Help for Hashimoto's Episode 13

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

 

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

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

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

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

Fiber supplements can reduce the effectiveness of this medication. 

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

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

Common side effects: 

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

 

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

 

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

Anemia.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How is your blood sugar?

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

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

Having good digestion is key to energy. 

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

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

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

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

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

Help For Hashimoto's Episode 6

I have Hashimotos and recently my hair has turned extremely dry and brittle. My doctor increased my medication a month ago, but still no change in my hair. I definitely feel as though it’s caused by something with in me as opposed to any products I may be using on my hair since those have not changed. Any suggestions would be sincerely appreciated!

Jody

Losing your hair and or having dry brittle hair are common symptoms in hypothyroidism. Some things that might be causing this for you are: 

  1. is your thyroid medication/treatment optimal?
    1. all the cells in our body need thyroid hormones to function properly. T4 only medications like levothyroxine and synthroid might not be working well for you. Maybe your body doesn’t do well converting t4 to t3 which is what your cells use.  You might need a T4/T3 combo medication. 
    2. Make sure your doctor is testing TSH, Free T3, Free T4, Reverse T3 and the antibodies- TPO and TgAb. Functional medicine lab ranges according to Datis Kharrazian for TSH are 1.8-3.0 mU/L (milliunits per liter). Personally, I have felt best when mine is a bit below 1.0 which is common for those of us on Natural desiccated thyroid hormone.  Free T3 functional range is 1.2-4.9 mg per deciliter, free t4 functional range is 1.0-1.5 ng/dL (nanograms per deciliter. If you lab results are not in these measurements, you can google how to convert them in to these numbers. Don’t worry about taking notes on this either, all of this will be on my website at out of the woods nutrition dot com.  The antibodies should be at zero but that doesn’t mean you don’t have the autoimmune thyroid conditions of hashimoto’s or graves disease. Our immune systems fluctuate- when you have your blood test they might be considered within range- so don’t rely on antibodies testing alone to mean you do or do not have the disease. 
    3. What are your iron levels like?  Ferritin is our storage iron. If that is low it can result in hair loss and probably are related to dry hair too but more so hair that is falling out. Having good ferritin levels encourages hair growth and having low levels means your body will put hair and nail health on the back burner to ensure that the tissues that really need iron get it first. Liver is a great way to get your iron. Personally I can’t stand liver in the form of pate or cooked so I take either an iron supplement occasionally or I take Vital Proteins liver capsules which are not cheap. I have liver in my freezer and have not taken the time to dehydrate it and put it in capsules which would be way more cost effective. 
    4. If you are not making enough stomach acid, you will not be breaking down your food, protein in particular, so you will not be getting all the nutrients you need from your diet which will affect how supple your hair is. Are you eating enough protein? Hair and nails are made of protein. If you are deficient either because you are not eating enough or because you are not breaking down your food well enough you will be deficient and your hair will pay the price. I recommend starting out on a low dose of HCl aka Betaine Hydrochloric Acid with Pepsin to help you break down your food. Something like 150mg to start with and go up from there………..
    5. Something your pharmacist won’t tell you- some thyroid medications can cause hair loss. So, the very thing you are depending on to feel well is causing your hair to fall out. The package insert for your medication will also tell you that you should not be taking it if you are suffering with adrenal insufficiency- adrenal fatigue. 
    6. If you have hashimoto’s you have an autoimmune disease and that means you are likely susceptible to having more than one autoimmune disease- most commonly 3 AID and the likelihood of having a total of 7 over your lifetime. These things don’t happen overnight either. Your body suffers internally for years before another disease becomes symptomatic.  This is why it is soooo important to address diet and lifestyle issues. We don’t just all of a sudden get sick overnight. Our body is like a car- pick your dream car or even the one you are driving now. How you care for that car today and for the time you drive it will determine just how long that car runs well for you. You have to put the right kind of fuel in to it. You have to change the oil and have other fluids checked. Your car wants to run well for you but it will break down if you don’t give it what it needs to run properly. Our bodies are the same. You only get this one chance to be here now. Your body does what it can daily to maintain homeostasis or balance. It works really hard to keep us alive and running well. What we fuel it with really does matter. A calorie is not just a calorie. You will get so much more out of 100 calories of veggies vs. 100 calories of cookies. 
    7. Speaking of fuel- how is your blood sugar? According to Izabella Wentz: Blood sugar swings- due to high refined carbohydrates and not enough good quality protein and fats will cause T4 to be converted to Reverse T3 which keeps T3 bound up so the body and the cells can’t use it. This can cause us to lose hair too. Again, I know you were more concerned about dry brittle hair but the two go together. 
    8. Are you digesting your fat well? Are you eating a good balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fats? Get a high quality fish oil and eat some healthy fats like olive oil, avocados and coconut oil to get a good mix of omega 3 and omega 6. The ratio of those should be around 1:1 and most of us get about 1:20 with omega 6 being the 20 because it is in a lot of processed foods and restaurant foods in the form of canola oil and soybean oil. 
    9. Some people believe that supplementing with collagen can help your hair. We make less of this protein as we get older so you can try it to see if it helps. I would give it about a month. 
    10. I would lastly look at your hair products. It doesn’t sound like this is an issue for you as you said you didn’t have a problem before and you had not switched products. My favorite hair products are Intelligent Nutrients- they are good for your hair and for the environment. I do think you are right though, your hair problem is internal. I would encourage you to use a food journal to keep track of what you are eating and how you feel and you may notice that you might need to change some things. 

