How to Conquer Autoimmune Disease (Part 3)

Living with an autoimmune disease can be very difficult. Still highly misunderstood by the medical community and the public as well, autoimmune diseases are characterized by confusing and often ambiguous symptoms that can make diagnoses difficult to come by. Many people go YEARS, and from doctor to doctor seeking answers to no avail.  Treatments vary, and in some cases rely entirely on behavior changes.  The good news, is sometimes these behavior changes (that are completely IN YOUR CONTROL) are the very thing your body needs to not feel so out of control from this disease you never asked for.

Today I’m sharing some REAL and vital components I used in managing my Hashimotos symptoms.  To read more about my journey, you’ll want to read THIS and THIS!

So what causes autoimmune disease? Genetics are obviously a large part of the equation. The genes you inherit from your parents play a role in your predisposition for developing an autoimmune disease. Because of this, it is very common for them to run in families. However, genetics only accounts for about 1/3rd of your risk of developing one.

“Genes load the gun, environment, diet & lifestyle pulls the trigger!”

The environmental triggers are another area that we can place blame for autoimmune disease. Pathogens, chemicals, certain bacterial and viral infections, toxins, pollutions and other exposures directly impacts your immune system.

The other area that contributes to development of autoimmune disease is a poor diet and lifestyle choices. A poor diet exacerbates intestinal permeability (leaky gut), creating nutrient deficiencies, and over-activating the immune system. Likewise, sleep issues, lack of physical activity (or too much) can also increase your risk of developing an autoimmune disease.

While we can’t control the genes we’re born into, or the exposure to infectious diseases, we can certainly work on reducing our contact with toxins and chemicals while being diligent in our diet and lifestyle choices!

So what foods should you eliminate (at least initially) while trying to heal the gut, calm the immune system and become asymptomatic??

Grains! These foods contain prolamins and agglutins, which impair digestion, cross the gut barrier largely in tact, damage the intestinal lining and set off the immune system. Grains also contain digestive enzyme inhibitors, phytates and phytic acid (anti nutrients that interfere with the absorption of food) which survive cooking, resist digestion, and also cause intestinal permeability, dysbiosis, and worsen immune activation.

Gluten! The protein portion of gluten, called gliadin, is the best example of a prolamin. These gliadin fragments create holes at the tight junctions of the gut barrier which allows various contents of the digestive system to leak into the body. Inflammation is then triggered by the gliadin fragments that cross the gut barrier as well as other partially digested food Proteins, gut bacteria, bacterial fragments and toxic waste products. This causes a viscous cycle of inflammation and gut-barrier damage, and is why gluten is the most troublesome for those with gut issues or autoimmune disease. (Side note: Many prescription medications can also contain gluten. … Luckily, most thyroid medications are gluten free, but we need to be careful with the various generic brands of Levothyroxine (only 2 are gluten-free), as well as Cytomel. (Source: Dr. Isabella Wentz,

Pseudo-grains and grain-like substances! Foods such as amaranth, buckwheat and quinoa contain many of the same substances that impair the digestive process as grains do.  They have been known to cause intestinal permeability, worsen dysbiosis, and activate the immune system.

Dairy! For those with gut issues or autoimmune disease, there are many reasons to avoid dairy products. First, dairy is a common allergenic food (1-17% of children and 1-4% of adults.)  For these people, even trace amounts of dairy found in ghee can be a problem.  However, even without a lactose intolerance, dairy products contain protease inhibitors that may contribute to intestinal permeability.  Dairy increases mucous production, which can irritate the gut lining and hinder nutrient absorption.  Lastly, dairy proteins are also known to be gluten cross-reactors, which means dairy can stimulate a person’s immune system as if they were eating gluten!

Legumes! Like grains and pseudo-grains, legumes contain many of the same substances that impair the digestive process, cause intestinal permeability, worsen dysbiosis and activate the immune system.

Soy! Soy is a goitrogens that should be avoided in those with Hashimoto’s. It blocks the activity of the TPO enzyme. Soy has been linked to the development of autoimmune thyroiditis and should be avoided by those with Hashimoto’s.

Refined vegetable oils!  Oils like canola, corn and soybean oils, are high in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.  Additionally, the manufacturing process to produce these oils results in toxic end-products forming free radicals.  Free radicals damage DNA, RNA, cell membranes, vascular walls, and red blood cells, all of which cascade into deeper damage.

