Its been nearly 5 years since I first learned that the health challenges of my mid to late 30’s were due to autoimmune disease, including but not limited to hashimotos (autoimmune reaction against thyroid tissue.). I am happy to report I am in my mid 40’s, more productive, excited about my career and future than ever, physically as fit as I was in my mid 20’s when I was a basketball junkie, gym rat and climbing bigger and bigger mountains. I have returned to many of these activities and now I am enjoying them with my children.
I want to share with you what I am currently doing to maintain my health and well being, while enjoying my life, my wife and my children.
The symptoms I experienced at that time were many. They are the same vague and chronic symptoms experienced by so many million of people every day. Brain fog, fatigue, pain, inflammation, weight gain, depression, difficulty sleeping, digestive problems including irritable bowel and reflux, etc. A complete history of my experience can be read at www.Hypothyroidmom.com. There you can read about the cause of my condition and the types of solutions I pursued.
At that time the use of medications to treat the symptoms was a complete waste of my time and was resulting in my health continuing to decline, even if I could reduce some of my symptoms temporarily. Doctors were unable to respect the totality of my symptoms as having a single cause. Doctors insist that each symptom was coincidental and each symptom required treatment by a different specialist.
The inevitable result of suffering chronic symptoms by the medical profession is to eventually be labeled a psychiatric case. Depression, anxiety, “stress”, insomnia, attention deficit, etc., all of which, of course, requires psychiatric treatment. Utter non-sense if you ask me and is the result of the inability to simply say “I don’t know”.
Autoimmunity, when the immune system which is supposed to protect you from foreign, dangerous organisms like viruses and bad bacteria, by identifying and attacking specific proteins, turns against and begins to attack your own (self) tissue. When the immune system attacks your thyroid we call it hashimotos, when it attacks your pancreas we call it type 1 diabetes, when it attacks your nervous system we call it MS. There are 80-100 known autoimmune disorders and it’s more common not to have more than one. I have 4 that I am aware of.
Autoimmunity cannot occur without some level of immune “dys-regulation”. Before we become autoimmune, it is believe that the dys-regulation first causes your immune system to become sensitive against foreign proteins that we are supposed to be tolerant of, specifically food proteins. When we lose tolerance to “safe” foreign proteins and begin to treat them like they are “unsafe” like viruses, then the immune system gets kicked into high gear and over time results in autoimmunity.
Once I identified what exposures to foreign proteins I was experiencing, I removed them while simultaneously going through the painstaking process of detoxifying, repairing the barrier systems of my GI tract, clearing out excessive immune activity and inflammation via liver clearance pathways and ultimately restoring balance to my immune function and better regulated hormones associated with stress and blood sugar management. This process can take 3-12 months depending on the person, their compliance, history, metabolic and biochemical presentation.
I went through that process 5 years ago, resulting in complete remission from symptoms and normal function of my thyroid thus far. I still have hashimotos autoimmune reaction, its just extremely subtle and does not cause aggressive attack of my thyroid. No medication is needed for me at this point. Over the past 5 years I have had several flare ups of symptoms and subsequent biochemical changes. Flare ups are identified pretty quickly because I do not allow myself to experience symptoms for any period of time and I can usually identify the triggers of the flare ups.
Common symptoms of a flare up:
- Brain fog
- Physical and mental fatigue
- Diffuse aches and pains (lower back, neck, knees and shoulders) that do not coincide with an old or new injury and usually involve both sides of the body.
- Loose stool, irritable bowel, reflux, constipation, gas and bloating.
- Poor sleep
- Skin rash, dry skin
Common triggers of a flare up:
- Career related stress where travel and eating too many successive meals outside of the home.
- Irregular sleep or lack of sleep.
- Inadvertent exposures to food proteins I know I am very sensitive to. For me its gluten, casein (dairy), soy, egg, oats. See story below
- Excessive exposure to foods I know I am borderline sensitive to. For me these include, tapioca starch (commonly used in gluten free products), potato starch, corn.
- Lack of exercise.
- Poor hydration
- Processed foods
- Blood sugar dys-regulation.
Over the last 5 years my rituals have been:
- Comprehensive blood chemistry analysis which includes the markers needed to determine the biochemical stressors associated with autoimmunity twice per year for the 1st 2 years and 1X per year thereafter.
- Food sensitivity testing 1 X per year to determine new sensitivities I may have picked.
- On that note, I have an Interesting story to tell . In May 2015, I was enjoying my 2nd round of P90X3 exercise routine, feeling as good as ever. Several months prior, I began to add a high quality protein supplement to my smoothies. I began to experiences progressively increasing pain and numbness in my left hand and within 4 weeks it became unbearable. I lost my strength and could barely hold a mug of coffee. I had an x-ray of my hand performed at the office and it revealed a diffuse cloud of inflammation over my wrist that was choking my tendons and nerves at the level of the wrist and fore arm. The radiologist diagnosed it as a kind of RSD (reflex sympathetic dystrophy). Coincidentally, that same month I ran an updated food sensitivity panel from Cyrex labs and the results came back with severe elevation of IgG antibodies to oat protein, which on a previous test I was not sensitive to. The protein I was adding to my smoothies used a gluten free oat protein. Once the oat protein was removed from my diet, my 6-8 week hand pain ordeal was back to normal.
- 6 weeks of hyper clean autoimmune protocol diet, 2 times per year. While going through a glut repair and liver clearance supplement protocol .
- 4 days on 3 day off intermittent fasting protocol for 1-2 month at a time. Intermittent fasting for me is 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating per day. 8PM-12 noon fasting, noon to 8PM eating.
- Regular supplementation to include:
- Omega 3 fatty acids
- Soil based probiotics
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin A
- N-acetyl cysteine
- L-glutamine, DGL, Aloe based GI support.
- DPPV enzymes (for the breakdown of difficult to breakdown proteins like gluten, casein and soy) to be taken when eating in restaurants to decrease the impact of inadvertent exposures.
- Additional supplements taken temporarily as needed based on blood chemistry.
- Adherence to my new (5 year old) normal dietary requirements. No cheating at all with the foods I am aware I have a strong sensitivity to, however inadvertent exposures are likely with travel, eating in restaurants, at moms house, etc.
- Meditation, exercise rituals & practices for a sound mind body and spirit. High intensity interval training 30% and low intensity cardiovascular training 70%(could be as simple as a brisk walk).
- Artificial light, non native EMF exposure and sunlight hygiene. Blue light protection products, amber light bulbs in the home at night, blue light protective software for computers, hand held devices and television. Staying as electrically grounded as possible.
Thanks for reading!