How do you get rid of Candida?

Are Christmas Cookies Your Gateway Drug?

The other day I heard a radio show host say that she was never doing a cookie exchange again.  She said she had too many cookies and they were just a gateway drug for her. One led to another.  This time of year we tend to throw caution to the wind and indulge in the sweets which can make us crave more and more and more. 

Christmas cookies or the sugar in them, particularly, are definitely my gateway drug.  I so loved hearing someone on the radio say that because its exactly how I feel. I end up walking around the house after eating some sugar, looking for a fix like an addict. I am opening cupboards and standing there, staring at the lack of treats in my house. There is nothing there for me to get my fix. 

What if that fix you need is less about willpower and more about a beast within you that is causing you to crave it. That beast is affecting your mood and even your overall health. This beast has a name. It is called Candida Albicans. 

Candida is a pathogenic or opportunistic yeast that is quite common and can overgrow in the intestines. We all have candida albicans within our gut. That is not the problem. The problem is when it overgrows. When other “normal” bacteria are killed off by antibiotics, this yeast can rapidly increase and create an imbalance with the beneficial bacteria within our gut. This can cause problems with the skin in the form of rashes or even yeast infections. 

Long term infestation of candida in anyone with a weakened or compromised immune system as in the case of someone with an autoimmune disease can result in an overgrowth of the yeast. It can then morph in to a form of fungus and grow roots that set up shop in your intestinal tract.  When candida sets up shop like this within the body it gets to work making all kinds of toxic byproducts, some as toxic as nail polish remover, to be absorbed in to the blood stream. Now, the body naturally makes toxins through metabolic processes which the liver cleans up so they can be eliminated. The liver naturally has a ton of work to do for you each day so candida calls for overtime and sometimes the liver just can’t keep up. If your liver can’t keep up your body will create antibodies to the Candida creating system wide problems and you start to see symptoms like described below.

In addition to the liver playing a huge role in processing the toxins that candida creates, your spleen gets involved if you have intestinal permeability. The spleens job is to get rid of pathogens, viruses and bacteria, things that make us sick. It is now having to work extra hard too.  

 

What are the symptoms of Candida overgrowth?

  • recurrent skin fungus infections or nail problems

  • headaches, brain fog, fatigue

  • cystitis or prostatitis

  • mood swings, depression or confusion

  • PMS

  • recurrent herpes

  • joint pain

  • intense cravings for sweets, bread or alcohol

  • indigestion or reactions/sensitivities to foods

 

Of course, Candida overgrowth is more common in women than men and can affect our hormone balance which can lead to abnormal and painful periods. If you have had a c-section, both baby and mother are at risk for it. These cravings for sweets can be driven by the yeast because that is what they feed off of. 

How do you know if you are likely to have a Candida overgrowth?

 

The following are factors that play a role in Candida overgrowing in the body: 

 

  • frequent long term use of antibiotics

  • being on the birth control pill

  • too much alcohol or caffeine

  • recurrent yeast infections or prostate problems

  • regular use of drugs containing cortisone

  • chronic stress, chronic fatigue

  • sensitivity and or exposure to molds, damp places or certain smells

  • depression, mood swings or confusion

  • intense sugar cravings that feel bigger than you

  • recurrent ringworm, athletes foot, jock itch or nail problems

Untreated candida can take over in the gut creating inflammation throughout the body. These cravings listed are sometimes totally out of our control because something inside us is wanting those things to stay alive and grow. This overgrowth creates system wide inflammation which is why see the symptoms and factors that play a role in the overgrowth. Our bodies are innately intelligent with all the mechanisms needed to keep us healthy but sometimes whether through diet and lifestyle or necessary medical treatment we knock things out of balance. This is when the pathogens like candida can take that opportunity to thrive. 

It is crucial to create the proper balance of bacteria within the small intestine and the colon for good health. Without it, we are not digesting our food well and we are not making B vitamins or vitamin K. The intestinal bacteria play a role in the final stages of digesting protein and milk products. Without this healthy balance of bacteria we end up with poor digestion, an unhealthy or damaged gut lining (where nutrients get absorbed) and possibility for food allergies to develop. Your energy levels drop, your metabolism isn’t working like it should, your thyroid slows down and you end up with adrenal fatigue. You have to look at the whole picture. When one thing is out of whack within us, it affects the whole of us. 