Good luck Jody, and please let me know if any of these suggestions helped you! 

 

Hi! Your podcasts have been great so far...thank you, thank you, thank you. I have been diagnosed with hashimotos for the past two years. I am 34 years old.

I decided to visit the doctor two years ago when I started having body aches and unusually dry skin. I was extremely tired all the time, however I thought that was natural due to having a newborn. I soon realized it was much more than being a “tired mom”.

I was put on levothyroxin. Seemed to even my levels out until recently. Started having stronger symptoms again and revisited the doctor. Taken off of levothyroxin (synthetic thyroid medication) and placed on nature throid (natural thyroid medication). What do you believe are major differences in a synthetic vs natural thyroid prescription?

Thank you again for all of your honest, transparent, and giving information.

CM

 

We have a similar story. I was diagnosed after my second child was born. I went in for a literal pain in my behind which turned out to be sciatica and when the doctor asked me if I needed anything else I told him I felt extra tired but thought it was because I had a toddler and an infant. He did a TSH test- standard for conventional medicine and my TSH was at 150- so clearly I had an issue with hypothyroidism. He put me on levothyroxine and I never felt good after that. My periods were heavy, I was cold all the time- like chilled to the bone and my adrenals were shot. 

Your question is about the differences between synthetic medication like levothyroxine and natural desiccated thyroid hormones like Naturethroid. I will get to that but I want to first address why things leveled off for awhile but got worse and your medication had to be adjusted. 

