Happy Monday! Hope your week is off to a great start. Thank you so much for comments and e-mails regarding Max! Losing a pet is so hard, but having support from people who truly understand what that's like makes things better, so thank you!
So I owe you a health update! In case you are just tuning in, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroidis four months ago. You can read about how it all started and why I'm disclosing all of this here. Hashimoto's (i.e. Hashi's) is an autoimmune disease where the immune system mistakingly identifies the thyroid as a foreign invader to the body and attacks it. In March I had a high thyroid antibody count, which is the main indicator of Hashi's. Even though my thyroid itself was operating at normal levels, I was experiencing several hypothyroid symptoms, including anxiety, hair loss, fatigue, constipation, heart palpitations, brain fog, insomnia, etc. The experience of all of those symptoms together is called a "flare up" in medical terms. Once my doctor established the diagnosis, the goal was to reduce my antibody count, which in turn would protect my thyroid and extinguish the flare up. We planned to do that through diet, elimination of food sensitivities, supplements, and lifestyle changes. Even though I'm not opposed to taking prescription medication when necessary, my doctor and I wanted to take these steps first without medication to see if they alone would make a difference.
A few weeks ago, I had my first follow-up thyroid panel done (TSH, T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, and TPO Antibodies) and I am super happy to report that my antibody count has dropped by almost half - in just a four month period of time! I am literally 5 points away from it being within normal range. I am so thrilled!! My thyroid itself is still operating at normal levels. I am still not out of the woods yet, though. I still experience some symptoms and my antibody level is still considered to be high, but at least I know that all of this really hard work is paying off. Many of you have sent me e-mails asking me exactly what I'm doing to tackle this issue, so I thought I would outline those things below - things that are clearly working!
1. Diet: I have listed this first because I truly think this is the #1 thing that is healing me. However, making these dietary changes easily qualifies as one of the hardest things I've ever had to do in my life! I am on the Autoimmune Protocol Diet (AIP), which means I basically only eat organic poultry, grass-fed beef, wild seafood, organic vegetables, and organic fruit. That's it. I've eliminated all processed foods and refined sugar, dairy, eggs, gluten, grains, soy, and legumes. I've also eliminated foods that I am personally sensitive to like nightshades (tomatoes, white potatoes, and peppers), pears, chia seeds, spinach, and walnuts. I was/am a huge foodie, so this has been quite challenging and downright depressing at times. But changing my mindset helps. I am now eating to live as opposed to living to eat and that's just the way it has to be if I want to feel good most of the time. I make a meal plan every week and pretty much cook all of my meals and make all of my drinks (i.e. fresh juices and smoothies) myself. That process can be so time-consuming and exhausting at times - especially since I have a full-time job - but I am teaching myself to get really creative with food in terms of how it tastes, how it's made, and even how it looks. I'll do anything to make it remotely exciting... Once my antibody levels get within normal range, I will add back in some foods, but gluten, soy, eggs, and probably dairy are still pretty much out for life. While this blog will not become an AIP food blog - or a blog about Hashi's - I do plan to share some of my food prep tips and recipes I have been making. They are healthy, easy to make recipes that I think anyone would love no matter what, so stay tuned!
2. Supplements: I have been taking supplements to replenish my vitamin levels, and provide support to my immune system and thyroid. Those include Vitamin D3, selenium, probiotics, zinc, and magnesium, just to name a few. Most of my deficient vitamin levels have been restored just within these last few months, which I'm sure has contributed to a reduction in my symptoms.
3. Stress Management: Stress and high adrenal levels fuel this disease, so keeping them in check is key. Meditation has helped me with that a lot. I did a full post on my routine here, and I still love it. The only thing that has changed a bit is my night time meditation. I can now fall asleep at the drop of a hat at night (staying asleep is sometimes an issue), so I sometimes skip it at night. But I still do it first thing every morning! I don't get anxious as much these days and I know I owe a lot of that to meditation. Mild exercise (mainly Pilates and walking) and getting adequate rest is also extremely important. I'm in bed my 10PM most nights - after I do my nighttime routine - which is also a big stress reliever. I also sometimes delegate errands and household activities so that I can dedicate that time to resting. I actually love to clean, but I now have a housekeeper on call in case I need her. She's a godsend I tell ya...
4. Acupuncture: Acupuncture is my life. I have only been to three sessions and I totally feel comfortable making that statement. Several studies have shown that acupuncture can restore immunity and fix a whole host of other issues, so I decided to explore it. I did it inconsistently many years ago for my migraines and I remember how incredibly calming the experience was. Well, it's still amazing. I feel an incredible sense of calm even before all of the tiny little needles have been inserted. I always leave my session feeling very euphoric, yet energized at the same time. This time around I am partaking in acupuncture on a consistent basis - at least for a few months.
5. Chiropractic Care: I had read and heard that chiropractic care was a great thing to do in my case. Chiropractors tend to be very knowledgable about autoimmune diseases and how imbalances in the body can contribute to symptoms. I had no intention of exploring chiropractors at this stage of the process, but I developed a nagging issue with my left shoulder a few months after my diagnosis. So I decided to go to a chiropractor and I'm so thankful I did. My initial chiropractic tests revealed that the left side of my body along with my neck were really out of line. That meant my body was using large amounts of energy just to keep certain things in place, which was causing inflammation, discomfort, and tightness - especially on the left side of my neck and back. I'm on a plan to receive a certain number of adjustments over the next few months to correct the issues. I can say that I've only had TWO adjustments so far and my shoulder already feels much better and the consistent tightness in my neck is subsiding. So excited about that!
Like I said, I am not 100% better, but I'm a LOT better than I was this time last year. In spite of all of those things I listed above, I still have random bouts of insomnia, fatigue, and moments where I just feel off, which are the main reasons I'm still not blogging as much these days. I opt for rest instead on those days. And in case you are wondering if I'm spending a small fortune on all of this - the answer is unequivocally yes. Unfortunately, health insurance doesn't always cover these natural, yet effective forms of treatment - or housekeepers for that matter. And unfortunately high-quality food doesn't come cheap. But you know how they always say to save for a rainy day?? Well it's raining. I was prepared and I just have to be thankful for that. I'm thinking of this as an investment in my health and my life. I'm also thinking I'm spending less money now than I would later if I didn't work on tackling the root causes of this disease now - as opposed to later. Even though Hashi's requires life-long attention, I have no doubt that all of this is totally worth it. I'll be sure to keep you updated on my progress!
P.S. I've purchased several books on Hashi's, but my favorite is "The Root Cause" by Izabella Wentz. It's in the photo above. It was recommended to me by Lauren (she's such a sweetheart) and it's honestly the only book I feel like I will use consistently in the whole universe of books on Hashi's. It's easy to dissect, not intimidating, credible, and extremely helpful. I highly recommend it for people who are experiencing this issue and need help getting down to the bottom of it.
Let me know if you have any questions!!
Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose any medical issues.
Image by me