Vitamin D with Dr. Mayer Eisenstein at the GFAF Expo

Just over a week ago, I was able to head to the Gluten and Allergen Free Expo in Chicago and had the chance to listen in on some great sessions. This is one thing I loved about this expo, you got to see some of the companies working to give people with food allergies safe food to eat, but you also get to hear fantastic health information at the same time. My favorite session was with Dr. Mayer Eisenstein where he talked on the importance of Vitamin D.

We’ve talked here on the blog about vitamin D’s connection to fertility, and I recently wrote about how my vitamin D level was quite low (32), and while he only touched on the topic of fertility just a bit, I walked away feeling good about what I’m doing, as well as added inspiration to do more.

vitamin d and infertility

photo credit – daviddehetre

“Vitamin D is NOT a fat soluble vitamin – it is a pre-hormone.” – Dr. Eisenstein

So very true, and yet I always talk about it as a fat-soluble vitamin because, well, it’s just easier and how most people are used to hearing it. One of these days I need to do a lot more research in this area so that I can fully understand it and talk about it intelligently.

“Vitamin D levels should be around 100.” – Dr. Eisenstein

Most medical doctors consider levels below 30 as deficient, and more often than not, functional or holistic doctors consider the correct range to be from 50-100, with a recommendation to get to at least the middle of that range. It was very interesting to hear that he thought a level at or above 100 was actually best!

“We can find vitamin D in wild mushrooms, fish, sun, and supplements.” – Dr. Eisenstein

He seems to be a big fan of supplements, but as he states, nobody eats enough of these foods anymore! I’d also like to add that we can find them in grass-fed animal products as the exposure to the sun also helps the animal build up levels in their bodies.

He also talked a lot about how when you live above 37 degrees latitude, you don’t get any vitamin D from the sun from November to February. So if you live in the northern half of the states like I do, we may become very deficient in the winter months. (I was tested in December, a couple of months in to our cold weather) We’re also only able to get vitamin D from about 10am to 2pm each day.

vitamin d and fertility

When you’re outside, he said that we can get about 5000 IUs of vitamin D if we’re outside with half of our body exposed to the sun for about 15 minutes. And that if you’re outside all day at the beach or park, you are probably getting about 50,000 IUs per day when you don’t use sunscreen. Which lead to …..

“The vacation doesn’t get you pregnant, the sun does.” – Dr. Eisenstein

The part of his talk where he spoke about fertility issues, he mentioned that it was common for doctors to send couples on vacation, south, to a beach. And that this was where the whole “if you relax, it’ll happen” speech probably came from. because doctors noticed that couples were more likely to get pregnant after a beach vacation, so they thought it was just the lack of stress. But Dr. Eisenstein thinks it has more to do with the extra vitamin D that they were probably lacking. He also mentioned that

“The higher the vitamin D levels, the faster the sperm swim.”

His recommendations for vitamin D supplementation were 5000 IUS per day if under 100 pounds and 10,000 IUs per day if over 100 pounds. During pregnancy he increases this to 20,000 IUs per day after the eighth month of pregnancy and through the first year of breastfeeding. (to make sure the breast-milk is not deficient in vitamin D)

Of course, I don’t think any one doctor will have all of the answers all of the time, but he was pretty convincing. It’s also a good idea to base your supplementation on your own test results, so getting a lab test to see what your vitamin D level is, at least a couple of times per year (once in the summer, once in the winter) will help you figure out how much you need to be supplementing. Plus, as we already know, we all live in different areas and have different levels of sun exposure.

Here are also a couple of videos from him:

 Take Vitamin D and Live Longer

Low Vitamin D as a Root Cause of Chronic Illness and Cancer

I also found this podcast from Sean at Underground Wellness, where he talks to author T.S.Wiley about vitamin D deficiency and she goes on to say how it’s not so much about the sun we’re exposed to, but that our receptors never get a chance to reset in the darkness. Awesome information! (Listen to it here – Is Low Vitamin D a Darkness Deficiency?)

As you can see, my time at the Gluten and Allergen Free Expo was time well spent! There are a couple more coming up this year, and if the Chicago speakers are any indication of the others, go check out who is on the speaker list near you!

Have you had your vitamin D levels checked yet? Are they adequate?

Love your liver to love yourself

The following article is written by one of my affiliate partners, Magdalena Wszelaki (thyroid nutrition coach) and Josie Lincoln (detox expert), from the Thyroid Diet Coach.

Learn how early signs of a toxic liver could free you from access weight, depression, skin problems and so much more.

Liver is the most underestimated organ which suffers in silence until it’s too late.

Have you ever wondered what your liver would say to you if it had a voice?  Most livers would have a lot to moan about given half the chance.  The truth is our livers almost always suffer in silence and rarely express their stress.  When they do, it often occurs in ways which we do not associate directly with this vital organ.  So, instead of making a big fuss the liver slowly starts to tire (sluggish liver) and this can have a massive affect on our overall health.  This may sound scary but the magical factor to remember is the liver has a miraculous ability to heal and regenerate when given the right conditions.  The good news is that taking a few simple steps makes the world of difference and it is within your power to make your liver smile again.