  1. You were diagnosed with hashimoto’s which is first an issue with your immune system and second and issue with your thyroid- likely hypothyroid symtoms.  When the autoimmune disease is not treated with diet and lifestyle modifications, your immune system can remain on high alert and can continue to attack your thyroid tissue killing it off. This often gives us the feeling of going between hypo and hyper symptoms. Maybe this has happened to you, maybe not. Anyway- one of the reasons for needing your dose to be increased is because more of your thyroid has been killed off. I guess you never said that your dose was increased but just changed to a different medication. Still, this is something to be mindful of. 
  2. Now, on to the differences between synthetic and natural hormone medications. 
    1. NDT was used in the 1800’s to treat patients with hypothyroid symptoms. The medication is made from pig thyroid glands and this is why it is called natural. It also contains all the thyroid hormones present in our own thyroid tissue. Desiccated means that the pigs are bred for the purpose of getting the thyroid. It is removed with a specific protocol, frozen, minced, dried and made into a fine powder. It is defatted and batches are combined to get a uniform mixture of T4 and T3. The benefit of the natural desiccated medications is that you get what your body would have normally provided for you had your own thyroid stopped working properly. This means the right ratios of T4 and T3, and T2, T1 and T0. There is not a lot of research on T2,1 and 0 but they are obviously there for a reason so this might be why some people really feel so much better on NDT.  The dosages are often referred to as grains. One grain equals 60 mg of NDT In Armour which is made up of 38mcg of T4 and 9mcg of T3. You can find conversion charts from manufacturers for most of the NDT medications on the market. 
      1. Armour, NatureThroid and Westhroid are the most common prescriptions. My favorite was WP thyroid until I couldn’t get it anymore but have found great success using a compounded thyroid medication which is just the thyroid powder and cellulose which I open the capsule and put under my tongue. This is called taking the medication sublingually. It bypasses your stomach, gut and liver and goes right in to the bloodstream. This works for me, but doesn’t mean it will work for you. You can try it and see how you feel after a week on it. I take my meds in divided doses. Half in the morning when I wake up and half in the late afternoon.  Western Research Labs or RLC labs is the manufacturer of your medication. You may be able to get all the ingredients of your medication on their site. Also be aware that your pharmacy can switch your medication without telling you if they run out of what is prescribed. You can ask your doctor to write your prescription to be dispensed as subscribed or you can let your pharmacist know that you do not want them to switch your meds. The main reason NDT meds are different is because they contain more than just T4. T3 plays a big role in cognitive abilities in the brain and how the brain functions. Got brain fog? Maybe you are not converting T4 to T3 or maybe you are lacking in T3.  NDT might be what is the key to your brain fog, depression and mood problems for us. If you don’t feel any changes in those things, maybe you are not on a high enough dose or your body isn’t using it well. This is where diet changes can help. T3 is supposed to be better absorbed by the gut than T4. Studies show that 95% of T3 is absorbed within the first 4 hours of taking it and will happen even faster on an empty stomach.   Back when Armour was first being used, they were making doses of medication based on symptoms and relief of those symptoms. Novel idea huh!? 
      2. In 1926 synthetic thyroxine was created. Synthroid was made. To market this great money making drug- the maufacturer sold physicians on the idea that it was better than NDT. Research was funded to prove it was better than NDT. Unfortunately the study didn’t show Synthroid to be better than NDT. The research study was not published and the Dr. performing the research was discredited. A journalist caught on and broke the story and there was a lot of trouble for the manufacturer in the 90’s. The FDA pulled the medication due to irregularities in formulation. It was even marketed and sold in the US without formal FDA approval. In 2013 28,000 bottles of 150 mcg of Synthroid were recalled due to being a lower dose than stated on the bottle. Your doctor likely is just used to prescribing this medication because that is what they are taught. They have been told that NDT causes heart problems which is really a load of crap. Too much can lead to atrial fibrillation, osteoporosis, insomnia, heat intolerance, tremors, and more. My body takes awhile to get used to a NDT Medication change and that is why dosing it twice a day is recommended. Fight for the chance to try this kind of medication if you don’t feel well on synthetic only medications. The synthetic medications are really about money. Synthroid is the 4th most prescribed medication in the US at 70 million prescriptions a year. The profit from Abbott Labs funds endocrinology groups and their meetings as well as clinical research grants. Do you think they are going to publish studies that show their medication doesn’t work as well? Probably not. Pharmaceutical companies have more to gain by you being on a synthetic medication that keeps you sick vs. the Natural medication that makes  you feel better. 

