Monthly Archives: December 2014

Make the New Year more active if you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism

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Most of us are starting the New Year with resolutions to improve, but few changes will improve your life more than regular physical activity, even if you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. However, starting an exercise habit can seem insurmountable to the chronically tired and sedentary. This article offers tips to get you motivated to begin and stick with regular physical activity suited to your fitness level.

First off, there’s more to exercise than just weight loss. Have you seen the significant difference between elderly people who exercise versus those who don’t? That’s because the organ that benefits most from exercise is your brain, and regular exercise will help keep you sharp and nimble well into your golden years.

As long as you don’t do overdo it, some kind of exerciser or physical activity will also help lower the inflammation associated with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and regulate your immune system. The endorphins released by getting your heart rate up are calming to an overactive immune system that flares autoimmunity.

However, exercise’s reputation as a health panacea is not sufficiently motivating for most. To be motivating exercise needs to be fun and doable. It should feel good, not painful.

Research shows that once they make exercise a “should,” people lose interest. Managing Hashimoto’s or some other health condition loses out to the solace found in a bag of chips and the latest episode of Nashville. Fear-based motivation, such as the health threats of high blood pressure or bone loss, are slightly more motivating but still fail many.

You have to make exercise fun to stick with it

Adding to the burden is that fact that Americans today are overly busy. Working one or more jobs, single parenting, schoolwork in the evenings… it all makes trips to the gym seem like an extravagant, unnecessary luxury. However, those who make the time find exercise actually improves productivity in the rest of their day, almost as if it is mysteriously creating more time. This is because of the enormous boost in brain function it delivers.

When people feel stretched to the limit, they will only fit in what feels absolutely necessary. Therefore, say research psychologists  you need to create a compelling reason to exercise. Figuring out how to make it fun and deliver that immediate endorphin high is one way. Another way is to keep it short but intense so you’re not burning up too much time.

Keep it short but intense when you have Hashimoto’s

For instance, challenge your kids to a few running races or pushup challenges to get in some short bursts of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT has been lauded as quick and easy but highly “therapeutic” form of exercise. The beauty of it is you can tailor it to your fitness level with the only goal being you boost your heart rate, rest, and repeat.

Add in a social element

Another well-proven strategy is to exercise with friends or in a group. This kills two birds with one stone by also fitting in the extremely health-promoting activity of socialization.

Exercise while you work or watch TV

You also might want to work exercise into normally sedentary habits of long hours at the computer or vegging in front of the TV. New research shows that sitting disease  which comes from sitting for long hours every day, is a silent killer no matter how well you eat or how often you exercise. It’s up there with smoking in terms of health risks and shortens your life span while dulling your mood. Sadly, quitting your job to frolic on the beach is not in the cards for most of us. Instead, many people have found they can work while walking on a treadmill  standing at a desk, or riding a stationary bike. You can buy an expensive treadmill desk or a cheaper attachment for a treadmill that will hold your laptop. A variety of standing desks are now available, and a stationary bike with a built-in workstation has received many good reviews. The key is to work against gravity while you’re on the computer or watching TV, as that has been shown to be necessary for the body and brain to stay healthy.

Walk to better manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism

Never underestimate the power of a daily walk  It is the easiest and perhaps the most enjoyable form of exercise available. Walking regulates brain and immune function, making it a great addition to a Hashimoto’s management protocol.

Are xylitol, erythritol, and other sugar alcohols safe to consume when you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism?

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America is on a never-ending quest to satisfy its sweet tooth without the health risks of sugar and other sweeteners. If you’re working to manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, you probably know to avoid toxic artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose, but what about the more “natural” ones, such as xylitol, erythritol, and sorbitol? Although they’re found on the shelves of health food stores, it’s worth knowing a few things about these “natural” sweeteners.

The good news about xylitol, erythritol, and sorbitol when you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism

Xylitol, erythritol, and sorbitol are sugar alcohols that are either poorly digested or poorly absorbed, which means they impart fewer calories and are less likely to raise blood sugar. Although they haven’t been studied much compared to artificial sweeteners, research of xylitol shows no negative effects except for gastrointestinal distress, which dissipated in some subjects in time. In fact, studies of diabetic rats showed xylitol improved health outcomes.