Your liver does so much more than you imagined.

The liver is responsible for over 200 functions in the body and is the largest internal organ, weighing in at about  55oz (or 1.5 kg).  It is central to so many of the body’s functions and most people are unaware of how vital it is to good health.  Some of the major functions of the liver are:

  • purifying our blood (50 oz or 1.4 litres a minute),

  • regulating the metabolism (through bile production),

  • storing minerals and fat soluble vitamins, protein synthesis, glycogen storage and conversion (energy production),

  • cholesterol production (which is a good thing! Cholesterol, contrary to Western medicine’s believes, cholesterol necessary as it is the precursor for our steroid hormones, it manages our brain function, nerve function and hormone transportation),

  • parasite protection (by filtering protazoa) and…

  • more famously… detoxification!

Although the liver is wonderful at healing and amazing at self-recovery, it does take a great deal of abuse in our Western lifestyles.  Some of the choices can be fairly obvious (like eating non-organic food, living in a polluted area, drinking contaminated water) but many other choices (like skin care products, house cleaning products, drinking tap water or prescription medication) can create further load which we might not even be aware of. According to the EWG (Environmental Working Group), studies show that an average American is daily exposed to 200 chemical toxins and carries as many as 91 of them.

Where is all the toxicity coming from?

There are a lot of factors which affect whether the liver performs its critical functions effectively and often poor lifestyle choices can put too much pressure on this delicate organ.  Here what contributes to our toxic load:

  • non-organic food (think: mercury, lead, PCBs and over 130 pesticides)

  • air pollution (a long list)

  • tap water (think: fluoride, chlorine, PCBs, mercury, lead, parasites)

  • skin care products (think: phthalates, BPA, triclosan, parabens)

  • house hold cleaning products (think: triclosan, phthalates, parabens)

  • medications; both recreational and prescription, including commonly-used ones like corticosteroids, tetracycline and aspirin

  • plastics (think: BPA, PFOA)

  • cookware like non-stick pans (think: PFOA)

  • stress

  • alcohol

  • coffee

Our body is designed to excrete them. We have a few detoxification organs, namely: skin, lungs, kidneys, digestive tract and, of course, the liver. They are all capable to perform the beautiful job of freeing us from these toxins – the challenge is: when the load is higher than what they can handle, this is when toxicity takes a toll on us.

Early signs of liver problems.

So what symptoms can we expect to experience when our liver is tired?  We commonly hear about cirrhosis (permanent scarring) of the liver and the increase in liver disease in the Western world. It’s completely possible to determine them by doing the right blood work and testing for markers like aspartate aminotransferase (AST or SGOT) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT or SGPT). The challenge is: by the time they are raised, much of the liver damage has already been done.

It’s key to be proactive, educated and step into a preventative mode. How often do you hear about the common symptoms which are associated with liver fatigue as a result of a toxic or stressful lifestyle?  You certainly won’t be hearing about them from your doctor.  Here are some common symptoms which may be related to sluggish liver detoxification and function:

Hormonal imbalance

  • Intolerance to HRT (hormone replacement therapy)

  • Severe menopausal symptoms

  • PMS

  • Estrogen Dominance

  • Mood Swings

Blood Sugar Problems

  • Sugar Cravings

  • Hypoglycaemia

  • Type 2 Diabetes

  • Energy slumps

  • Waking in the night

Immune dysfunction

  • Allergies/ Skin rashes

  • Chemical sensitivities (think: someone who can’t stand fumes or perfumes)

  • Chronic Fatigue/Fibromyalgia

  • Frequent illness

Nervous System

  • Depression

  • Anger and irritability

  • Foggy brain

  • Overheating

  • Frequent headaches

Digestive Problems

  • Gall stones

  • Intolerance to fat

  • Sensitivity to alcohol and/or caffeine

  • Acid reflux

  • Bloating or constipation

  • Irritable bowel syndrome

External signs

  • Furry tongue

  • Bad breath

  • Acne and rosacea

  • Yellow, red or itchy eyes

  • Rashes

  • Easy bruising

  • Brown spot on hands, back and face

Abnormal metabolism of fats (lipids)

  • Abnormal level of fats in the blood, e.g. high LDL (“bad cholesterol”) and reduced HDL (“good cholesterol”)

  • Elevated triglycerides

  • Blocked arteries leading to hypertension, heart attacks and strokes

  • Fatty liver

  • Obesity

The job of the liver

Most of us know that our liver is responsible for processing alcohol, but the liver is also in charge of detoxifying all waste materials in the body, both those from our environment (exogenous) and those that are made through everyday bodily processes (endogenous).  If the liver is too overburdened to process them all effectively, our blood remains high in toxic waste materials and our whole body is fueled by waste – no wonder we start to feel unwell.

Phase One and Phase Two of liver detoxification.

The liver’s detoxification method includes two phases which are referred to as Phase One and Phase Two.

Phase One is known as oxidation and Phase Two as conjugation. In Phase One, the liver uses oxygen and enzymes to burn toxins. This process is called oxidation as it makes the toxins more soluble in water so they can be more easily excreted from the body by the kidneys and the liver. Most environmental toxins are fat-soluble to start with, and therefore difficult or impossible to eliminate without the liver’s help. Did you know that the chemicals produced in Phase One are more toxic than those which originally entered the body?!  

