Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's)

With the bill that passed in the House of Representatives to keep states from being able to mandate labeling of GMO’s I thought I would give you some information about what GMO’s are and why you might want to be aware of them in your diet.  

There is a great lobby for GMO’s and much community activisim against GMO’s. Those fighting for our right to know what is in our food are doing so with a tiny budget and a lot of science to back them up. The GMO lobbyists and the pro GMO movement have billions of dollars backing them. Not a fair fight but one worth fighting in my opinion.   Many lobbyists spend all their time online defending GMO’s and attacking critics of GMO’s. 

There is a group of scientists who have published online, for free, a document said to be in terms the average person could understand but I have to be honest, there is still a lot of science that is quite complicated, at least for me.  The 300 plus page document is called GMO Myths and Truths and had over 120,000 downloads a few weeks after it was published. Much of what you will read in this post comes from that document. It is fully referenced with real, peer reviewed science. Some of what is in there comes from other documents that are not peer reviewed science. Just because some info is not in peer reviewed journals doesn’t make it false information.  For example, studies on pesticides within that industry are not for public viewing. There is no way for you to know that pesticides used today are safe for you. You have to rely on the regulating body who decides that they are or are not safe.  

For those believing that the no to GMO information is one sided because it doesn’t show the other side I would caution you to take a deeper look in to the studies being done. According to GMO Myths and Truths, “The world of GMO studies is not what it seems at first glance. For example, a list of several hundred studies that were claimed to show GMO safety turned out to show nothing of the sort on closer examination. It is padded with articles irrelevant to GMO safety and contains many papers that provide evidence for harm.”

What exactly is a GMO or Genetically Modified Organism?

As defined by the World Health Organization, “organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally”. What that means is the genes or genetic material of an organism are altered in a lab where new DNA is inserted or some of the existing DNA is changed. This, in turn, re programs the cells so they make a new protein or change the way the existing protein works. This makes new traits in the genes that would not naturally be there. Some of the changes made are transferring genes from related or unrelated organisms, changing the information in a gene, moving, deleting or multiplying genes, combining parts of existing genes or making new ones. Genetically modified genes change the characteristics of an organism. 

Every living thing has DNA in every one of its cells. It is what our genes are made of. They are the instructions that keep all living things working properly. DNA stores all kinds of information that gives you the type of nose you have, makes you how tall you are and decides what color eyes you have and many more things. Each gene is laid out a certain way like code on a computer. Some genes produce RNA (ribonucleic acid) copies of themselves rather than put a code on a protein. RNA is needed for many cellular processes and can control how much of a protein is made from a certain kind of gene. The science behind how DNA works and why it works the way it does is not fully understood. The way the genes are set up in your DNA are set up that way for a reason. Your body has an amazing innate intelligence and just does so many things on a biological and physiological level and they all happen for a reason. Messing around with the way those genes are organized can disturb many gene systems and how they function having consequences further down the line that we don’t even know about yet. Also, because we are all bio individuals, there is no way to predict how manipulation of genes will affect you vs. how it will affect me. 

The process of genetically engineering an organism is not an exact science. All genes interact with one another and their environment. It can change a whole genome or the way the genes function in ways they didn’t expect. This can result in toxins or allergens or a changed nutritional value and there can be changes in how the environment responds (super weeds anyone?). 

GMO’s are not an extension of natural plant breeding. In one breath the GMO industry is claiming that their processes are completely different from natural plant breeding so they can get a patent on their seeds. It is telling us, the public that there is not much difference from natural breeding which makes them safe for consumption.

Here is the problem with this.

Natural breeding can only take place between organisms that are closely related (humans and humans, cats and cats, dogs and dogs, corn with corn but not corn with fish). Genetic modification is made to make a transfer of genes between unrelated organisms. They have even created synthetic DNA and inserted it into a living organisms DNA.  The first generation of Roundup Ready GMO’s contain two species of soil bacteria, a flower and a plant virus. This would not happen in nature.  The fact is that they can transfer genes between species but also between kingdoms. This means they can take genetic material from animals or humans and put them into plants. 

The GM genes are either shot into the DNA of an organism with what is called a gene gun. If they are lucky the DNA in the gene gun gets to the DNA of the organism they are shooting it in to. The process is so random and out of the control of the scientists. They can also be inserted as an infection of cultured cells. There is no way to control where the GM genes will be inserted though. The process in inefficient and costly. 