Xylitol is most well known for the prevention of tooth decay, better than fluoride in some studies.

Sugar alcohols also do not appear to confuse the body and raise blood sugar in the way artificial sweeteners do.

The bad news about xylitol, erythritol, and sorbitol when you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism

The downfall of sugar alcohols is that they can wreak havoc on digestive health and comfort. For people with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism working to heal leaky gut this can be bad news. Because sugar alcohols are largely indigestible they pull water into the digestive tract and can cause diarrhea. Also, their indigestibility can cause them to ferment in the gut, causing bloating, gas, and distention. However, some people are able to adjust in a month or two and symptoms dissipate. Of the sugar alcohols, erythritol is the most easily digested and therefore causes the least gastric distress.

You probably need to keep sugar alcohols off the menu if you have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s, or other digestive problems. It may also be a poor choice if you are on the autoimmune diet to repair your leaky gut or manage your autoimmunity.

People who are on the FODMAPS (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols) diet also need to avoid xylitol, erythritol, and other sugar alcohols. This diet helps many people living with chronic gastric distress find relief by avoiding foods that are poorly digested and prone to fermenting in the gut.

Gut issues are common for people working to manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and sugar alcohols may exacerbate the situation.

Using xylitol, erythritol, and sorbitol in your diet when you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism

If you’re trying to cut back on sugar and sugar alcohols don’t upset your stomach, you may find them a way to add some sweetness without the blood sugar spikes and consequent metabolic breakdowns that occur from eating sugars and other sweeteners regularly. However, they are not as sweet as sugar with a much milder sweetness. If you use too much to try and compensate you could be left with an unpleasant aftertaste. These sugars still have calories and carbohydrates, so if eaten in excess they can sabotage your efforts to improve your health by cutting back on sweets. You should also know that they are often derived from corn, much of which is genetically modified in the US, and an allergen for many.

The best way around fake sugars is to grow accustomed to a healthy, whole foods diet that only includes sweeteners on occasion. When you do not eat sweets regularly you begin to lose your taste for them, and you find a piece of fruit enormously satisfying and plenty sweet. A healthy diet low in sweeteners and void of foods that worsen gut health is also important to manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.

Awake at 3 a.m.? Try this quick and easy trick to fall back asleep

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Do you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and often wake up at 3 a.m., your mind racing with thoughts, and you can’t fall back asleep? Try this crazy sounding but highly effective tip: Eat something! Make sure it’s not something sweet but instead something with protein and fat, such as nut butter, a bit of hard boiled egg, or some meat. Make sure to keep some food next to your bed with a glass of water so you don’t wake yourself up too much by going to the kitchen. You won’t feel hungry and most likely won’t feel like eating, but do it anyway as an experiment. Chances are you will fall right back to sleep. Why?

If things go according to plan you don’t bolt awake at 3 a.m. While you’re sound asleep you’re brain is hard at work and needs plenty of fuel. It is forming memories, clearing out old cells, regenerating — all while you’re fasting, having gone hours without eating. In order to give the brain the energy it needs, the body gradually raises cortisol, an adrenal hormone. Cortisol triggers the release or synthesis of glucose to fuel the brain during the nightlong fast and you sleep through the night.

That’s if things are working right. People with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism often suffer from other metabolic disturbances, such as low blood sugar. If you suffer with chronically low blood sugar then you are one of those people who is likely to bolt awake at 3 or 4 a.m. People with low blood sugar will have difficulty making enough cortisol to sustain the brain during the night. To compensate and keep the brain going, the body then releases “fight-or-flight” adrenal hormones. These adrenal hormones raise blood sugar back to a safer level to give the brain fuel. Unfortunately, they also raise stress, which can cause anxiety or panic in the middle of the night. This explains why you wake up at 3 or 4 a.m. with a racing mind, an infinite to-do list, in a panic, or some other stress-addled state.

