In episode #24 we are learning how to heal thyroid naturally part 2 with Dr. Eric Balcavage. In over 20 years of practice, he has successfully helped thousands of people suffering with chronic health conditions. Dr. Balcavage trains and consults with hundreds of doctors on topics such as thyroid physiology, organic acid testing, methylation, and GI physiology. He also lecturers locally and around the country on various health topics including; Stem Cell Therapy & Regenerative Medicine, Thyroid dysfunction, Methylation dysfunction, and more.His clinic has always been on the cutting edge of the health care industry. Currently, he devotes his practice to treating patients with degenerative joint conditions, chronic pain syndromes, hypothyroidism, GI disorders, diabetes, autoimmune & inflammatory disorders, peripheral neuropathy, and other neurological and metabolic challenges.
Dr. Balcavage graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa in 1995 and has been in practice since 1996 in Glen Mills, PA. He also is Board Certified in Integrative Medicine, a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner and a Certified Nutrition Specialist. He has been a guest on numerous podcasts and health summits. He also co-hosts the Thyroid Answers Podcast which is available on iTunes.
I finally wrote my AIP Journey down. If you’ve followed me for even a minute you know I’ve been doing AIP now for 5 months. I started in August 2017. It’s now January 2018. So many of you may be wondering what is AIP? Well, it stands for Autoimmune Paleo or Autoimmune Protocol. It’s the paleo diet with some modifications. Specifically removing nuts, alcohol, seeds, butter, ghee, eggs, chocolate/cocoa, coffee and nightshades(tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, all chiles(and chile spices), sugar alternatives like stevia, xylitol. I found these guides from Paleo Autoimmune Protocol really helpful. The purpose of the AIP protocol is to heal the gut, reduce inflammation and lower antibodies. Now that you know what it means, you may be asking another question- why did I do it?
Ahh yes, why avoid SO many foods! Well I have an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s. Hashimoto’s is a condition where your immune system attacks your thyroid. Literally your body is attacking itself- not cool! Your thyroid is part of your endocrine system and produces hormones. Overtime people can develop hypothyroidism(an under active thyroid) as a result of Hashimoto’s from an inflamed thyroid.
I ended up reading Hashimoto’s Protocol by Izabella Wentz and it really opened my eyes to what Hashimoto’s was, how I could get it under control and didn’t have to succumb to it. I ended up following her protocol she lays out in the book. I extended mine past the 90 days per my naturopath’s recommendation.
There are many different autoimmune conditions out there, not just Hashimoto’s. Many people who suffer from an autoimmune condition from rheumatoid arthritis, to lupus, celiac, graves, IBS, psoriasis, and multiple sclerosis, could possibly benefit from an AIP protocol. Although there is no cure for autoimmune disease, it can be put into remission.
*The information discussed in this blog post is not a substitute for your own physician- please always seek a medical professional.
Symptoms Of Hashimoto’s-
Pale Dry Skin
Sensitive to Cold
To be honest the only symptom I had was fatigue. Even that I questioned because I had an infant and a toddler, which any mom knows accounts for sleepless nights. I also had some hair loss but it seemed normal since I had a baby in the last 6 months and it followed what had happened to my hair with my first child. Many people who have Hashimoto’s will tell you their symptoms are blaring and so obvious. Mine were not. I’ve never felt any weird digestive issues or had stomach problems either. Sure, if I have a big bowl of ice-cream I don’t feel the best but who does? I really don’t think anyone should be pounding straight up dairy ice-cream on the daily.
I really don’t think I would have discovered I had Hashimoto’s if it wasn’t for my blood test. My naturopath did a complete thyroid panel on me. When I say complete thyroid panel here is what I mean:
So once I got my blood test results back I learned I had antibodies in my blood. My antibodies were at 374. So 0 antibodies is the ideal of course. People can range all the way up to past 1,400. They say the higher the antibodies the more noticeable your symptoms may be. Which may explain why I may not have symptoms. The thyroid is tricky too. Some people may have really obvious symptoms but their test results come back and they have little or no antibodies. However, their friend could have hardly any symptoms and have antibodies. From what I’ve read this shows that the person with symptoms and no antibodies, may have a very compromised/weak immune system. You actually need some antibodies and sometimes your immune function is so weak to produce any.