Bacteria is the oldest living organism at around 10 trillion years old which is very much a part of us. They play a crucial role in keeping our immune system working properly so we can thrive. The U.S. went through a “kill all bacteria” phase with the use of bacteria killing soaps and hand sanitizer and bleaching surfaces in schools. Women and doctors are scheduling c-sections for convenience. At some point bottle feeding our children was promoted heavily so there is a whole generation of kids who were not breastfed. Vaginal births and breastfeeding is where babies get to build their immune system. 

How do you treat candida overgrowth?

1. Don’t allow them to thrive and multiply.

Candida needs sugar to thrive. It feeds off of fermentation. Cancer feeds on the fermentation of sugar as well. Clearing up an issue like candida can also reduce your risk of cancer. So the first thing you need to do is not to feed it any sugar.  Candida live on mostly simple sugars like processed refined foods, yeasts and fermented foods, fruits, juices, dried fruit, alcohol, cheese, vinegar, breads or other yeasted or fermented products like soy sauce. 

What you can include in your diet is vegetables, meat, fish, soaked and sprouted whole grains, nuts, seeds and the occasional egg. Yogurt with beneficial bacteria if you tolerate dairy products would be fine too with homemade being best of course so you can control the ingredients. You need to make sure you are absolutely not eating any sugar at all. You are also going to have to avoid anything that is fermented. 

2. Supplement with anti-fungals and address the whole body. 

You will want to heal your gut and repopulate it with good bacteria. You need to make sure you are making adequate stomach acid and that all of your detoxification pathways are working properly with elimination being one of them. 

If you have candida, you are inflamed. Your gut is inflamed too. When then gut is inflamed you may not digest your food well allowing it to ferment and feed the yeast. You may need to supplement with stomach acid (Betaine HCl) or digestive enzymes. 

Nystatin is often prescribed by doctors and it will kill the yeast. The problem with Nystatin is that the yeast or bacteria can become resistant to it, so you can’t just take a prescription and think you are going to get rid of it. The good thing about it though is that your body doesn’t absorb nystatin, it just goes in there and kills off the yeast.  

While the yeast are being killed off you can run in to symptoms of die off such as headache, fatigue, flu like symptoms or worsening of already existing symptoms. Enemas can be very helpful every few days or a colonic every couple of weeks. 

Natural remedies that help to kill yeast or keep it from growing are caprylic acid, fresh garlic, or extract of garlic, oregano oil and herbs like pau d’arco or taheebo. You can also use things like food grade Diatomaceous Earth which will go in there and act like little razor blades to the candida and won’t harm the body at all. You can follow that up with bentonite clay and drink lots of water and both soluble and insoluble fibers so you can get all the toxins out of the body. 

3. Restore or repopulate the gut. 

Here we are restoring the good bacteria in the gut. Lactobacillus Acidophilus is the main bacteria used to repopulate the colon but it is wise to mix up the kind or strains of bacteria you use to ensure good gut health. Acidophilus DDS-1 has been shown to have an anti-biotic effect on pathogens in the colon and inhibit the growth of candida albicans and helps restore the bacteria that produce B vitamins. DDS-1 and other bacteria are beneficial in other ways too such as having an anti-viral effect helping reduce the severity and incidence of cold sores, canker sores and herpes outbreaks. 

When you have an overgrowth of yeast, they take nutrients from you, ferment the foods you have eating and cause gas and bloating. Adding probiotics will help to reduce these symptoms. 

One thing you have to remember is that digestion is one of the main foundations of our health. It that is not working properly, nothing else is going to work either. Taking supplemental digestive support will allow for the proper breakdown of foods to amino acids, essential fatty acids and you will be able to absorb and assimilate the minerals and vitamins within your food. This will aid the healing process allowing you to feel your very best and become quite clear about your health. 

Getting rid of candida takes patience, time and diligence. The protocol can last several months depending on how severe your candida is. In the end you will find you have more energy, bloating will disappear and you will feel so very good. 

Does Being on The Autoimmune Protocol Suck?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you do that makes you feel good?

What to Expect When you Go On a Sugar Detox

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have regained control of my sugar addiction. 

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

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

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

Real whole foods will be enough. 

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

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

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

In Health, 

Stephanie

Your body talks but are you listening?

