Help For Hashimoto's Episode 10

Welcome to episode 10. I hope this day finds you well and that everyday in every way you are getting better and better. 

Let’s get started. I got a question from Jordan. 

Hello Stephanie,     

    I'm very intrigued by your podcasts and enjoyed the free EBook! I was diagnosed with hashimotos auto-immune 2 years ago I've been on levothyroxine and my t3 remains high my T4 remains low but my tsh is always within normal ranges! My hair is terribly dry, brittle and gray and at the ripe age of 30 I'm heading to being bald! My bowels are Terrible to the point I was believing I had Celiac's or a gluten or wheat allergy until I listen to the podcast! I'm extremely overweight and I'm working hard on that as I'm 60lbs down! I have several of the symptoms of the adrenal fatigue except once I fall asleep I stay asleep and want to sleep hours upon hours! I'm writing to you to see if you could recommend to me some vitamins or suggestions so I can feel better. I'm a single mother on a extremely tight budget!  Thank you for your time! 

        Jordan

In the early stages of hashimoto’s people can have symptoms of both hypothyroidsim and hyperthyroidism. You can have palpitations, tremors, be really thin and have anxiety. You can have the dry brittle hair that is falling out and you can feel like you are going crazy. 

In hashimoto’s, your immune system is attacking the thyroid gland causing bits of thyroid hormone to be released in to the blood stream making you feel like you are experiencing hyperthyroidism. 

So what is happening? What will the issues be that you may have?

  • food sensitivities
  • nutrient deficiencies
  • adrenal fatigue
  • possibly an infection in your gut
  • poor detoxification- you are not able to clear out toxins

Any or all of these will keep your immune system on high alert and continue the attack on your thyroid. 

The high T3 is probably what is causing your hair to fall out. This can be indicative of high antibodies and since you have a diagnosis of hashimoto’s this could be what is going on here. You can ask to have your thyroglobulin antibodies along with the thyroid peroxidase antibodies tested. This should confirm why T3 is high. 

Low t4 can indicate disease in the thyroid or a problem with the pituitary gland or the signal that tells your thyroid to make more thyroid hormone. Your TSH is in the normal range, you said- I assume that is conventional range. If it is above three, functional medicine would consider that high. So, The pituitary gland would release TSH if t4 is low and a high TSH level would probably mean the thyroid itself isn’t working well and you would have hypothyroidism.  If t4 is low and TSH is not high then the pituitary gland is not signaling correctly. This is something you would want to discuss with your doctor. 

You also need to take a look at all of these things to bring down the inflammation and hopefully put your hashimoto’s in to remission. 

You may have deficiencies in the micro minerals like selenium, zinc, vitamin D, iron, B12 and B vitamins in general. First and foremost though you need to see if you have low stomach acid.     

Let’s start with Selenium: 

Many of us with hashimoto’s are deficient in this micro mineral which can be one of the things that causes us to get hashimoto’s. It helps to break down and make neutral the free radicals made during thyroid hormone production. If we are low on selenium, damage to the thyroid can occur and our ability to convert T4 to the T3 (which is what our cells take in) is affected. Take around 200 micrograms of this one. It has been shown to help reduce thyroid antibodies. 

Vitamin D:  

This helps to regulate our immune system and remember that hashimoto’s is an immune system problem first and foremost.  Your levels should be around 60-80 when you have it tested for optimal immune system regulation. 

D3 is the more absorbable form and you should make sure that it is in a capsule or liquid form with some kind of high quality fat like olive oil or MCT oil (a broken down portion of coconut oil). It is a fat soluble vitamin so you need to take it with fat for your body to use it. 

Good food sources for vitamin D are cod liver oil, fish, eggs and sunlight

B12-

If you have major fatigue, you should have your levels of B12 tested. It plays a role in digestion too so you want to make sure you are, again, making enough stomach acid. Most of us with hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism have low stomach acid. 

When you have low stomach acid, you don’t digest your food well which means your body has to work harder to break it down which requires energy. 

One of the possible causes for the low stomach acid is a B12 deficiency. And a B12 deficiency can cause low stomach acid. Vicious cycle. If you don’t have enough stomach acid you can’t get the nutrients including B12 and iron out of your food. You won’t be breaking down your meals as well and this can lead to food sensitivities. 

Betaine HCl with Pepsin. This is stomach acid in capsule or pill form. I recommend starting out with around 150mg pill to see where you are at. It will help you digest and break down your food better so you can use the nutrients in your food. 

Next, Probiotics. 

Intestinal permeability plays a pretty big role in autoimmune disease. One of the things linked to it is having your gut bacteria out of balance. Having more “bad guys” than “good guys” can cause gut issues and anxiety. You have about 100 trillion bacteria in your gut. 

Start with a 10 billion CFU per capsule and increase every couple of days until you see or feel die off symptoms. The die off is the bad guys dying out and the good guys taking over. The bad bacteria will release toxins that might make you feel bad for a couple of days. This can also exacerbate the inflammation and immune response so make sure  you have good eliminations and are drinking plenty of water. 

One of the best ways to get a lot of good bacteria in to your digestive tract is by consuming fermented foods like sauerkraut- not canned sauerkraut but the raw fermented kind found in the refrigerator sections of stores or find it at farmers markets. Or make it yourself. It is so easy to do and really inexpensive. 

Here is a good explanation of what leaky gut or intestinal permeability is and how it affects the immune system from Sean Croxton: 

“think of a window screen. And I say, “It’s a hot day. You open up the windows. And the good air comes through to cool the place off. And it feels nice and good and what not. But it keeps all the bugs, the flies, the gnats and the mosquitos out of the house. And that’s how the gut works. It’s very selective about what it allows through into the bloodstream or wherever.

