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. 

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 You Need To Know about Stress And Your Digestion

Things go wrong in the body for a lot of reasons. When we have a health crisis it is not because of chance but because of something real that is going on. There are a lot of different reasons that you can be unhealthy or disrupted. Many things can cause the same set of problems to show up. That is what stress is. Stress is not just what we commonly think of it as today. Mental and emotional stress is only one part of the equation when it comes to your health. Your exposure to processed foods, pollution, toxins, not sleeping properly or having your circadian rhythm out of sync are all stressful on the body. Your gastrointestinal tract is profoundly affected by all of these types of stress. When things are not going as they should with your digestion, you must take a look at the total amount of stress your body is under. 

What do you do about all of this stress?

Realistically you would want to do what you can to reduce all of these stressors and ideally eliminate some of them. What you cannot eliminate you want to be aware of. Take care of those things you know are causing you stress and use strategies that help to lower that stress response within the body to help heal the gut. 

A stress response in your GI tract can have an effect on things like inflammatory bowel diseases like Chron’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis both of which fall under the category of Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS. If you have food sensitivities or leaky gut you have a stress response. If you have a parasite or bacteria within the gut you have a stress response. When you have inflammation you have a stress response. 

There are many theories about IBS and how it happens or starts to affect someone. It probably isn’t just the stress on your body but that is definitely a factor contributing to such problems. What is known is that if you have a problem with an IBS disorder, how it affects you can be drastically different than how it affects your neighbor and the major factor in that is the load of stress on your body. 

One of the first things you will see a change in is peristalsis (an involuntary muscle contraction in the intestines that causes a wavelike movement pushing the stuff in your gut forward so it can eventually exit the body). When this mechanism stops working properly you can have cramping, bloating and even pain in your gut as well as toxins being reabsorbed due to slower elimination. 

The enzymes secreted along the way to help digest your food are also affected. You are no longer breaking down proteins or neutralizing the stomach acid as it moves through the small intestine causing inflammation in the gut. The hormones that tell you that you are full are all messed up too so you can end up over eating and overwhelming your digestive system. This can lead to leaky gut or intestinal permeability and the vicious cycle continues. You can end up with food intolerances and or even an autoimmune response. 

You are equipped with a nervous system that can put you in more of a relaxed state (parasympathetic) or in that fight or flight (sympathetic) state. Your body naturally maintains a flow of both without any help from you. The problem with most of us is that we are often in a constant state of fight or flight with very little time being in the rest and digest period which is a stressor and affects digestion. This also means that there is no time where your body can repair itself properly. The rest and digest state is also when you are in a state of repair. When your body doesn’t have time to heal you end up with problems like IBS or leaky gut. 

When you have leaky gut you probably also have an imbalance of gut flora too. There is a group of bacteria that plays a role in shifting your hormones.  The flora in your bowel affects the stress response within your gut. If your gut flora is not properly balanced it can create hormonal issues in the body. The hormones affected are things like cortisol, testosterone and estrogen among others.  When your body produces hormones there are conversions that happen in the liver and in the intestines to make them useful or to change them and excrete the leftovers. When there is an imbalance of flora in the gut and the bowel, these conversions don’t happen like they are supposed to. You can have no conversions happening or you can have too much conversion going on. It really depends on the balance of flora that you have. 

Besides reducing stress like controlling the stressors outside the body like our food and some of that mental emotional stress we can make sure to keep our circadian rhythm in check. What that means is you need to be looking at what time of day you go to sleep or wake up. Is it the same time everyday? Do you eat about the same time every day?  All of this is very important to how your digestion (and really your body in general) responds. 

Here is what you can do to help your circadian rhythm:

  • Eat breakfast no later than one hour after you wake up and eat some protein for breakfast.
  • Expose yourself to some sunlight right away. This will help you get a deep sleep at night and it will help make sure you break down the protein in your breakfast. 
  • Go to bed early. This will help you get the most restorative sleep where your body can then repair itself. Studies show going to bed before midnight allows this repair cycle to work much better. The earlier the better though (we were naturally set up to sleep and rise with the sun for the most part).  
  • Shift work is extremely hard on your body. You can’t always avoid it but if it is not required of you, try not to do it. If you have to do shift work you are better off maintaining a schedule with it. Just know that it is best for your body to at least have consistency. 

Being in this constant state of stress causes your body to store and hold on to fat around your organs. Your body is thinking it has to do it for survival. Your innate intelligence thinks there issome sort of need to come (like a change in the season or a long period of fasting) for this fat so it hangs on to it. It stores it for fuel. This stress response by the body can affect the digestive state and it can be affected by the digestive state. You see, the more inflamed you are in your intestines, the more your body will think it is in a state of stress which makes it more likely you will store your fuel as fat instead of burning it up right away. So just by having poor digestion you will gain weight. Stress is stress to your body. It can’t tell the difference between what is real and what is in your head. The stress response is pretty much the same. 

A good place to start to see where your intestinal inflammation is coming from is doing an elimination diet. You do have to watch for a shift in your gut flora once you eliminate something and add it back in after a time though. Your gut flora changes based on what types of foods you consume so be aware that you may see some reaction from something you previously had no reaction to before. Keeping track of each food you are adding back in and how you feel is a good idea. It can really help you pinpoint exactly what foods might be causing you distress. 

Other things you can do to minimize the stress response in your body: 

  • Maintain balanced blood sugar and use resistant fiber/starch. Your body doesn’t completely digest the fiber so it helps to feed the good bacteria in your gut which helps lower inflammation. 
    • Great sources of resistant fiber/starch are boiled and cooled potatoes, green bananas, green plantains and white beans. 
  • Breathing alternately through your nostrils is another way. It will reset your nervous system. What you do is plug one nostril while breathing in through the other, then unplug the other nostril and plug the one you just breathed through and breath out the one you unplugged. Continue to alternate doing this for a couple minutes. 
  • You can also just work on breathing slowly through your diaphragm. Just some deep slow breaths any time you feel yourself getting worked up. 
  • Mediation- just about 5-10 minutes a day is helpful. 
  • Cool down your room when you go to bed and keep your room as dark as possible. This helps you sleep much better. 

Let’s work on figuring out your digestive issues together. I am currently taking new clients and would be honored to work with you. You deserve to feel better!

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.