Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Understanding Hashimoto's

When I was first diagnosed with Hashimoto's I didn't understand what it was other then it was an auto-immune disorder. To be honest with you, I didn't really even understand what exactly auto-immune meant when it came my Thyroid. I understood it as I had a Thyroid problem. After learning about Dr. Pickel, I was introduced to a book written by Dr. Datis Kharrazian called Why Do I Have Still Have These Symptoms If My Lab Results Are Normal? Dr. Kharrazian teaches other health practitioners about Hashimoto's and Hypothyroidism arming them with the knowledge to control it with no medication. He is also the one that my Dr. studies under.

I read his book and gained so much knowledge that I had never heard before. For starters, Hashimoto's is not a Thryoid condition, it is an immune condition which means that it can be corrected and controlled with the right treatment. It isn't your Thyroid that is the problem, it is your inflammed immune system that is constantly fighting itself. Once an auto-immune disorder has been switched on, it can never be switched off. It can, however, be halted and in some cases reversed. One of the testimonies in this book talks about a gentleman with Hashimoto's getting better with the same kind of treatment plan I am on and after doing so the hypopigmentation (Vitiligo) on the back of his hands that he had for 20+ years reversed and started to pigment again. I have NEVER had a doctor tell me that Vitiligo can be reversed. That is amazing to me and gives me hope that not just my thyroid condition but all my conditions can get better.

Another important thing to know about Hashimoto's is that the thyroid tissue looks almost identical to the gluten protein. Therefore, if you have Hashimoto's you should NOT eat gluten because when you do your body will attack itself more because it cannot differentiate between the thyroid tissue and the gluten protein. You don't have to have a gluten sensitivity although most people who suffer from Hashimoto's do have a sensitivity to it and should stop eating it all together forever or in some cases until they control their immune system. My opinion is that if you have Hashimoto's why eat something that will encourage your body to attack itself and go straight for your thyroid which is your bodies engine. More often than not, Hashimoto's and Gluten Intolerance go hand in hand and usually if you have one, you have the other. I personally have full blown Celiac Disease which is where my body has antibodies for Celiac. Having antibodies is not a good thing when you already have auto-immune disorders because it increases the inflammation and your body begins fighting to correct those antibodies creating a viscious cycle that pushes the progression of your conditions making them worse. People with Gluten Sensitivity or Intolerance can possible eat Gluten down the road after correcting their immune system but not always. If you do start eating it again you have to be careful not to digress and create inflammation again which could result in Celiac Disease.

There is so much to learn about Hashimoto's if you have it or think you could possibly be suffering from Hypothyroid. Wrapping your brain around it and understanding what is happening internally is imperative so that you can begin to listen to your body and respond accordingly.

If you know that you suffer from Hashimoto's I strongly encourage you to read the book Dr. Kharrazian wrote. It is eye opening and will answer many of the questions you have and give you hope that the future can be different and free of Synthroid or other Thyroid Replacement Hormones. There is so much to share so I will have information sprinkled throughout each post I write but this is the basic info I want you to know and understand now. As I said before, if you have Hashimoto's and still eat Gluten, I strongly encourage you to stop as it is just increasing the rate at which your Thyroid is being destroyed. If you have symptoms that coincide with Hypothyroid, you can ask your Dr. for a simple blood test that can determine if you have Hashimoto's or not. Please be aware that it is common to have a false negative and if you feel as though your negative results may in fact be inaccurate, you can request to be tested again. Never take no for an answer.

Kale Chips Recipe

So this is a super easy snack that tastes great. You can season it however you like and experiment with different things to change it up a bit. Kale is usually located in the produce department near the fresh Parsley, Cilantro and other herbs. If it is not there then check near the various types of lettuce and spinach.

Buy one to two bushels depending on how much you want to make. One bushel is usually enough for 1 to 2 people. Wash the bushel in cold water and shake dry. Break leaves off into smaller pieces but not tiny. Probably the size of small post it note or a little larger. Line baking sheet with foil and lay Kale out on it. Spray with Pam Olive Oil cooking spray or you can choose to drizzle EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) on it. Season lightly with salt and pepper to taste. I prefer sea salt but you can use regular table salt. You can also experiment with Garlic salt, paprika, seasoned salt or anything you can think of. If it is something new you haven't tried before maybe try it on a small portion of what your making so that if it doesn't turn out good you won't be wasting a whole bushel.

