Dinner: Beef soup. I have an Instant Pot and so I cut up a beef roast like a bread and butter roast or an arm roast in to bite sized chunks. I turned the Instant Pot to sauté, added some coconut oil and sautéed the meat in batches until it was browned. I added chopped carrots, celery and onions and sautéed them a bit as well then added garlic, salt and a bay leaf and chicken broth (water would work too). 

Saturday- 

We were working on getting our house ready for sale so it was a busy day but I planned for it and had some good food ready to eat. 

Breakfast: Bacon and a pork sausage patty with shredded sweet potatoes and a protein smoothie. (I knew I would need the fuel for all the painting we were doing). 

Lunch: Hamburger salad. This is where I make my big salad with the olives, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and the other stuff but I put a burger on top and add sauerkraut to it. 

Dinner: Venison steak bites and Applegate organic 100% grass fed beef hot dogs. I didn’t take enough steak out of the freezer and everyone was starving because of all the work we did so we had steak and an entire package of hot dogs. The best part about this was my girls made dinner (mostly my ten year old who loves to cook). Steak bites are just venison steaks cut in to bite sized chunks and cooked in a cast iron skillet over a medium high heat until they are about medium rare.  The other best part about this dinner was that my daughter said the food tastes so much better when you cook it yourself. LOVE that! 

Sunday-

More work on the house. 

Breakfast: pork patties with shredded sweet potatoes and a smoothie with protein powder and Vital Proteins gelatin. 

Lunch: Another big salad with chicken, olives, broccoli slaw and roasted sweet potatoes. I should mention that the potatoes are usually the white or purple ones, not the orange ones. They roast up nicer and have a less sweet taste in my opinion. 

Dinner: Beef soup and a salad for me. My non AIP family fended for themselves. 

Monday- 

Breakfast: Beef soup

Lunch: I bet you can guess. A big salad. Basic same formula as every other lunch. 

Dinner: My teenage daughter and I had burgers cooked in bacon grease with a side salad and I had sauerkraut on mine. The other two kids go chicken wild rice soup from the co op because I didn’t feel like cooking. 

Tuesday- 

Breakfast: A protein smoothie and two pork patties with shredded sweet potatoes. These meat patties are my new favorite thanks to a friend bringing some over and sharing with me. She got the recipe out of a cookbook that called for chicken but I have a whole pig in my freezer so I have been using a pound of ground pork with one white sweet potato about the same weight and combining the two with salt, garlic and I had some lemon thyme I harvested and dehydrated from my garden so I added that. They are fried in a cast iron skillet and are freaking delicious. I reheat them in a skillet so they crisp up again each day. So good. 

Lunch: Big salad. Aren’t you bored of that? This time though I made beet salad and added that to it with some micro greens (little sprouts of kale and pea shoots). The beet salad is equal parts shredded beets and carrots with sliced dandelion greens. The dressing is olive oil and apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt. 

Dinner: Beef sirloin steak seasoned with salt, cooked carrots and roasted sweet potatoes. 

All delicious and so good for healing. It is not always fun to have to cook everything I eat from scratch but for as good as I feel now, it has been worth it. I feel better and better every day and miss all those foods I didn’t want to give up less and less. 

As you can see from my weeks worth of food that there is not a lot of gourmet dishes being cooked up at my house. I eat a lot of the same things and that is okay. I don’t like fish but that would be an excellent thing for you to add in to your diet. I also have not ventured in to the offal or organ meats that everyone says is so important to getting well. I don’t envision a time when I will be sitting down to beef heart or kidney for dinner. Maybe liver some day with the key word being some day. 

When you are first starting out with this you just have to cook what you have the energy for and go from there. 

Have a question about this weeks worth of food or about how to begin on AIP? Leave it here and I will help you out. 

In Health, 

Stephanie

What is the Cause of Your Thyroid Problems and What do you do About it?

Did you know there can be many causes or should I say triggers for hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s?  

I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism after my second child, a boy, was born. He was born in January 2002 and I went to the doctor in early summer for nerve pain which I thought was from sitting all the time while nursing him. I told my doctor how tired I was and he decided to test my thyroid. My TSH was at 150 when conventional lab normal range is not above around 5.5. So he put me on Levothyroixine. He said it is common for women to get pregnancy induced thyroid problems and that was probably the case for me. That, and my mother all of her siblings have thyroid problems and my grandmother had them too. One of my Aunts and my uncle have Graves Disease. My mom has never been diagnosed but she probably has Hashimoto’s like me.  

