Health Tip #61

health-tip-61

Article to come…

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Health Tip #39

health-tip-39

What is the thyroid?

The thyroid is an endocrine gland.  It helps to regulate metabolism and weight.  Thyroid hormones influence every cell and process in the body including growth and development.

How does it work?

The thyroid produces three types of hormones:  T3, T4, and T2.  These hormones interact with all other hormones in our bodies.  The liver converts T4 into T3 (the active form).  T3 lowers cholesterol levels, regrows hair and helps maintain body weight by controlling metabolism.  T3 can be disrupted by stress, infections, nutritional imbalances, toxins and allergens.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is and under-active thyroid, when when our bodies don’t produce enough thyroid hormone.  Many, many people have sub-clinical hypothyroidism with no obvious signs or symptoms.

  • Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

    • Some symptoms of Hypothyroidism include: tiring easily and lack of sustained energy, depression, feeling of a “heavy” head, falling asleep sitting up, weight gain, dry skin and chronic hives, hair loss, always feeling cold, low basal body temperature, stiff and popping joints, tingling and numbness.

Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is an over-active thyroid, when the thyroid secretes too much T4.

  • Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

    • Some symptoms of hyperthyroidism are: protruding eyes, menstrual cycle irregularities, weight loss, heartbeat irregularities, emotional instability, lack of mental focus, nervousness, restlessness, and frequent bowel movements.

Possible Causes of Thyroid Dysfunction and What to Avoid

Some possible underlying causes of thyroid dysfunction include: radiation exposure, chronic stress, nutrient debt (from eating processed foods, low HCl and malabsorption), heavy metal accumulation, pesticides, halogens (bromides, fluoride, chlorine), dysbiosis, free radical damage (low antioxidants), low iodine levels, low selenium levels, yo-yo dieting, metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance) and goitrogens (in soy and cabbage family foods), Food allergies and sensitivities, and gluten sensitivity.

Testing thyroid function

Lab tests may be done to access the function of the thyroid including: TSH test, free T4 and free T3 test, and a thyroid antibody test to test for an autoimmune reaction.  A self test can be performed as an initial indicator of low thyroid by taking our temperature, with a basal body thermometer, each morning, before getting out of bed, for at least three days.  Average body temperature measurements should not be below 97.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 36.4 degrees Celsius.

What to Add In

Things to add in to our diets and lifestyles to nourish the thyroid include:

  • Clean”  whole foods (as opposed to processed foods) to help reduce her exposure to toxins in the diet, particularly pesticides as they interfere with iodine uptake.
  • Shop the outside perimeter of the grocery store looking for nutrient dense, unprocessed whole foods.
  • A primarily plant based diet of brightly colored vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, will provide her with plenty of fiber and antioxidants.
  • Meals including protein and healthy fats to help us feel more satisfied and support blood sugar stability.  healthy fats such as butter, coconut oil, egg yolks and omega 3 oils (like those found in cold water fish, walnuts and pecans, will not make us fat but instead nourish the thyroid and help to regulate our weight).
  • Slow down, careful chewing, avoiding or limiting convenience foods (which lead to inflammation and thyroid problems), as well as drinking between meals (not with meals) so as to not dilute HCl.
  • Drinking pure or filtered water, which does not contain any fluoride or Chlorine.
  • Sea foods and Sea vegetables, (such as: kelp flakes or mixed seaweed flakes), rich in trace minerals and iodine, have a salty flavor and can be added (undetected) to soups and stews. Note: Iodine containing foods are recommended for non-autoimmune thyroiditis only. For autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s), they should be avoided.
*For more information on Hashimoto’s and molecular mimicry, see my tip on going gluten free.

Health Tip #38

health-tip-38

Contrary to popular belief, most of us with digestive issues, including heart burn and GERD, are suffering from too little stomach acid, rather than too much.  Many factors can contribute to having too little stomach acid including: eating too quickly and under stress, a diet too high in processed carbs and sugars which upsets the gut’s microbial balance and eating foods that we are sensitive to, such as gluten, which can cause an inflammatory response.  Some medications also reduce our natural stomach acid.

Besides removing the factors that cause reduced stomach acid,  one thing that we can do to improve digestion is to add in a hydrochloric acid (HCl) and digestive enzyme supplement.  We can test how much HCl supplement we need by adding one HCl capsule each meal time.  By increasing the number of capsules by one, each meal time, we can take note of any reactions we feel.  When a slight burning sensation is felt in the upper gastric area, we know our supplementation is having an effect and it’s time to cut back.  At this point, we reduce the dosage to that which we were taking prior to the burning sensation.