What does this mean for you?

Maybe you don’t care, maybe you do. I venture to guess that you have some inclination to care about this subject if you have continued reading. 

This is an example of selective breeding in corn. The far left photo is what corn looked like when it was first discovered and what we know as corn today on the far right. 

This is an example of selective breeding in corn. The far left photo is what corn looked like when it was first discovered and what we know as corn today on the far right. 

Know there is a difference between selective breeding and genetically modifying something. Selective breeding is often done in animals to get the more desirable qualities to show up in the next generation. Corn, wheat and rice have been bred over hundreds of years to be bigger and better.  Genetically modifying something changes the DNA as described above. It wasn't or isn't always the best idea to use selective breeding but the difference is that when something doesn't work out during selective breeding, the breeder is made aware right away. You cannot selectively breed traits of a cat in to a dog. Mother nature will not allow it. 

In 1998 Michael Pollan did a piece for New York Times Magazine where Philip Angell, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications stated that “Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job.”

Are GMO’s tested for safety?

They were first introduced on the list of foods Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS). According to the authors of GMO Myths and Truths, no GMO’s have even met the criteria that can define a food as GRAS. To be considered GRAS there must be an overwhelming expert agreement that it is safe and the agreement needs to be based on scientific evidence created through scientific procedure. GMO’s don’t meet these requirements yet they are on the list of GRAS foods. 

In the U.S. GMO’s are regulated by the industry that created them. Safety testing is done by the companies who profit from their sale. The lobbyists have gone from stating GMO’s are strictly regulated to saying they are safe so they don’t need to be regulated. There is no long term experimentation or study that has ever been done. The experiment is done on you, the public. This experiment started in the early 1990’s when they were first introduced commercially despite many FDA scientists claiming they should be tested and proven safe before being introduced. The administration in the FDA at the time admitted they were following an agenda to encourage the growth of the biotech industry. They ignored the scientists working for them and put GMO's out in to the market with no testing or labeling. The regulation of GMO’s is relied upon by information provided by the developers. Their data is not published in journals or peer reviewed. Basically we are just taking their word for it that GMO’s are safe. 

There is also quite a conflict of interest when it comes to the FDA. There is a man named Michael Taylor who was appointed to the FDA as deputy commissioner of policy. Prior to that he was an attorney for a law firm that represented Monsanto. In 1998 he was given the job of Monsanto’s vice president for public policy and in 2010 he was deputy commissioner for foods at the FDA. He is often given as the example of the kinds of conflict of interest that run rampant through government agencies and big business. I wonder if he is able to keep a non biased opinion about GMO's. 

There is no process within the FDA to determine the safety of GMO’s. None of the GM crops have been determined safe except by the companies developing them. 

GM crops have shown to be of a different composition to a non GM crop even when grown with the same conditions, at the same time and in the same location. GM soy had 27% higher levels of an allergen called trypsin inhibitor (an enzyme that helps your body break down proteins) than the non-GM soy. Canola engineered to have vitamin A as part of its makeup had a reduced level of vitamin E compared to non GMO canola. GM rice had a different structure and texture along with a huge change in nutritional value compared to non GMO rice. A specific GM corn grown was altered so much so that researchers concluded it could cause toxicity to humans and animals. In a study on rats it was found to cause toxicity to the organs. 

Independent research on the safety of GM foods is a process that renders scientists persecuted, losing careers and/or funding for their work. True independent studies would be done by non industry funded scientists. It is difficult for those scientists to get the seeds needed to perform their study and when they have, they have found problems with the GM foods. The seeds are patented which makes it difficult for a truly independent researcher to do a study. If permission is given to do the research the GM company involved usually has to be given the right to block the study from being published. They are being studied at some universities, but not for food safety and there are private agreements between the companies and the universities that only they have access to. So you don’t know what was agreed to be studied and approval of the universities doing the studying is done by the companies granting them permission. The results of their research are given right back to the GM developer.   Many of these university researchers stated it would not be good for their career to show any research that negatively reflects the GM crops. 

The Senate is set to vote on whether or not you have the right to know what is in your food. Go ahead and contact your senator if you feel so inclined. 