Added sugars! Added to the majority of packaged snacks, breads, condiments, canned items, cereals, etc. which make these nutrient-poor foods highly addictive and keep you craving MORE and MORE!  Also, increased consumption less to issues with blood sugar regulation, which can look like insulin resistance, high blood sugar levels, hypoglycemia and diabetes.  Regulating your blood sugar and maintaining insulin sensitivity is paramount to regulating your immune system and reducing inflammation.

One could very easily look at this list and think “OI VEY!  IS THERE ANYTHING LEFT TO EAT???”  And the answer is ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY!  If you’ve followed my instagram account for any length of time and watched my instagram-stories where I show my daily eats, you’ll know that I eat anything but boring!  My diet is rich in vegetables; both the leafy variety and starchy like tubers, high quality protein, yummy healthy fats and fruits!

Diagnosis in January 2017 to July 2017….thriving with diet & lifestyle changes! TAKE THAT HASHIMOTOS!!!

Here’s the deal though.  You want to feel better, right?  So that means, you may initially have to eliminate everything on this list, or perhaps go even deeper.  For those with several autoimmune conditions, or are highly symptomatic, you may need to eliminate other possible gut-irritants in foods like eggs, nuts, seeds and nightshades through an Auto-Immune Protocol Diet. But that doesn’t mean you are stuck eating this way forever.

Personally, I was able to become system free by simply going Paleo and removing the list of foods you see above.  I feel better, I look my best even at the age of 44, and for me, I don’t WANT those foods back into my diet.  But, other than gluten for those who have autoimmune disease, which honestly should never be added back in, you MAY be able to live a healthy, symptom-free life even with the addition of some of these other foods.  Since each person tolerates various foods differently, the ONLY way to know what affects you, is to completely eliminate all those gut-irritant foods to allow your immune system to calm down.  Then, very systematically, and at the appropriate pace and timing of each food, you can gradually add things back in as you watch for signs of reaction.

I work with clients on adapting this lifestyle, as well as walking through the re-introduction process, and signs of reactions are different from person to person. What one can tolerate is never the same as the next person.  That’s why there is never a one-size-fits-all approach to diet!  It takes time and diligence, but once you figure out YOUR sweet spot, it’s a beautiful place to live!!!!



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  1. Just found your site as I use silverfern probiotics so you came up in my feed. My son (14) was diagnosed with PSC and UC both overlapping autoimmune diseases (primary scoliosis colengitis and ulcerated colitis) he was symptom free – he just started to look bad to me and I brought him into the dr for a blood panel which showed elevated liver enzymes etc which prompted liver biopsy and scopes. I knew that whatever was causing inflammation needed to be changed so we went gluten free dairy free and refined sugar free since feb. Of course he is a 14 yr old boy so he will cheat at times with a little cheese on gluten free pizza or some sugar treats. I think it would be so much easier as an adult to understand and prevent. Hard when he isn’t symptomatic and doesn’t have issues when he eats those things like gluten sensitivity would warn you to stop. My question (after this long intro-sorry!) would be some great lunch meal ideas do you have. I suppose I need to comb through your sites – I am going to try the chicken meatballs as we had something similar with the autoimmune protocol diet from dr Meyers we tried at the beginning – delish! Do you boys eat this way or just you? Always looking for ideas to fill a growing child and aid in his recovery so he is able to actually grow and absorb all his nutrients without reprocautions – thanks!!!!

    1. Oh boy! Yes…it is so hard to feed growing boys enough food, and fun they enjoy eating and not feel “different” from their peers. My boys eat what we eat, however, since they don’t have autoimmune issues, I will also pair their meal with items that I can’t tolerate (i.e.. hamburger bun instead of lettuce wrap…corn tortilla for taco night vs. taco salad!)

  2. Hello I’m 27 years old and have been told that my thyroid peroxidase autoantibody serum is 900. I’m interested on ordering your book and wanted to ask if there’s any advice on how to get my levels down through change of diet.

    1. Hi Regina,

      I don’t have a book that you could order, however, I do offer coaching to clients with hashimotos! If that is something that interests you and you want to speak further, please go to the Contact me page and schedule a consultation with me!

  3. hi,

    I’m 34 with hashimoto’s and multi-nodular goitre’s both sides which were gently kickstarted after a bout of postnatal thyroiditis 7 years ago. I crossfit 5 times a week and am strong and fit, eat relatively healthily although never bothered to stick to elimination diets asides from when I was nursing a refluxer. However this year I noticed I feel what you describe as “a fog”, general numbing of my feelings and as though i’m lazy and can’t quite get what I used to done! However my bloods are all fine except for a below normal TSH. My acne also flared up this year again as well. After I spotted you on instagram I’ve been re-researching all of this again (I previously thought i’d give whole30 a go then thought nah, i’m not symptomatic and bloods are not requiring treatment so whats the point!). I’m relatively well versed in foods, and macro’s and sports nutrition however this is different. I’m wondering if you think you might be able to offer me more guidance than what I can find out there is what you do more of mentoring style coaching? thanks for your story by the way, it’s nice to hear people who have been where you are and therefore are somewhat able to identify with.