It wasn’t until 2010 that I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s by a Naturopathic Doctor. She was also the only one to test my Free T4, free T3, and reverse T3 along with the TPO test to check for autoimmune anti bodies. I switched to NatureThroid a couple of years ago and feel much better because of it. When I don’t manage my stress or diet very well I do pay for it though with irregular sleep patterns and mood swings. Can you relate?

Medication, while needed for some with thyroid problems is not always the answer for everyone. Not everyone needs the hormone replacement therapy. Yes, thyroid meds are hormones. You are replacing the hormone because your body doesn’t make enough of it. Sometimes your thyroid is slowing down because it is trying to tell you something. Maybe you need to slow down perhaps?

So what are the causes or triggers for people with hypothyroidism?

You can be born with thyroid problems like congenital hypothyroidism. Maybe your mother had hypothyroidism or just low thyroid function and it got passed on to you in utero. If you are pregnant and have thyroid problems but are on medication and everything is balanced out then you have no worries. It would be a situation where your thyroid is not working properly and you are untreated while pregnant. 

Your thyroid can go wonky after surgery or radiation treatment (Your thyroid is like a magnet for radiation.) or you could have a problem with your brain (hypothalamus) where it just isn’t communicating right about getting the hormones out in to the body. 

If you are low in iodine there can be low thyroid function. Take caution about adding it to your diet though. If you have Hashimoto’s you want to be careful because it can make your condition worse. Somewhere around 80% of hypothyroid patients also have Hashimoto’s and as much as 60% of those people are not aware. Standard of care in conventional medicine doesn’t change so people are often not tested. You also need to make sure you are getting just enough iodine. Too much or too little can be problematic. 

You can have a hormone imbalance (women would suffer from this more than men). If you don’t have enough estrogen it can really mess things up. 

Your thyroid condition could be triggered by a virus, a parasite, mold, heavy metals,  trauma, chronic stress or even poor diet. 

How do you go about treating your thyroid condition?

First and foremost you want to find a doctor that will listen to you. One that will treat your symptoms and not just your labs. One that will order more than a TSH test for you. If you can find one that will help you figure out what the cause of your hypothyroidism is that is really an ideal situation. You can google “functional medicine doctors” in your area and you will find a list. Some of them even take insurance! 

I used a nauturopathic doctor to help me with my symptoms but still needed a medical doctor to write me a prescription and it was a bit of search to find one that would even write me a prescription for my natural desiccated thyroid hormone. A lot of doctors think that the T3 in natural thyroid hormones will cause problems with your heart, making it palpitate or beat too fast. For some that may be the case. For me, it wasn’t. They have to be willing to try out a few things to see what makes you feel best. 

You also want to look at making some lifestyle changes. Sleep is really important for everyone but especially those of us with thyroid problems. Ideal is 8-9 hours of sleep a night. Diet changes are a huge help for you as well. That is where nutritional therapy can really help. I did all my own research and made diet changes on my own. Some people don’t even know where to begin. Don’t worry, I can help you with that!

You will want to make sure you are eating enough and eating real whole foods that nourish your body. So many women, myself included, don’t eat enough. I actually didn’t have that problem while I ate the Standard American Diet because I filled up on bread and baked goods every day, all day long. Now that those are gone from my life, I eat a little less because it is more work to prepare food. If you have hypothyroid symptoms of fatigue you know the feeling. Anything that is too much work usually doesn’t happen unless I am feeling really good or really motivated. 

Don’t over exercise. I joined a really cool gym in Minneapolis for three weeks. Just lifting weights two days a week for those three weeks was enough to push my hormones over the edge. I pushed myself too hard that last day I was there and ended up on the couch the next day for the whole day. Gah! How frustrating. So, I do yoga one day a week and try really hard to get out and go for a walk a couple times a week too. 

If your cause is iodine deficiency, work with a practitioner to figure out how much you need to take. You don’t want to just guess on that. It can really make things worse. If you have autoimmune thyroid problems like Hashimoto’s you need to work with someone who knows what they are doing. I wouldn’t take any iodine at all to start. It is a possibility after some healing has occurred and I would not recommend doing it alone. 

What kind of medication should you or can you take for your thyroid?

Everyone should always try to make the lifestyle changes but if you actually need medication you have two choices. I am not telling you one way or the other to take or not take a medication. That is for you and your doctor to decide. 

