(This is Part 2 of my Hashimoto’s Blog. You can find Part 1 here.)
Hashimoto’s Disease. I’d never heard the name before—it sounded so strange and yet, here it was—a part of me. I was honestly scared. Since a goiter (an enlarged thyroid) was one of my symptoms, I knew I had probably struggled with Hashimoto’s for at least a few years (if not more) without knowing it. Nevertheless, I was ready to take on the challenge of giving my body what it needed in order to fight this monster.
Just for the fun of it and to further relate to you here’s a list of the symptoms I had at the beginning of this journey and the ones I have currently. You’ll be able to see the difference my lifestyle changes (listed below) have made.
Symptoms from 2012:
- Hair loss (in chunks!)
- Weight gain
- Dry skin
- Brain fog
- Extreme fatigue
- Cold extremities (hands and feet)
- Muscle weakness
- Significant sensitivity to cold
- Dry skin (I’m now in Idaho! It’s super dry here, so if I was in TX still my skin may have been different.) 😊
- Brain fog only when stressed or sleep deprived. Not a common occurrence.
- Still sensitive to cold and maintain cold feet, but, again, I’m in Idaho now not the south so it’s a little more understandable! Haha!
As you can see, I have hardly any symptoms compared to when I began this journey. My goal in writing this blog is not for you to follow my ways exactly because every single body is different. My hope is for you to see that there is HOPE! First and foremost, find a great doctor and seek their advice. Next, don’t get overwhelmed. Take one step today that you know will make a difference in your life and stick with it. Consistency is key!
Below are the steps I took and things that have helped me on my journey with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Disease. Included are books and website recommendations also! I hope you find it helpful as you discover what’s best for you...
I found a very reputable doctor who was very experienced with thyroid issues.
I’m so grateful to have found Dr. Anthony Rector, D.O. in Southlake, TX when I did. He differed from doctors I had experienced before. He actually took the time to gain a comprehensive understanding of how my lifestyle and my condition were connected; he ran several lab tests to get a full perspective of my body’s strengths and weaknesses and used that information to create a treatment plan. I owe a great deal of my success to Dr. Rector. I encourage you to seek out a doctor who will listen and partner with you to put you on a path of discovery and healing. If you are in the Boise area, I recommend Dr. Tamara Sandmeyer; she has been of help to me here.
I completely removed gluten from my diet.
Significant research has been done showing the link between gluten and auto-immune diseases. (See my blog post, “Gluten. Why the fuss?” for more information on the topic and also check out this great website: www.amymyersmd.com/2018/04/3-reasons-give-up-gluten-autoimmune-disease/ )
I also removed refined sugar from my diet.
Sugar increases inflammation substantially. Anytime someone struggles with an auto-immune disorder they have some source of inflammation because the body is literally attacking itself. Sugar also weakens the body’s immune system. I was determined to reduce inflammation (especially my goiter) and boost my immune system as much as possible, so sugar had to go! (See my blog post on Sugar to learn more about its possible effects.)
I supported my adrenal glands.
After doing a cortisol saliva test my doctor recommended, we came to find that I suffered from adrenal fatigue. Cortisol is our stress hormone. When our body is stressed, the adrenal glands pump out adrenaline or cortisol to help us defend. Throughout our day we have many stressors—some good, some unfortunate; some we are unaware of, some we know too well. Toxins, allergens, and auto-immune diseases are several stressors on the body that we may not have knowledge of but are potentially doing some serious damage. Hashimoto’s was putting a serious strain on my body, and I hadn’t a clue. Consult your doctor for the best adrenal supplement for you if your cortisol levels are low (or too high). Also, depending on what time of day yours are abnormal, you may need to take the adrenal support at a specific time of day. Your doctor should tell you. If not, ask—morning, midday, or nighttime?
I started taking a prescribed natural thyroid medication—armour thyroid.
There are many natural thyroid medication brands on the market currently (way more than there were 8 years ago). I started out with Armour Thyroid but have since switched to Nature-Throid because it’s less expensive and just as effective. I chose the natural medication route because it contains both T3 and T4 (versus the synthetic drug “Synthroid” that just contains T4). Some people can’t convert T4 into T3. My doctor believed my body needed help with this conversion, so the natural option was the right one for me.