 

I want to also talk about how it feels to have a disease that isn’t visible. I was talking with my niece and her husband last weekend about thyroid. Somehow the subject came up and my nieces husband said something about if your thyroid isn’t working right you are basically screwed or something like that. I had to laugh because he is so right. We don’t look sick but some days we just feel terrible. It is hard on us and hard on our families. My parents don’t understand, especially my dietary restrictions. They quit inviting my family over for dinner. My mom never makes an effort to understand how this has affected me. I don’t hold that against her- she is doing the best she can with the tools she has. So she says things like, let’s go out for pizza- you can eat a salad. Oh that sounds like so much fun to eat a salad while everyone else is enjoying pizza. It’s never- “let’s go to a restaurant where you can really enjoy the food”. She has thyroid problems too but all I ever hear is “I am so glad I feel so good”- what is normal for her is to feel tired and have a headache or just say she doesn’t feel good. She lays on the couch most afternoons and she had a headache everyday of my life in the morning. Sometimes we think we feel good because normal is to feel bad. 

Here are what some people are saying about what they want people to know about hashimoto’s. 

BA says:  In my case support... You don't "look" sick... My husband truly truly is trying to understand it all. He sees what it does to me but doesn't understand why. Thinks with diet and exercise I'll be just fine...

LH says:  Digestive issues, fatigue, stress,

GH says:  That everything can be great and you look and feel wonderful then you suddenly crash and feel like death. For weeks.

TF says:  Like one minute I lost 60 pounds, was working out every day at the age of 50 and living my best life and out of nowhere this monster hits me and now it’s horrible. I don’t know from one day to the next what is coming. I don’t even understand most of it. this disease is so extensive and complicated

TC says:  Why food makes us sick? Hurt? Not sleep?

KT says:  Always test your thyroid ANTIBODIES! All my “usual” thyroid labs were in the normal range, but antibodies off the charts... so grateful I finally had a doc test them!

TW says:  The fatigue is real, I’m not lazy. I don’t “want” to take a nap, I have no choice. What is needed? Research. Education of MDs and endocrinologists.

SJ says:  Extreme fatigue, and excessive weight gain ! 100 lbs, which I've been unable to loose for 20 years. Insomnia as well , and digestive issues ( gluten intolerant ). HASHIMOTO'S IS A BEAST !

TB says:  Research to determine which diet is the best for Hashimoto's. Extreme fatigue and brain fog are real!

SD says:  Educating MD's who are still treating all of our symptoms seperately, telling patients they are overweight because they eat too much and don’t exercise enough, and prescribing thyroid replacement that is man made instead of natural desiccated thyroid (NDT). Quit my doctor of 21 years 8 years ago and found a naturopath. Best decision of my life!!!

MH says:  More education, more testing. Doctors to understand test results vs symptoms and please don’t say” well you are  borderline even though you have these symptoms, so we will not treat you.”

TM says: Our tired is not their tired , it’s not even in the same realm . Our weight gain is not our fault . We are not lazy, we’re tired.

CE says:  Our inflammation is unlike others due to the constant aches we endure along with insomnia, depletion of vital nutrients, and gut problems.

AO says:  It may seem invisible but our body is having a nuclear war. New symptoms and concurrent disorders are constantly showing up, that don't seem to be related sometimes, and there hasn't been enough research to do anything but regulate diet and control some symptoms. It IS disabling for a large amount of people. With mine I had to quit work and can only last 2-4 hours of any type of work before I am too exhausted/weak/ill to function.

RS says:  More knowledge/awareness for everyone...So doctors stop running basic labs, so that people are more aware of symptoms and can ask for the correct labs, so loved ones can be more supportive of those with AI diseases, and so everyone realizes how vastly important our diets effect our health. The majority of people who find out I have Hashi’s have no clue what it is. I don’t look sick, so they don’t understand how I can go from 100 to bed ridden for days, or understand why I eat the way I do if I don’t have “food allergies.” People just don’t understand any of it, even my family and closest friends.

Elemental Diet Day Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read about my first day on the Elemental Diet here. 

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

Five Things I Learned on the Autoimmune Protocol

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

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

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

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

I needed to eat more vegetables and particularly greens. 

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

2. I need to practice better self care. 

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

3. I need to forge and nurture friendship. 

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

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

4. I need to learn balance. 

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

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

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

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

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

Does Being on The Autoimmune Protocol Suck?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you do that makes you feel good?