Synthetic thyroid hormones like Synththroid or Levothyroxine and a few others or Natural Desiccated Thyroid Hormones like Nature-Throid or Armour. 

Levothyroxine (actually levothyroxine sodium is the generic name for it). This is just a T4 medication. Your body has to convert the T4 in to T3 in order for your cells to get the hormone.

The only difference between all the synthetic brands are the fillers that they have. 

Let’s take a look. 

Levothroid (brand #1). It has cellulose in it (basically wood shavings- your shredded cheese has it too). It has magnesium and calcium in it too. Funny because calcium keeps your body from absorbing thyroid hormones. It is in the pill in a small amount but it’s there. 

Levoxyl is another T4 only medication. This has the same ingredients as Levothroid with the addition of some iodine. Not a good plan to take if you have Hashimoto’s. Synthroid also has iodine in it so you really want to ask to read the package insert on the drugs. Your pharmacist will be happy to help you with that. 

You can also get something called Tirosint which is a T4 only medication (levothyroxine sodium) that comes in a gel like capsule so there are no dyes and is a great choice for those of you who are sensitive to dyes and other ingredients. You may find this one won’t absorb in to your body as well though. 

Natural desiccated thyroid medications come from either cows or pigs. Armour is a popular one that many people use. It too has fillers like dextrose and cellulose (the formula changed in 2008) and the cellulose can make it hard to absorb so you can chew it. It also has lactose in it so if you have a dairy sensitivity you may want to look at something else. 

Nature-Throid and Westhroid are two other natural desiccated medications. They don’t have any dyes or food colorings but Nature-Throid has lactose in it so if you are sensitive to dairy, you may want to try Westhroid. 

You should also be aware that unless your doctor writes “dispense as written” on your prescription then the pharmacy is free to give you what they have (especially with the synthetics). One month you may get Synthroid and the next month you may get Levothyroid. This can be a problem if you do well on one formulation and not another. It is something good for you to check in to. 

You can take medication and still not make the conversion of the T4 to T3. Some other things in the body need to be working well in order for the conversion to happen. You need to make sure you are not deficient in selenium or zinc (and iodine) and that your cortisol from your adrenal glands is not constantly in use. 

This means you need to make sure you are managing stress and blood sugar so your adrenals are not always working overtime. 

You also want to make sure you don’t take your thyroid meds with calcium (think antacid over the counter meds) and you should always take it away from iron. Iron will keep your body from absorbing the thyroid hormones. Fiber will also keep your meds from being absorbed. You want to take your meds anywhere from 2-4 hours away from food to make sure you get the most out of the meds. 

If you are on a T3 only medication you should consider splitting the dose*** since T3 because it goes through your system so quickly. ***This is not medical advice. I am sharing with you what I have learned through my own research. You consult with your doctor before changing the way you take your medication.

How do you know which is best for you?

If you have Hashimoto’s (and remember most of the hypothyroid cases are Hashimoto’s). If you are lactose intolerant you may want to avoid the meds with lactose. Synthetic meds are a good one if you often forget to take your meds because they stay in your body longer than the natural meds. If you are willing to go through a trial and error phase, try a few to see what makes you feel the best. 

If you are on cholesterol lowering medications, birth control pills, take insulin, or antidepressants then you may have lots of thyroid hormone floating around your system being bound to proteins and not free to be used by the body.  If you are on those medications, make sure to monitor your thyroid closely especially the thyroid binding globulin (a test you can ask for). 

Bottom line here is that you need to do your research and be your own health advocate. Find a doctor that will listen and is open to trying new things. Work with a practitioner to help you change your diet and lifestyle. 

Most importantly, be well. 

In Health, 

Stephanie

 

5 Things That Negatively Affect The Health of Your Thyroid

 

There are lots of things that affect our health everyday in both positive and negative ways. It is important when you have thyroid problems to pay particular attention to your health and well being so that you can remain healthy. Sometimes it seems kind of, well, crappy that those of us with thyroid issues and particularly autoimmune thyroid issues have to be extra careful with our very sensitive selves. You know, it is what it is right? All we can do is carry on paying extra attention to the following things. 

Chronic Stress: Living in a constant or almost constant state of stress will make your pituitary gland tired so it can’t do its job which is to signal the thyroid to release enough TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) to stimulate the thyroid to do its job. Your thyroid could be working just fine but if it is not being told what to do by the pituitary gland because of all the stress you encounter day in and day out it will look like your thyroid is malfunctioning. 