Some of the best ways to keep most GMO’s out of your diet is to eat real whole foods and preferable organic. Support local growers and farmers when you can. Even if they take away our right to know you can keep much of it out of your diet this way.  The problem with GMO’s is we don’t know for sure how they will affect us as a population in the long term.

How do you feel about GMO's? Please tell me in the comments below. 

 

Five Benefits of Eating Locally for Your Body and the Earth

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

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

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

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

In Health, 

Stephanie

 

What do GERD or Reflux Have to do With Not Making Enough Stomach Acid?

In my last post I talked about how people with thyroid problems have trouble extracting nutrients from their food.  Do you ever feel full when you wake up in the morning? Do you have GERD or reflux?  

Often times GERD and reflux are blamed for your body making too much stomach acid. The truth is that it is probably happening because you aren’t making enough. Same goes if you still feel full in the morning. It may be because you have not fully digested your dinner from the night before. 

There is no denying that stomach acid is the culprit in GERD and reflux (even heartburn) because even the smallest amount of stomach acid in the wrong place will cause damage.  You may even find relief from products that neutralize or stop production of stomach acid altogether. The problem probably isn’t stomach acid but the valve at the opening of the stomach (and at the end of the esophagus). The job of this valve is to allow food to enter the stomach and to open when you need to burp or vomit. That is it.  Often the problem with GERD and reflux can be that this valve is not working properly. 

If you are taking a drug to suppress or neutralize your stomach acid, you are then creating a cascade effect of issues all through your digestive system. Acid reducers are really just a band aid to the problem and don’t get at the root cause. Acid is in the stomach because it is supposed to be there. Your stomach is set up to be a great acid making machine. 

There are many reasons for your body to not make enough stomach acid. It is quite common in people with thyroid problems especially hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s.  When you are deficient in stomach acid (Hydrochloric Acid or HCl) you simply don’t have the proper chemicals to break down your proteins in to amino acids or to break down your vitamins and minerals so they can be used throughout the body. 

If you don't have enough stomach acid to digest a meal you have eaten then your next meal will force that partially digested meal in to the upper part of your small intestines where the acidity of it is supposed to trigger pancreatic enzymes to be released to further the digestive process. This doesn’t happen because you didn’t have enough stomach acid which means you have undigested particles of food going through your intestines with the possibility of those particles being released in to the blood stream where your immune system will produce antibodies and launch an attack. This is when autoimmunity occurs. 

When you don’t have enough stomach acid, not only are you not extracting the nutrients from your food which include amino acids from proteins, minerals and vitamins like B12 and folate but you are causing inflammation in the gut. B12 is important for nerve activity and how well your brain functions.  

Having the right amount of stomach acid is one of the first lines of defense your body has against pathogens, bacteria and fungus. If those things, along with your food are not digested or broken down properly you can end up with and overgrowth of bacteria which causes inflammation. Those undigested proteins also cause inflammation in the gut increasing your body’s stress response. 

Not having enough stomach acid to digest what goes in can lead to a whole host of problems including but not limited to allergies, depression, skin issues, gallstones, certain autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis and aging more quickly.  It is possible if you have reflux that it is due to a food intolerance such as non celiac gluten sensitivity or even dairy- it is bio individual. You will have to do some experimenting to figure out what foods could be causing it. 

How do you know if you are making enough stomach acid?

If you have any of the conditions mentioned you most probably don’t make enough. One way to know is to take some Betaine HCl with a meal containing protein. You take a few bites of your meal, chew really well and then take a Betaine HCl. Take another bite or two of food and then take another Betaine HCl. You continue to do that until you feel a burning sensation. Once you feel the burning you know you have taken one too many so your dose would be less one. For example. If you feel the burn at 4 Betaine HCl then your dose for a meal would be three. 

If you need more than six Betaine I would take caution. You may want to keep your dose to no more than three or four and work on the following: 

  1. Sit down to eat your meal. 
  2. Take time to be grateful for your meal and anything else you wish.
  3. Chew each bite thoroughly (20-30 times). 
  4. Put your fork down between bites
  5. Drink water with lemon or a pinch of salt with your meal and don’t drink more than 4 ounces with your meal.
  6. Take digestive bitters about 15-20 minutes before your meal. Urban Moonshine is a good brand. 