The bottom line- I wanted to bring down my antibodies and figure how what was triggering an inflammatory response in my body. Once you have an autoimmune disease it’s easier to to get more in the future if you don’t address it. I really wanted to get to know my body and understand what was happening. So often I’ve just relied on doctors but for the first time I wanted to take control of my health. Food is a powerful tool in healing your body and I knew the first step was to eliminate foods so I knew what was happening in my system.
That is why I started AIP. In a nut shell AIP takes out all the foods that may cause an inflammatory response in your body. This gives your body a chance to heal. You can’t heal if you’re constantly putting out fires. Even healthy foods for some can produce an unhealthy immune response and trigger inflammation in the body. The elimination phase of AIP can last anywhere from 30 days to 6 months for most people. Once you’re done with the elimination phase and are starting to feel and see improvement you can start reintroductions slowly. It’s really about getting to know what works for you. Some people may go through AIP and when they reintroduce foods they can tolerate most foods again. But other people find out what foods were bothering them. Who wants to eat eggs if every time after eating them you feel nausea and your joints hurt? Not me! It gives you the power back to know your body and how it works best.
AIP is all about healing your gut. When inflammation goes down and your gut begins to heal your antibodies will start to go down. It really varies from person to person. Be patient and trust the process. Besides diet, stress and sleep are huge when it comes to overall healing of your body. Don’t neglect them! I know for myself, stress and sleep are the hardest for me. I can follow a diet easily but my management of stress and getting enough sleep can be poor. Throughout these 5 months my stress has gotten better but I still need to work on my sleep.
Was AIP Hard?-
Probably one of the questions I get asked the most is if AIP was hard. It really wasn’t for me. As I mentioned, I ate paleo for the most part before transitioning to AIP so it wasn’t a complete 360. The hardest part was making sure I had food prepared as you can’t just grab a bar. But once I found a system and knew snacks I could have it really helped. I didn’t eat out at all hardly. There were times I just brought my food to the restaurant if I didn’t want to miss out on something. However, for the most part, restaurants are really accommodating. You can order a salad almost anywhere, so that helps. I just customize the salad and then ask for olive oil as the dressing.
I would prep at the beginning of the week and that helped me to know I had some things on hand. I also knew I could have a smoothie if I was in a pinch as well. Snacks were hard to find at first but then you realize what you can have and you just make sure you have things on hand.
Raw Veggie Bread(I make mine in the dehydrator, all recipes from @realfoodlab E-book/Course)
AIP Muffins(I get my recipes from a lot of blogs)
I also liked making a cup of tea. I would use Traditional Medicinals Peppermint or Ginger a lot. I would add a little honey and some coconut milk for extra pizazz! I really like this Aroy-d Coconut Milk 100% .
So after doing the AIP protocol for 5 months I noticed significant improvement in my overall health.
The next step as far as medical procedures is to do a stool test. My naturopath recommended this as it helps to really see what’s going on in the gut. I may also do a food allergy test in a couple months. I don’t want to be consuming foods, even though they may be good, if it’s causing my body inflammation. I’m realizing the more time goes on that there isn’t a finish line but a lifestyle and mindset shift. Not that I think the AIP diet is forever. From what I’ve read, AIP isn’t meant to be a long term diet. Avoiding that many foods for so long can actually cause more problems. Obviously everyone is different and should consult with their doctor. I’m not where I want to be but I am better than I was. I’ve learned it’s about getting to know your body and giving it what it needs in each season.
My next focus is to incorporate foods slowly and see how I react and feel. Do a stool test, and focus on getting quality sleep each night. Sleep is the hardest thing for me and something I know needs improvement.
How is Summer almost over?! I feel like it just started. I love the long summer days. Washington really shows off in the summer- if you haven’t been up here in the warm months you need to make the trek up. I just got back from the CrossFit Games and to say I’m motivated to step up my game in the exercise department would be an understatement. I went to watch my 63 year old dad compete. This was his 4th year going and he got 4th place- so proud of him! It really made me realize how there are no limits- only limits we put on ourselves. Age is just a number.
I don’t love traveling with kiddos though- I mean who does? Love being home but don’t love the laundry pile sitting next to me- such a dichotomy! Can I hire out for this kind of stuff? It does feel nice to get back in the kitchen to fix my food. Whenever I’m traveling I always feel like my options are a little more limited and my body is out of synch. I got my daughter’s preschool open house flyer in the mail- I was a wreck! I still can’t believe she is going to school in a month. I can just see it now. I’ll be in tears, while she waves happily goodbye. She’s a social butterfly to say the least.