Things you can do during the day to avoid waking up at 3 a.m. when you have have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism

Although a few bites of food may help you fall back asleep, it’s better to prevent that anxious wake up call in the first place. Managing your blood sugar is also paramount to better managing Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. If low blood sugar has you waking up every morning at 3 a.m. try the following tips:

  • Always eat breakfast, even if you don’t feel like it, and avoid sugary, high-carbohydrate foods with breakfast. Low blood sugar will cause you to wake up with no appetite. You may even feel nauseous. Eat anyway, you need to break the nightlong fast and stabilize your blood sugar.
  • During the day eat frequently enough so blood sugar does not crash.
  • Avoid sweets and starchy foods (breads, pasta, rice, potatoes, etc.) and adopt a lower-carbohydrate diet. People with low blood sugar symptoms typically eat too many sweets and starchy foods as well as frequently skip meals. Eat enough protein and healthy fats to sustain your energy.

Ask my office about nutritional compounds that can help you manage your blood sugar better and sleep through the night. I can also help you better manage your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. 

Get a candida infection under control naturally when you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism

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If you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism you may also have struggled with a candida infection, an overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans. It can affect the skin, mouth, throat, genitals, or blood. Common expressions of a candida infection include oral thrush, a vaginal yeast infection, jock itch, athlete’s foot, and even brain fog and fatigue. If the infection enters the bloodstream, it is called invasive candidiasis and causes myriad, non-specific symptoms. This is because candida produces toxins that infiltrate organs and tissues. When you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, managing a candida infection is an important part of your autoimmune support plan.

What causes candida when you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism

Sugar. Candida can be caused by a variety of factors. The fungus thrives on sugar so diets high in sugars, processed carbohydrates, and alcohol feed allow a candida infection to take root and thrive. This also causes sugar cravings to increase to sustain its burgeoning population.

Antibiotics. Antibiotic use is another common cause. Although antibiotics kill off harmful bacteria, they also kill off the very beneficial bacteria in your intestinal tract that help keep candida from growing out of control. It’s important to reestablish healthy gut bacteria with probiotics or fermented foods after antibiotic use, and to avoid them whenever possible. Ask my office for advice.

Poor gut health. If you have gut problems you are more susceptible to a candida infection. If you are not able to digest your food properly, you have an imbalance between good and bad bacteria, your gut is inflamed, you have leaky gut, you suffer from chronic constipation or diarrhea, and other digestive disorders, you are more at risk for a candida infection. Candida is like a weed that grows best in a sickly, neglected garden.

Hormonal imbalances. Hormonal imbalances that affect women in particular can upset the balance of gut bacteria and gut health. For instance, too little or too much estrogen can contribute to a vaginal yeast infection as proper estrogen levels keep the vaginal tract more resistant to infection.

Poor circulation. If you have cold hands and feet or the tip of your nose is cold, this indicates poor circulation. Poor circulation makes you more susceptible to a candida infection because blood carries immune cells that fight fungus and other infections. When the blood does not fully penetrate into the tissues with these immune cells, tissues become more prone to infection. A common example is chronic nail fungus. Low blood pressure is another culprit as the blood does not adequately push into body tissue.

Poor brain function from degeneration or past head trauma. One thing people don’t consider with a candida infection is brain function. If your brain is not functioning well due to a previous head trauma or because it is degenerating too quickly due to unmanaged health condition, you are at a higher risk for a candida infection. Why? Healthy brain function is necessary for a healthy gut –- the brain and gut are in close communication with each other. The brain also regulates immune function and general health of the body. When the brain suffers the body suffers, leaving it more prone to a candida infection.

All of these factors not only contribute to a candida infection, but also make it difficult to manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Addressing them is an important part of your thyroid care plan. 

A candida infection is a warning symptom when you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism

A candida infection is a red flag warning the body is out of balance. When you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, it’s important to manage the underlying causes to erudite the infection and support your thyroid and immune health. There are some very drastic candida diets on the Internet that seem designed more to provoke an eating disorder than cure a candida infection. You don’t necessarily have to go to excessive extremes. A candida infection requires you to adopt a healthy, whole foods approach to eating that eliminates sugar, junk foods, and too many carbohydrates and to focus on plenty of leafy green vegetables, healthy meats, and lots of filtered water.

In addition to a good diet, a variety of herbs and nutritional supplements are highly effective at combatting a candida infection. You also need to remedy poor digestive health (this may require specific dietary modifications as well), boost brain function, or help balance hormones. All of these actions will not only help eradicate candida but also help you better manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Ask my office for advice.