Most of all, enjoy your food. It is there to provide you nourishment!

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

 

Breakfast Hash Recipe

This whole cooking from scratch thing gets to be really old, really fast when you have to cook three meals a day for seven days a week in order to maintain your health (especially if you have an autoimmune disease).  I also have restrictions to my diet. No gluten. No dairy. No eggs. No grains. I will never be able to have gluten again and I should probably never eat dairy again as well. Dairy can be cross reactive with gluten meaning your body can’t tell the difference between the protein in dairy and gluten proteins. When you have thyroid problems, that can be a big deal. 

In an effort to ensure I eat enough and stay full until lunch, I make hash a lot. It is super easy when you have leftover veggies. It is easy even if you don’t. Hash can be made from anything. Any vegetables and any starch and any meats you have in the fridge. 

Today mine was made of purple sweet potatoes, fennel, onion, broccoli and parsley with a little bit of ham leftover from a dinner a few nights ago. I made a skillet full so I could have it for a snack later if there was any left over. Truthfully, I could have eaten the whole thing and probably should have but I had a meeting to go to so I didn’t have time. 

Fennel, Ham, Parsley, Broccoli, Onion, Purple Sweet Potato

Fennel, Ham, Parsley, Broccoli, Onion, Purple Sweet Potato

 

So here is the recipe for this specific hash. If you have not signed up for my newsletter yet you can get a good hash recipe in my 4 week gut healing program for free when you sign up. 

 

1 small onion, chopped

1 small stalk broccoli, chopped

1/2 a med bulb of fennel, chopped

1-1 1/2 purple sweet potato, cut in to half moons (also called Japanese purple sweet potato)

small handful of parsley, chopped

1 T lard, coconut oil or butter

 

 

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add fat of choice. Let melt in pan and then add sweet potato and fennel.

After the fat is hot in the skillet add the potatoes and fennel. 

After the fat is hot in the skillet add the potatoes and fennel. 

Season with salt and pepper if desired. Stir and cover. Reduce heat to med low. Let cook covered for about 10 minutes. This will soften the potatoes and fennel quicker. 

Cover the potatoes so they can soften quicker or cook through quicker. 

Cover the potatoes so they can soften quicker or cook through quicker. 


Remove lid and add broccoli and onions and increase heat to medium. Stir frequently and add more fat if you need to. 

 Once the onions and broccoli are almost done add the leftover ham and parsley and stir until heated through. 

I added the parsley after I took this photo. 

I added the parsley after I took this photo. 

Like I said earlier this is enough for one hungry person. 

When making hash you can think outside the box and use anything you have. I try to make extra veggies for dinner so I have lots left over to use in my hash. It helps to have them already cooked because it speeds up the process. You can use cauliflower, brussels sprouts, asparagus- anything. 

If you like eggs you can add an egg at the end so it just cooks in the hash and makes almost like a sauce for the whole thing. 

What do you like to eat for breakfast?

In Health, 

Stephanie

20 Ways to Tell Your Blood Sugar Needs Balancing

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

 

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

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

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

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

So why do we love it so much?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some general symptoms of low blood sugar: 

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

How do you avoid blood sugar imbalances?

Look at your diet. Look at your lifestyle. 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

In health, 

Stephanie

 

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

Forgiving your body for its betrayal. A story of healing.

This is an extremely personal post and one I tell in hopes of helping someone else. If you have Hashimoto’s or any other condition that has caused you great loss in the past or the present I wanted you to know you are not alone.  I am talking particularly about pregnancy loss. Whether you have had a miscarriage or a stillbirth, like me, you can get through it and come out okay on the other side of it. 

My hypothyroidism was diagnosed in spring of 2002 after my second child, a boy, was born. I went to the doctor for something else and had mentioned how tired I was so he also checked my thyroid. My TSH was around 150 and he put me on Levothyroxine and adjusted my meds over the next few months until I was producing labs in the conventional normal range (.5-5.0). 

I thought all was good since the doctor said so but after some time, I just didn’t feel right. Looking back now I know exactly why that was. I was consuming the Standard American Diet (SAD) of low fat, high carbs and grains with every meal. Little did I know how sick it was making me and exactly how my body would respond. 

