There are many things to consider when diagnosed with a low functioning thyroid. Understand how to identify and address the root of the problem.
Have you noticed that many people you know have been diagnosed as having a low functioning thyroid, or hypothyroidism? And have you also noticed that they all have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease?
The conventional approach is to prescribe thyroid hormone medication, and this has become so common, that no one really thinks twice about it. However, taking the medication does nothing to address the Hashimoto’s and what might be causing that. This is very familiar to me, because 14 years ago when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, I made it my mission to go beyond taking medication, to find the cause and then cure the disease. And as many of you know, within 1 year, my Hashimoto’s was gone.
In the last decade, I have become additionally concerned because this problem seems to be affecting our children now, too. More and more of my patients are bringing their kids in to see me because they have recently been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. I believe we are experiencing a startling increase in the diagnosis of Hashimoto’s in all age groups, so I am dedicating this month’s newsletter to this topic. I am also sharing this with you because my patients and staff asked me to write about it this month!
What is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?
This is a disease where the thyroid gland tissue becomes inflamed and damaged (thus thyroiditis) because the immune system is creating damaging antibodies that are attacking the gland. Think of it like you are having an allergy to yourself, thus the word autoimmune. For a long time, the thyroid gland itself might function just fine, making its hormones despite the inflammation. But eventually, the gland becomes damaged, and the thyroid starts to fail-then comes the diagnosis of hypothyroidism and a prescription for hormone replacement. From a Functional Medicine perspective, you can prevent the need for medication if you fix the autoimmune issue before the thyroid gland becomes irreversibly damaged.
There is another autoimmune condition affecting the thyroid called Grave’s disease, where the antibodies actually stimulate the gland, causing hyperthyroidism. Again, in Functional Medicine, we approach the treatment for Grave’s the same as with Hashimoto’s.
In order to cure this disease, we first need to look at what causes the problem at the root. Here are the 3 most common causes of Hashimoto’s:
The thyroid gland gets damaged from toxins such as mercury from fish and silver fillings, and from pesticides in food and on your lawn. The thyroid is very sensitive to these toxins and absorbs them very easily, causing an immune attack on the gland. To treat this, you must detoxify your body and your environment. See our free online program Do It With Us: Supporting Your Liver to learn how. Or pick up a copy of my book, The Immune System Recovery Plan.
Gluten triggers an immune reaction that produces antibodies that cross react and target your thyroid gland. There are many studies looking at the association between gluten and Hashimoto’s. Gluten also damages the gut lining and can cause malabsorption of essential nutrients, like selenium, needed to protect the thyroid gland from damage. To treat this easily, remove gluten from your diet. For help, see our free online program program Do It With Us: Using Food as Medicine.
Due to poor digestive health, the immune system becomes dysfunctional. 70% of the immune system is in the intestinal lining and an overgrowth of harmful microbes like yeast, bad bacteria and parasites can cause the immune system to ‘misfire’. It then makes a mistake and damages tissues at distant locations in the body, such as the thyroid. There is also an important relationship between stress and microbial overgrowth. Fixing the immune system by healing the gut is an important part of the program. To learn more, see our free online program Do It With Us: Healing Your Gut.
In my practice and in my book, The Immune System Recovery Plan, we work through these steps to cure the Hashimoto’s and all autoimmune diseases. I know it can be done because I did it for myself. Today I feel better than ever and am committed to sharing this treatment program with as many people as possible. Hashimoto’s and Grave’s Disease are both indeed, curable.
So what’s all the hype about gluten? Most people think if they aren’t celiac, that gluten is fine to eat. That used to be the case, but unfortunately, today’s gluten is vastly different than it used to be.
Many people are discovering that they are sensitive or even intolerant to gluten-the protein found in wheat, rye, barley, bulgur, spelt, kamut and triticale-which has sparked yet another rising epidemic closely related to thyroid dysfunction. The problem is that over the last several hundred years grains have been hybridized into short, easy to harvest varieties. This hybridization has concentrated the amount of gluten, and other compounds, found in grains. For many people, ingesting these super-gluten grains causes damage to the gut and thyroid gland while causing inflammation throughout the body. Add this to an already damaged gut from too many antibiotics, too much sugar and not enough fiber, results in an increased likelihood of gluten sensitivity and quite possibly, gluten intolerance.
What can you do? Try an elimination diet where you remove gluten from your diet for a minimum of 3 weeks. Then reintroduce it in large amounts to see how you respond. If you’d like some guidance, you can schedule a consultation with me, or check out our easy to follow, free 21-day online program, Do It With Us: Using Food As Medicine.
Summertime often means barbequing with friends and family. We love this vegetarian burger that’s not only gluten free, but it also supports the thyroid … and it can be made in a skillet all year round. Our black bean burger may lack the meat, but it doesn’t skip on being hearty. It’s important to get adequate protein at every meal, which is why this makes a great lunchtime meal or causal dinner. You can also freeze these uncooked and then defrost when you’re ready to eat them.
