The Link Between Blood Sugar Imbalances and Hashimoto’s Disease
The Thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that lives in your throat directly below your Adam’s apple. It is responsible for making most of the hormones that control your metabolism, including your heart rate and how well your body converts the calories you eat into usable energy. When Hashimoto’s disease occures your own body’s immune system begins attacking the thyroid, leading to hypothyroidism, a condition where the thyroid no longer makes a sufficient amount of hormones.
Symptoms include severe chronic fatigue, swelling and inflammation of the face and neck, joint and muscle pain, weight gain, inability to get warm, and depression. Conventional medicine insists that there is no known cure and drugs must be taken for the remainder of the patient’s life. However, there exists enough anecdotal evidence to suggest that sufferers of Hashimoto’s disease can indeed get better through a diet of nutrient dense foods combined with advice from a good integrative medicine specialist.
Here are several things you can do right now to begin to feel better:
Balance your blood sugar
Many people are taught to begin each day with a simple carbohydrate such as a bagel with fruit to “get the body going” and stay thin. Maybe you’ll stay thin, but most likely you’ll be starving by mid-morning after loading your body up with that much sugar on an empty stomach. The quest begins for a snack to quickly repair your diet-induced low blood sugar, then a lunch of more carbohydrate-dense food. The cycle then starts all over again.
Does a mid-afternoon energy crash sound familiar? Constantly keeping your blood sugar on a metabolic roller coaster produces an inflammation response in the body, and sometimes this creates a chaotic environment in which the body’s immune system overcompensates and begins attacking its own tissues, as in the case of Hashimoto’s disease and other autoimmune conditions.
The quickest way to balance your blood sugar is to plan every meal around healthy fats and proteins and add in green leafy vegetables. Completely eliminate grains, processed foods, and sugar.
Eat like your ancestors – hunt and gather nutrient dense foods
Today’s hunting and gathering is done at the grocery store or farmers market, so you enjoy a convenience that didn’t exist for the first 2 million plus years of our evolution. The foods that have become way too common in our society such as wheat and corn are actually very new to our species. Choose foods that offer you the most bang for your caloric buck. Here are a few:
• Spinach leaves
• Sweet potatoes
• Mixed greens
• Nuts and seeds
• Lean beef or any seafood
• Butter from grass-fed beef
• Olive or flax seed oil
Seek out the least processed foods that you can find, and use the rule of thumb: If a food’s ingredient list is longer than your thumb is wide, don’t buy it. It is too processed. If it came from the ground or had a mother, you can eat it.
Feed your adrenals
When someone has any autoimmune problems such as Hashimoto’s disease, the drain on their adrenals has been severe and ongoing. Our bodies have an information pathway between the brain, pituitary gland, adrenals and hypothalamus that is active when the body is under stress. In other words, your adrenals have been pushed like a marathoner who isn’t allowed any rest between races. The best thing for them is to eat traditional foods as described above, get plenty of quality rest, and learn to eliminate the biggest areas of stress from your life.
When first diagnosed, you may not be able to exercise at all. That is Ok. Be patient and kind to yourself. Start slow and begin by just walking. Just this combined with your new way of eating will make you feel better within days. When you are stronger, you can incorporate yoga, weights, and more demanding activities like running. Exercise is beneficial to literally every system in your body, so start slow and don’t stop.
Find and work with an integrative practitioner – or several of them
These include chiropractors, naturopaths, acupuncturists, nutritionists and functional medical doctors. It is very important to educate yourself about Hashimoto’s if you hope to recover. Know the language, and educate yourself on what specific tests to ask for.
Remember that conventional medicine is still insisting that there is not a cure, so expect some push-back from them. You are not at your doctor’s mercy, and can fire him or her. Seek out practitioners who understand and support your journey. Learn as much as you can, and ask questions.