How I’ve Kept My Hashimoto’s Symptoms at Bay

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Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this article is not meant to prescribe any form of treatment. It is always advisable to talk with your doctor before making any changes to your routine. 

 

Chances are if you are reading this post, you have felt a bit overwhelmed by the symptom flare-ups from Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. While everyone is little bit different, we can all agree that these symptoms are extremely uncomfortable, if not downright painful. I set out on a journey to heal my thyroid as best as I could and I am going to share some of the things that have been successful for me so far. It is my hope that I can provide some relief for others out there who are going through a similar experience.

This post and the photos within it may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. 

I am assuming you have done your research on Hashimoto’s, and understand the basics for keeping this autoimmune disease at bay. If not, here are the absolute basics that I had to follow.

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Figure Out Your Triggers

Knowing what triggers a thyroid flare-up is essential to living a comfortable daily life. The very first thing that I had to do was entirely change up my diet. Personally, my antibodies attacked my thyroid after eating anything with gluten, soy, dairy or nuts. How did I know this? Whenever I would eat something with one of those ingredients, within two hours my throat felt swollen, I would get a SEARING headache that made me irritable beyond belief and my neck muscles would ache as if I had overdone a workout times ten.

I removed all of those from my diet, and within three days the “globus sensation” I kept experiencing in my throat nearly disappeared. My headaches became minimal and my neck aches were just a dull throb.

If you’re not sure where to start with creating a hypothyroid-friendly diet, try the Thyroid Cookbook. I can’t recommend any cookbook more for this disease. Not only did this one guide me on the right foods to eat, but each meal was designed to provide my body with the different nutrients I was probably lacking. Love, love, love this as a starting point for changing your diet.

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Begin to Heal Your Gut

Most Hashimoto’s (and other autoimmune diseases) are set-off from an imbalance in our gut bacteria. Most Americans have an issue with their gut health and experience bloating that can lead to Leaky Gut syndrome. Nutrients leak through the stomach lining, which your body identifies as foreign bodies and attacks it. Unfortunately, if this isn’t healed, the body can begin to attack its own tissue (like the thyroid) when it becomes confused as to what is the true foreign body.

My first step in healing my gut was to start eating foods that are naturally anti-inflammatory. This really aided in calming the swelling I was feeling in my thyroid, and my body was getting a ton of nutrients that I was missing.

Secondly, I began taking a Turmeric & Bromelain supplement twice daily (1200 mg). This was a life-saver for anti-inflammation and has become a staple in my life. There are many options, but I use NOW Turmeric and Bromelain due to its clean ingredients.

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If you suspect you have SIBO (small intestine bacterial growth), you need to begin the healing process by taking care of this FIRST. Otherwise, no amount of healthy eating is going to fix what is happening in your gut. The absolute best probiotic for healing SIBO quickly is FloraMyces Saccharomyces Boulardii (500 mg). This aids in stabilizing the gut environment so that the good bacteria outweighs the bad bacteria (causing your bloating and Leaky Gut issues).

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Lastly, if you’re having trouble with your regularity which is common with Hashimoto’s and Hypothyroidism, your body may be lacking magnesium. I use Thorne Magnesium Bisglycerate in powder form (no flavor). I take one scoop in a glass of water about an hour before I head to sleep. I have found that this helps immensely with my regularity AND it has aided with helping me fall asleep. It took about three to four days for this to take effect fully, so stay patient.

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Check for Adrenal Fatigue

Brain fog, anyone? Not many people know how important the thyroid is until it starts to become compromised. Yet, the thyroid and the adrenals work closely together to produce hormones that your body needs to function. When one is down, the other must work overtime. For those healing their thyroid, they must give added support to the adrenals to ensure they are able to keep up during this time.

In order to support my adrenals fully, I take Natural Sources Raw Adrenal twice daily. Within three days I went from foggy to focused, which was critical for my daily life. I felt like myself again after this, and found myself enjoying conversations again.

