I felt like an alien in my own body; depressed, fatigued, lack of desire and weight gain. Something was going on with me and I wasn’t sure what it was.
To read the backstory (Part 1 of My Hashimotos Story) read THIS.
I left the doctor’s office with a script in my hand for a complete blood panel and instructions to follow an anti-inflammatory diet until I met with my doctor again in a few weeks to review the result of the blood tests.
I had done Whole 30 in the past, so I was very familiar with the tenants of the program. I didn’t fully understand WHY this was what my doctor recommended, but knowing Whole 30 to be such a solid, nutritionally strong plan, I jumped in whole heartedly and have never looked back!
I came home and got rid of the junk. Despite the tiredness, I got my meal prep game back on. I knew from past experience that I had to have good food on hand when hunger struck or else I may feel tempted to eat crap. And I was well aware that eating crap = feeling like crap.
For those unaware of the anti-inflammatory tenets of Whole 30/Paleo lifestyle, it’s basically:
Eat moderate portions of meat, seafood, and eggs; lots of vegetables; some fruit; plenty of natural fats; and herbs, spices, and seasonings. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re whole and unprocessed.
Certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it. (Will go into more detail in blog post Part Three) Strip them from your diet completely. Eliminate the most common craving-inducing, blood sugar disrupting, gut-damaging, inflammatory food groups and start to heal!
So I did. And it was literally like the curtain was opening to sunshine again as the bright rays began to flood my space, my mind and my soul. Within three weeks I had shed 8 lbs., but more importantly I was coming out of the fog that I felt trapped in. My joy was returning….I felt excitement.
The day approached to go back to my doctor for the results of my blood work, but I knew, regardless of what he had to tell me, that there was no way I was going back to eating any other way than what I was doing now. I felt so damn good!
Thankfully I go to a doctor who is very thorough, but unfortunately, that’s not the case for everyone. I’ve been amazed at the number of people who write to me feeling hopeless because their doctor couldn’t find anything wrong, but upon further inquiry I find out the doctor failed to order a complete panel to understand the ENTIRE picture. They are left undiagnosed and confused.
A full thyroid panel for should include these 6 key thyroid lab tests:
Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies
There are approximately 300 million+ people worldwide suffering from thyroid dysfunction, yet it is one of the most undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, and unrecognized health problems in the world. These patients are falling through the cracks, left to feel like they are crazy while suffering through some debilitating symptoms.
A devastating statistic that Dr. Sarah Ballantyne shares on page 13 of her book ‘The Paleo Approach‘: 45% of people later diagnosed with serious autoimmune diseases are labeled as hypochondriacs in the early stages of their autoimmune diseases. You aren’t crazy. Your body is talking to you…listen to it and be your own advocate! Keep making noise until someone listens to you!!!
You typically go to the doctor with symptoms of fatigue, weight gain, depression, etc. and the doctor decides to run the “gold standard” of thyroid tests, which is the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). If the TSH falls within the ‘normal’ range, then the thyroid is declared normal despite the fact that the patient is suffering. Often times the only recommendations they are given is to take anti-depressant pills or just “get more exercise!”
To make matters worse, Hashimotos, an auto-immune disease where the body has turned on itself and attacks and destroys its own thyroid gland, goes undiagnosed because doctor’s fail to run these two simple thyroid antibody tests: Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPOAb) and Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TgAb). Hashimotos is the leading cause of hypothyroidism, yet mainstream medicine fails to test patients for thyroid antibodies.
Without the knowledge of autoantibody formation, which your doctor would know if he/she would order the test, there’s no way to accurately diagnose Hashimotos. Autoantibody formation is an accident that happens in all of our bodies. Approximately 30% of us at any given time have detectible autoantibodies in our body. What turns this production of autoimmunity to autoimmune disease is the fail-safe mechanism that our immune system has for detecting the fact that our immune system isn’t attacking foreign invaders, but attacking its own tissue. Those fail-safes fail. With enough damage overtime, we can start to see symptoms of disease. Autoimmune disease is not diagnosed until there are symptoms that fit in a predictable and regular pattern.
And this is where my test revealed that I had both elevated Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies and Thyroglobulin Antibodies, yet within the normal range for all the other thyroid tests. If my doctor had failed to test my antibodies and only looked at my TSH, etc. he would’ve sent me along my merry way with zero answers as to why I had all these symptoms. But it was obviously clear, my immune system’s fail-safe mechanism failed.
But it gets exciting! Because diet and lifestyle has a direct impact on immune health, we can provide the body with the opportunity to actually heal damaged tissue. This is where reversal of symptoms can occur.
It’s not a cure. There is no cure. Once the ability to attack our own body has been learned by the immune system, it cannot be unlearned. There is always the chance for the autoimmune diseases to come back. A stressful event or exposure to a food trigger that’s accidental, can bring the disease back with a vengeance. But when you are completely asymptomatic because you’ve modified diet and lifestyle, perhaps as a complementary approach to other interventions like medications that can be smartly used, this is where autoimmune disease feels like it’s gone into remission. (Note: Because my thyroid is still producing hormone, I do not require medication at this time. Without diligence on my part to make sure my diet and lifestyle supports a healthy system, it would only be a matter of time before the autoantibodies attack my thyroid enough to destroy it’s ability to produce and I would need the help of medication. This is why I am so devoted to this lifestyle. I’m not messing around with the health of my thyroid!)
In Part Three of this blog series, I will delve into the why’s of certain foods to be avoided AND included to regain your health and well being. I hope you will join me again…
To be continued…..