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?

5 Things That Negatively Affect The Health of Your Thyroid

 

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

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

What is chronic stress?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Health, 

Stephanie

 

Beat Brain Fog Now!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does any of this sound like you? 

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

What can you do about it? 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In health, 

Stephanie

Get a Flat Belly Now!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you know if you have a food intolerance?

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

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

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

Get rid of the bloat. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

In health, 

Stephanie

What could you have in common with 27 million Americans?

Thyroid problems affect around 27 million people in the United States. It is possible that you can have problems with your thyroid even if your doctor has tested you and the results came out “normal”.  Your thyroid is your body’s engine and it decides how fast or slow your internal systems work.

When it is doing its job you feel great. When your thyroid decides it’s time to hit the brakes you feel the weight creeping on, no matter how hard you try to keep it off.  You are tired ALL OF THE TIME no matter how much sleep you get. You can’t remember things or think clearly anymore and you think it’s just a part of getting older or busier with life. You’re not able to go to the bathroom regularly possibly and no matter the weather you are always freaking cold.

 

Possible signs your thyroid is off (hypo): 

  • morning headaches that wear off as the day progresses
  • depression
  • sensitive to cold weather
  • poor circulation in your hands and feet
  • muscle cramps
  • easily catch colds or viruses and recovering takes longer
  • your cuts heal slowly
  • you don’t have enough stomach acid affecting digestion
  • your skin itches and is dry
  • you retain water (edema)
  • the outer 1/3 of your eyebrows are either gone or are thinning

You may have one or several of these symptoms all pointing to hypothyroidism and your TSH tested by your doctor can show normal.  The thing with the lab ranges in conventional medicine are that they are based on the labs taken in prior years from sick and healthy patients. So all those people who went in for a thyroid test and had “normal” labs but left their doctors office still feeling like crap and for all those who had slightly elevated TSH levels but not high enough for the doctor to decide to put them on medication, your levels are compared to theirs. 

So here’s the thing, testing just TSH is not enough. I will explain more in a bit but first let’s look at the way things are supposed to work. 

  1. Your thyroid produces T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothryronine)- only about 7% of what is produced is T3. 
  2. Thyroid hormones travel through the blood stream bound to proteins that take them to your cells. 
  3. Once they are dropped off at your cells where they do their work they are called “free”
  4. T3 is the active form of thyroid hormone used by the body
  5. T4 is supposed to be converted in to T3. This mostly happens in the liver but the conversion takes place in other cells like nerve cells and muscle tissue like your heart. 
  6. Your body uses about 60% of the T4 produced. Some of the T4 is changed in to rT3 (reverse T3) making it unusable. Another 20% or so becomes active in the gut by your healthy bacteria. Your thyroid function depends on the healthy bacteria in your gut. 

Here is why TSH is not enough to know if your thyroid is working properly. TSH stands for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. It is a hormone released by your pituitary gland (your brain). This should not be the only test looked at to measure a functioning thyroid.

Let’s look at the possible tests that can measure thyroid function.

  1. TSH as talked about above. 
  2. Total thyroxine (TT4) measures the level bound with proteins and the levels not bound with proteins. This one doesn’t tell you much unless you measure the amount of T3 taken up by the cells or T3 uptake. 
  3. Free Thyroxine Index (FTI) tells you how much thyroid hormone is free or not bound with a protein. 
  4. Free Thyroxine (FT4) measures the amount of active T4 in the blood. This will be low if you are hypothyroid. 
  5. Resin T3 Uptake (T3RU) measures how many proteins are in the blood for binding to the thyroid hormone
  6. Free Triiodothyroxine (FT3) measures what is not bound to proteins and available for use by the cells. 
  7. Reverse T3 (rT3) measures the amount of inactive T3. More T3 becomes inactive when we are facing stressful situations both emotionally and physically. 
  8. Thyroid Binding Globulin (TGB) measure the amount of proteins in our blood bringing thyroid hormones to the cells. 
  9. Thyroid Antibodies (TPO Ab and TGB Ab) will measure whether or not your immune system has produced antibodies against your thyroid indicating Hashimoto’s or Grave’s Disease. 