When I first saw Dr. Blum over 6 years ago, I was very sick with Graves Disease. I had never been to a doctor who looks at the whole body, not just one area. Dr. Blum treated the underlying cause, which for me was infections in my intestines and an intolerance to gluten. I highly recommend her and her program for immune issues and beyond. If it weren’t for Dr. Blum, I would not have healed.
It seems like everywhere you look there’s another food package labeled “gluten-free”. Is this the latest food fad or is this really a healthy choice for you? And what is gluten free, anyhow? There is a lot of confusion in both the media and the grocery aisle, and as you read on, I hope to shed light on this important topic.
In my new book, The Immune System Recovery Plan, I focus on using food as medicine as one of the 4 steps to treat autoimmune disease, specifically focusing on gluten and answering the question: What is Celiac disease and how is it different from gluten intolerance? And can you get sick from gluten even if you don’t have Celiac disease? The answer? Absolutely.
Celiac disease is a very specific autoimmune illness that is defined by damage to the villi of the small intestines. The trigger for this damaging immune reaction is gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, spelt, rye and kamut. The conventional dogma is that if you don’t have this intestinal damage you don’t have a gluten problem. Wrong! It turns out that gluten can trigger other immune reactions and symptoms without any damage to the small intestine, thus you can test negative for Celiac, but still be gluten intolerant. And there is good evidence that gluten is associated with other autoimmune diseases as well, like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves disease.
In the United States, wheat has been hybridized over the past 50 years so that it no longer is genetically the same as the wheat our ancestors ate. Wheat contains lots of gluten, and these genetic changes have increased the amount of gluten in the wheat we consume. Gluten is very hard for the body to breakdown, and doesn’t always get digested completely. When partially digested gluten particles get into our blood stream, they can trigger an immune reaction causing vague symptoms like brain fog, fatigue, inflammation and achiness in muscles and joints. Some people also have obvious gut symptoms like gas and bloating which are clear signs of gluten intolerance.
How do gluten particles get into your blood stream? First, certain conditions damage the lining of the intestinal tract. For example, antacids, antibiotics, severe prolonged stress, not enough good bacteria, and too much bad bacteria or yeast (a condition called dysbiosis) are all conditions that cause leaky gut syndrome. This means the intestinal lining becomes “leaky” and the gluten protein sneaks into the body, causing an emergency reaction from the immune system.
To make matters worse, the gluten protein “looks” like our tissues, so the immune system can get confused, attacking the body and causing an autoimmune disease. This is called “molecular mimicry” and is one of the ways you can get sick from gluten.
For this reason, I always recommend that you remove gluten during a detoxification program, for treatment of autoimmune diseases or for treating irritable bowel syndrome or digestive symptoms. You can do the experiment yourself: remove gluten for three weeks, and then eat it as a test to see if you notice any reaction. Be very mindful when you reintroduce it, paying attention to the appearance of symptoms of any kind. Sometimes you just feel puffy from the inflammation. These are classic gluten intolerance symptoms, and if you react this way, you should adopt a gluten free lifestyle.
There are many gluten-free products on the market. Be careful to choose breads and crackers that are made from whole grains and that are rich in fiber. Sometimes gluten-free products are made with processed rice flour or potato starch and this makes them high glycemic—increasing your blood sugar in a bad way—so it’s best to avoid these. Some tips:
- Go to a health food store or a healthy market like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s to select items. You can also find good quality gluten-free products online.
- I love quinoa and buckwheat. You can also get pasta made from these ingredients. If you opt for rice, be sure to choose brown instead of white.
- Even if you don’t remain gluten-free, it is good to eat less of it.
- All of the recipes in my book, The Immune System Recovery Plan, are gluten-free so you can learn to cook other delicious ancient grains like quinoa and millet to add more variety to your diet.
“Only diabetes has surpassed autoimmune disease in terms of numbers…It’s the second most chronic disease in our country.”
Dr. Blum discusses her new book, “The Immune System Recovery Program,” on air with Doug Miles. Find out what inspired her to write the book and how you can benefit from its practices.
Find out what exactly is Celiac Disease, and why you can get sick from gluten even if you aren’t diagnosed.
“Turns out that gluten can trigger other immune reactions and symptoms without any damage to the small intestine, thus you can test negative for celiac, but still be gluten intolerant.”
Read more to find out what you can do at home to detox, here: www.mindbodygreen.com.
Why are we seeing autoimmune disease reach an epidemic? Dr. Susan Blum presents several explanations, including: gluten, chronic stress, lack of good bacteria in the gut, and more.
Read on to find out how to cure these diseases with Dr. Blum’s 4-Step Process here: www.stacyknows.com.