Feel free to comment on here if you try something new and really like it. Enjoy!

What will I eat?

Oh this is a question I know I will ask myself many times over. What will I eat? It surely won't be what they are eating. I started my detoxification process on Easter Sunday and let's just say that probably wasn't the best day to start. I had initally wanted to wait until Monday but decided that I would challenge myself with the temptation of restricted food and see how I fared. I think I did pretty good but wasn't totally successful.

We had lunch at my moms house where she had her famous potato salad, fresh fruit and wonderful dip, veggies with ranch dip, black olives, ham, pea salad, deviled eggs and chipotle bread. My biggest temptation was probably the deviled eggs. Just looking at them and knowing that I could not eat those little buggers drove me crazy. They looked decadent. I did have one but managed to avoid eating the forbidden items suprisingly well. I had a lot of raw veggies without the dip and a lot of fresh fruit without the dip. I also enjoyed some black olives. I did have a tiny bite of ham off my child's plate before I caught myself and threw the rest away. I also caved and had a bite of my moms potato salad that she rarely makes and is a favorite from childhood.

I will say this, I am happy that I did as well as I did and didn't say oh well, and pile high a plate of food that I knew would make me suffer later. I did have a few bites but for it being day 1 on Easter I think I managed to restrain myself greatly. You are talking to a total foodie here. Now if there had been chocolate cake we may have had a problem. :)

Afterwards we went to my mother-in-laws where the selection was bring your own meat to grill, pasta salad, skillet new potatoes and fresh fruit. I enjoyed another helping of fresh fruit, brought turkey burgers to grill with no bun, and enjoyed some of the new potatoes. I did have a tiny piece of strawberry shortcake for dessert that was smaller than small. It was also one of my recipes I shared with my sister-in-law that I absolutely love and is fresh and light and makes the perfect spring or summer dessert.

So all in all I would have to say that it was a success for me especially knowing that I couldn't eat most of it and really wanted too. I did do much better on Monday being at home in a controlled environment and avoided the easter candy completely. I have been feeling very run down and tired which I'm sure is a result of me detoxing my body. It is very common for people to get sick during a detoxification process ranging from fatigue to vomiting and everything in between.

So here is a simple rundown of what I ate for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner yesterday so that you have an idea of what I can eat. While I am doing the detox phase I am taking a powder supplement that is like drinking a protein shake called ClearVite. It is a systemic nutritional and detoxification support program and for my treatment plan I am having one shake in the morning on days 1-4.

8 0z. Almond Milk
1 scoop ClearVite

30 mins later:
Handful of Fresh Fruit

Mid-Morning Snack:
10 Natural Almonds


4 slices Turkey Bacon
3 pieces of raw Broccoli
5 baby Carrots

Afternoon Snack:

Kale Chips


1 Chicken Breast seasoned with lemon, dill, salt and pepper to taste
1 c. Frozen Okra cooked
1/4 c. Lentils seasoned with lemon and salt and pepper to taste

Evening Snack:

12 Walnuts

You might be wondering why I am eating so often and that is because this is what I was told to do. It is important for me to eat regularly to try and level out my blood sugar as I have insulin resistance. Anyone should eat this often just to keep their metabolism burning at a consistent rate. I will post recipes for some of the things I make such as the Kale Chips which are a tasty snack, super easy to make and even my kids love them. You can also check out www.thefreedomchef.com for more great gluten free, vegan recipes and ideas. It is a farely new site but much more will be added so keep checking back often. You can find it on Facebook too, just search for The Freedom Chef.

