I decided to devote this week to talking about wellness and some interesting things I've been learning. I last posted in February about joining the Facebook group for people with Hashimoto's, which has been very insightful. I feel as though I oversimplified this disease for you - and also for me. It's been a struggle. I've learned that normal lab results don't guarantee feeling normal. I'll share more on that this week. I have continued to learn so much in that time, and the most important being that treating the thyroid is different for each person. It's certainly not a one-size-fits-all disease. In fact, it's incredibly diverse and can be challenging for doctors AND patients to find the right course, and once they find the right course, it might not be right for long and will need to be tweaked and adjusted again. It can be maddening for people suffering with any diseases of the thyroid, and it can be hard for the people close to them. Often, if the disease has progressed past the initial stages people will suffer significant brain fog, memory issues, and overall extreme fatigue and lack of energy. They could also be losing large chunks of hair, have cold hands and feet, dry skin, sudden weight gain, and a myriad of other somewhat random symptoms like eye twitching. People suffering from thyroid diseases need lots of support and understanding from those closest to them - and they also need to give themselves lots of self-love and understanding. It's easy to be hard on oneself when you're not able to do things as well or as quickly as you previously were, or when you feel as though your brain is failing you. Loved ones and family members need to understand the disease is in charge until the person can get it on the right course. It's not the person choosing that behavior, and it can be as much of a surprise to the person as it is to their family.
My experience has been cold hands and feet, some brain fog and issues with recalling names or words that I clearly know, and less energy that I'm used to having. I've always felt I could run on all cylinders and accomplish a to-do list in no time flat, whereas in the past year it seems I wasn't always successful and just generally felt I was accomplishing less - but yet, I couldn't truly explain why. I've also told you in the past about my struggles with iron-deficiency anemia due to the uterine fibroids I've had. For years, I have been unable to get my hemoglobin and ferritin levels into a healthy range. I can even remember asking doctors why I wasn't successful and what could I do. This puzzled and concerned me, and the doctors weren't telling me anything other than to take iron supplements. Taking iron supplements can be challenging, as they can mess with your digestive system, and if you need to take a lot it can be doubly challenging. I was concerned about my anemia levels and got my blood tested a month ago. It wasn't good. All of my numbers were extremely low and outside of the bottom of the scale. The word ALERT was written next to my iron saturation. These levels would explain my shortness of breath and inability to go up a flight of stairs without being winded. I can even get winded if I'm telling someone a story in a conversation.
But I've struggled with varying degrees of these low iron levels for the past 17 years, so what's different now? Well, it was bit like putting together a puzzle, but here's what I've learned: people with thyroid disease typically suffer with low stomach acid - meaning they aren't producing enough stomach acid to aid in proper digestion - but in general, as we age our stomach loses the ability to produce hydrochloric acid (HCL). This lack of stomach acid contributes to a lack of absorption of essential vitamins and minerals (such as iron and B12). And if you have low iron levels then your body struggles to properly convert inactive T4 to the active T3 - a very important component to thyroid function.
I also learned that my B12 level is low (323, but should be well over 500, and ideally in the 800-900 range) despite a diet rich in grass-fed beef and dairy, pastured eggs and poultry (Here's a great article regarding B12 from Dr Mercola). Here again, the lack of stomach acid comes into play by affecting my absorption of B12. As someone with O-negative blood, where our ancestors were hunter/gatherers who ate a diet high in meat, I always assumed I had sufficient stomach acid because O-negatives need lots of it to properly digest meat. I probably had sufficient stomach acid at one point, but when my thyroid (I have a family history of thyroid disease, I have learned) started getting sluggish - so too did my stomach acid. You might find this statement hard to believe, but stomach acid is vitally important, so I'm going to devote a separate post to it. Trust me, what you think you know to be true - might not be. There are millions of people making Big Pharma rich over a common misconception regarding stomach acid. Stay tuned...
And I told you awhile back that my uterine fibroids had returned - well, they never actually left completely, but have now grown in size. OK, before I get confused, let's recap what the issues are:
So, here's what I've been doing to correct these problems. I'm still following a gluten-free and 99.999% grain-free diet (I did have some crackers that were made with rice flour), and I've stopped eating 99.999% dairy. I didn't eat that much to begin with - mainly some grass-fed cheese, yogurt, and the occasional Jeni's ice cream - but I'm trying to go without it now because it can be inflammatory to the body - which isn't good for the Hashimoto's (an inflammatory disease) or the fibroids. I've been trying to heal my gut, since leaky gut is the main culprit in autoimmune diseases. I want to make sure that toxins and waste aren't getting circulated back into my body because the normally tight junctions in the stomach are now loose. In addition to the supplements I mentioned previously (here), I've had to add these:
- Betain HCL with Pepsin - this helps stimulate stomach acid production so I can properly absorb vital nutrients I'm taking.
- NAC - N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine - this is the precursor to glutathione, the master antioxidant in the body.
- DIM - diindolyl methane + BioPerine - this helps promote better estrogen levels in both men and women, so I've heard this is extremely effective for uterine fibroids - which are caused by estrogen dominance in the body.
- B12 - a sublingual B12 is the best, so look for a lozenge, spray, or liquid.
- Iron with Vitamin C - this is the best iron I've found. It's a liquid that is 99.9% absorbable and cell ready. It bypasses your digestive system straight into your cells. I mix it with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and a little water. You always want to take iron with an acid, like vitamin C. This iron has the vitamin C in it already, but the apple cider vinegar is great for stimulating stomach acid production (and a million other things - it's amazing!) so I add it to the mixture.
I'm going to do more blood work to see my progress (FYI - Life Extension Foundation is doing their annual blood test sale now!) and I'll keep you updated to my progress. I hope you'll stay tuned this week as I share some interesting and important information, along with some experiences, both good and frustrating that I've had recently. Have you had your thyroid checked this year? If not, please do - and make certain you order all the labs I mentioned (here). It's very important. Friends don't let friend ignore their thyroid! :)
*image source is linked