In 2003 my husband and I found ourselves expecting our third child and boy did I feel terrible. I never have gotten physically sick with any of my pregnancies but I was nauseous 24/7. I felt terrible all the time and was also taking care of a four year old and a two year old. It was fun. My whole pregnancy I never felt like things were okay. Something was never quite right in my gut. We ended up going to a perinatologist for what they thought were issues with this baby’s brain and spinal cord. We had an MRI done in March of 2004 where they confirmed for me that everything was okay. We were going to have a healthy baby. I was relieved but still felt terrible heading in to my third trimester. 

In the middle of this pregnancy my doctor checked my thyroid and found that I had gone in to a hyperthyroid state so he took me off my meds. This should have been clue number one to check me for Hashimoto’s but the sad thing is that it would not have changed the care I was given. I had inner trembling, insomnia and was losing weight but of course I never felt bad when at the doctors office so I always forgot to tell them about my symptoms. 

A month after being given the all clear from the perinatologists, I went in to labor- six weeks early. I had taken my daughter to preschool and went to a parent/child class with my son. I didn’t feel right there so I left a little early and went to get my daughter from preschool. Thankfully my friend took the kids and I called my husband and doula to tell them I was in labor. We all met at our home and the doula wisely reminded us this baby was early so it might be a good idea to go in to the hospital sooner rather than later. 

When we got to the hospital were put in the triage where they checked to make sure I was really in labor. They confirmed I was but went to get the doctor to run the ultrasound. The doctor had the job of telling us there was no heartbeat. Our baby would be stillborn. My husband broke down and I found myself in another place entirely. I still had to give birth so I asked for an epidural so I didn’t have to feel anything. The baby came without and epidural. They cleaned our baby boy off and handed him to me and I sobbed and sobbed. I couldn’t believe it. 

Something like this happens and as a mother you think you could have done something to prevent it. You could have said something a week ago or done something different and he would still be alive.  I remember thinking of this woman I had seen on Oprah who’s ex husband had come to her home early one morning while she was out walking with a friend and shot and killed all three of her kids. I thought, “At least I don’t have to go through what she did”.  We spent the night in the hospital with our baby, taking turns holding him and crying and talking and being alone. The next day, we went home without him and with no explanation for why this happened. It was so devastating and I have always suspected my thyroid and I was really pissed at my body for betraying me.  

In a matter of hours our lives were changed forever. You become part of a club you never wanted to join. You have to find a new normal because what you knew to be normal will never be again. 

Once my husband went back to work and our families left to go back to their lives I was able to get an appointment with an endocrinologist with a referral from my doctor. I had a mission to have another baby, and a healthy one at that. I wanted my thyroid to be in good working order. 

So I saw an endocrinologist for some time- what a colossal waste of time and money that was. He ran labs every six weeks of TSH and T3 and T4 and felt my neck as I swallowed. That was it. No testing for antibodies, no Hashimoto’s diagnosis. Had I been diagnosed I would have dove in head first with some research on how to live optimally with this disease.  

It took 8 months for my thyroid to calm down and be at a “normal” level again. I say normal in quotations because what conventional medicine calls normal and what functional medicine call normal are two different things. Conventional lab ranges are based on all the people who had their thyroid tested the previous year so your labs are compared to all the sick people and all the healthy people lumped together. Functional lab ranges are based on what a healthy person would be at.  Once they thought my thyroid was in a good place we decided to try for another baby. I got pregnant right way and was bound and determined to have a healthy baby. 

My doctor agreed to see me exclusively throughout my pregnancy and in the third trimester I had biweekly and then weekly appointments to measure the heartbeat of the baby for an hour each time to ensure there was no distress. It was a long nine months of worry and stress but we made it through and my thyroid managed to do well and we had a healthy baby too. 

What I know now is that I was going through a major Hashimoto’s flare when we lost our baby to stillbirth. I wasn’t diagnosed with Hashimoto's until 2011 when I sought out the help of a Naturopathic Doctor. She did some thorough testing of my thyroid and some food sensitivity tests. When I found her I had already begun researching gluten free diets and had gone cold turkey gluten free about a month before seeing her. Something in my gut told me that might be the way to go. I had severe blood sugar regulation issues, adrenal fatigue and this terrible itchy rash on my chest and arms that never went away. I knew I wasn’t going to get any answers from my regular doctor so I started to search google and found some information about gluten free diets and natural doctors. 