“But if some kid came over to your house and started poking big holes in your window screen, then what happens is you open up the window. And gnats might come in. Flies might come in. What do you do? You start grabbing a magazine and like whacking away and stuff. And that’s what your immune system does, right? It says, “Wait. This isn’t supposed to be here. So let’s start whacking away.” And now we’ve got a problem. We’ve got an overactive immune system.”

Glutamine- 

This will help heal your small intestine where intestinal permeability happens. It helps to repair the lining of your small intestine where new cells are made every 3 or so days. 

Zinc can also be helpful in repairing leaky gut and in helping you make enough stomach acid. 

If you are dealing with any kind of adrenal fatigue: 

This would mean your brain is not communicating with the pituitary gland to help your adrenals manage stress. This is called the HPA axis and it also helps to regulate the immune system. When we are stressed, this system doesn’t work well. 

If you are dealing with adrenal fatigue you may feel: 

  • overwhelmed
  • tired even with 8 hours of sleep
  • like staying in bed in the morning
  • a craving for salty foods
  • daily things are too much to handle
  • brain fog
  • little to no sex drive 
  • like you can’t make a decision

Adaptogenic herbs like American Ginseng, ashwagandha, Asian ginseng, Cordyceps and Chaga mushrooms, and/or holy basil and licorice root may be helpful. 

You should work with a practitioner to find out if you are in need of supplementation here. 

Some things that can help you manage your hashimoto’s is your diet. 

  • Being gluten free, dairy free or try an elimination diet to help you figure out which foods you are sensitive to. This will also naturally help you balance your blood sugar which will also help give your adrenal glands a break. 
  • Make sure you are eating protein of some kind at every meal, including breakfast and eat breakfast within an hour of getting up. Don’t skip any meals and don’t do any fasting. 
  • Eat 4-5 meals per day for a week or so to give your blood sugar regulation system a break. 
  • Have a snack of protein and fat or a starch before bed. Make sure any carbs you are eating are eaten with protein. 
  • Avoid caffeine

A word of caution on supplements. Please don’t go buy them at your local big box store or the corner pharmacy store. Don’t buy them on Amazon either. I suggest at the very least to buy from Vitamin Shoppe or from your local food coop or even Whole Foods. You should work with a practitioner that can help you find just what you need though

The reason for this is there is no regulation on supplements. They don’t have rules in manufacturing or labeling. Some supplements won’ t even have the ingredients stated on their label or the dose can be way off. Some might have gluten or dairy in them and you might have a sensitivity to it. This is one case where quality really matters. 

A practitioner should be able to find what is most bioavailable for you since there are multiple chemical formulations of certain nutrients and some work better than others. Some are more expensive than others to manufacture. 

You also need to make sure you start with low doses so as not to over do it.  You just don’t know how your body will react to a new supplement. Starting slowly with lower doses will help you catch a reaction to it before it gets too bad. 

There is no magic supplement that will fix the hashimoto’s or anything for that matter. Some of these will definitely help you on your journey to healing or remission or whatever you want to call it. 

My top picks would be Hydrozyme from Biotics which is a lower dose stomach acid supplement and diet changes first and foremost. You can get that by going to www.getbiotics.com and using my practitioner code DFILC163. 

When starting a dose of stomach acid, remember to take a few bites of your protein based meal, take a pill, take a bite of food, take a pill and you do this until you feel a little burning sensation. Then you know to take one less than what gave you the burning sensation. 

Thanks so much for listening. Please tell anyone you know who has been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s to listen in and if you would be so kind as to leave a review on iTunes so more people can find this podcast that would be great too. My goal is to help as many people as possible to feel better and beat this disease. 

Got a question about your thyroid or hashimoto’s? Please send your questions to helpforhashimotos@gmail.com or head on over to my website and fill out the contact form there. 

You can find me at www.outofthewoodsnutrition.com or www.helpforhashimotos.com  I’m on Instagram at @Stephanieewalsntp which is where I post the most and on facebook at Out of The Woods Nutrition

See you next time. 

Help For Hashimoto's Episode 2

In this second episode, we talk about how our immune system is affected by gluten and why it is important to avoid it to ensure our thyroid can stay healthy. We discuss how to go gluten free, how I went gluten free and where to find hidden sources of gluten. 

.

I have Hashimotos and I’m hypo. 

I’m tired of feeling bad everyday. I wake up and go to bed feeling bad. I have no energy throughout the day and I have 3 children to take care of. I’m unable to work due to my anxiety and depression. I have no support at home. 

I haven’t my house in 3 days. I feed my children whatever is quick and something I don’t have to stand over the stove and cook. I’m tired of being this way. I’m tired of being tired. It feels like I don’t belong here. I need help—-

LITTLE BY LITTLE, A LITTLE BECOMES A LOT.  I have been there. When I was first diagnosed I had a 2 year old and a baby. I remember my tongue feeling heavy and it felt really hard to talk. I remember writing a check and feeling like it was so much effort to move the pen across the paper. 

My first best guess is that you are either not on the right dose of medication or you are not able to convert the T4 in your medication to the form your cells need which is free t3. 