I know I wasn’t. This is week 6 on the autoimmune protocol. Or maybe week 7. I have lost count and truthfully, don’t care all that much. My mind feels so good, my energy could use a little push along but it is getting there. I feel pretty good. I think it is really amazing how our moods can be so affected by food. Our bodies talk to us and all we have to do is listen. 

Food cravings? 

They usually mean that your body is asking you for something. 

Chocolate cravings are a sign of magnesium deficiency

Sweets cravings in general are a sign of a need for chromium, carbon, phosphorus, sulfur or tryptophan

Bread cravings can indicate a need for nitrogen

All of these things can be found in a nutrient dense whole foods diet but sometimes we have a hard time deciphering exactly what our body is asking for and we often choose the wrong things and then still end up looking for something else to eat or more of what we just ate. Ever had that happen? 

That is what led me down the path to autoimmune disease. I was not listening to my body. It was screaming at me loudly and I kept hushing it up. My thyroid was going crazy- what you might call a thyroid storm. That storm killed my baby at 34 weeks gestation. My doctor had not a clue why he died.  A few years later I had a severe case of ringworm that I got from my job working at a gym. (By the way, the only thing that worked to get rid of it was a homeopathic remedy I bought online. I got no help from conventional medicine) five or so years later and I am itching my arms and chest to the point of bleeding with no conceivable idea why. Finally it hit me- there has to be something going on inside that is causing this to happen. I enlisted the help of google and discovered that maybe removing gluten from my diet might help. So I did and it did help. Itching was gone. Voila. This intrigued me so I did some more investigating and found my self a naturopathic doctor who did lots of tests and helped me on the path to where I am today. I took more initiative on my own to clean up my diet, cut sugar and eventually enter in to the autoimmune protocol. I did not want to go there but I am so glad I did. 

When I do decide to reintroduce foods I figured there was only one way to do it. Everything you will read will tell you to go at least 30 days strictly on the protocol. The reason for this is that it will give your body plenty of time to heal enough to let you know what foods are not okay for you. Your immune system will have had a chance to relax rather than being in a constant state of alert. Much of what has caused that inflammation in your body will have left, but your immune system will have enlisted some cells to be watching for those foods which are a problem to re enter your system. When you reintroduce something that your body does not want, your body will let you know by an inflammatory response. What that will look like for you will be vastly different than what it will look like for someone else. For me, things are showing up in my skin. You should have no reaction at all if your body is feeling pretty good about what you have reintroduced. 

The longer you wait to reintroduce foods you have eliminated, the more healing your gut can do and the more peace you will bring to your immune system. One thing to keep in mind though is that if this whole diet is going to cause you more stress, then wait to do it. That is okay. 

What I am learning is that you can reintroduce foods that you miss the most to see how you react to them and move on down the list of favorites from there. There are some things to think about in this though. If you are going to work on reintroducing dairy start with the least offensive thing first and that would be grass fed ghee, then grass fed butter and so on down the line. 

Many people recommend starting your reintroduction with egg yolks before reintroducing the whole egg. The white of the egg is what you will more than likely have an adverse reaction to vs. the yolk. The yolk has all the nutrients and make sure there is no white on it so rinsing it under cold running water is ideal before eating it. 

How do you start reintroducing a food?

First, make the food you are planning to reintroduce. 

Second, take a few small bites. This will keep any reaction you may have to a minimum. Wait 15 minutes or so and if you do not react, then eat a little more and wait 15 minutes longer. If nothing eat a little more and then wait a couple of hours. If you have no reaction, you will want to try a regular portion of it. Eat it and enjoy it and then wait. Listen to your body over the next three days. How do you feel? Your body can take up to three days to react so pay close attention but don’t drive yourself nuts! Look for symptoms of your autoimmune disease- skin rashes, joint pain, fatigue, digestive issues, poor sleep quality, brain fog, mood issues or anything else you used to experience. If any of these show up then you know to avoid that food and you should wait for all the symptoms to go away before trying another food. 

If the food you tested produced no reaction, then you can go ahead and eat some of it every day for a good week and pay close attention to your body. Listen to it very carefully. A response can accumulate over this time period where it would not have been noticeable at first but after a week of eating it, you know for sure it is not something you tolerate. If your body is happy after a week then you are good to go. 

The best thing you can do for yourself and your autoimmune disease is get to know your body. This will make the reintroduction process that much smoother. You know how your body feels from day to day. If a symptom you feel is similar to how you may feel sometimes then you have to question if it is normal or a reaction. 