Two weeks in to my new gluten free diet my rash was completely gone and my head was feeling clear and I was feeling pretty good. My new naturopath told me I should also be dairy free (and egg) among other things. I was a little bummed about that one because a major replacement of the gluten in my diet was cheese. It kept me full and now I couldn’t have that either. How overwhelming. She also wanted me to consume very little sugar which was the only love I had left.  It has taken me four years but sugar no longer has a hold on me. 

I still miss some good quality artisan bread but I never consume it. I have learned that doing so will only launch an attack on my thyroid tissue by my immune system. I would like to keep the rest of my thyroid tissue alive and well thank you very much. 

If you have Hashimoto’s or any other Autoimmune condition, you should never consume gluten. It is very inflammatory to your gut and will only cause problems for you and your health. There are probably other foods you will have to give up too because when you have autoimmune disease, you tend to have other foods that cause an inflammatory response in your body. The best way to know what those foods are is to go on an elimination diet for a month. 

I wish I would have known when I was pregnant with my son what Hashimoto’s was and how my diet and lifestyle were affecting the pregnancy. When we were told our baby would possibly be disabled that put a lot of stress on me. I was high strung already and that just made it worse. My diet was SAD. I baked every week so I ate gluten at least 3 times a day if not more and consumed large amounts of sugar. All the bread, pasta and baked goods I ate was contributing to the large amount of inflammation in my body and the sugar was the icing on the inflammatory cake. All the sugar (carbohydrates and actual sugar) kept my body from being able to handle the emotional stress I was under as well as the physical stress from all the inflammation and the pregnancy. 

You see, it is your body’s job to maintain stable blood sugar first and foremost and then deal with all the other stressors. Cortisol helps manage blood sugar and all the other stress we experience bothy physically and mentally. When there isn’t enough to go around, your body pays the price. 

So my point here is that with the Hashimoto’s flare up during that pregnancy I was like a ticking time bomb resulting in the death of my son. I blamed myself and my body for only a short time. I knew that if I concentrated on that I would go so far down the rabbit hole, I wouldn’t find my way out and I had people who needed me to be there for them. I was pissed at myself for not being able to protect my baby. I was pissed my friends got to keep their babies. I was pissed at women I didn’t know who where pregnant- I wanted to tell them they could lose their baby anytime. I wanted to tell them what I thought they didn’t know. I was pissed at my doctor for not doing more for me. I felt the feelings and then I moved on. I knew it was the only way I would find true healing. I allowed myself to go through the grieving process. I allowed myself to feel. It took me about two years to feel emotionally good again. Now 11 years later, when his birthday comes around I am sad but I am not a mess because that is what works for me. If you are a mess every year, be a mess until you don’t have to be a mess anymore but feel what you need to feel. It is okay.

This journey has been a long one. I have discovered a way to be healthy. I have a new relationship with food (which is still a work in progress). I have a new relationship with my body too. We love each other. 

If you have Hashimoto’s and have experienced a difficult pregnancy or have fertility issues you can find help through nutrition. Share this with someone if you think it can help them.

Remember this: 

  • Hashimoto’s and gluten don’t mix
  • When you change your diet you need to do more than just replace your old foods with gluten free ones
  • Gluten is only one piece of the puzzle
  • Sugar will have a large impact on the inflammation you experience and on hormonal balance
  • It is okay to be pissed off about your situation, but don’t let it rule your life
  • You are not alone
  • You are not your dis-ease
  • Getting well is a journey. It doesn’t happen overnight
  • You CAN feel good again
  • I care about you

 

What is Nutrition? Part One.

I invited a friend and her family to our Thanksgiving dinner and she jokingly asked if we were having a Tofu Turkey for dinner. I laughed but inside I was a little irritated. Then I got to thinking and realized she had no idea what healthy food or nutrition meant to me. Everyone has their own idea of what it means to be healthy and what good nutrition is. Everyone thinks their way is the right way. For years I thought I was being healthy by eating whole grains and staying away from saturated fat. Once I learned some of the science behind why I eat the way I do, I realized just how wrong I was. I had been riding the blood sugar roller coaster for years. I had been doing cardio three days a week and not losing any weight and I did not feel good. 