What to Expect When you Go On a Sugar Detox

 

Locally I teach a class called RESTART®. It is a five week long nutrition program with a three week sugar detox built in to it. I am a sugar addict and have been toying with the idea of giving up sugar for at least the last nine years. I used to work at a fitness center and one of the instructors there didn’t eat any sugar at all except for what was naturally occurring in fruit. None. At. All. I just could not get over how happy she was about it. It was a mystery to me at the time because sugar and sweet treats were my life. I baked almost every week and ate whatever my family didn’t finish. Muffins, cookies, cakes, bars. You name it and I baked it. Except croissants. My neighbor and friend made those and I never got around to making them before I gave up gluten. I always wanted to try to make them though. That and marshmallow’s from scratch. My husband thinks I am crazy but I find it almost meditative to bake. I loved it. Sugar became such a problem for me that I could not make any treats because I would end up eating the whole pan of whatever it was I made. 

So, this idea of giving up sugar sat with me and marinated in my head for nine years. It nagged at me occasionally especially when I started to look at how diet can affect well being. When I started to see a Naturopathic Doctor for my Hashimoto’s, she told me I needed to cut sugar out of my diet. I always said I would try or that I was trying but as Yoda says, “Do or Do Not, There is No Try.”. He was right. I did not give up sugar and didn’t even really try to do it until I was put on a specific diet to heal my gut. No sugar allowed. It wasn’t even that hard to do it when I was told specifically to stay away from it. That lasted for 3 weeks and the chiropractor that put me on it said I didn’t have to be on it anymore. That was all I needed to give myself permission to indulge in something sweet. I don’t remember what it was but I know I went off the deep end and ate too much sweet because my psoriasis came back with a vengeance. When that happened I got so mad and frustrated with myself for “screwing up” that I caused a flare. 

Fast forward a year and I became a RESTART® instructor leading a group of people to detox from sugar and learn about nutrition. I questioned how I could walk through a sugar detox if I didn’t give it up too. 

I gave it up with my first class. I went through the whole detox with them and for me, it wasn’t so bad. I had already given up most refined sugar but was getting my fix through potatoes and a lot of fruit. Yes, you read that right. Potatoes. I replaced my need for a sugar high from sweet treats to potatoes and other starches like sweet potatoes and plantains. Sugar is sugar and your body treats all sugar the same really. It converts the sugars in potatoes and fruits in to energy just like it would a piece of candy. Of course there are nutrients in the foods I was eating so it wasn’t all bad but my body still needed a break and RESTART® gave it just the break it was looking for.

It allowed me to regain control of that demon I had been dealing with my whole entire life. 

If you are wondering if the program is right for you, then keep reading.  On the RESTART® program, you will be cutting out all forms of sugar including most fruits. Preparation will be key to your success. You will be prepping all of your meals for the 3 weeks you are cutting out sugar. There is no way to do this while eating processed junk foods or convenience foods with some exceptions that we discuss in class. You will be given a list of what is allowed and what is not allowed on the plan. We will also share ideas of how to plan our meals so we aren’t left in a jam where we are starving and there is nothing to eat. 

A great tip to remain successful is to tell your friends and family about what you are doing so you can have lots of support. Better yet, enlist a friend to do it with you so you can support each other and be accountable to one another. You will also have the support of the other class participants each week as well as my private Facebook group that is just for RESTARTers. 

The RESTART® program is about adding lots of real whole foods to your diet and replacing all the processed foods in your life. We all have our go to’s and we can all give them up for 3 weeks. 

I am an emotional eater. When I am feeling down or stressed I want to sooth myself with a treat. It might even be a coping mechanism for me. This program forced me to take a look at the reasons I turned to certain foods like sweets. The RESTART® program has helped me learn and to develop a new relationship to food and my reasons for turning to sugar. It is an uncomfortable place to be at times but I came out okay on the other side. 

I have regained control of my sugar addiction. 

Treat yourself in ways that don’t involve food. Hikes or walks, relaxing baths, massages or a yoga class. All of these things can make you feel just as good as a pint of ice cream (better in the long run) without the guilt that usually follows. 

