A variety of diets have been reported to be helpful in healing autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s. These diets include a gluten-free diet, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, the GAPS diet, the Paleo diet, the Autoimmune Paleo diet, the Weston A. Price diet and the Body Ecology Diet.
Many people will ask me, “Which diet do you think is best?”
My answer, as always, is the diet that works for you. You are unique. Your genes, your ethnicity, your blood type, your gender, your digestive capability, your intestinal environment, your food sensitivities all make you unique.
The diets are meant to be a starting point for you and should be tailored to your response. Your needs may also change as time goes on, or as you get rid of infections or balance your intestinal flora. Just because one diet worked for someone, does not mean it will work as well for you.
I have tried a variety of diets on my Hashimoto’s healing journey. I started by going gluten and dairy free after having food sensitivity tests that showed I reacted to both. My stomach was extremely grateful. I no longer had a chronic cough, diarrhea, acid reflux or bloating. Having learned about the connection between food and autoimmune disease, I excitedly I retested my TPO antibodies… unfortunately, they increased. I also became more tired, and my anxiety worsened.
I was surprised at first but came to learn that I made the same rookie mistake that people who go gluten free usually do. I replaced my previous junk food with “GFJF” (gluten-free junk food), like soy and rice-based gluten-free bread, pretzels, “milk” and cookies.
Soy has been linked with thyroid autoimmune disorders and gluten free junk foods, bread, cereals and “milks” have an incredibly high glycemic index. The blood sugar imbalances from gluten free junk foods promote adrenal dysfunction which can affect thyroid function.
Eventually, I made a point to remove soy and balanced my blood sugar better. I felt better, my antibodies decreased, but then healing plateaued, and unfortunately, I started becoming bloated again.
So I went back to the drawing board. I researched alternate diets.
One of the diets that I had heard wonderful things about was the GAPS diet. I purchased the book and very much enjoyed the theory behind it. I then started the GAPS diet…with nutrient dense foods that consisted of soups, meats, vegetables, fruit, eggs, and nuts. I felt better at first. Increased muscle tone, energy and felt more “clear.” But after a few months, I continued to have digestive issues.
Again, my results were not so great. I was tired, bloated, and lost too much weight. I was down to a BMI of <17! I started breaking out more and then retested my TPO antibodies in three months. They doubled from the 300’s to the 600’s….I was devastated. I had been trying so hard. I almost gave up. But I didn’t.
Instead, I decided to follow the approach of the Body Ecology Diet. This diet is gluten free, dairy free and limits fruit. Additionally, it considers each person’s individuality and can be tailored to each person based on their unique needs and makeup. Donna Gates, the creator of the diet has done a tremendous amount of research into optimal nutrition, and she has been ahead of her time. I started to immediately have positive results.
I felt happier. My skin cleared up, my hair became bouncy and shiny again, I was glowing! Three months after following the Body Ecology Diet, I retested my TPO antibodies, and they dropped to the 200 range.
So what wasn’t working for me?
I had an imbalance of fungal and bacterial organisms that fed on fructose and poorly digested proteins, so all of the fruits, meats, nuts and seeds that were allowed on the GAPS, SCD, and Paleo diet were making me feel worse instead of better. Additionally, the fruit was causing blood sugar imbalances.
So I made some changes…
I did additional testing and figured out that I was not digesting protein correctly (especially eggs). I cut out eggs and began to supplement digestive enzymes with all of my protein meals. I recommend Digestive Enzymes Ultra from Pure Encapsulations.
I also added green smoothies to the mix and started eating a whole bunch of raw (but pureed) veggies that I feel really helped my skin.
Note: Although the Body Ecology Diet contains gluten-free grains, I did not include them.
And some more changes…
I further refined my diet by diet by doing an elimination diet and had a different type of food sensitivity test; this one measured a few different pathways of inflammation, not just the pathway that affects the gut.
The test showed that I was reactive to some “healthy” foods I occasionally ate: chard, apples, garlic, and strawberries. I decided to “test” the validity of the test and ate a whole bunch of these foods all at once. I noticed more joint pain. This joint pain would wax and wane without any seeming food causing it.
I hope that this article helps you understand that diets are meant to be a starting point to your healing journey and that each diet should be tailored to your body.
The moral of the story? Listen to your body, and not a dietary theory. Don’t force foods that don’t agree with you on yourself because someone else thinks they are healthy. Dietary theories are meant to be a starting point; your body will give you further directions.
Do you want to see if the Autoimmune Paleo diet will work for you? Sign-up for my FREE 2-Week AIP Recipe Plan below!
PS. You can also download a free Thyroid Diet Guide, 10 Thyroid friendly recipes, and the Nutrient Depletions and Digestion chapter for free by going to www.thyroidpharmacist.com/gift. You will also receive occasional updates about new research, resources, giveaways and helpful information.
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