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Supplement Lacking Nutrients

Mostly due to Leaky Gut, your body has not been absorbing the nutrients it critically needs to function at its best. You must now take the precautions to supplement and renew those stores as your thyroid begins to heal. It is best to ask your doctor to run blood work to test what nutrients you are lacking. However, most Hashimoto’s patients are lacking Vitamin A, B6 & B12, D, E as well as selenium (and a few others). If you are a menstruating female, you will want to check your iron levels as well, to be sure you are not anemic.

I chose to find a Woman’s Multivitamin to supplement for these deficiencies. This is where you need to be careful. You must find a multivitamin that does not contain wheat (or any of your other triggers). Yes, I’m speaking from experience, and this is actually how I found out one of my triggers was soy.

I personally use MyKind Organics Women’s Once Daily and I notice within an hour of taking it each day that I feel even more relief from any symptoms or slight flare-ups. I take this in the afternoon, since it contains calcium which can interfere with my Levothyroxine absorption in the morning.

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You will want to take some form of Omega’s as well. Since one of my triggers is soy which is commonly used to coat omega capsules, I take Flaxseed Oil which provides my body with Omega 3, 6 & 9! Everything you actually need, and this is plant-based.

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Fix Your Hair

Admittedly, hair loss was the hardest thing for me to accept after being diagnosed. I never knew how attached I was to my eyebrows until they started thinning. To anyone else, that may sound ridiculous, but if you also experienced hair loss, I’m sure you understand.

My greatest hair loss was when I had not taken gluten out of my diet. My flare-ups were constant and I felt like I had the flu almost daily. When I cut gluten out of my diet, I noticed my eyebrows starting to return (and my flu-like symptoms abated). However, the hair on my head had thinned considerably, which was unacceptable to me. So, I began taking a scoop of Primal Kitchen Collagen Peptides (unflavored) in my coffee each morning. Within a few weeks, I noticed my skin became vibrant again, my nails were pretty and… HAIR GROWTH! This was significant since my TSH and T4 levels weren’t even optimal yet. This could also help those of you who are feeling joint pain.

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The difference between Collagen Peptides and Collagen Protein is something that may come up. It’s simple. Collagen Peptides are more bio-available for your body, meaning they can be used by your body quicker than the Collagen Proteins. However, the Collagen Proteins have different flavors. So, it’s really up to you!

 I have found that doctors are not well-researched in this disease, and often believe that placing the patient on thyroid medication is enough. We know, however, that thyroid medication often ISN’T enough – not if we want to truly enjoy life! If you also have success with these methods, please don’t hesitate to share your experience with our readers!

 


Your “Teacher Tired” May Not Be In Your Head

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This school year began as most school years do – planning weeks in advance, creating an atmosphere of welcome for my new cohorts, anticipating seeing co-workers again after a long, relaxing summer. I was excited to be starting my fourth year at my district and couldn’t wait to see the new faces in my classes.

There was one, seemingly insignificant, difference. I was dog tired before classes had even started.

In past years, I was always a bundle of energy during Meet The Teacher night and was well-known in my district for being the “over-achiever” who would spend her weekends at the school prepping. This year, I was struggling to find the motivation to type up my usual materials in cute fonts (if you know me at all, cute fonts are everything).

I blamed the energy lag on a few stress factors outside of my control, promised to buckle down even harder on my nutrition and exercise routine (I already ran and lifted weights with a balanced diet), and to start meditating. I figured that it was all in my head and would go away after I got into the swing of things. I told myself that Year 4 must just be “catching up to me”.

It didn’t. My energy lag turned into chronic fatigue. Add to that an increasing brain fog that turned my processing speed to Jell-O, and I was miserable. I started forgetting things, feeling exhausted, and had to make even more lists (than I normally did) just to stay on top of my duties. Life was NOT fun. Teaching was unbearable.

Mid-October, I started noticing that I was down a lot (also VERY out of character). My diet hadn’t changed at all, nor my exercise routine, yet I was starting to gain weight. Only a few pounds, but it was creating a sense of helplessness in me that I had never really experienced before. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I snap out of this funk?