What is chronic stress?

Things like being super busy all the time, no time for rest or fun. No exercise to relieve that    stress. Chronic stress is consuming a Standard American Diet high is processed foods, fast foods, seed oils and sugar. Consuming high amounts of caffeine on a daily basis can wear out your adrenal glands leading to adrenal fatigue (lots of things can do this, I am just pointing my finger at caffeine which is one way to wear out your adrenals). 

Having too much cortisol in your system keeps the body from converting all the T4 it needs to into T3 which is what your body uses. It also results in your cells keeping the thyroid hormones from entering when they need to.

What causes your body to make too much cortisol besides chronic stress?

Things like out of balance blood sugar and adrenal fatigue are the two big ones. They really go hand in hand because if your blood sugar is constantly out of balance your adrenals are going to be worn out. The adrenal glands play a major role in regulating your blood sugar. Not only is cortisol released when you are under physical and emotional stress but also when your blood sugar is low and it is not supported by a hormone called glucagon. Glucagon’s job is to keep your blood sugar stable between meals. If you have eaten a high sugar meal or a treat high in sugar, glucagon will be busy helping manage your blood sugar crash. Cortisol will have to step in to help stabilize your blood sugar levels. Cortisol also helps manage inflammation and sugar is a contributor to inflammation. If your body can’t keep your blood sugar stable, your digestive system won’t work the way it should and your immune system will be less efficient and your adrenal glands will be tired. Your adrenals glands also play a major role in hormone balance but that is a huge subject in and of itself!

Chronic Inflammation and infections are another cause of poor thyroid health. Inflammation and infections cause damage to the cell membranes which have their part in converting T4 to T3. When you have chronic inflammation (which you will have if you have blood sugar regulation issues) you also have free radical damage to your cell walls. When the cell walls are damaged the conversion of T4 to T3 doesn’t happen the way it is supposed to. 

Your Digestive Health Maintaining stable blood sugar is also important for keeping your gut healthy as well. Keeping your thyroid healthy depends on a healthy gut. You also need a healthy balance of gut flora or bacteria. Having the right kinds and amounts of bacteria in your gut play a crucial role in thyroid health. Some bacteria are responsible for converting T4 to T3. When you have more bad bacteria than good, your thyroid may not function well.

If you are not making enough stomach acid (a common problem in hypothyroidism), food will sit in your stomach not digesting. It will become rancid and eventually will be forced into the upper part of your small intestine when you consume your next meal. The problem with this is that what is leaving your stomach will be partially undigested and will not be quite acidic enough to trigger the rest of the digestive process. Fats won’t be emulsified and nutrients won’t be absorbed. This mess of partially undigested food will move slowly through the gastrointestinal tract (GI Tract) causing inflammation and eventually leaky gut (increased intestinal permeability). When fats are not emulsified or digested properly your body cannot use them and they end up leaving your body in your stool. Have you ever noticed greasy or shiny stools before? This is a sign you are not digesting your fats because that greasy stool is undigested fats leaving your body. Your thyroid hormones are fat soluble hormones and need fats to do their job. Your cells need fats to remain healthy enough to accept those hormones when they are being delivered. 

Fatty Acid Deficiency. We talked a bit about this earlier (greasy stools). All of your hormone production depends on your ability to digest those healthy fats from your diet. Essential Fatty Acids help your cells communicate. They have nutrients your hormones need and your brain depends on them to function properly. If you consume a large amount of processed foods there is a good chance you may be deficient in fatty acids even if your digestion is working well. If you don’t have a gallbladder you will need to supplement with Bile Salts for the rest of your life to help your body digest the fat you consume. If your body isn’t using the fats you are eating then your gallbladder can become sluggish and your liver won’t be able to detox things like your hormones the way it should. It is said that the ratio of Omega 6 Fatty Acids to Omega 3 Fatty Acids should be around 3:1. If you eat the Standard American Diet of processed foods, fast foods and seed oils you are probably getting much more than the 3:1 ratio. It is more like 25:1. This in and of itself can be inflammatory to your whole body. Taking an Essential Fatty Acid supplement like a high quality fish oil can help you as long as you are digesting it. 

We all have to start somewhere on our path to health and wellness. Nutritional therapy is a great way to get a kick start to your health or a reboot in to wellness. Contact me for help if you think you might need it. Together we can make a plan of success to get you out of the woods and clear about your own health!