If you can, search for a doctor willing to test more than TSH which is a test looking at what your brain is telling your thyroid to do. Thyroid Stimulating Hormone is coming from the pituitary gland. When the amount of thyroid hormone in your blood is low, it is stimulated to send a message to the thyroid to make more hormone. When there is too much thyroid hormone in the blood it is stimulated to tell the thyroid to make less. So when you have a high TSH (mine was 150 when I was first diagnosed and then the doctor was happy with it around 5 despite the fact that I still felt terrible) it means you are in a hypothyroid state or your thyroid has been told to slow down. When your TSH is really low that means you are in a hyperthyroid state and your thyroid has been told to speed up. The reason why your number is what it is, is dependent upon your bioindividuality. TSH can vary from day to day as well so when you go in, you are getting a picture of how things are working at that moment. This is true of many blood tests.  The other problem here is the way the lab ranges were made. The “normal” range was set based on a group of healthy and sick patients. Some with thyroid conditions, and some without so the range is not necessarily based on healthy people. Most healthy folks have a range at or around 2.5. Personally, I am feeling much better at just below one. I am on compounded medication though and so that makes the TSH test result lower than normal. The problem is your doctor may have a lab range that shows 8 as normal which for most people will make you feel sluggish, tired when you wake up or need to sleep 10-12 hours or more, gain weight, lose hair, feel cold and generally not feel well. This is why it is so important to find a practitioner who will treat you based on your symptoms and not just on your labs. Take note that a normal or low TSH number doesn’t mean you don’t have low thyroid function. 

Free T3 and Free T4 measure the levels of the active hormone in your body. Free T3 is a more accurate indication that your thyroid is working properly. The free in these means they are available for your body to use. 

Depression is really common in people who are on T4 only medications. If that is the case for you, switching to a Natural Desiccated Thyroid Hormone Medication could help you out a lot. Before you even do that though, you really should take a look at your diet. If you body is not nourished it can’t do what it needs to do because certain biochemical processes in the body need certain nutrients to do their job. For example, the enzyme that makes T3 free for the cells to take up is very sensitive to things like malnutrition, inflammation and toxicity in the body and will not work as well. 

The major nutrients needed to make our thyroid work well are: iron, B12, vitamin A, vitamin D, magnesium, selenium, zinc and iodine. 

TPO Antibodies (Thyroid peroxidase)- this is an enzyme that is needed to produce thyroid hormone. 

TG Antibodies (antithyroglobulin)- this is a protein carrier for your thyroid hormone. 

These two mean your immune system has produced antibodies to attack because they perceive a problem. When these are present, it can make using the other labs useless because an unmanaged autoimmune condition can cause you to swing between hyper and hypo. 

What are your symptoms?

What I am seeing here for your symptoms are no energy, basically tired all the time, and anxiety and depression. You also state you have no support at home. I’m sorry. That makes it especially hard and I get how you feel. I didn’t have a lot of support in the beginning either. I suffered for years and my family suffered because I suffered. My kids, between toddler and early teenage years had a mom who had zero energy. who was angry all the time, who didn’t sleep at night and therefore was totally crabby. Everyone felt like they had to walk on eggshells around me and I have a lot of guilt over that. It took changing my diet without support for me to really see a change in my mood and my energy. Figuring out which foods were sucking the life out of me helped a lot. 

So, diet first. You can manage the autoimmune portion of the thyroid (the hashimoto’s) with nutrition. Start with gluten free, then dairy free and then you would want to consider an autoimmune protocol diet/elimination diet. You probably will find that the changes in diet will be life changing for you. 

You may need to take some supplements as well. Get your vitamin D checked to see if it is low and if you supplement with it, monitor your levels to make sure you don’t over do it. 

A lot of us will have iron deficiency as well. Get a full iron panel, especially ferritin. You need a ferritin level of around 75 for T4 to convert to T3. If you have a ton of inflammation you might have high levels of ferritin so as you change your diet, and reduce inflammation in the body, you should have this checked as well. 

Almost all of us are magnesium deficient. It does a lot of stuff in the body. 

We need selenium for enzyme systems in the body that help the thyroid work well. Chelated selenium is recommended at a dose of 100-200mcg a day. 

Zinc- important for us to make enough HCl to digest our food but also important in T4 to T3 conversion as well. 

It is also very important to manage your blood sugar. This can be done with diet and I often find people need support to do this but if you can do it on your own, great. 

You may need fish oil and a B complex as well but I recommend working with someone to figure out just what your body needs. 

Best of luck to you on your journey. 

 

NEXT Q

Hi. My insomnia, fatigue, and short term memory problems have been really bad lately. I don't know what to do. My newest endo wants me to chase down a whole bunch of other possible reasons for my symptoms. I suppose there's always a possibility that I've developed another autoimmune disease that causes the same symptoms. But, I'm exhausted. I feel like I'm being sent down a rabbit trail that I'll never get off of. I need something that works. Tell me honestly, how much better did those symptoms in particular improve with diet and exercise? I hate always feeling this way.

Does anyone ever have issues controlling the temperature of your body? Like being too hot or too cold? Is this part of Hashi’s?

I was diagnosed with hashimotos after my daughter was born a little less than 3 years ago. My whole life I was a size 5 and now I’m a size 14 and can’t seem to lose weight. My levels seem to like to jump around a bit but currently are level.

What I want to know is what do you do about the lack of energy? I have no energy. I don’t even know where to start with diets or what to do. What are diets that have helped? Anything!!! My energy is so low that I can barely get up some days.  Also all I have currently is a family doctor. Should I be trying to get connected with another kind?

  1. Diet- yes diet helps. AIP, Paleo, gf/df, sugar free, managing blood sugar. Find a practitioner to help you.

  2. Diet will help with weight and energy

  3. Temperature issues can be related to the kind of medication you are on. Natural Desiccated Thyroid hormone can help with this. Either way you are probably not on the right dose of medication and/or it can be that your have low iron. Eating meat and liver especially is a great way to get liver from diet. Low iron is a big deal for us. I said earlier that ferritin is super important here but a full iron panel is very helpful. TIBC or total iron binding capacity is measuring the ability of transferrin to bring iron to parts of your body. This will be high when your total iron stores are too low. Serum iron measures what is circulating in blood on transferrin. Next you want to look at the percent of saturation. If this is low, supplementation may be needed. If you need to take a supplement of iron you should be monitored by your doctor as you can get too much.

