Functional Nutrition Blog

Focusing on gut health and Functional nutrition

Hashimoto’s:  How To Address Root Causes

Jan 29, 2021 | Autoimmune Disease, Nutrition

This month’s previous blog was a large discussion about some of the root causes of autoimmune diseases, specifically, Hashimoto’s.

That was step one.  Knowing where to look in order to organize the ACTION to take.

Step two is the actual action.

Those actionable pieces are what we are going to discuss here today!

As a review, we talked about the following Root Causes for Hashimoto’s:

Food Sensitivities

Gut Health

Nutritional Deficiencies

Stress

Toxic Burden

Food Sensitivities and Hashimoto’s

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you already know that something you’re consuming isn’t making you feel awesome.  (Very common for those of us with Hashimoto’s) The problem?  Identifying what that is.

So you can guess or you can test.  Strangely, in this rare case, both can be pretty decent options.

Testing – not all tests are created equal, you’re gonna get what you pay for so make sure that you do your research.  Also understand that once you get your results you’re going to have to implement some type of intervention and if you can’t do that on your own (which is very reasonable because it can be very overwhelming) then you should work with a practitioner from start to finish for the best success.

Guess – it’s not as inferior to testing as you might think.  It ABSOLUTELY takes longer and a little more guess work but it can be helpful.

I have put together a nice tool for you all HERE (focus on “STEP 1”) on how to go about doing your own elimination diet.  This is a really great starting point.  Even if all you do is dull the roar a little, that would be great!

Gut Health and Hashimoto’s

How do you feel after you eat?  Are you bloated? Do you find that anytime you put food through your digestive system, there’s some type of discomfort or pain?  Are you having a daily bowel movement?  Are your stools really loose or runny?  Do you notice an oily coating when you have a bowel movement?  Do you see undigested food in your stool?  Is it really painful or uncomfortable to have a bowel movement?  Do you have acid reflux or are you on PPI medications? Have you had multiple rounds of antibiotics over the last year?

Here’s what you want to see:

  • easy to pass bowel movements, formed, DAILY
  • no undigested food in the stool (possibly with the exception of foods high in insoluble fibers)
  • lack of need for antacids, PPI medications
  • no bloating or discomfort post-meals

If this is not your experience, you want to be thinking about exploring the health and integrity of the gut.  It’s so much more than just taking a probiotic.

Here are some of my favorite first line interventions that you can do totally on your own without any testing:

Baking Soda Test:  use 1/2 tsp of baking soda with a small glass of water (4-6 oz), drink it, measure how long it takes you to burp.  When the baking soda mixes with stomach acid, it should make you burp.  If you burp in less than 3 minutes, it’s a good sign you have adequate stomach acid.  3-5 minutes = probably some low stomach acid.  >5 minutes/no burp at all = you likely have very low stomach acid.  Is this a perfectly scientific test?  Of course not.  But it’s a cheap way to get a good idea of what’s going on in there.

If you have a result that points to lower stomach acid, you can try using something called HCL, hydrochloric acid.  This is stomach acid!  I tend to be more reserved with this until you know a little more information.  If you have undiagnosed Pylori, this is not a supplement you want to use until you clear that up.

Remember:  HPylori is a bacterial infection that often causes a suppression of stomach acid which negatively impacts digestion.  It is also a known trigger for some people with Hashimoto’s

Digestive Enzyme:  this is something you can consider if you are seeing undigested food in your stool or a lot of bloating or discomfort after meals.  If you find relief, that’s terrific!  But it should also prompt the question:  why did that help and what is the underlying issue?

I have organized some brands of these supplements that I use, recommend and trust – check them out (also talk with your health care provider)

Increasing Fiber:  You may simply not be getting adequate fiber in your diet.  One way to easily help boost fiber in pursuit of more normal and regular bowel movements is to add 2T of Flaxseed/day.

Tip:  I like grinding mine up for 1 week at a time so the oils in flaxseed are fresh and most beneficial.  I tend to do a choppy job of it in a food processor so I get some that are fully ground and some that are a little less ground up.  The more whole pieces will might come out whole in your bowl movements because they are really tough to break down and for that reason, can be very helpful in adding to insoluble fiber/bulk of the stool.