When you cut sugar out of your diet, you will likely experience the “sugar flu” or detox symptoms. It usually happens within the first two weeks and lasts for a couple of days. Mood swings, depression, issues with digestion, skin rashes, muscle or joint aches, less energy. This is the result of toxins leaving your body. You will feel so much better in the end. 

You will also find that things that didn’t seem so sweet before will taste sweet enough to you after the three weeks are up. I had a private client recently who I put on this diet and she did not like green apples. She refused to eat them while on the program because they were too sour. I encouraged her at the end to just try one before she had a naturally sweeter apple. She found that the green apple was significantly less sour to her after the three weeks and she actually enjoyed it. Most of us consume things that are extremely sweet and when we give those things up, our taste buds have a chance to reset and we are able to really taste our food. This reset allows our brain to reset too. It won’t crave the crazy sweet stuff like it used to. 

Real whole foods will be enough. 

We all slip up. It’s okay. There is no guilt in RESTART® about slipping up. Just move on. it doesn’t mean you have to start over. Be kind to yourself. Nobody is perfect. Our motto is “Whatever I eat, I choose it consciously, I enjoy it thoroughly and then I let it go.”

You will see positive changes. Everyone is different but you may experience weight loss, more energy, improved digestion, clearer skin and a clear mind. You just won’t believe how negatively sugar was impacting your whole body. By the end you will feel so great about how you have impacted your health for the good. All in only five weeks. 

Are you feeling ready to give your health a RESTART®? Classes do run regularly but sign up for my newsletter here to stay on top of when the next class is. You can even host one in your home or we can do one via the web. Contact me for more information. 

In Health, 

Stephanie

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

Blood Sugar, Thyroid and How They Relate

I have loved sugar my whole life. Who hasn’t really. I grew up having dessert after every dinner we had. We had a steady rotation of chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake (lovingly called crazy cake), apple, cherry and blueberry crisp (made from canned fruit). Standard fare in the 80’s. I became addicted to sugar at a very young age and still struggle with it well in to my 40’s. I don’t very often eat sugar anymore mostly because my body just doesn’t tolerate it. I have come a long way. 

Thyroid problems and blood sugar are connected. It seems out of balance blood sugar can really mess things up. 

Here is why. 

Every part of your body needs glucose (sugar) for energy to be made in your cells. No glucose means lower energy levels in general. 

When blood sugar is low, your thyroid won’t have the energy it needs and may be sluggish. 

When blood sugar gets too hight, over time you can run in to something called insulin resistance which is common in thyroid patients. 

Anytime you eat a lot of refined carbohydrates like pasta, breads, sweets and processed foods in general they are converted to glucose in your body. They provide a quick source of energy. They also cause your blood sugar to go up quickly. Blood sugar means the amount of glucose floating through your blood stream. Glucose and sugar are pretty much the same thing. Then your body says, “There is too much sugar in the blood stream, that can damage us.” So it releases the hormone insulin to carry that sugar to the cells for use. When your cells stop taking in the sugar, that is called resistance. What your body doesn’t realize is that the cells are full. They can’t take on any more sugar. There is no mechanism within the body to tell the brain to stop producing insulin. Al it knows is that there is all this sugar in the blood and it has to do something so it keeps pumping out the insulin. 

You end up with too much sugar and too much insulin in the blood. some of that will be stored as fat. Before it is stored as fat it goes around damaging your blood vessels and your organs, including the thyroid. This is called inflammation. 

When you have too much sugar in the blood and too much insulin trying to get the sugar to the cells and the cells refusing to take it in you end up with insulin resistance which is a stepping stone to type 2 diabetes. Your cells cannot get the energy they need because they are resisting letting the glucose in for use as energy. This means your thyroid cells don’t have energy either. Then your thyroid cannot work effectively for you so you will have elevated TSH because your brain thinks it needs to be stimulated. 

When tissues in the body get inflamed, they cannot do their job. That includes the thyroid. 