    1. Another option here is that you could have an issue with your hypothalamus/pituitary axis. Working on your thyroid and adrenal health will help this a lot. Our adrenals are directly related to the HPA axis, play a big role in managing our blood sugar and also help us respond to stress. If you have any amount of chronic stress at all and consume the standard american diet then you likely will have an issue with this. Diet, again is so important here.

I see so many people struggle with making diet changes and I just want to say that you can do it. YOu have to want to be well more than you want to be sick. You have to want to let go of what is a crutch for some of us- we are not our disease, it doesn’t have us. We can manage it. 

Pork Patties with sweet potatoes recipe

Chicken Hashbrown recipe from The Healing Kitchen

Hidden Sources of Gluten in The Paleo Approach

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 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

Instant Pot Smothered Pork Chops

I bought an instant pot on Black Friday. I had been hearing about how great this thing is for about a year and the price was finally right so I went for it. I thought, if it can make yogurt, I will get rid of my yogurt maker. I am going to try that tomorrow and see how it goes. 

Tonight I made Smothered Pork Chops. My husband had been deer hunting and brought home some pork chops that had not gotten cooked up so they were my first experiment in this magical thing called the Instant Pot. 

I was in a hurry to get dinner on the table so sadly, I don't have a photo of the finished project but trust me, it is a winner. My very picky husband who rarely says "good dinner, make that again" said just that. He said, "Make that again and don't change a thing." So I wrote it down and am sharing it with you. Again, sorry there is no photo. 

This recipe was adapted from the Cooks Illustrated Family Cookbook. A classic cookbook with lots of great dishes that are adaptable to those of us with Autoimmune issues. I did not partake in this dish because I wanted to make it as close to the original version, spice wise so it was not AIP but I will give you AIP alternatives. If you don't have an instant pot, I will give you stovetop directions. 

Smothered Pork Chops in the Instant Pot

  • 4 bone in pork chops

  • salt and pepper (omit pepper for AIP)

  • 2 T fat like lard, bacon fat, tallow, coconut oil (I used bacon fat)

  • 1 large onion minced (orig. recipe called for it sliced thin)

  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2-1 tsp dried tarragon (orig. recipe called for thyme)

  • 4 oz ham sliced thin (my husband bought high quality lunch meat for deer hunting, this was left over. Orig. recipe called for 3oz bacon)

  • 1 1/2 cups broth

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 T parsley, chopped

  • 3 T arrowroot

  • 1/3 cup milk (I used raw but you can use coconut milk or more broth for AIP)

 

Use sauté feature to sauté the chops on both sides in 1/2 T of the fat, place on a plate.

Add the onions and sauté in a little more of the fat until they are translucent (five or so minutes).

Add the garlic and tarragon and sauté until garlic is fragrant.

Add the sliced ham or bacon and sauté until heated through.

Add the broth and bay leaves.

Turn off the sauté feature. Return pork chops to the pot.

Close the lid and use the meat/stew feature and reduce the cooking time to about 20 minutes (my chops were only about 3/4" to an inch thick, if you have thicker chops you may need to increase the time a bit). 

Once the 20 minutes are up, release the steam and remove the lid. Turn on the sauté feature and remove the chops to a platter.

Mix the arrowroot with the milk (or more broth or water or coconut milk) and add it to the mixture in the pot, stirring with a whisk. It should make a gravy consistency, if not add more arrowroot mixed with liquid of your choice until you have the consistency you like. 

Serve with cauliflower rice for AIP or rice if you eat it. 

If you don't have an Instant Pot, you can use a 12 inch skillet and simmer the whole thing for about 30 minutes, covered. 

Enjoy. 

In Health, 

Stephanie

11 Things You Can do to Beat Fatigue in Hypothyroidism

Fatigue and Hypothyroidsim. It sucks, doesn't it?!  You get sick and tired of being sick and tired. I get you.  Why are we always so tired?

The struggle is real.

We all get tired from time to time but if you have hypothyroidsim or Hashimoto’s you understand dog tired fatigue that just won’t go away. I have spent the better part of the year trying to figure out why the heck I have been plagued with constant fatigue. It is depressing. Chronic illness in general is depressing. It stinks to be tired all the time. If you have kids then you have the guilt of not feeling well enough to take your kids anywhere or do anything fun with your family. I paid lots of money to a chiropractor to help me figure out why I was so tired all the time. Didn’t help much at all. I spent a good portion of the summer watching the entire series of Gilmore Girls with my ten year old because I didn’t have enough energy to do anything else. My house didn’t get cleaned much for a good 6 months. I finally figured out a few things, made some changes and now feel really pretty good and have had a bit of a pep in my step which has been a welcome change. Ask my family. They will tell you!

There are several things you can do when you have hypothyroidism to help get that pep back in your step as well. 

First of all make sure your thyroid levels are optimal. That seems like a no brainer but you need to have more than just TSH tested. I feel like a broken record with this one but so many doctors don’t test anything but TSH and you really need to be an advocate for yourself and get T3 and T4 at a minimum tested and make sure they are in what would be considered a healthy range.  Between .3 and 3.0 is what the American College of Clinical Endocrinologists suggests for TSH. 

If your T3 is low and your reverse T3 is high, this will affect your energy levels as well. T3 is what your cells use for energy. Every cell in your body uses that hormone for energy. If your reverse T3 is high that means your body is possibly stressed in some way so that it is converting more T3 than it should into reverse T3 which your body cannot use, therefore you may have less energy.  You can ask your doctor if they are wiling to try different medications on you and if you feel it is the meds and your doctor won’t work with you, find another doctor. Fire your doctor. 

