What I've learned by being the healthiest sick person I know - part two
Things were starting to come together. I’d recognized the initial trauma that caused my first outbreak of hives. Reading Izabella’s book (Hashimoto’s Protocol) and reading her and other’s articles online, I was able to recognize the initial trauma that caused my first incident of gut dis-ease and that is probably what started some real gut permeability and set it all in motion so that within the next couple of years I’d get hives and then be so exhausted I’d be tested and diagnosed with Hashimoto’s.
Izabella and many others (like functional medical doctors) say that autoimmune illnesses are caused by three things and all three must be present.
A specific gene
Specific triggers that cause the gene to express itself.
Intestinal permeability which can interrupt the immune system’s ability to regulate itself.
So you start on this tract, your body is changing but you don’t even know it, and if you’re lucky, at some point a doctor will do the right tests and those tests will show you that you have Hashimoto’s. Some people have it but don’t test for it. It can be incredibly frustrating. Of course, the doctor will just want to put you on some kind of thyroid hormone replacement and leave it at that - even though, over time, your thyroid will sustain damage. Even though, the sooner you do something about it, the better off you’ll be. Remember, they have a scope of practice and they’ve learned everything they know within a certain system. They don’t know about these connections any more than I know how to remove an inflamed appendix! Endocrinologists are typically reading very specific journals which are mostly about surgery and meds. But AI and Hashimoto’s is so tied to the gut and our guts in general are so messed up that they are now recommending colonoscopies at age 45. Even the doctors are admitting that the reason people are getting colon cancer at such young ages is because of processed foods with artificial sweeteners, dyes, and everything gross that goes into making processed foods. It really is twisted that it costs more to buy food that is better for you! I am not advocating for over testing. I am currently struggling with when to do my first colonoscopy actually. There’s a history in my family, yes, but they also weren’t super healthy eaters. And I’m certainly not doing it right now when my gut is working hard to recover, rebuild, and improve function. Imagine what drinking that mixture would do to me right now! Putting that one off for now.
First in the Hashimoto’s Protocol book is the liver protocol. Did you know that people with Hashimoto’s do not process toxins well? Or that our livers in general are stressed and underperforming? I didn’t. In those two weeks, you remove triggering foods (which I’d already been doing but deleted a few more foods), you add supportive foods (for instance high nutrient), you reduce toxic exposure (mine is pretty low but I started obsessing over what’s in my city’s water), and you support detox pathways (like taking herbs that support the liver). Izabella has a lot of personal stories too because she has Hashimoto’s. She was doing great and then bought some new lip gloss. She had a terrible and deep reaction. She did a urine test and found she had a very high level of arsenic in her urine. Arsenic can activate EBV. This is one reason why I rarely wear makeup and when I do it’s at least a brand that’s trying not to poison me! Women use 12 personal care products per day on average. That amounts to about 168 different chemical ingredients. The heavy metals in cosmetics is off the chart; nickel, lead, beryllium, thallium, cadmium, arsenic. Clean up your bathrooms ladies! And your kitchens! Because if you haven’t noticed, those products are really nasty too.
One thing I LOVE about Izabella is that she’s into gentle healing work. If you’ve come to see me, you know I am not into “cleanses” or “detoxes”. Many people cannot handle them and I’m one of those people. Guess what? It’s kind of a Hashimoto’s thing. I’ve tried them and it was a disaster. Back then, Christina quickly explained to me why it was a disaster and over time I have seen how right she is - gentle is better. I say it’s a Hashimoto’s thing because it can be really bad for us. But the truth is, cleanses are hard on the system of most people.
Second in the book is the adrenal protocol where Izabella delves into the HPA axis, which stands for hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. This discusses the fight or flight process but in much more detail and at a much deeper level. Did you know that women with Hashimoto’s who are breastfeeding may have poor milk production because of this HPA axis going haywire? I’ve been telling clients for awhile about adrenaline and it’s effect on the body, but this was a deeper dive for me. Anyway, this axis under chronic stress puts a lot of strain on the body and can cause multiple systems to go haywire, whether you are aware of it or not.
For me, and what I learned during menopause, is that I’ve been running on my adrenals for decades, thinking multi-tasking and being stressed made me super productive. I’m sure it did. It also slowly wore me out. I’ve tried for awhile to deal those little babies but with Hashimoto’s, it gets complicated and takes even more consistency than I thought. Too little sleep, mental and emotional stress, blood sugar imbalances, and chronic inflammation are all ways that I stress my adrenals. So all these years, getting lightheaded sometimes when I stand up, getting hangry, needing to eat like a hummingbird - these were all signs of things going awry but I didn’t know it. Truth is, even if I’d known it or suspected it, I probably wouldn’t have done much if anything about it - in my twenties?? No way!!
So in this part of the process you rest, de-stress, get plenty of sleep, reduce inflammation, balance blood sugar (wow I learned a lot with this part!), and add adaptogens and replenish nutrients. Adaptogens actually help normalize the HPA axis which isn’t surprising since, well, that’s what they do. They normalize, they balance, they do what is needed, energizing one system while relaxing another system while tonifying another system.
I’ve had a couple of times when my adrenals were stressed and not producing enough cortisol. I call it crying over spilled milk syndrome. When we left for Utah last week, I melted down. It was the smallest stuff but I couldn’t handle any amount of stress. Poor Nate, he’s such a champ dealing with all of this and learning how to be there for support; and we both knew I just needed to get through the night and get on the river!!! So I realized, I was still in rough shape and my adrenals needed to still be taken care of. They always will I guess. So many little things needed to be consistent. Like watching my blood sugar - eating enough protein and always having protein with any carbs of any kind (sweet potatoes are my savior) or anything sweet or sugary (berries, maple syrup, honey). Making sure I eat not long after I wake up. Making sure I eat enough throughout the day. This doesn’t seem like a big deal but it is when you are limited in what you can eat and when your solar plexus tends to tighten, making you feel like you aren’t hungry. I can eat fresh eggs, like from chickens eating what chickens are supposed to eat which is everything. I can eat most vegetables and olives. And it’s really important that I eat good protein - regular store bought meat and the companies that process them can screw right off. That was me trying to be professional and not say fuck right off! I’m not at all interested in the disgusting industry of factory farming, hormone and drug laden mystery meat, and awful and barely regulated meat processing facilities which are no good for four legged animals or two legged human animals. It’s a sick system and it’s making us sicker. Most meat is loaded with omega 6’s, grass fed and naturally raised animals is full of good for you omega 3’s. There’s your rabbit hole!! You’re welcome. While organic is obviously better, it isn’t really solving the problem. We help butcher cows every fall since I don’t hunt deer anymore and I need to explore local chickens and pork more. Bottom line: leaving your health to a few multinational and/or massively profitable corporations is not a good idea.
Third in the book is the gut protocol. And I’m going to leave that whole section for what will most likely be the last part of this. Trying to get you there in three parts!