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If you or anyone you know has an autoimmune disease you know that its effects can be pretty pervasive. I’ve had hypothyroidism for many years and found out just a few years ago that it had become Hashimoto’s Disease. Not fun.
Even though the road has been hard, I’ve learned that there are things we can do to help ourselves thrive and live abundantly even while dealing with an autoimmune disease!
I’m not a doctor nor do I pretend to be an expert about this – so just know that I share these things from my experience in hopes that maybe it will give you some ideas that could be helpful. Just be sure to see your doctor and use your best judgment. 🙂
Having Hashimoto’s Disease is definitely not a walk in the park. It affects everything from my digestion, my energy, my thinking, to my sleep. In other words, pretty much everything. While I still have lots to learn and lots to get better at implementing, I have found some things that help.
#1 No more gluten…
I have to say, I love my doctor. He’s an MD, but he’s also very interested in nutrition. His philosophy is nutrition and lifestyle first, then supplements, then medicine. I like that.
When he did the blood test to check if I had Hashimotos and found that it came back positive, the first thing he told me was, “You’re going to have to go off of gluten. For the rest of your life.”
This was a really hard thing for me to hear as I had been quite the baker, and had really gotten good at cooking with whole wheat in just about all areas, from muffins and breads, to pancakes and cookies. I even taught classes to people about how to cook with whole wheat. Some people in my neighborhood called me the ‘wheat maven.’ 🙂
Startled and upset, I asked him why. He said something along these lines (in my unscientific-not-so-doctor-language) – that ‘the protein molecule in gluten is similar to the protein molecule in the thyroid. And when you eat gluten, your body will attack your thyroid even more. So, if you don’t want to destroy your thyroid, stop eating gluten.’
That was a hard pill to swallow. He said that most doctors who treat people for hypothyroidism don’t even bother to test for Hashimoto’s because they feel the treatment is the same, to just take thyroid medication. That most doctors don’t even consider the food aspect of things and therefore don’t tell their patients about the gluten issue. Although it was really hard to accept, I was grateful to know.
So there I was, all of a sudden and immediately off of gluten, for the rest of my life. Over the next year or so I learned how very hard it was for me to give it up. I had never realized how bread-centric my diet was. I felt like I was hungry all day every day. But after quite a while, things began to get better and now it’s easy for me to avoid. I’m the non-gluten queen and can find anything to eat and be happy with it and I don’t have the urge to eat gluten anymore.
And no, before I get questions about how to replace gluten with non-gluten flours, etc, I’ll tell you right now that I don’t have a clue. I’m the only one in my family who can’t eat gluten so I just go without. I have never craved sweets so I don’t need cakes or cookies. I don’t even crave bread anymore. Amazing.
#2 Supplements I take and Food I eat…
My doctor prescribed Armour Thyroid back when I only knew I had hypothyroidism, and he continued to prescribe it to me with Hashimoto’s. And you know, I never felt it gave me any improvement, but I kept taking it for years in hopes that it would.
Thyroid Maintenance. Then early this summer something shifted inside of me and I just decided that I was done with Armour Thyroid. Just like that. For some reason, my body just didn’t want it anymore. I knew better than to drop it and do nothing, so I switched directly to an herbal supplement called Dr. Christopher’s Thyroid Maintenance. I take three pills morning and night and I’ve done fine with the switch.
Digestive Enzymes. Since I have such terrific struggles with my digestion, I take Digestive Enzymes with almost every meal.
Glutamine, to help repair my leaky gut. (In my studies I’ve found that pretty much all autoimmune diseases begin with a leaky gut.)
Bone Broth. Yes, I would prefer to have freshly made bone broth but since it’s so time intensive to make, and expensive to buy, I use this powder version from Dr. Axe and it’s pretty good.
Magnesium Citrate. Yep, gotta keep a girl regular… I take 400mg/day.
Ashwagandha. Life is stressful for anyone, and a person with an autoimmune disease has more stress because their body is struggling so much. Ashwagandha is great for helping a body manage stress.
Probiotics. Ok folks, if you don’t know much about the power and necessity of probiotics, I really recommend you do some research. With today’s common diet our bodies are so depleted of probiotics. Do yourself a favor and learn more about them, and even better, get going on getting them in you.
Kefir. And speaking of probiotics, I’ve found a new love, Kefir. More specifically, 2nd fermented kefir. Wow. This stuff is packed with sooo much nutrition and so high in amazing probiotics. I wrote a post about learning how to make 2nd fermented kefir and I have honestly had it every day for about 6 months. Love it! My family has even been drinking it! Yes!
Food. For me having such difficulty with digestion, I really have only a few things I can eat. I don’t do well with grains, of any kind. Nor beans/legumes. I can have meat occasionally, but really only chicken or turkey. Red meat doesn’t sit well with me. Nor can I eat many fruits, only because of their sugar content. Otherwise, I digest them fine.
What I can eat and do well with is mostly vegetables. Lots of vegetables… mostly salads, etc. I am allergic to cow milk, but I do great with goat milk, so that’s what I make my kefir out of. Kefir is pretty much my lunch every day.
I also have enjoyed a meal replacement shake that digests really well, and it’s quite tasty. Even my daughter likes it and makes herself a shake once in a while as well.
Related Post: Kefir- How to do a 2nd Fermenting
#3 Other important things I do…
Along with the nutritious food I eat and the supplements I take, there are other things I do that are really important to me.
Sleep. This is a really hard one, since my sleep is so compromised with Hashimoto’s. However, I really have to make great effort to get enough sleep, and if that doesn’t come in the nighttime, which it usually doesn’t, it has to come with naps in the afternoon. Sigh. But a body must have enough sleep.
Walks and exercise. I don’t have a lot of energy so I’m not into exercising nearly as much as I would like, but I find that regular walks, daily stretching, and other things such as yoga are really beneficial.
Nature. I find that there are times when I just NEED to get out in nature. It is sooo soothing to spend some time out in the beauty of God’s creations. Sometimes even just a drive up the canyon will do the trick. Something about nature soothes my soul, lifts my spirits, and encourages me to keep going and to keep trying. I always come back home feeling refreshed. I love it. It really is a healing balm in my life.
Prayer. This is a daily must for me. I’ve found a real blessing has come in having this disease, and that’s that morning and evening prayers are not enough for me anymore. I find myself talking with the Lord throughout the day, every day. Wow, that in itself is a lifesaver.
Feelings Buried Alive Never Die book. Now, this book may sound a little quirky to some people, but I really have found it to be a real help in my life. I’ve seen some real improvements come because of it. Nothing magical or huge, more like simple things that really make a big difference.
Serve others. You probably already know this, but when you’re down or struggling, one of the very best remedies out there is to forget yourself and go serve someone else. This is magical. It really does help.
Find joy in life. There are good days, and there are bad days. On either type of day, I find there is always something to be joyful about. It really is a matter of just finding it sometimes. It’s there. I promise.
Do things that make me happy. I love being happy!! I much prefer it to being sad or down. Happiness is where it’s at. I find that it really is a choice. So I work to make time to do things that make me happy.
- I find that I love, love, love spending time with my kids. Ahh, that brings on the happy.
- I also love reading a good book, especially while snuggled up with a comfy blanket.
- I love watching a movie that I picked out. (haha – ok moms, you probably get this one)
- I love going out in nature and just breathing and soaking up the beauty and the wonder.
- I love creating something beautiful, whether it’s through painting or sewing or fun crafts with my daughter.
- I also love teaching. For example, doing a good job preparing for my 12-year-old Sunday School class, and then doing a good job teaching them, that’s happy for me.
There are a lot of things that make me happy. And I’m really grateful for that.