Every 6 months my doctor re-tested my thyroid levels to make sure i was on the right path with treatment.
Often doctors will only check your TSH, and if it comes back “normal”, they will most likely tell you you’re fine. The TSH alone is not enough information. You need more. The thyroid is complex. Your T4 or T3 could be out of range, or antibodies could be present. If you suspect your thyroid is imbalance, have your doctor test for the following. Ideal range is included also….
- TSH: 1-3 uIU/mL
- Free T4: 1-1.7 ng/dL
- Free T3: 1.2-4.9 pg/mL
- Reverse T3: 90-350 pg/mL
- Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies: 35 > or NEGATIVE
- Thyroid Globulin Antibodies: 20 > or NEGATIVE
Note: Ideal Ranges can differ slightly.
I highly recommend this book!! Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms?: When My Lab Tests Are Normal by Datis Kharrazian
- Vitamin D – I was deficient in this vitamin. Vitamin D deficiency is super common in America and must not be overlooked. It is used to maintain the proper function of several organ systems including the immune system… very vital.
- Iron – I was deficient in Ferritin. Most people with Hashimoto’s have a Ferritin deficiency.
- Vitamin C – I take to support my immune system.
- Zinc - The thyroid needs zinc to function. It’s what helps convert T4 to T3. It also helps boost our immune system and helps maintain a healthy gut.
- Magnesium - This super mineral has been known to help reduce the size of goiters. It also helps stabilize blood sugar levels, aids in the production of energy, supports immune system, and so on. It’s great to take at night for helping with insomnia too!
- Probiotics – These healthy bacteria help support your gut. 20% of healthy thyroid hormone activity depends on a healthy gut flora!
- Multivitamin - My body was pretty deficient, so I wanted to make sure I was giving it all the support possible. I made sure to choose a whole foods vitamin, and it had to be free of iodine. Iodine can increase antibodies in those that deal with Hashimoto’s.
- Check out this website for more great insight: https://thyroidpharmacist.com/articles/most-common-nutrient-deficiencies-hashimotos/
I made several other dietary changes.
- I began to limit dairy. I could tell it wasn’t best for my gut health; therefore, for milk, I use almond milk primarily. For cheese, I use manchega, which is sheep’s cheese and delicious! I also do okay with Icelandic or Greek yogurt.
- I eat primarily organic foods in order to reduce amount of toxins entering my body.
- I buy grass-fed and/or no nitrate meats.
- I choose honey or coconut sugar as sweeteners.
- I eat mostly slow absorbing carbohydrates, and when I eat a carb I have some sort of protein with it to help stabilize my blood sugar levels.
- Most importantly, I eat a wide variety of foods to ensure I’m getting a mixture of vitamins and minerals naturally in my diet. I make sure I don’t eat the same thing every day, and I also am very mindful of the colors on my plate. There should always be at least 3 colors!
- I limit caffeine my intake to mainly green tea. I drink green tea 2-4 times a day!
- Here are some great cookbooks:
Our bodies are made to move. They were not created to sit all day. Even though, I had adrenal fatigue and exhaustion from the disease, I knew it was still important to exercise, so I did! I exercised (and still do) at least 5 days a week. Exercising smart is key though! As good as exercise is for the body, it can still be a stressor. Early on, my adrenals did not need any added stress, so I made sure to do exercises I enjoyed and kept them at a low to medium intensity. For me, that included dancing, pilates, yoga, light strength training and taking walks with my kiddos. I waited to do high intensity interval training until I could see my adrenal fatigue improve. Exercising always made me feel better. It should energize you. If it ever wipes you out for the day, the intensity was most likely too high! Take it down a notch.
Out of all these, the most noticeable change I ever made was when I eliminated gluten and sugar from my diet. I was SO rejuvenated after doing so. I had forgotten what energy was supposed to feel like… I’m happy to say that after 8 years of staying super consistent with all these changes my thyroid is finally working like it should. My lab work came back normal this past March of 2018 for the first time ever! It sure did take a while. The journey has been well worth it, and I’m sticking to it!
Body Basics is here to help with nutrition coaching and personal training if you’re in the area. Otherwise, feel free to reach out to me through email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. Many blessings!