Comment below and tell me what you have done in the last year to make positive changes in your health or something that you really need to work on. I can't wait to hear from you. 

In Health, 

Stephanie

 

Five things you need to know when you have Hypothyroidism

Having hypothryoidism can lead to nutrient deficiencies.  When you are hypothyroid, your metabolism is slowed down. Your digestion is slowed down and so is nutrient extraction and absorption. This means your body can't get what it needs from the food you are eating. Having a hypothryroid can be frustrating but it doesn't have to take over your life. Below are some very important things to know about living with a hypothyroid and what you can do to live optimally, whatever that is for you. 

1. That cold weather (or even a breeze) that makes you feel really cold is due to less thyroid hormone getting where it needs to. This also means hormones can’t be processed properly and other things are affected, like how well a cut heals.

2. You probably don’t make enough stomach acid to digest your food properly which means you are not getting the nutrients needed to thrive. Don’t have much energy? Maybe you are not digesting your meals. This leads to a whole host of issues including intestinal permeability or leaky gut. Lack of stomach acid (HCl) also means proteins are not being digested along with iron, zinc and B12. One symptom of low stomach acid is HEARTBURN. Don’t feel like eating when you get up in the morning? Could be you have not digested your evening meal yet. 

3. You probably have stressed Adrenals. Adrenal fatigue is when your adrenals, located just above your kidneys, work overtime most of the time and end up leaving you dizzy when you stand up quickly, with lower than normal blood pressure or require the use of sunglasses when you go outside. They are just plain worn out. 

4. Your liver might not be working properly. If your liver can't do all the things it is supposed to, you may not be making enough bile or adequate bile to digest fats. Fats like the essential fatty acids in fish oils are important for managing inflammation in the body. 

5. You are more likely to have Celiac Disease than the average person and most assuredly, if not Celiac Disease, you are probably gluten intolerant. You are more likely to be unable to tolerate dairy products, eggs and soy as well. 

Here is what you can do about it.

1. Make sure you have found a doctor or naturopath who will test you for not only TSH but Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, TPO Antibodies and Thryoglobulin Antibodies. It is not only important that they test you for those but that they know how to interpret the results. 

2. Get food intolerance testing or use and elimination diet to figure out what foods are negatively affecting you. The best way to find out what foods are not working for you (causing inflammation) is to do an elimination diet.  If you have signed up for my newsletter you will be set with 4 weeks of meals and recipes to get you off to a good start in lowering inflammation and figuring out which foods are your kryptonite. 

3. Have your Vitamin D levels checked and monitored. 

4. Support your adrenals with things like a pinch of sea salt in your water, adrenal adaptogens (you really should be in the care of practitioner before taking any supplementation), and managing your blood sugar (like cutting out sugar completely for a time period to give your body systems a break). Another great way to support your adrenals is to manage your stress. 

5. Be checked for infections with a stool test or be tested to see if you have developed antibodies to any virus or parasite. 

6. Do a simple test with Hydrochloric Acid to see how much stomach acid you need to take with each meal. OR you can take digestive bitters, apple cider vinegar or lemon juice before meals (although you might need more than that to get you started). 

7. You could be lacking in certain nutrients that are needed for your thyroid to function properly. According to Izabella Wentz, The thyroid pharmacist, it is very common for people to be deficient in Selenium, iron, vitamins A & E, B vitamins and a few others. You may require supplementation but again I would work with a practitioner before supplementing yourself. 

8. Have your Ferritin levels checked. You need ferritin to transport T3 to the cells. If you are losing your hair even with stable thyroid levels, it could be that you are low in ferritin. 

9. Take a high quality probiotic and eat fermented foods every day. If you have ever been on antibiotics you probably have an imbalance of bacteria in your gut and taking probiotics can help. Eating fermented foods is a much cheaper and fun way to get your probiotics in. Things like sauerkraut and homemade yogurt are great sources of fermented foods. 

It is very important, as I stated before that you don’t put yourself on a supplementation program but that you consult a health practitioner first. When you take the Nutritional Assessment Questionnaire through me we will be able to determine just where your body needs the most support.  The information provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. I do not diagnose or treat disease but help you find balance so your body can find balance too. Sometimes it is about meeting you where you are at. Baby steps.