Have your iron (including ferritin) levels checked as well as your B12 levels. All of these have an effect on your energy levels. 

Do you have any food allergies or sensitivities that are not being addressed? Often times having a sensitivity to a food can cause fatigue and those of us with Hashimoto’s usually have at least a gluten sensitivity and more often than not a dairy sensitivity as well. Trying an elimination diet is key to figuring out just what foods might be causing problems for you.  We get a particular kind of sausage made from our deer every fall and I noticed the other day after having some that I felt particularly tired afterwards. Clue number one that there may be something in that sausage that is causing problems for me. Learn to listen to your body. Here what it is trying to tell you. 

This next one is a biggie.

You absolutely must get your blood sugar under control. Not doing so will wreak havoc on your entire body. Your body makes balancing blood sugar a priority over most other things it does. Make sure you are eating protein and fat with every meal, including breakfast. Don’t starve yourself and make sure you are eating enough. Avoid starchy and refined carbohydrates. It should be okay for you to include squashes and sweet potatoes. I find I do better when I include those in my diet. Keep a food journal. You will be surprised that you just might not be eating enough food on a daily basis. 

You also need to make sure that you are digesting your food. You cannot use the amino acids in the protein you consume if you are not breaking the protein down in your stomach. You need to chew your food well and slowly and even before you start eating you need to be relaxed (in parasympathetic mode). 

Have your vitamin D checked. Optimal levels are somewhere around 60-80 ng/dl and most of us don’t get enough. You need to make sure you are getting D3 from your diet. Your vitamin D fortified orange juice and milk do not have D3 in them. 

Take good care of your adrenal glands. They help manage blood sugar, sex hormones and your fight or flight response. Put a pinch of sea salt in your water when you drink it and stay away from coffee. Coffee is not the friend of your adrenal glands. They don’t get better over night either. They take some tender loving care to get them working well again. I have been working on mine for a couple of years. 

If your liver is blocked up with all kinds of stuff it cannot do its job of eliminating toxins. This is called having a congested liver. A toxic liver can make us feel tired. 

B vitamin deficiencies have a big effect on our energy. Taking a good B6 complex in general can be helpful. 

Do you have a leaky gut?

How healthy are the bacteria in your gut? Both of these play a role in your energy levels and are important factors to consider when looking at your health. 

Gentle exercise is your friend. Going for walks, yoga, tai chi are all great things to get your body moving and helping you feel better. 

Of course, you can work with a practitioner to help you figure out exactly what is going on inside your body and get to the root of your fatigue and other symptoms of thyroid disease. You can feel better. Trust me. I live this disease and know its ups and downs. 

Empower yourself to get better and to feel better. 

In Health, 

Stephanie

Tell me in the comments about your worst day with fatigue. How about your best?

Strategies for Changing Your Diet When You Have an Autoimmune Disease

I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease, and I have to be honest. The whole idea of doing an elimination diet was really overwhelming to me. I was seeing a chiropractor for a thyroid protocol that they had last spring and the good doctor put me on an elimination diet along with a gut healing supplement for a month. It was doable but the thought was really overwhelming at first. 

I dove in to the whole thing head first like I have done with every other diet change I have made and did fine. I ate a huge salad for lunch everyday and took the time to cook. Three weeks in to the diet the doctor told me I didn’t have to do it any more and all went to the wayside. 

For some reason it was like permission to reintroduce some things I had not wanted to give up. Nuts were huge. I ate a lot of them because I have been a habitual snacker my whole life. Switching from baked goods to nuts was a good switch but when you have an autoimmune disease it becomes much easier for you to develop additional food sensitivities especially if you over consume something. 

You guessed it. I developed a sensitivity to nuts- every one of them. My tongue starts to hurt and I get all achy and don’t feel well (much more intense with cashews but it happens with all of them). 

Fast forward to late summer. A family wedding in a small town. I brought emergency stashes of some Paleo food bars and they had nuts. I knew they had nuts and consumed them anyway. Several of them in a period of a day and a half (from a Friday evening to Saturday night). I woke up that Sunday morning with just an aching in my right hip. Like what I imagine arthritis to feel like. I finally decided it might be a good idea to get it checked out but since my holistic doctor is out of the office for the month of September, I must wait until early October to find out if it is in fact arthritis. It certainly hasn’t gotten any better though, I can tell you that much. A part of me wonders if I did the elimination diet or the autoimmune protocol which are basically the same things if that would help. I should do it. I will do it. Just not today. 

So you see, I get you. I know how overwhelming it is. I know it is good for me. It is a good thing for you too especially if you have not made any changes to your diet. If you are not the dive in head first type of person I really recommend taking it slow. Do it in what ever way will ensure that you can succeed because in the end, that is what matters because you will see health improvements for sure. I know I would rather have a high quality of life especially as I age and our health care system gets worse. No bandaids here for chronic illness. Just real life solutions and getting to the root cause. I have a sneaking suspicion that my root cause is heavy metal toxicity. A whole other blog post. 

Where should you start when beginning an elimination diet?

You need to start by eliminating some foods from your diet. 

The list of foods to exclude is small but they just happen to be the foods many of you eat most. 

Foods excluded:

  • toxic foods- sugar, caffeine, alcohol, GMO foods, processed foods, trans fats, 
  • Inflammatory foods- gluten, dairy, corn, eggs, soy, peanuts, citrus, nightshades- tomatoes, potatoes (except sweet potatoes), eggplant and peppers. 

Also exclude things that are hard on the gut- grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds

You will need to be on it for 30 days minimum before you even think about reintroducing foods.  If you are autoimmune you would never, ever add back gluten. 

This is ideal. For some this may not be realistic and that is okay. You can go in phases to make the transition less overwhelming. 