If you have Hashimoto’s, in addition to the symptoms listed above you may also have the following: 

  • heart palpitations
  • inward trembling
  • increased pulse rate even when sedentary
  • feeling nervous or emotionally stressed
  • insomnia
  • night sweats
  • trouble gaining weight

 

Your inability to stay warm, chronic constipation, irregular periods or weight you can’t get rid of- these are signs from your body that something isn’t right. The systems within your body are speaking to you, maybe even yelling at you. When your thyroid slows down, so does everything else.  It is not all in your head. 

In Hashimoto’s the body attacks and destroys its own thyroid gland. Your immune system is running the show, not your thyroid. It is called Autoimmune Disease. Dr.’s generally don’t test you for it because it doesn’t change how they will care for you. They are going to give you your prescription and monitor the slow decline of your thyroid and adjust your medication accordingly. That is the standard practice. It is what they are taught.

What they are not usually taught is that you can manage your symptoms very well nutritionally because when you have Hashimoto’s you can do things to calm your immunes system the heck down. 

Around one in five people suffer from an autoimmune disease and it is estimated that around 30 million of those are women. The most common autoimmune diseases are thyroid related. That is around 7% or the U.S. population. 

If you suspect you may have Hashimoto’s you can ask your doctor to test your antibodies. If he or she won’t do it, find a doctor who will. It may take some leg work depending on where you live but you can find one. 

The test can show up as negative if your not having a flare up because your immune system can swing. If this happens, ask to have it tested again in a month or two.

Your thyroid can go from over active to under active from week to week or month to month. It can be because of a trigger such as a stressful event or even for no reason at all. Every time thyroid tissue is damaged the hormones stored there are released in to the blood stream causing a flood of hormone which will speed things up making you feel hyperthyroid.

Having this happen along with being gluten intolerant (you probably are), having celiac disease or being diagnosed with pernicious anemia is a sure fire sign you have autoimmunity. 

If you have Hashimoto’s then there is a good chance some of your thyroid has been destroyed so you will probably have to take your medication for the rest of your life. I lived with hyperthyroidism for ten years before being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s so I am one of those people.

Everyone is different so how your body decides to react will not be the same as someone else. 

Most cases of hypothyroidism are also Hashimoto’s cases. The reason for this is not clear but it is clear what you can do to help prevent further flare ups. 

Like I said earlier, there is a good chance you are gluten intolerant. Every time you consume gluten you are causing an immune response in the body.  The gluten molecules are very close in molecular structure to those of the thyroid gland. So close that your immune system has trouble knowing which one is which.

How in the world does this happen?

If you have an Autoimmune disease you have increased intestinal permeability or leaky gut. Around 80% of Americans are genetically susceptible to gluten intolerance where gluten will damage the intestinal tract causing little openings where the undigested gluten can reach the blood stream. Some of us have the ability to repair that damage better than others. If you are one of those who can’t repair the damage as well then you end up with an autoimmune disease. 

When your immune system defines gluten as the enemy, your time with bread is over. Every time you consume anything with gluten in it, your immune system is on high alert. You will be inflamed and your thyroid tissue is attacked. This inflammation can show up in a variety of ways like achy joints, rashes, respiratory issues etc. Again, it is all depending on how your body wants to react. Everyone is different.

Gluten isn’t the only big player in Hashimoto’s but it is a pretty big one. Some other things you will need to look at are: 

  • blood sugar imbalances
  • your stress level- lifestyle is huge for managing this and any autoimmune disease
  • vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • how toxic your environment is- your liver plays a role in converting thyroid hormones which it can’t do if it is over burdened with toxins and sugar
  • whether or not you are on birth control pills or your hormone production in general
  • besides gluten, what does your diet look like
  • are you making enough stomach acid
  • do you take or do you need probiotics

If any one of the above is out of balance you have work to do. Getting these things in balance is key to managing autoimmune disease. 

Managing your blood sugar is important for more than just thyroid function. Most of us have too much sugar in our diets which affect our thyroid and other hormones including those that manage stress such as cortisol. 

Cortisol is a key player in your stress management too. Do you take time for yourself? Do you exercise to manage stress? Do you do yoga or meditate?

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies play a role in how well your body can do the things it needs to do for good health. If you are not digesting your food because of low stomach acid or eating the Standard American Diet you are deficient in not only vitamins and minerals but in nourishment in general. 