Veggies:  Maybe you try just making sure you’re getting veggies in every day.  I know that sounds super basic but most people aren’t consuming veggies with each meal and therefore are severely lacking in fiber and nutrients from these plants.

Tip:  Consider having a goal of 1 root vegetable/day

*I love picking a few for the week, roasting them up, and having them with eggs in the morning for breakfast.*

Root veggies:

  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Parsnips
  • Rutabaga
  • Turnips
  • Radish
  • Yuca
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Celery root
  • Yams
  • Jicama

 

Water:  what a simple place to start. Do you get fluid in your day?  If you are going to choose to increase your fiber, you better decide to focus on water at the same time.  No one wants added bulk going through the digestive system without adequate fluid to help move it along!

Tip:  When you pee, your urine should be light yellow – clear.  If that’s not what you’re seeing, then you need more water.  Don’t get too worked up on the number of ounces, pay attention to what your body is literally showing you and adjust from there.

Go buy yourself a new water bottle (NOT PLASTIC), get a fun straw (also not plastic) and make it “a thing”!  I realized that I hated drinking water out of the stupid lid on my Klean Kanteen so I took the cap off, popped a metal straw in there, and voila!  Water intake increased.

Nutritional Deficiencies and Hashimoto’s

As discussed previously, soil health is one of the most common (and often unknown causes) of nutritional deficiencies.  Conventional farming has led to a depletion of diverse and adequate minerals in the soil so the nutrients that our food contain when grown in this soil are lower.

One thing you can do to help combat this is choose organic produce!  So annoying right?  Eating organically is really not in the budget for a lot of people.

HOWEVER…here is an amazing company doing THE WORK we all need.  It’s called Misfit Market and they send you a box of ORGANIC produce right to your door every week for the price of $22!

I know…what’s the catch?  Nope.  None.  Our household of 2 uses what we get in our box for the whole week and it’s the perfect amount.  There are also options to add items and/or choose a larger box.  You can either decide exactly what you want each week or have them surprise you!

You get tons of variety, it’s all seasonal so it changes all the time, and it’s all organic!

For 25% off your first box, use code:  COOKWME-PR5VOU

If something like a subscription box is not up your alley, I recommend checking out the EWG’s Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen lists.  These are lists of the produce that contain the least and most amount of chemicals when grown conventionally.  This is a fantastic way to prioritize where you want to spend the extra cash on organic.

If you are looking to go the supplementation route you want to be CERTAIN that you are getting excellent quality!  There’s no sense taking a cheap supplement thinking you’re doing something good for yourself only to be peeing everything out.

In supplements, not all are created equal.  The nutrients are bound to different substances that dictate how well the body can absorb them.  You also want to make sure you’re using brands who have their products third-party tested for quality and accuracy.  Basically, you want to be getting exactly what the label claims you’ll be getting.

Check out some good quality brands here!

Stress and Hashimoto’s

Three pieces of action come to mind for me when I think about stress:

  1. Adaptogens
  2. Meditation/mindfulness
  3. Being outside

Adaptogens:  Check out this post to learn a touch more about some of the Adaptogenic Herbs that can be used for stress.  This will just be the tip of the iceberg on this topic but it will help get you familiar with some of the names of the herbs.

The main thing to keep in mind with these herbs is that they work differently for everyone.  Check with a health care practitioner to discuss which might be best for you to try out.  I recommend trying these in an isolated fashion so if something doesn’t feel quite right you’ll be able to pinpoint it right away.

Meditation/Mindfulness:. Eyeroll.  I know.  I have a hard time with it too.  I’ll tell you what I found helpful though: not committing to 20 minute meditations every day and then feeling like a failure when I *undoubtedly* am unable to do so.

Instead, I recommend making a goal that is something like “3 minutes/day while my coffee is brewing”, or “every time I pee, I’ll take 5 deep breaths”, or “each time I get in the car, I’m going to do 10 deep breaths before I turn music on or call anyone”.

You already have a busy day.  So don’t set yourself up for something you can’t do.  Start by attaching breathing or meditating onto something you ALREADY prioritize.