Start by eliminating gluten from your diet, then dairy, then eggs and go slow with it. Starting with gluten first and eliminating it completely for one week, then dairy and then eggs the following week. Also, don’t try to replace your favorite gluten full foods with gluten free. So for the week you start out gluten free, don’t switch your regular bread for gluten free bread. That defeats the purpose and will just add to your being overwhelmed when you have to give that bread up too- remember you will have to eliminate all grains eventually. 

Find support and try to get your family on board. This will help tremendously. If you are having issues with autoimmunity and you have children there is a good chance they could have some genetic susceptibility to gluten and possibly to autoimmunity too. You really want for it to become a way of life for you and your whole family. What you will find is that even a spouse who doesn’t have an autoimmune disease will feel a lot better when they come on board and support you fully with your new way of life. You will be way more successful with support and encouragement. 

Find a positive place online to get support as well. You want to find message boards, blogs, facebook pages that offer you support and recipes and things like that. Stay away from the places online that you don’t see support from. There are blogs about autoimmune disease that have a lot of people complaining about the medicine their doctor put them on or something like that. There is a Hashimoto’s facebook page that I have visited and just quit visiting because it was all about people complaining about how they felt. I think if you spend a lot of time thinking or talking about how bad you feel then that is how you will feel. Know what I mean- like a self fulfilling prophecy. 

Make a plan- 

  • Find some recipes and try them out before you even start to make the transition. 
  • Go shopping for the recipes
  • Clean out your kitchen and pantry of all the things not allowed on the elimination diet.  That way you won’t be reminded of all you should not be eating in order to succeed. 

If you have the option of buying your meat and produce locally or from a farmers market, co op or natural foods store that would be great. There are great online sources for meat and seafood such as US Wellness Meats, Vital Choice seafood, Massa Natural Meats. 

If that still feels really overwhelming then just go slower. Just remember the slower you make the transition the slower you will see results. 

So what can you have for breakfast since eggs are out and so is toast and cereal? 

  • You must do your best to think outside the box on this one.
  • You can make a hash of veggies and sweet potatoes and have some bacon with it or some homemade breakfast sausage (just a few spices and some ground pork).
  • You can make coconut milk yogurt and have that with some berries and or a smoothie.
  • You can have bone broth or have soup made with the bone broth for breakfast.

Once you get the outside the box thinking on the breakfast foods, the options are endless. 

I often have leftovers for breakfast and I do a protein smoothie of Pure Paleo Protein powder from Designs For Health which is a beef protein powder. I generally have trouble eating enough food in a day so it works for me to supplement with this. 

For lunch I will have a big salad with some kind of meat. I roast sweet potatoes ahead of time and shred carrots and beets and use olive oil and lemon juice as a dressing. 

For dinner I would have pretty simple stuff. Some kind of meat cooked and lots and lots of veggies. 

If you are not a fan of salads then eating lots of cooked veggies is a great option. You have to make sure to do lots of good fats and proteins. Avocados are a great thing to eat and you can add those to smoothies to make them thicker and creamier. 

You really have to make sure to do your prep work to make this plan successful. It is not easy but it really is doable. You have to plan if you are going somewhere how you will transport your food if you need to. Travel with your food if you have to.  

Download my Gut Healing Meal Plans and recipes to get you started and go for it! It is free when you sign up for my newsletter. 

Live Well, 

Stephanie

What Are The Best Fats To Cook With?

I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on a conversation I over heard in the grocery store. Two people were talking about which fats were the best to use for cooking. I was shocked, to hear what they were saying. I am so immersed in this world of health and wellness that I am still surprised when I hear people saying that their “vegetable”  (shh…it’s not really made from vegetables) oil is the best.  I know someone with Chron’s who no longer has their colon who buys this stuff by the gallons to fry fish with. Honestly, it makes me sad and even a little mad that people have been duped by the industry which produces this stuff for so many years. 

It has been about 60 or so years that we have been told that low fat diets are the way to go and that using these so called healthy oils in your cooking, baking and salad dressings is the best thing for you. Eating low fat keeps you from being healthier due to deficiency of fatty acids. Low fat diets have really been promoted since the 50’s. Low fat, high carbohydrate (unrefined carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables and grains) diets lead to things like mood disorders like depression, deficiencies in minerals, weight problems and fatigue. Studies done on low fat diets fail to show their benefits on your long term health. This is because you need fat from your diet for the health and well being of each and every cell in your body. Your body needs fat!

This is the plant that canola oil is made from. It is made from the seed called rapeseed. 

This is the plant that canola oil is made from. It is made from the seed called rapeseed. 

What the industry is not telling you is that the canola oil, corn oil and soybean oil among others are denatured, refined and really, really bad for your health. The way these fats are processed makes it so that our bodies cannot process them keeping your health and vitality from you. They sell you on their talk that dietary fat is going to kill you. That saturated fat will clog your arteries. What they don’t tell you is the obesity rates in this country started to rise when the “vegetable” oils were heavily promoted as healthy. 

Did you know that everyday your body makes cholesterol? When you eat cholesterol rich foods, your body doesn’t have to make as much on its own. How cool is that? My husband recently went to the doctor and the doctor had an app on his phone that allowed him to plug in some basic information to decide whether or not he should put my husband on a statin to keep his cholesterol low. There was nothing wrong with my husbands cholesterol. He makes some lifestyle choices that put him more at risk for heart attack than others but his cholesterol was fine. He declined the cholesterol lowering statin. 

I have talked a bit about fat on here before but will recap the benefits of fat for your health: 

  •     Fats keep you full and satisfied longer 
  •     Fats help your hormones work properly
  •     Fats help you absorb nutrients from your veggies (put some grass fed    butter on them)
  •     Fats keep your bile healthy so you can digest and breakdown fats 
  •     Fats keep your cells healthy
  •     Fats help your body produce anti inflammatory chemicals

There are several classifications for fats.