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Then, Thanksgiving came around and I couldn’t deny that the weights I had normally been lifting easily were a struggle, I was irritable all the time (my poor family), and the glands in my neck were swollen as if I had contracted the world’s worst cold. Yet, I didn’t have any other cold symptoms. I couldn’t handle even the smallest bit of stress without losing it, my eyebrows and eyelashes were thinning out, and I was getting skull-splintering headaches that exploded if I laid my head on my pillow at night.

I begrudgingly scheduled a doctor’s appointment, which was pushed out well past Christmas due to busy schedules, I figured that I’d probably get over it well before then.

I did not take things so lightly when I woke up in the middle of the night during Christmas Break and could not breathe properly. It felt like someone was gently squeezing my throat closed, I couldn’t breathe out of my nose and my eyes were puffy as if I had pigged out on Red Lobster’s signature bread for days. The next day, I was elevated to the top of the appointments list and got in to see my doctor. My lab work found that my thyroid had, essentially, stopped working.

The thyroid functions when the TSH hormone in your body is sent out to inform the thyroid that the body needs more T4 hormone. If you have high levels of TSH in your labwork, that means your thyroid is underperforming and could lead to full-blown hypothyroidism. If your T4 levels are high, then your thyroid is overperforming and could mean you are experiencing symptoms of hyperthyroidism – both of which will mess with your body.

The thyroid regulates the body’s metabolic rate as well as heart and digestive function, muscle control, brain development, mood and bone maintenance. Without it functioning at optimal levels, you may experience:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Weight gain
  • Brain fog
  • Vision blurriness
  • Water retention
  • Swollen glands
  • General sadness or depression
  • Thinning hair
  • Skin dryness
  • High blood pressure
  • Loss of taste and smell
  • Cold intolerance
  • High cholesterol
  • Constipation
  • Irregular periods
  • Trouble staying asleep

If you are noticing these symptoms combined, you need to schedule lab work to check your thyroid levels. It is relatively easy to diagnose and thyroid levels can be balanced back out with a synthetic thyroid medication, as well as other natural remedies if the severity of the thyroid issue is low. There are many reasons that the thyroid could begin to dysfunction, such as Hashimoto’s, a virus from childhood, or even some research linking to prolonged birth control usage. 40% of Americans have some form of thyroid dysfunction! That’s nearly HALF of our country! It is more common than I ever knew.

In my case, I had severe hypothyroidism. TSH levels should be around 0.4 to 4.0. My labs read that my TSH levels were above 200. YIKES. I had waited way too long to get checked out and my body was doing everything in its power to get me to listen. Since my case was so severe, I was immediately placed on a synthetic thyroid medication that gives my body the T4 hormone it needs to function correctly.

My doctor said that I would notice the most changes within 6-8 weeks of being on the medication, as it needed time to build up in the body’s system and take effect. Within two weeks, I noticed:

  • General happiness
  • Increased patience
  • Reduced swelling of the neck glands
  • Reduced puffiness of the face
  • Reduced loss of eyebrows and eyelashes
  • Slight weight loss
  • Less brain fog
  • Being able to smell EVERYTHING
  • Increased energy levels
  • Sleeping through the night

Ultimately, do not make the same mistakes that I did. Your symptoms may not just be “teacher tired” or all in your head. We are trained as educators to push through rather than address these issues, to don our superhero cloaks and power through these insignificant discomforts. However, sometimes the struggle IS real. Your job as a teacher is of the utmost importance. You are nurturing the minds of our future geniuses, raising children in the confines of your classroom to become productive and thoughtful adults. It is of the utmost, absolute importance that we take care of you, first, so that you can take care of your kiddos.

As much as writing sub plans is devilish work (my personal opinion), I urge you all to get lab work at your yearly check-up. If anything, you will be able to rest easy knowing that your thyroid is working beautifully. Instead, you can plan a much needed vacation for that “teacher tired”!