Feel free to contact me with any questions. Also, be sure to sign up for my newsletter. I just sent another Breakfast Hash recipe only for my subscribers. 

In Health, 

Stephanie

 

Beat Brain Fog Now!!

If you have hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s you probably have had some experience with brain fog. It is one  of those things that make you think you might be a little crazy sometimes. Do you ever ask yourself, “What is wrong with me? Why can’t I remember anything?”. 

Here is what people are saying about what brain fog feels like for them: 

“Brain fog means not being able to remember things like a friend's name or what I went to the store for when I only needed two things. I completely forget what I was about to say and what I was talking about. I read a book and the next day can't remember what it was about or who the characters were. I can't concentrate. I'm 45 years old and don't have Alzheimer’s.”

“Knowing what word I want to say and either nothing comes out or the wrong word comes out.”

 “I used to be very articulate and now I also know what word I want, but I can't grab onto it.”

“Slow thinking, can't quite get the words, lose focus, forget what I was doing, leave the stove on...feels like Alzheimer’s.”

“Not being able to come up with simple words to complete my sentences (ones that were familiar, yet my brain couldn't come up with them). My 2-year old was completing my sentences.”

“Feels like your thinking and trying to remembering through oatmeal or sludge.”

“Like trying to muddle through pea soup. Knowing that there is something you need to retrieve from your brain but you just can't quite get to it.”

“Walking through life in a cloud. Everything feels fuzzy and I am very forgetful. We just checked out of a hotel today and I left all of my jewelry in a drawer. It didn't come to me until I felt my neck and realized something was missing several hours later.”

“I had a very hard time following a conversation, felt like I was losing my mind. Couldn't remember things, but mostly felt completely confused! Very scary.”

“Saying a word close in sound but nowhere close in meaning from the one I am looking for. Feeling sleepy like Dorothy in the poppy field.”

“Not knowing where you are going, what you are doing, feeling like you can't connect your brain to your thoughts. People talk to you and you don't know what they said. Having issues with regular things, like driving or cooking.”

“I just can't think straight. I get things mixed up, start to tell a joke or story and can't remember how it goes, I read something but can't comprehend what I'm reading. My eyes feel very heavy and tired and I have a heavy feeling in my forehead and behind my eyes. Even the simplest tasks take too much mental effort.”

“I feel disconnected. I'm in there somewhere but I just can't grasp it and hold on. I can't get my mind to stay focused nor remember anything during brain fog spells (which is usually always). It's the feeling you get when you're running on very little sleep.”

“Saying crazy things like: go mow your bedroom floor. I meant vacuum!!!”

“A total disconnect from how you would normally be articulate... The thought process and words just don't come out as planned..an all day feeling like you haven't slept in days.. forgetful and confused at times.”

“Like I couldn't get my brain to engage...randomly losing words, thinking through mud, my critical thinking skills were completely gone. Definitely forgetful and confused.”

“Everything being slow to process is a good description. And working too hard mentally to do easy things.”

“I cant tell you what I did this morning let alone last week. I can be in the middle of a conversation and forget what we were talking about. I can be in the middle of a sentence and stop dead because I cant remember the next word I need.”

“Very lethargic. Can't focus, concentrate, and feeling like I can't fully wake up.” 

“You walk to a room to grab something and forget on the way what it was...you may never remember...starting a question to someone but forgetting the second half of the question before you finish saying "have you ever...uh..."?  Also just feeling dumb...like, man today is so hard! i can't remember, i can't multi task like i'm used to...it takes longer to compute and comprehend people's sentences…a feeling that you just wish you could crawl back into bed and try again tomorrow.”

“Feels like you're physically there, but can't mentally process everything that's happening. things go in one ear and dissolve completely before even having a chance to process. I often say it's like feeling "dumber" and "number" than usual.”

“For me it’s confusion. Almost like a wire shorting out.”

Does any of this sound like you? 

Brain fog can come in varying degrees and is different for everyone. Often you just feel so alone because no one understands. Right? 

What can you do about it? 

Brain fog is something you can control. Whatever it looks like for you there are some things you can do about it. 

First of all, having a practitioner that listens to you and believes you is key. Treating your symptoms and not just your labs is also very important. 

Second of all, what you put in to your body is of utmost important. Not only your diet, but supplementation and toxins as well. 