I have ordered some gluten free vegan cookbooks and as I try new recipes and find ones that I like I will share the books I found them in. Since I am on such a limited diet for now I won't be indulging in any of the good stuff like cupcakes or muffins but in due time. Another website you can find yummy cookies at is www.eatmecookies.com and is operated by a woman who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and went gluten free and ended up being cured. My sister-in-law who doesn't have to eat gluten free tried her cookies and said they were delicious. You can also check out www.forksoverknives.com and http://www.underourskin.com/watch.html for more info why changing your diet and lifestyle may be to your advantage.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Make It Happen

I have been struggling for years to feel "normal" with no solid answers as to why I feel like a stranger in my own body. I am a 32 yr old mother of 7 who is happily married. I had my first child shortly after I turned 18 and made a trend of having another baby every 2 years thereafter. I had my last baby when I was 30 and came to the conclusion that no one was missing anymore so it was time to tie my sweet little tubes. It was shortly after having baby number 7 that I noticed I wasn't losing weight very easily and I was tired and fatigued all the time. I had also started to miss my periods which was not normal for me and I harassed my Gynecologist relentlessly to draw blood and check for a pregnancy inspite of several negative at home tests. Luckily, my blood test was negative but in the process of testing me for a pregnancy I had a thyroid panel ran as well which showed that my TSH levels were in the high normal range. It was at that time that I began seeing an Endocrinologist and started taking the lowest dose of Synthroid which is a thryoid replacement hormone. It was discovered that I had an auto immune disorder called Hashimoto's which is where your body attacks your thyroid. My concerns were raised because I already suffered from another auto immune disorder called Vitiligo, aka the Michael Jackson disease. It is where your body attacks your melanin cells causing hypopigmentation turning your skin white. If you have ever seen a person with white spots randomly placed on their body while other areas are of normal skin tone, that is Vitiligo. It struck me as odd that now I had another auto immune disorder that effected my thyroid and was the reason for my fatigue and struggle to lose weight. All I could do was wonder when will it stop and how can I be a catalyst to make it better.

After starting the Synthroid in January of 2010 I felt great. I was hitting the gym every morning and losing weight. I had more energy than normal and didn't have the afternoon drag that I had lived with for over a year. One thing I did notice is that when I would leave my house and be in an environment where there was a lot of people I would start to feel nervous and overwhelmed and want to go to home. I would often times scope out the nearest bathroom just in case I got sick. It didn't take long to realize that I was suffering from anxiety attacks. After filling my prescription for Synthroid one day I happened to read the side effects on the pamphlet that came with it and sure enough, anxiety was listed. I called my Endocrinologist to inform them of how I was feeling and what I thought it stemmed from only to be told that I was on the lowest dose possible and that if I didn't want to keep taking the medication there was nothing they could do for me. Really? That's all you can say? I was livid and couldn't believe that the person I put my trust in to help me didn't have an answer. I opted to stop taking the Synthroid for 10 weeks to see how I felt once it was out of my system and then decide if I would start taking it again or not. I noticed a decline in my anxiety level and the frequency in attacks when I left the house but it was still there to some degree. I made the decision to stay off the Synthroid completely rather than continue taking it while pairing it with Xanax to control the anxiety.

In July of 2010 I caught up with an old friend who told me about a Naturopath Doctor who specialized in Hashimoto's and could help me with my auto immune disorders. I was ecstatic as I hadn't been able to get any results from my traditional doctors and felt I was headed towards a dead end. Later that week I caught a commercial on TV of that very Doctor talking about Hashimoto's and how to control it without the use of prescription medication. I was convinced that it wasn't coincidence and called to schedule an appointment. I went and had my initial consultation with Dr. Jason Pickel in Overland Park, KS and was blown away at the amount of information he shared with me regarding auto immune disorders and hypothyroid. Prior to the appointement I filled out a packet of questions which gave him an idea of how far my auto immune disorders had progressed and what parts of my body were being effected. I had never been told by any of the other doctors I had seen that auto immune disorders were progressive, meaning if you have one you are likely to acquire more as the inflammation in your body starts to attack new areas. I also felt like I had answers as to what caused the unexpected death of my father at the age of 57. As he was connecting the dots as to how auto immune disorders effect various parts of the bodies he mentioned the term "leaky gut" which is what they referred to my father as having hours before he passed away. I left his office overwhelmed with emotion as to just how serious my conditions were and could become if left untreated and yet I felt relieved because for the first time in my life I felt like someone listened to me, heard my health complaints and validated them. He gave me hope that I could get better and that my body was capable of reversing the conditions I suffered from with the proper treatment. The catch was that because he is a Naturopath doctor, insurance would not cover the cost of his treatment. Drug companies rule the roost and if you don't hand out presciptions you don't take insurance.