When they thyroid is inflamed you will have less production of thyroid hormone and like stated above, a higher production of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone or TSH. Increased production of TSH means further damage to your cells perpetuating the vicious cycle of insulin resistance. 

When T4 and T3 are not working well, you are also not able to maintain your blood sugar levels. The more out of control your blood sugar gets, the less your thyroid will function properly. 

What is the solution?

If out of balance blood sugar is the reason your thyroid isn’t working well then the main thing you have to do is to maintain stable and healthy levels of blood sugar. You may want to go to the doctor and have your blood sugar tested.  Blood sugar imbalances might not be your main problem when it comes to your thyroid problems but the following information can benefit everyone. 

  • Get enough sleep and get quality sleep. If you don’t get quality sleep there is no time for your body to repair itself. Other hormones like cortisol will be screwed up contributing further to your insulin resistance. 
  • Get some exercise. You don’t have to work yourself to death at the gym 3 days a week. Just get moving to start with. It is hard to get up and get moving when you don’t have the energy, especially if you are hypothyroid. Believe me, I get it. Just do something even on the days when it is hard to get the laundry done. You have to start somewhere because staying on the couch is easy and getting better from thyroid problems isn’t always easy. Movement allows your muscles to use up some of the glucose in your blood so there is less floating around waiting to get in to your cells. 
  • Get a standing desk to work at or for at home. The less sitting you do, the better. A treadmill desk would be ideal. (I don’t have one but sure would like to- they are not always in the budget!)
  • Manage your stress. This is a big one. Your body cannot tell the difference between physical stress, emotional stress and even a fight you are having with someone in your head. Biologically, your body responds the same. If your body is constantly dealing with stress then your pituitary (part of your brain) gland is too busy too deal with the thyroid properly and it gets put on the back burner. When you are stressed, your cortisol levels shoot up. Your body then creates glucose from your lean muscle and puts that out in to your blood stream causing insulin levels to rise, your cells become further resistant to the glucose and then the glucose gets stored as fat. You got it. Your body takes energy from the muscles, converts it to sugar, your body cannot use it so it stores it as fat. Chronic stress will cause your thyroid to slow down and cortisol keeps T4 from doing its job. 
  • Eat some protein in the morning within two hours of waking. That will give your body something to convert to energy right away. 
  • Avoid snacking if you can or change your snacks to quality fat and protein if you are not ready to give them up. Here is why you should give them up- Regular snacking keeps the insulin pumping all day long. Your pancreas never gets a break, your cells continue to resist the glucose that insulin has brought them. Every single time you eat, insulin gets secreted in to the blood. Protein, fats and complex carbohydrates like vegetables cause that spike in insulin to be just a little less. Giving your body a break will give it time to burn some stored fat. 

What helps keep your blood sugar balanced?

  • The obvious answer here is to change your diet. Cut out sugar, processed foods and refined carbs. Join a RESTART class which is a five week class to help you learn about how food affects your body and includes a three week sugar detox. 
  • Chromium (polynictinate) has the job of helping glucose get in to the cell. It helps restore insulin sensitivity or allow insulin to drop glucose at your cells so your cells can take them in. You can supplement with it to help your body deal with your blood sugar.  
  • Take magnesium. Most people are deficient. It helps with many processes in the body and in managing blood sugar its job is to help chromium do its job. Try magnesium citrate if tolerated or magnesium glycinate. 
  • Stay away from artificial sweeteners, always. Some people think it is okay to use stevia either the green powder or in liquid form. Give it a try and see how it works for you. I personally am not a fan. 
  • I would encourage you to avoid all sweeteners for at least 3 weeks like in the RESTART sugar detox to give your body time to reset and learn how to burn fat for energy. 

There are many more things you could do here to manage your blood sugar but these are the big ones. Getting your blood sugar under control is a sure way to give your thyroid some tender loving care that it needs to function properly for you. 

Tell me in the comments below how much of a struggle you have had with blood sugar. 

In health, 

Stephanie

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