Saturated fat is very stable naturally and will not rancidify easily. It is solid at room temperature. Fats from animals are typically saturated as are coconut and palm oils. 

Monounsaturated fat is pretty stable and won’t rancidify easily. Olive oil is a good example of monounsaturated fat. Lard actually has more monounsaturated fat in it than saturated fat yet is classified as a saturated fat. 

Polyunsaturated fats in unstable always, is damaged by heat very easily, will turn rancid fast and needs refrigeration. This is where your Omega-3 and Omega 6 fatty acids come from. Fish oil and flax seed oil are examples of polyunsaturated fat. Most seed oils are in this category as well. 

What most people maybe don’t know is that all fats are a combination of all three of these kinds of fats. They are classified by which category of fat is most prominent. 

The best, most stable and healthful fat for cooking at high temperatures is most animal fats and oils like coconut and palm oil.  These types of oils when from healthy animals and clean sources keep your veins and vessels healthy, they keep your immune system healthy, protect your liver from toxins, help your body absorb calcium in keep your cells working properly. 

The fats to avoid in cooking at all are those from seeds and nuts. They are very sensitive to heat and should only be consumed raw. They also should be consumed in small amounts (around one teaspoon is enough for most people). You also want to avoid the highly processed oils (the “vegetable” oils) like corn, soybean, cottonseed (we don’t eat cotton, why would we eat the oil?) and canola (which is a seed oil). The oils are extracted through a process of crushing them and heating them to temperatures around 230 degrees damaging their fatty acid molecules. They are then put under pressure to squeeze the oil out which generates even more heat. Then they are chemically processed with petroleum based solvent to get the very last bits of oil out. The solvent is boiled off but some remains in the oil (yum). Also, the pesticides used on the crops before harvest are concentrated in the oil due to the use of the solvent so you are getting a good dose of chemicals in your rancid oil. 

Avoiding hydrogenated oils like margarine and shortening is also a good idea. Hydrogenated oils are made from polyunsaturated fats (the really unstable ones that should never be heated). They are further processd after extraction by adding nickel oxide and then exposed to hydrogen gas at high temperatures and high pressure. The chemical structure of the fat is then changed from polyunsaturated to saturated or Trans Fats. Fillers and Thickeners are added and odors are removed through steam (more heat=even more damage) and finally bleached because it is a gray color (appetizing). 

How to know if the oil you are buying is damaged (processed with chemicals)

If the label reads: Refined, Hydrogenated, Partially-Hydrogenated or cold-processed AVOID it. 

If the label reads: Organic, First-cold pressed or Cold Pressed, Expeller-Pressed, Unrefined, Extra Virgin BUY it. 

The safest oils for cooking, frying, baking, broiling, grilling and roasting

  • Lard
  • Ghee (clarified butter)
  • Tallow from beef or lamb
  • Chicken, Goose and Duck Fat
  • Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
  • Red Palm Oil/Palm Kernel Oil

Tropical oils like coconut and palm oil can be refined and processed just like polyunsaturated fats so make sure to read the labels. You can order high quality fats online or buy them from your local food co op. 

Safe fats for stir frying, light sautéing, and slow and low cooking

  • Olive oil (unfiltered- should turn somewhat solid to solid when refrigerated)
  • Avocado oil- similar to olive oil, made from the meat, not the pit
  • Peanut oil (not a good choice for frying in fryers) using occasionally 
  • Sesame oil- use to sauté occasionally
  • Macadamia nut oil (80% monounsaturated fat), store in fridge. 

Make sure they are processed in the best way possible (expeller pressed is best). Read your labels.  You can actually cook up to a temperature of 400 degrees with olive oil. 

Do not use for cooking

this is a popular brand that is widely available. I have no affiliation with this brand. 

this is a popular brand that is widely available. I have no affiliation with this brand. 

  • Flax oil
  • Hemp oil
  • Pumpkin seed oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Sunflower oil

Omega-3 rich oils like flaxseed oil can be used in small amounts for a portion of a salad dressing or added to a smoothie. They should be eating in moderation from good sources.

Do not use

  • Vegetable oils
  • Soybean oil
  • Corn oil
  • Cottonseed oil

These are highly processed, usually genetically modified and have high levels of pesticides in them. Canola is high in Omega-3 fatty acids but are damaged to the point of no return during processing. Your body doesn’t know what to do with this oil when you consume it.  Cottonseed oil is one of the most genetically modified crops out there. It is not a food and should not be consumed. 

Butter must not be forgotten. It is best to consume butter from grass fed sources and raw when you can (not feasible for many people). Butter has a healthy ratio of Omega-3 to Omega 6 fatty acids and your fat soluble vitamins A,D, E and K needed to help you absorb and use the nutrients in your food. It also helps with the inflammatory or anti-inflammatory processes in your body. 

Enjoy cooking with your fats and remember that consuming fat does not make you fat. Did you know I do Pantry Makeovers? I can help you figure out what foods you may need to get rid of on your journey to health. Send me a note and we can have a free 15 minute strategy session!

In health,

Stephanie

10 Things You Need To Know About Autoimmune Disease

1.)  The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates around 23.5 million Americans have an autoimmune disease. It is estimated to be at least 50 million people by the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association. The reason for this is that the NIH statistics only include 24 of the over 100 known autoimmune diseases afflicting people. More well known autoimmune diseases are conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, celiac disease, Graves disease, pernicious anemia and psoriasis. 