I couldn't afford to shell out the several thousands of dollars it was gonna cost me to seek 9 months of treatment with him so my husband and I decided we would wait and I would keep searching out traditional doctors. I was hoping I would get lucky and find someone who could help me and take insurance. Over the next several months I noticed I was becoming more and more fatigued with no motivation to go to the gym or even get out of bed most days. It took everything in me just to care for my 7 kids and maintain my household. I surely couldn't expend any extra energy on anything else as I didn't have it. I had come down with Strep throat from one of my kids and started noticing little red, dry patches of skin on my arms and legs. I wasn't sure what it was so I went to see a dermatologist who informed me that I had Psoriasis and having a Strep B infection can make you have an outbreak. Guess what, Psoriasis is also an auto immune disorder. Now I had 3 total and was becoming worried that things were progressing in a negative direction for me and quickly. I tried several prescription ointments and nothing seemed to clear up the Psoriasis. I couldn't get rid of it for the life of me and was becoming overly frustrated that nothing seemed to work. The dermatologist wanted to prescribe systemic antibiotics to which I refused. I knew my immune system was already failing me and the last thing I wanted to do was wipe it out completely. I decided I would keep using the ointments I was given and see if I could get it to keep the progression of the Psoriasis at bay and take my chances.

Finally in December I went to see my family care doctor because of a constant dull ache in my tailbone that never went away and left me unable to sit directly on it. It felt like someone had taken a steel toe boot and kicked me in my tailbone leaving it sore and bruised. She ran a battery of blood tests on me for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Celiac, Auto Immune Disorders and Thyroid and well as an allergy test for the 32 most common allergies. All the tests came back negative. I was amazed that not one of them came back positive, especially knowing I suffered from auto immune disorders already. Finally, my husband said it was time to bite the bullet and start seeing the Naturopath doctor. I had my first appointment with Dr. Pickel in March and brought my husband along so that he could ask questions and gain understanding as to what was going on inside my body and how we would effectively treat it. We made the decision to delve in head first and see where this journey would take us. We are determined to regain my health and make it happen.

What It's All About

Thanks so much for your interest in my blog. I hope to enlighten others about Auto Immune Disorders and Celiac Disease. I currently suffer from 3 auto immune disorders such as Hashimoto's, Vitiligo and Psoriasis. I have recently been diagnosed with Celiac Disease and can no longer eat Gluten. I also have a sensitivity to Soy, Cows Milk and Chicken Eggs and have to remove them from my diet completely for the rest of my life.

I have sought out many traditional doctors over the years looking for answers and a way to feel better but the only answer I ever received was, "take this pill". I was tired of trying various "bandaids" that ultimately led me to other side effects or symptoms in the process of treating another condition. I was tired of chasing my tail and felt like I was given the run around every time I sat across from a doctor looking for answers. Dare I question there method of treatment or voice information that I had researched on my own. The concensus was always that it was ok to take a pill the rest of your life and there was always another pill to take care of any side effects that may result if needed.

Finally I said enough is enough and made the decision to seek out treatment from a Naturopath Chiropractor/Endocrinologist who specialized in Hashimoto's and auto immune disorders. I have never felt like a doctor listened to me and understood how I felt and validated why I felt that way. After one hour of meeting with the Naturopath Doctor I knew that he was the answer I had been looking for.

Please join me on my journey to reclaiming my health and taming the auto immune beast. I believe that God has given us everything we need to heal our body, mind and soul right here on this earth and know for a fact that our bodies are an amazing creation that have a way of correcting any conditions it might suffer from with the right treatment.

I hope that I can encourage those who are looking for answers and trying to understand why they feel the way they feel even though they might look healthy on the outside. If sharing my journey can lead one person in the right direction to changing their health and overall well being than this journey is worth it for me.

I strongly encourage you to listen to your body and never take no for an answer. No one can know how you feel on a day to day basis and if you feel like a stranger in your own body than listen while it screams at you and choose to be proactive in finding the reason why. I lost my father at the young age of 57 and it awakened me and made realize that I had to take control of my own health and never stop looking for the right answer that would make me better. If his premature death can prolong or save the lives of others than it wasn't in vain.

I know you can feel better and I believe that you can have the answers you need to know where to start on your road to wellness. Remove the bandaids and get to the root of the issue. It is possible and you can make it happen. Good luck and I look forward to sharing my journey with you.