Eating wheat and gluten makes Hashimoto’s and the symptoms that come with it much much worse.  Processed foods and foods of convenience are one of the biggest things that contribute to your symptoms getting worse or remaining terrible. The reason for this is that the structure of gluten in your body resembles that of your thyroid gland and your immune system can easily mistake the gluten proteins you consumed for the thyroid gland itself. Gluten is also one of the causes of increased intestinal permeability or leaky gut which puts your immune system on high alert. 

 

You must balance your blood sugar. How do you know if your blood sugar needs balancing? Do you crave sugar? Do you feel tired after a meal? Do you have that afternoon slump? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you probably need to have some tweaking done to your diet. Maybe you are not digesting fat well and your body is overwhelmed with carbohydrates. It is helpful to have someone analyze your diet by completing a food journal for three days to a week.  Your brain needs glucose (sugar) to run but it is the kind of glucose you give it that makes a difference. It can use the sugars in vegetables for energy too which is more beneficial to your body as a whole. 

 

You may need to repair your gut. If you have increased intestinal permeability then you more than likely have some inflammation going on in your system. Removing other inflammatory foods is a great start to gut repair.  You kind of have to be your own food detective here. You can have food sensitivity testing done but if you are on a budget, do an elimination diet like the Autoimmune Protocol and gradually add back in to your diet one food at a time until you figure out which ones you react to. If you react, you know you should not eat that food again. You may also want to take some nutritional supplementation to help your body heal. 

What is your stress level like? How are your adrenal glands? Anyone who suffers from inflammation will have adrenal stress. Taking adaptogenic herbs are often quite helpful in helping your body heal from adrenal fatigue along with getting good rest and reducing that which stresses not only your body but your mind too. Did you know your nervous system doesn’t really know the difference between physical and emotional stress. It is all stress and your hormones act the same either way. The adrenals are heavily involved in your brains chemistry. If they are busy working on inflammation or balancing your blood sugar then they cannot help your brain work properly. 

What is your digestion like? Most people that are hypothyroid or have Hashimoto’s usually are not making enough stomach acid. This is significant because if you don’t have enough stomach acid in your stomach is affects digestion through the rest of your digestive tract. You won’t be absorbing nutrients like B12, iron and calcium. You can then have inflammation or infections in your intestines. You can also become protein deficient when you don’t have enough stomach acid. If your digestion is not optimal you can be deficient in fats as well which are important for brain function and health. 

You may be having trouble detoxifying chemicals and toxins in your body. Most detoxification happens in the liver. The liver is also a player in blood sugar regulation. It cannot work to detoxify chemicals or even hormones if it is busy working on blood sugar. Take a look at the cleaning products you use. Are they “clean”? Do you use air fresheners? Hair care products and make up are full of chemicals too. It only takes about 22 second for chemicals on your skin to be absorbed in to your blood stream. All of those things need to be detoxified by your liver. 

Brain fog can be a sign that you are not getting enough nutrients and oxygen to your brain. One way to increase blood flow to the brain is to get some exercise.  You don’t have to go crazy with exercise here. Don’t start running or anything like that. Go for a walk. Regularly. Go for a bike ride. Hang out in nature. Just get moving. It may seem like the last thing you want to do but you will feel so good. Walking is healing for your adrenal glands too. You will find you start to feel better all around if you get out and move. 

Getting good sleep is super important to brain fog. If you’re not sleeping good or for at least seven to eight hours a night then you may experience regular brain fog. What can you do to help yourself sleep better?  You can make sure you are digesting your food, especially your protein. You also may not be eating enough. You will wake up if your body is in need of glucose for energy. Your melatonin production can be delayed if you expose yourself to the blue lights in computers, cell phones and televisions at night. Getting blue blocking glasses like these help if you are not willing to step away from electronics when it gets dark outside. 

Share this post with anyone you know that is suffering from brain fog or contact me today for help finding what your body needs to find balance. 

In health, 

Stephanie

Get a Flat Belly Now!!

Bloating and gas are common for a lot of people, not just folks with Hashimoto’s. They are related to what you eat and how you eat it. 

The most common causes of bloating are overeating, eating too fast and eating certain kinds of foods. 

Stuffing yourself will overwhelm your digestive system and slow things down. This can cause your dinner to sit there fermenting in your stomach and then even more so through your intestines. 