    1. Hi Natalie! I’m so glad you are still pursuing answers to what you are feeling. Your body is talking to you. Crossfit has also been known, unfortunately, to be too intense of an activity for many people with autoimmune issues. BTW….TSH levels can be in normal range and still have RAGING autoimmune symptoms because it’s not a thyroid issue, but an immune system issue. Work on diet and lifestyle changes and you CAN feel better. My coaching program helps my clients to develop a lifestyle of wellness through food, activities and other areas that affect our overall health so that you can be and feel your very best!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing! Diagnosed in 2001 with Hashimotos and the last 3 years I have gained 20lbs. I have tried weight watchers, exercising, yoga, etc and my weight will not budge. Going to try the elimination recommended above!

    1. Yes Krissy!!! We have to address lowering inflammation and getting our immune system happy again before our bodies will even consider lowering its weight! Please reach out any time…I’m excited for you to explore this path!

  5. Hi Tiffanie,
    What are your thoughts on Pea protein shakes? I am going to start my journey again with Whole30 and add my DF Isagenix shakes into my diet after completing a round.
    I did Whole30 one year ago and had amazing results. -11 lbs was one benefit. however, I didnt stick to it and now here I am again. I also have hypothyroidism. I’m turning 44 this August and want to feel / look my best! Thank you for inspiring me!!!
    Love, Tara

    1. Hi Tara,

      I personally do not eat legumes, but that is a personal call. I’m not familiar with those shakes so I don’t know if they have other unsavory junk ingredients in it as well. I’ve been VERY happy with Designs for Health Pure Paleo Protein Powder that is created from organic hydrolyzed grass fed beef. It is a complete protein, unlike pea protein, as it has all the essential amino acids our bodies need. It compliments a paleo/post whole 30 lifestyle well. I get mine from health and it’s only $69 per tub. For high quality protein powder, that’s a very reasonable price.

  6. Thank you for this info I am so confused by all of the different opinions out there. Some say you can eat Gluten, some say not. I opted out of Gluten for about 3 months and didn’t notice any difference. My issue now is I am depressed, low energy and just want to stay in bed all day. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. I am ready for a real change.
    This is my question. For those of us who had eating disorders, or just have a hard time with the food part, can you really start to enjoy salads or really healthy foods? I find anytime I eat what I perceive to be healthy for me, I feel extremely deprived. I know it needs to be for how I feel, I just need to know does it get better? I feel like I go back to such a strong dieting mentality that it is keeping me sick. I hope I am making sense.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Jo! I can relate to what you are saying, but the very symptoms you are describing; depression, fatigue, lethargy, etc. are a very real consequence to gut health. Gluten is just ONE of the many factors that play a role in gut health. Yes, eating salads CAN be very enjoyable, but it can also be saddening if that’s the only thing you are eating! You NEED to enjoy your foods…but that doesn’t mean just enjoying donuts. It may seem depriving, but really, what are certain foods costing you? depression and lack of energy is a high cost for something so we aren’t “deprived”. There is a whole world out there with darn right yummy foods we can create to eat, enjoy and feel completely satisfied! If you’d like to talk further about this…I’m more than happy to chat! Perhaps you need direction, accountability and the tools to be successful long term. I can help get you there! Let me know 🙂 xoxo

  7. Could you please give me some guidance on where to start? I don’t have a problem with fasting, but I am vegetarian and I’m not sure what to eat. I was recently diagnosed with Hashimotos. My TPO is 784…really high. I am super depressed and lay in bed a lot. I used to be an athlete and I’m 100 pounds overweight after having 5 children. I’m desperate. Many times I just want to die and get it over with. I feel so guilty I can’t run around with my family. I love them all so very much. I try to hide my depression by laying in bed. My stomach hurts all the time, I get worn out fast and my whole body hurts. I’m 39 years old. I would appreciate the help❤️

    1. Sorry for the late reply, Jacqueline. I would certainly start with the diet and lifestyle changes I’ve written about in this 3 part series. I have a few thyroid, AIP books on my recommendations page that may be beneficial as well. Life can and will be so much better….I understand how horrible it feels in the throes of this battle, but once you start turning a corner you will feel your joy and energy return. It’s worth the battle.