The HCl acid supplement we choose should also include digestive enzymes, particularly pepsin.  If the stomach acid is low, it will not be producing enough protein digesting enzymes either.

A caveat to this advice comes from  Chris Kresser, M.S., L.Ac as he warns:

Note: HCL should never be taken (and this test should not be performed) by anyone who is also using any kind of anti-inflammatory medication such as corticosteroids (e.g. predisone), aspirin, Indocin, ibuprofen (e.g. Motrin, Advil, etc.) or other NSAIDS. These drugs can damage the GI lining that supplementary HCL might aggravate, increasing the risk of gastric bleeding or ulcer.

Health Tip #21

health-tip-21

Further to my previous post on eliminating gluten, let’s take a further look into an elimination diet.  In previous post we have talked about the microbiome and how important a healthy gut is to our overall health and what can happen when the gut is compromised.  Certain foods tend to be more problematic when it comes to food allergies and sensitives.  Some of the more problematic foods include:  wheat and gluten containing grains, soy, corn, pasteurized dairy, lactose, peanuts, tree-nuts, eggs, fish, shellfish and citrus.  This is where your food and mood journal comes in handy.  Food preservatives and additives can also be problematic.

If you think you are sensitive to any one of these common problem foods, try eliminating it completely, in all forms, from your diet for a week.  When you add it back in, try to eat quite a bit of it.  Eat it for every meal if you can.  Watch for any signs of reaction and record them in your journal.  You can eliminate these foods singularly, one at a time or do a complete elimination diet where all of the suspect foods are eliminated at once.  These foods should be added back one at a time while watching for and recording any reactions.  Some signs and symptoms to watch for might be digestive upset, bloating, gas, cramps, diarrhea, rash, eczema, breathing problems, stuffy or runny nose, agitation, emotional upset, brain fog, headaches, loss of energy fatigue or muscle aches.

While we are discussing removing problem foods, we might also consider not only eliminating foods that we are potentially sensitive to but also foods that are not serving us in other ways.  Some of these foods include: animal products raised with growth hormones and anti-biotics that disrupt our own hormone levels, sugary foods that disrupt our insulin and leptin levels, caffeine that stimulates stress hormones, and gluten grains that may have a negative affect on the thyroid.

 

 

 

 

Health Tip #20

health-tip-20

Allergies and autoimmune diseases are on the rise and according to a recent Harvard study, gluten might just be implicated.  The study followed four groups of test subjects from those with full blown celiac disease to those who felt they had no problem with gluten at all; every group showed inflammation and damage to the gut wall after eating gluten.  All subjects developed intestinal permeability (leaky gut).   Because the gut lining heals very rapidly, the cycle of damage and repair happens over and over again every time we consume gluten. Eventually this cycle can lead to permanent damage called a loss of oral tolerance, where the gut no longer repairs.

So what does this have to do with allergies and auto-immune disease?  As the gut becomes permeable, proteins from our foods, which have not been properly broken down yet, enter the blood stream.  The immune system sees these proteins as foreign invaders and sets up an immune response.  One explanation for the reason that gluten has become more of a problem in recent times is not because eliminating gluten is a fad, but because we as modern humans are in a state of toxic over-load being exposed to as many as 4,400 man made chemicals including BPA, Mercury, DDT, PCBs and thousands of other dangerous toxins.  Our immune systems are overtaxed and can’t adapt fast enough to keep up with the demand.  Gluten is just the straw that breaks the camel’s back.  No human has the enzymes to break down gluten proteins into amino acids.  Once the assembly line has been built to build antibodies to gluten, it can’t be un-built.  If we go off of gluten, we will stop producing antibodies but as soon as we are exposed to it again, the assembly line will start churning out antibodies again.  If we are sensitive to gluten, we have memory B cells that will never go away.

Another problem is called molecular mimicry.  Gluten contains a 33 amino acid peptide chain.  When an immune response is triggered to this chain the immune system goes on a seek and destroy mission.  If it finds a sequence that matches 8 of the same amino acids in the chain, it will attack that peptide chain.  It just so happens that we have other amino acid peptide chains in our body that match this sequence.  Our thyroid is one of these places.  As the antibodies mistakenly attack the thyroid cells, we call this autoimmune condition Hashimoto’s Disease.

Gut inflammation also leads to poor nutrient absorption that can lead to a whole host of health problems including osteoporosis.  Celiac disease and osteoporosis have been linked.

When we cut out gluten, and as we heal the gut, other allergies and sensitivities tend to abate as the foreign proteins are no longer prematurely entering the blood stream .