I have not felt good for so long I am not sure I remember what it feels like to feel really good but that is a whole other series of posts to come. I have had glimpses of what it feels like but they sure don’t last long. Hashimoto’s and thyroid problems are fickle that way. You never know what you are going to get from one day to the next. My poor family can attest to that. Mom is a freak. No doubt about it. Some days are good, more days are not. It gets a little old after awhile (I am 13 years into a hypothyroid diagnosis and 4 years in to a Hashimoto’s diagnosis), ask anyone who lives with me. 

So, I thought I would explain in a series of posts what good Nutrition means to me. What it means to not only eat healthy, but be healthy. Being healthy involves food but it also is your mind and your spirit no matter what kind of body you have. Just so you know, being thin does not equal being healthy. You must be fit and what that is for you is different than what it is for me. 

 

What does NUTRITION mean?  It can mean giving your body the food it needs to maintain health. It also can mean the science of food and how it interacts with the organism consuming it. In this case, your body. 

Nutrients are the components of food that are essential for life. They provide us with energy, structure and ensure all of the systems in our body are working properly. 

What is essential to life must be provided by the food we consume or our diet. There are several nutrients we need but today I will focus on water. 

We are approximately 60% water. WOW! That’s a lot. Water is said to be THE most important nutrient for our body. We can only go a few days without it. Water is in every tissue in our body. Every cell and all your body fluids should have a high volume of water. 

What exactly does it do for us? Why do we need it?

Well, it helps you breathe easier. It helps you regulate your body temperature. Water helps your cells talk to each other. It removes waste (through sweat and elimination). It carries nutrients throughout your body. It helps you heal and a whole bunch of other cool stuff. 

 

Your body can only make about 8% of the water it needs- the rest is up to you and what you put in your mouth. We do not (at least we are not supposed to) store water so we must consume it. 

Your body can only make about 8% of the water it needs- the rest is up to you and what you put in your mouth. We do not (at least we are not supposed to) store water so we must consume it. 

How much water should you consume?  The standard eight 8oz glasses or 64oz is not always true. There are some very well respected health care practitioners that would say, drink when you are thirsty but I really believe it is a little too late by the time you are thirsty- you are probably a little dehydrated by then. Consumption of water is individualized. The Nutritional Therapy Association recommends taking your body weight and dividing that in half and drinking that many ounces per day.  So if you are 200lbs you would drink 100oz of water per day. HOLY COW that is a lot of water. Don’t chug it all at once though, your body can only use about 4oz every 15 minutes or so. You also need to keep in mind the time of year, how much you are sweating in the day among other things. If you are working out and sweating a ton then you might drink more than that. If it is winter and you are sitting around most of the day then 100oz might be too much. You can get water from your food too. Bone broth, veggies, fruits. These all contain water and they are good for you. Double benefit. Kill two birds with one stone! Yes!

Of course I would not worry myself trying to get all that water in during your day. If you are just starting to drink more water and less of something less hydrating (pop, coffee, juice boxes) then just take those baby steps baby! You can do it!! Try replacing one of those other favorite beverages with an equal amount of water and increase it gradually. Your body will thank you! 

What if you hate the taste of water!? I’m a water snob, always have been. I like a good crisp tasting water. I also like it with a splash of lemon and a pinch of salt!  I like it warm with steeped ginger and turmeric. You can add sliced cucumber which is really good too. Try it! You might be surprised. Whatever you do, don’t use those chemical laden squirt bottles full of artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners. It totally defeats the purpose. 

 

Adding that pinch of Celtic Sea Salt or Redmond Real Salt is great for adding electrolytes and your adrenal glands will love you for it. 

If you drink diuretics like coffee, some teas, pop or store bought juice then you need to drink 1.5 oz of water for every ounce of the diuretic. A 12 oz can of pop means you need to drink 18oz of water to make up for it. 

The quality of your water is important too. Filtered water is great because you have some of the chemicals removed from the water. 

What does it look like when you are dehydrated? Early signs of dehydration are fatigue, anxiety, irritability, depression, cravings, cramps, headaches and hunger. That’s right, if you think you are hungry you might just be thirsty. Drink up!