2.)  Autoimmune disease is one of the top ten leading causes of death, especially for women.         Around 12 million people suffer from cancer and 25 million from heart disease. Autoimmune disease is the 3rd leading cause of chronic illness in the United States. They run in families but not all members of a family will have the same disease and women are more likely to have one than men. 

3.)  Autoimmune disease is when your immune system attacks your cells (self) instead of protecting you from invaders (non self) like it is supposed to do. What happens is that your immune system develops autoantibodies against your own cells. Antibodies are a very important part of your immune system. It is their job to attach to certain proteins in cells that are foreign to the body (non self) like viruses, parasites or bacteria. This signals other cells in the immune system that an attack should be launched. In autoimmune disease the body attacks the foreign proteins (non self) but also creates antibodies against the body’s own proteins (self). These are called autoantibodies. You can develop them and still not develop an autoimmune disease. In order for that to happen, your body needs to not have destroyed or suppressed autoantibodies like it is supposed to. Your immune system then needs to attack and there must be so much damage to your cells and tissue that symptoms of a disease have developed. Why does this happen?  There are a lot of similarities (and a lot of differences but we are focusing on similarity here) between some proteins in all species and this is where the problem lies. Sometimes these triggers cause the body to make a mistake. That is it. It can really just happen by accident. 

4.)  You don’t have a lot of control over the genetic component to autoimmune disease. There can be inherited mutations and one person may inherit many autoimmune genes or gene mutations and someone else can inherit only a few. Whatever you inherit really is affected by whether or not your environment turns those genes on. Did you or do you have an infection?  What kind of toxins are you exposed to daily? Do you have exposure from amalgam fillings? How about prescription or non prescription drugs? What about your hormones? Do you have an imbalance in your beneficial bacteria? 

Removing environmental triggers that promote the production of autoantibodies is crucial. It can be a bacterial infection like those that cause pneumonia or kidney stones that will make you more susceptible to an autoimmune disease in your future. It can be consuming gluten that causes an autoimmune disease. It is, of course, the major factor in celiac disease but gluten plays a large role in many autoimmune diseases. If you have an autoimmune disease, gluten should be one of the first things you look at. 

Genetics may play a role in how likely you are to get an autoimmune disease but how you live your life can determine whether or not those genes get turned on. 

5.)  Once you have an autoimmune disease you are more likely to develop another one. The reason for this is not fully understood but it is thought that genetic factors and/or environmental triggers play a role. After the immune system has started attacking a protein in the body it can learn much easier how to launch an attack on another one. If the immune system is overwhelmed and can’t tell the difference anymore, it will more than likely create another or different autoantibody

6.)  Getting a diagnosis can be challenging. Many of the symptoms for any given autoimmune disease are so similar. They are things like headaches, muscle aches/pains, joint pain and fatigue. These kinds of symptoms can be related to stress, working too hard or lack of sleep. The other problem is that autoimmune disease affects several systems in the body and it affects everyone differently. This means that two people with the same disease can present completely different symptoms. Finding a good practitioner who knows what to do with a diagnosis of autoimmune disease is fundamental to your healing especially if you don’t know where to start. 

7.)  Managing inflammation in autoimmune disease is key. In many cases, treatment for managing inflammation has been done with immune suppressing drugs like corticosteroids. They can be helpful for some for a short period of time but are not without side effects like weight gain and depression. They also interrupt your bodies own mechanisms for managing inflammation. 

Diet and lifestyle factors are often overlooked and play a huge role in managing inflammation. You can manage inflammation by removing inflammatory foods from your diet, taking a look at the toxins you are exposed to daily, heal your gut and manage your stress. 

8.)  Leaky gut is the one thing all autoimmune diseases have in common. About 80% of your immune system lies in your intestines. The lining of your intestines is a single layer of cells that protect the rest of your body from anything entering your digestive tract. The space between each cell in the lining is like a door that occasionally opens to allow communication with the environment. Our intestines have the largest amount of contact with our environment because the average adults gut when laid out measures around 3000 square feet. So, besides digesting your food, the gut is also responsible for moving molecules between the cells- but only for a moment. The cells open to allow the communication and then close right away. A protein called zonulin is what regulates the permeability of the junctions between the cells. It acts almost like a key unlocking a door so it can be opened. The two most important factors in zonulin unlocking those doors are gluten and gut bacteria. So consuming gluten based products regularly, having something like Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth,a parasite or an overgrowth of Candida can be a contributing factor to higher levels of zonulin and therefore more permeability. This permeability allows for undigested proteins to enter your blood stream and/or lymphatic system where the immune system then begins the process of developing antibodies against the foreign invader and sometimes your own cells. When you have leaky gut (intestinal permeability) your under constant attack.  

9) You can heal your gut. It takes time and effort but is so worth it. Healing leaky gut is important for managing your autoimmune disease. There are many things that contribute to leaky gut and all must be considered when creating a health plan with a practitioner. How clean is your diet? Eating whole foods, and organic when possible is extremely important. I recommend going to www.ewg.org and looking at their list of the  Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen to know which foods you can buy non organic with reasonable safety. 

Find the root cause or the source of your leaky gut and remove it. Doing so will calm down the immune system so your body has a chance to repair and rest. Find out if you have an infection or parasite that is wreaking havoc on your immune system. One of the most important things you can do is take a look at the role stress plays in your life. Are you in a constant state of stress? Do you have down time? Do you have any hobbies or do anything fun?

10.)  There is help for you no matter your condition or autoimmune disease. Nutritional Therapy can help you on your path to wellness. We work with each patient individually and tailor a program that is just for you. You may be put on herbal therapies tailored to your bio individuality and your specific condition and your adrenal glands and nervous system will be supported with nutrients and herbs because stress plays such an important role in managing autoimmune disease.  Contact us today for an appointment.