Personally, I have dealt with a lot of denial in even thinking I needed the autoimmune protocol. My ND at one time said I am on my own personal autoimmune protocol and frankly, that just wasn’t cutting it. Sometimes the things we love most (potatoes and tomatoes and chocolate) are just the things we need to eliminate to experience true healing.  I am in denial about reintroductions too. I am good at fooling myself or talking myself in to believing that it just couldn’t be true that chocolate or nuts might not be good for me. I am also a bit scared to reintroduce something and find out for sure that I may never be able to eat it again. The thought of never eating chocolate again ornot being able to enjoy a treat made with almond flour really sucks. 

So with that I wish you much luck on your AIP journey and your reintroductions. Please tell me in the comments what has worked for you and what you had to give up. 

Peace and Love, 

Stephanie

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

Three Things You Can Do to Combat Adrenal Fatigue with Autoimmune Disease

Just about a year ago I was in the middle of my NTP program. I had just finished midterms and a long intense weekend of learning with my classmates. I wasn’t sleeping well. When I am stressed, usually the first thing affected is my sleep. I was getting maybe 4 hours a night for 3 or 4 days. It took a toll on me. Still does anytime I don’t get good sleep or sleep long enough. After our classroom weekend was over I slept well but was in need of some major recovery. A classmate stayed at my house the night after our last class was over and then I drove her to the airport the next day. When I got home from that I slept. I laid on my couch for a week as much as I could and I faded in and out of sleep for a couple of days. I watched all the available episodes of Long Island Medium on Netflix and laid on the couch. I went to my local food co op for lunch and went home and slept. I remember thinking how serious this was. I got a little nervous about the whole situation but I knew what I had to do and that was let my body heal. Thankfully I had the ability to do that. I asked friends to help me out by keeping my kids busy so I could take care of myself. I have never felt exhaustion like that before in my life. Even when my thyroid was tanked. The thyroid kind of tired was different. I felt slower or slowed down. This was exhaustion. Where you sleep for 8 hours or more and then get up and lay on the couch and fall asleep again. 

So what are adrenal glands anyway?

They are little walnut sized glands that sit on top of your kidneys and they play a major role in the functioning of your body. Your adrenal glands produce a bunch of hormones too like your sex hormones and cortisol and DHEA.  Cortisol is activated for many reasons but it plays a significant role in autoimmune diseases. Cortisol as a steroid is one of the big guns in the inflammatory and immune processes in the body. It protects us in some ways but can also cause harm in the body when there is too much or too little of it. 

A lot of years ago, corticosteroid drugs were the main treatment in autoimmune disease because they were so effective. Treatment was left at that. No natural management of cortisol was ever considered in conventional medicine. 

Cortisol is the original anti inflammatory steroid hormone made in the body. We make it and use it everyday. It helps regulate immune function in the body. 

Cortisol is released to help get rid of inflammation in the body and to deal with the overall inflammatory process. 

A healthy balance of cortisol helps to keep an overactive immune system in check. It also stimulates the under active immune system most especially when you are fighting off an infection. That infection can be an obvious one you are dealing with or a hidden infection inside the body that you don’t necessarily feel the immediate effects of but can be causing problems internally. 

There are three major sources of stress we are dealing with that will cause your cortisol levels to rise. 

  1. Emotional stress: a divorce, a death or loss (especially if you don’t deal with it), or something like financial stress or problems. You get the idea. Stuff going on in your life. 
  2. Dietary stressors: Gluten being the major culprit for many people. If you are dealing with autoimmune problems, get the gluten out of your diet. It is imperative. Gluten is a potential hidden source of inflammation so it is really important to get it out of the diet. On that one you have to be diligent. You can’t just kind of take it out of your diet. You also need to get a handle on your blood sugar and maintain steady blood sugar. This probably means cutting out refined carbohydrates and sugar in general to give your adrenals time to heal. 
  3. Inflammatory stress/pain:  Things like toxic overload, chemicals in your diet, pollution, infections, physical pain or hidden inflammatory conditions like leaky gut or liver damage. Food allergies or sensitivities, pathogens or heavy metals are inflammatory as wellI

All three of these issues drive cortisol and the more of them you have the more damage you will do to your adrenal glands.  