We live in a toxic world. Your liver must be the one to clean up all the crap we take in through what we breathe, eat and put on our body. 

Birth control pills create too much estrogen in the body which makes your pituitary (brain) tired and creates too many proteins for your thyroid hormones to bind to. This means you won’t have enough thyroid hormone floating through the blood to do its job. 

Remember that some 20% of thyroid hormone becomes active in the gut in the presence of healthy bacteria there. If your gut flora is out of balance which is the case for many people, then you will have less active hormone to work with. You will also have the possibility of digestive issues of all kinds. 

You may be one of the 27 million Americans with thyroid problems but you don’t have to be one who is suffering through it. Or maybe you know someone who has hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s and they don’t know what to do.

Share this article with someone you care about. There is help out there and there is someone who genuinely cares that can help them.

 

Boosting Immunity Through the Winter

This time of year can be rough on our bodies. We are spending, shopping, partying and eating a lot. This can be stressful and tax our immune system. The following is a pretty simple list of things to do that will help you take care of your body so it can take care of you. 

 

Eat a nutrient dense diet 

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Eating a nutrient dense whole foods diet is key to health and healthy immunity. You must also have adequate stomach acid to digest the food you are eating (including parasites, viruses and bacteria). Cruciferous veggies like kale, broccoli, green or red leaf lettuce and cabbage help your liver flush toxins. This makes for a healthy environment for the immune cells there.

Shitake and oyster mushrooms are a great immunity booster and they don't lose their health giving properties when you cook them. Add them to soups or stir fry.

Oregano Oil will improve gut health and boost the immune system by eliminating pathogenic bacteria that can overtake the digestive system.

Avocados support your adrenal glands which are key to many functions in the body.

Ginger root warms the body and helps break down toxins especially in the lungs and sinuses. Ayurvedic medicine believes it helps to cleanse the lymphatic system.

 

Staying hydrated is important too!

All major protective surfaces on and in your body are moist. Your eyes, nose, mouth, lungs, stomach and intestines all use mucus to form a protective layer which helps keep bacteria and viruses out. If you are dehydrated, so are these protective areas and the pathogens have a way in.

Drink plenty of filtered water to which you can add Celtic Sea Salt and some lemon. The salt will support your adrenal glands and the lemon will support your digestion.  Your immune system is quite dependent on the movement of fluids.

While the Holidays seem to encompass much over indulgence in things like sugar and alcohol it is best to keep the consumption of both to a minimum. Too much of either will suppress your immune system. Over consuming both might make for a little weight gain too!

 

Manage Your Stress

This one is huge! Your susceptibility to illness of all kinds waxes and wanes based on diet, fatigue and, you guessed it, STRESS.  As I said before, your adrenal glands do so many things in the body and they play an important role in managing your immune system.

These great little glands regulate your white blood cells which are the major players in protecting us against pathogens (viruses and  bacteria).

Having consistently high blood sugar reduces white blood cell activity and depresses the immune system in general. This means your body has to make a decision to save your life in the moment by balancing blood sugar or fighting an infection. So, you get sick. Darn Christmas cookies!

Wash Your Hands

Along with keeping your hands clean with regular soap you can sanitize your phone, computer screen, keyboard, door knobs, appliance handles and light switches regularly. Also, think about all those public surfaces. Don't forget the bottom of your purse if you carry one! Think of all the places THAT sits!

Exercise, Sun, Sleep

Getting some light exercise like walking at your lunch break or taking a stroll after dinner with your partner and/or kids is a great way to get the lymph moving in your body. Keeping lymph flowing keeps pathogens from making their home there.

Expose yourself to some winter sunshine when possible and sleep 7-8 hours each night as much as possible. That is when your body resets.

Herbs and Bugs

Taking herbs like Siberian Ginseng root, Asian Ginseng root and American Ginseng will help boost your immune system to fight off the “bad” guys.  

Taking probiotics of the highest quality can give a boost to the good guys in your gut fighting for your health. If you are not one for supplements or pills you can eat homemade sauerkraut with each meal or other fermented foods. 

So, enjoy the holidays and remember to take some time to care for yourself! You deserve it!