I recommend trying out this app too.  They have started to offer Live Meditation groups if that’s more your thing

Insight Timer

Outside:. whether it’s freezing cold or scorching hot, connecting to the earth, taking a mindful stroll without headphones can be a cleansing practice to help reset you and calm the nervous system.

Stress is so individualized.  What causes the stress as well as what relieves it is just so varied.  Know that there are a lot of things we don’t have control over so doing our best to take control where possible can be very empowering.

Toxic Burden and Hashimoto’s

In my previous blog post I talked about how the liver is responsible for MANY different tasks.  The liver can have a difficult time keeping up when it has to deal with too much “extra” for too long.  For someone with Hashimoto’s (or any autoimmune disease), decreasing how much is on the list of things for the liver to do is KEY.

So what are the actionable pieces that we can put into place to help?

  1. Decrease exposure to excess toxins, and
  2. Support the liver’s natural detoxification pathways

Here are 4 areas you want to take a close look at:

  • Food
  • Beauty products
  • Cleaning products
  • Cookware

Food:  check the ingredient labels on ALL packaged food items.  Are there names of ingredients in there that you don’t recognize or can’t even pronounce?  If so, pick something else.

What about our animal protein?  How about the extra toxins that get into our meat as a result of the animals receiving antibiotics, medications, and/or consuming feed that is sprayed with chemicals?

Answer:  Check out Butcher Box.  GAME. CHANGER.  This company ships organic, grass fed animals straight to your door.  You get to pick the size box and how often you want to receive shipments.  The member deals they offer throughout the year are amazing, they totally take care of you.  I love this company so much.  They really take the guess work and the search out of the equation saving me tons of time.

Use this link to get $15 off your first box!

Beauty Products:  this is such an emotional piece.  Those of you who use make-up and other skin or hair products know that once you find the perfect thing, it’s hard to give it up!  I will absolutely push this however, there are TONS of endocrine disruptors and other toxins in a lot of beauty products.  The more product you use, the smaller amount of wiggle room you have for using products that are not free from harmful substances.

Check out this link to see a list of companies that have some incredible alternatives (and tons of other toxin related intel!)

Also check out Beauty Counter.  Expensive?  Yes.  Worth it?  Yup.

Cleaning Products:

It’s well known that harsh chemicals can be endocrine disruptors (meaning they can have a disruptive impact on hormones).  On top of that, chemicals that do not belong in the body need to get filtered out…through the liver…adding to it’s “to-do” list.  The good news is that there are tons of great companies filling this need and providing us with some amazing “clean” cleaning products

I love using Mighty Nest.  You can sign up for a subscription (best $11 I spend all month) and get a new cleaning, kitchen, or laundry item that is sustainable “clean”, and/or reusable.  I LOVE THIS PLACE!  You can also just shop around and get a nice idea of some of the name brands and then look for those brands at other places if that’s easier!

Use code INVITE7 for $7 off!

I also love using essential oils for cleaning.  Personally, I’ve been a Doterra buyer for years now and I’ve been very happy. Check out some of their cleaning line options here.

Cookware:

To be brief, most non-stick pans are coated with the same type of endocrine disrupting chemicals we talked about above.  Swap out your toxic pans for things like cast-iron, copper, or stainless steel.

Me, I use cast iron for almost everything!  I have a little “cast iron brush” that I bought at Target and it’s just the loveliest (HEAVIEST) little thing ever.  I’ve never gone back.

Here I have compiled some previous writings on the topic of toxins.  A little overlap and a lot of extras – take a look!

If this information is all brand new to you *TRY* not to let it overwhelm you into being paralyzed.  Just take one thing at a time that you think is manageable and start there.  Maybe just make an appointment with someone you trust to take a mindful and wholistic approach to help hold your hand through this journey.

Most importantly, Hashimoto’s is something that can feel totally isolating.  Like no one in the world could possibly understand what you’re going through.  And maybe that’s true in a nuanced way, but you are most certainly NOT alone.  You are not solely responsible for “fixing” anything or finding all the answers.

For all my fellow control freaks out there…that one’s for you…

Cheering for your health,

Kylie

 

PS – want to share this info with a loved one?  I’ve compiled everything HERE for you to download and have at your fingertips!

 

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