Often the root cause of adrenal problems is inflammation and you have to be a detective with your practitioner to figure out what is causing the inflammation or what you can do to reduce it. 

When it comes to autoimmune disease and the adrenals an immune antibody in the mucosal lining of the gut called Secretory Immunoglobulin A (SIgA) plays a pretty big role. Those antibodies are regulated by cortisol. The more stress you are under (from any of the three listed above) the weaker that lining in the gut will be and the immune response will be weakened. So this is why sometimes when you get stressed you can get a cold. If the stress is chronic it can lead to autoimmune disease. Basically the SIgA become weakened and contribute to leaky gut or intestinal permeability. 

There are three important aspects to keeping autoimmunity in check.

  1. Hormones: cortisol, thyroid, the sex hormones are all affected by autoimmune disease. Also, the hormones that regulate your blood sugar are important to take care of. If you can work with a qualified practitioner that can test your hormones for you that is great. If not, I will have some general things you can do listed below. 
  2. Your Gastrointestinal Tract: go on an anti-inflammatory diet, test for and take care of pathogens. Take probiotics and eat fermented foods. Heal the gut. 
  3. Detoxification: get rid of the chemicals you put in your hair and on your skin, use safer cleaning products in your home, look at heavy metals and supporting your liver. 

All of these things will help to get your Secretory IgA levels up so you can clear out any infections that may be causing a problem.

The major players in Adrenal health for everyone are: 

  • Healing the gut
  • Changing the diet
  • Mediation
  • Sleep
  • Reducing stress
  • Exercise
  • Having a loving, supportive environment/relationship

How do you know if you have adrenal fatigue?

  1. You have stored fat. When cortisol is out of balance your body will store fat especially in and around the area of your abdomen. 
  2. You have fatigue. You are just plain tired (which can lead to thyroid problems). 
  3. You have general depression/anxiety. The kind where you are just physically exhausted and don’t feel like going out and doing anything. 
  4. Your hormones are a mess. Infertility, hot flashes, night sweats or mood swings. 
  5. Digestion is not working well. 

A side note about the thyroid and adrenal problems. They go hand in hand. Inflammation affects thyroid hormones and adrenal hormones at the same time. During any kind of stress, when cortisol goes up the ability of your body to convert T4 to active T3 is immediately affected. When you have adrenal fatigue the level of active thyroid hormone in your body decreases. When cortisol levels go up, thyroid function goes down.  When autoimmune thyroid is the case, you have to think about the gut as well. If the gut isn’t healed, then the rest doesn’t matter as much. 

If you think you have thyroid problems but have not been tested or you have been tested (usually TSH only) but your doctor tells you everything is within the normal lab ranges, then maybe take a look at your adrenal glands and how well they are doing. The Nutritional Assessment Questionnaire I run on my clients gives a pretty good indication as to where you are with adrenal fatigue and is a great place to start, especially if you don’t want to do a cortisol saliva test or can’t find a practitioner or doctor to do one on you. 

What can you do on your own to combat Adrenal Fatigue?

  1. Deal with the emotional stress in your life. Do one thing to improve your emotional well being. Are you not fully dealing with a loss in your life? Are you in a bad relationship or no relationship at all? This is a big deal and plays a huge role in your adrenal health but also in your overall well being. 
  2. Make some dietary changes as talked about above. Eliminate gluten (at least for a while if you are not autoimmune). If you really want to make an impact on the situation you can go grain free and eliminate soy. Manage your blood sugar. Cut out the refined carbohydrates and sugar so your body has less stress. 
  3. Deal with the inflammation in your body. Support your liver with things like turmeric or silymarin. Take a high quality fish oil and probiotic. Digestive enzymes can be helpful too. 

 

General supplements you can take that are helpful for the adrenal glands are: 

  • Ginseng
  • Rhodiola
  • Ashwaghanda
  • Pantothenic acid
  • Vitamin C
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin B6

If you don’t think you can or don’t want to do it on your own, fill out the contact form here and we can work on it together. 

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

20 Ways to Tell Your Blood Sugar Needs Balancing

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

 

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

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

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

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

So why do we love it so much?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some general symptoms of low blood sugar: 

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

How do you avoid blood sugar imbalances?

Look at your diet. Look at your lifestyle. 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

In health, 

Stephanie

 

Beat Brain Fog Now!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does any of this sound like you? 

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

What can you do about it? 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In health, 

Stephanie