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Is There a Thyroid Disease Epidemic?

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.

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Should You Remove Gluten from your Diet?

MaryColorSo 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.

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Black Bean Burgers

Black Bean Burger

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.

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How Stress Effects The Gut & What You Can Do About It

elizabeth_greig_05012013_225pxWhen you feel anxious or stressed, your adrenals glands secrete cortisol-the stress hormone-into your blood stream to help your body cope. One of the effects of cortisol is to shift blood flow in the body to where it’s needed most. This, in effect, takes blood away from the digestive organs – because fighting off those lions (real or metaphorical), becomes more important than digesting your last meal! Cortisol also has a direct effect on the developing immune system that lies along the intestinal wall, and a direct effect on the gut flora. When stress goes on too long, your flora and gut-immune system can become damaged, and this is one of the triggers for autoimmunity. Another issue is that when you’re stressed, your digestive function suffers, affecting the release of digestive enzymes and gastric acid, and this in turn also changes the balance of your gut flora, and the health of the gut lining. When you are chronically stressed over time, the gut lining is less able to regulate which substances move through it into the body, often leading to a condition called “leaky gut”, or in scientific terms, increased gut permeability. So, substances that were never meant to enter the body actually do, filtering through the immune tissues surrounding the gut, setting off immune reactions that can result in autoimmunity. Now you can see the big connection between stress, gut health and autoimmunity. You can help to heal the gut by decreasing the stress response through meditation, conscious breathing, rhythmic gentle movement, a walk in nature, or any quieting activity that gives you the “Ahhhhh……” response. Even 10 minutes of daily practice can make a difference in turning off the stress chemistry. If you need some support in one of these practices, consider trying our Learn to Relax Tool Kit that comes with guided exercises on a CD.