Gulping down a huge meal or even a tiny one without chewing each bite really well will mean your stomach has to work much harder to break everything down. Carbohydrates are first digested in your mouth by enzymes like salivary amylase and by the mechanical action of your teeth chewing your food. So slow down and chew each bit 20-30 times. Put the fork down in between bites. Be mindful of your meal. Savor the flavors. By doing this you are not only able to enjoy your meal but you are saving your digestive system from having to work so hard. Plus if you take more time with each bite you will feel full when you are actually full and not after its too late. The hormone leptin is what tells you you’re full. It needs time to catch up if you eat too fast and by that time you have over eaten. 

Eating lots of fat can five you that stuffed feeling too. Fat takes longer to digest than carbohydrates and protein. It is that long burning fuel our bodies love to use and it could be possible you are not digesting it properly or even at all. Fat keeps your energy stable but if you can’t digest it that doesn’t do you a whole lot of good. Signs you are not digesting your fats are when your stools float or if they have a greasy or shiny look to them. You are not digesting them if you don’t have a gallbladder either so you will need to take a supplement with bile salts every time you eat. If you have gallbladder troubles it is probably because your bile is not thin and free flowing as it should be and you can fix that with beet kvass or with a simple salad of shredded beets, carrots and dandelion greens. It is not a quick fix by any means but it is a good start. You need healthy bile to digest fats and you need good quality healthy fats to make good bile. It is a vicious cycle but one you must work to remedy if you want to see an improvement in your health. 

Remember it is not eating fat that makes you fat either, it is all that processed food and refined carbohydrates. 

If you have food intolerances or consume a lot of foods that are difficult for your body to digest you can have all kinds of bloat going on.  Not tolerating certain foods can cause things like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, eczema, migraines and bloating among other things. 

A food allergy will cause an IgE response which is when the body mistakes the food as an intruder and launches an immediate immune response. A food intolerance generates an IgG response which makes for a less severe reaction that can take days to appear so you don’t know right away which food is causing the problem. So if you have bloating, it can mean your digestive system is not happy with something you ate. It usually doesn’t take a couple of days for that to happen but it would with something like eczema. 

How do you know if you have a food intolerance?

You can pay to have IgG testing done and get an idea. You can also do a pulse test. This is where you take a resting pulse for a full one minute then you put a piece of food in your mouth you think you might be reacting too. Chew it up and let it sit on your tongue. Don’t swallow it. Let it sit there for 30 seconds or so and then take your pulse again for a full one minute. If your pulse increases by more than 6 beats in that second pulse you know there may be an issue with that food. The best way, in my opinion, to find out what foods you do not tolerate is to eliminate the suspects from your diet for at least one month. Then add a potential offender back in to your diet for a day. Eat a whole bunch of it and wait four days. If you notice any difference in your digestion or how you feel, then you know that food is not something you should consume. Do this with another new food after the four days are up and once things have gotten back to normal and see how your body reacts. 

You can also take a look at other foods like beans, sprouts, cabbage and artificial sweeteners like sorbitol or xylitol. Beans have indigestible sugars in them called Oligosaccharides. While they can be a good thing and feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut they can also remain undigested in the small intestine and ferment in the large intestine causing bloating and gas. Cabbage and sprouts have a similar effect due to their indigestible sugars. 

Xylitol and sorbitol are sugar alcohols which are hard for your body to digest causing bloating, gas and even diarrhea. Some people get bloated from consuming dairy products too- this is usually due to an intolerance or lack of the enzyme lactose which aids in milk digestion. 

Get rid of the bloat. 

Let the gas go. Seems simple enough. It is not always appropriate for you to be able to do that but holding it in will make your bloat worse and probably cause you some pain or discomfort. 

Take a probiotic. They are important for repopulating your gut with beneficial bacteria. You need to have a good balance of bacteria in your gut and if you have ever been on antibiotics or stressed out then your balance is quite possibly off. Don’t just take any probiotic though. You want the highest quality you can afford and the strain number should be listed on the bottle. 

Go for a walk. Waling for ab it after you eat is a good way to get things moving and aid in digestion. Plus it will give you more energy. It is just a good thing all around. 

You can also have a rise in your gas from chewing gum or sucking on hard candies and drinking carbonated beverages too quickly. 

If you are nervous you can swallow more air so try reducing your stress and anxiety by meditation. Anxiety can be strongly associated with the health of your gut so working with a qualified practitioner can be helpful along with taking probiotics. 

Do you suffer from gas and bloating? I would love to hear what works for you to get rid of the gas and bloat. Comment below and let’s talk about it. 

In health, 

Stephanie