I’ve rounded out some current favorites. These made the cut for my Loving Lately Top Ten-
Birkenstocks- If you don’t have a pair of Birks I recommend you get yourself a pair stat. They are the most comfortable pair of shoes. I’ve had mine for over a year and have worn them walking through Disneyland, CrossFit Games, hiking, while prego and so much more. No blisters, no sore feet- they’re kind of magical. The trick is to wear them in so they form to your feet. You’ll thank me! Get your pair here!
Hashimoto’s Protocol–This book has completely changed my thinking on Hashimotos and low thyroid. I listened to it first, then bought the hard copy book too. The author Izabel Wentz even suggests that 90% of those who have low thyroid actually have hashimotos. I’ve had antibodies present in my blood since before having Finley- my first daughter. I didn’t really dive into anything at the time since I was trying to get pregnant and wasn’t going to do anything extreme. Then when I was done nursing her, I practically got pregnant with my second daughter. Anyways, I’m diving deep into an AIP diet now. I’ll be sharing more in the future. I was surprised how the author Izabel Wentz talked about how she realized her mascara by Benefit cosmetics was giving her crazy headaches and the minute she stopped using it they were gone. I was quickly reminded of why I do what I do in sharing clean product recommendations. Bottom line- the book is amazing! Hashimoto’s Protocol
True Botanical’s Basic Cleanser– I really love this cleanser. I like it better than the regular True Botanical’s Cleanser- yep I said it. It cleans my skin, doesn’t dry it out at all, takes off all makeup(yes even eye makeup), and comes in a handy glass pump bottle. Plus, the smell is so much lighter than the original formula. I can’t get enough! I already wrote a full review on their Basic’s Line here. The whole line is amazing and so budget friendly. Check out the line here!
Josh Rosebrooks Vital Balm Cream– This balm has become a staple in my routine. Everything about it I love. From the glass container it comes in, to the whipped formula, to the vanilla scent that is just perfect- it hits all the marks. My skin is dry, but can be oily around the t-zone, especially in the summer months. This balm works so well with my skin. I put it on in the mornings after using a hydrosol and before makeup. My makeup stays put throughout the day and doesn’t slide off. Balms are too heavy to wear during the day, and creams can be too greasy- this is the perfect mix. I’m obsessed! If you haven’t tried it yet, you need too! Grab yours here!
Organic Sliced TigerNuts – Have you heard of these? They’re actually not a nut at all, but a root vegetable. I know I had never heard of them until I started diving deep into the AIP diet. They offer some good resistant starch for the body. I want to add them to my raw veggies breads. I ordered them the other day- I’ll let you know what I think! If you want to join me in eating these little guys grab your Organic Sliced TigerNuts here!
SodaStream Penguin Sparkling Water Maker- I’m about to order this! We like our sparkling water a lot around here. We usually buy it from Whole Foods in the glass bottles by the case. But I really like knowing my water is completely filtered, plus this is so much more convenient and will save us money in the long run. My sister in law has this one and I always drool a little when I see it. It’s uses glass bottles, not plastic. Imagine having filtered, fizzy water in glass bottles waiting in your fridge at all times? I know, now you want one too! Get yours here!
Lark Ellen Granola Bites– I recently discovered this granola and fell hard for it. I mean have you found paleo, grain free granola that is organic, vegan, non-gm0, sweetened with honey or maple syrup and has sprouted nuts and seeds? I didn’t think so. This stuff is next level and so tasty! I pretty much ate the vanilla cinnamon all by myself- opps! Check them out here!
American Eagle Floral Head Scarf- I’ve tried head scarfs before and they failed. Part of the problem was tying it. It would end up slipping and coming out completely. I randomly saw this head scarf on vacation back in June and snagged it. Yes, I went into American Eagle- I felt 16 all over again. It has a stretchy part that keeps the scarf in place and then you tie it so you don’t see the stretchy part- genius! I’m all about bringing the 60’s head scarf back and making my hair look cute in 1 minute! Snag your head scarf here!
Activ Whey Protein Powder- I can’t get enough of this goat whey protein. It is the best protein powder I’ve ever used! I personally know the creator and founder and can vouch for it’s purity and standards. It comes in chocolate and vanilla and I love them both! I put it in my smoothies, make protein balls with it and use it in bar recipes. The list is endless! Check out the protein podcast and my protein blog post here to learn why it’s so important to choose a clean protein powder. I also list tips on how to choose a clean one, and why goat whey is completely different than cow’s whey in every way. Check out the protein here and use my coupon code– GURLGONEGREEN for 10% off!