This phase of liver detoxification is inhibited by nutritional deficiency, toxic exposure and medications such as acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol), alcohol consumption, and low protein intake that deplete glutathione which is needed for acetaminophen detoxification.

To free itself of toxins produced by Phase One detoxification, the liver performs a Phase Two called conjugation. In this phase, oxidized chemicals are combined with sulfur, specific amino acids or organic acids, and then excreted in bile and urine.

Both phases are dependant on vital substances which are required to activate the catalyst for toxin conversion and they must work in balance so that no harmful toxins are left to circulate.

There are six pathways in Phase Two and each one is responsible for converting a different set of substances (e.g. estrogen, thyroid hormones, heavy metals, histamine, phenol, salicylates, biliruben, nicotine, bacterial toxins, caffeine).  The six pathways are called:

1. Amino Acid Conjugation pathway

2. The Glutathione pathway

3. The Sulphation (sulfation) pathway

4. The Methylation pathway

5. The Glucoronidation pathway

6. The Acetylation pathway.

Methylation and sulphatation pathways explained.

For an example of how these pathways work let’s look at the methylation pathway in more detail.  This allows methyl groups to pass through the liver and out of the body safely.  This pathway detoxifies estrogen, dopamine, histamine and heavy metals.  To support this pathway we can increase our intake of choline (avocados/eggs/non-GM soy lecithin) and B vitamins.

The sulphation pathway detoxifies excess neurotransmitters, steroids, thyroid hormones, phenol and excess bile acids.  This pathway is often burdened by frequent use of non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).  We can support this pathway through an increase in high sulphur foods (e.g. egg yolk, broccoli, onion or MSM).

If Phase Two is not working effectively then the highly toxic chemicals formed in Phase One cannot be converted and this can cause a lot of toxicity issues in the body such as tissue damage or disease.  It may also cause excess hormones to circulate through the bloodstream instead of being excreted and this can lead to hormonal imbalances which may affect the thyroid gland or our estrogen levels.

Healing Powers of the Liver and Diet

The most magical point to remember when we learn about the liver, is how effectively it can rebuild itself.  By giving it the right tools nutritionally and following a lifestyle plan that avoids nasty environmental toxins (which confuse and hinder the liver), we can literally regenerate this wonderful organ.

By detoxifying the body and giving it the right nutritional tools, your liver’s functions may be restored to full health.  Foods and herbs which support liver healing and detoxification can be used to make dramatic changes to symptoms associated with a sluggish liver and give long lasting healing effects.

In the upcoming Thyroid Detox (May 11-22, 2013), we will utilize and help you implement the full Liver Protocol that consists of:

  • Food that supports the Phase One and Phase Two detoxification

  • Natural sources of amino acids that support Phase Two Detoxification

  • Herbs that revive the liver

  • Lifestyle changes, like the right sauna, oil packs and lymphatic massage that help open up the pathways.

Once you feel the benefits of a functional and happy liver, you will never want to go back to your old ways. Learn to take advantage of the beauty and power of food and herbs to heal yourself – they are far more potent and safe than countless supplements and magic powders sold in the market.

 

About the Authors and Thyroid Detox Program

The authors of this article, Magdalena Wszelaki (thyroid nutrition coach) and Josie Lincoln (detox expert), are launching an information-packed video series and a guided Thyroid Detox program for people with thyroid conditions, autoimmune conditions and hormonal imbalance where they continue exploring detox strategies and practical solutions beyond the ones included here.

To listen for FREE to the Thyroid Detox Video Series, go to and discover how revitalizing your gut and liver the right way can improve your hormonal balance and make you feel energized, clear-minded, optimistic, inspired to heal further and lose some of that impossible weight.

Naturally Healing the Thyroid, part four: the adrenals

We’ve already talked about how blood sugar balance, digestion, the liver and detoxification can affect the thyroid, but there is one glaring fact that I’ve meant to get to. Except that the last couple of weeks have been a bit more stressful than normal and I’ve been dealing with some crashes myself due to…..

Adrenal Fatigue.

If you’ve been a reader here for a couple of years, you may remember when I was actively trying to heal my adrenals. For six months I worked with my chiropractor and supplementation as well as dietary and lifestyle changes.

I saw great results and within about 6 months I was feeling a million times better, had plenty of energy, and all around felt good. That all ended a few months later as I dealt with the physical and emotional stress of a miscarriage and has carried on for over a year.

I tried my darndest to get my health back, but I just couldn’t fix myself this time. I tried everything I had tried before; desiccated adrenal supplements, vitamin C, no caffeine or sugar, lots of rest, reducing stress. Last fall I kept trying to make it in to my doctor’s office, and in November and December I took most of that time and stayed away from my computer, focusing on my health and my family, but something was still not right. I just couldn’t get over my fatigue.

And while my original lab tests (for vitamin D and B12 and a full thyroid panel) were back at an earlier date, I was just able to meet with my new holistic doctor and go over my lab results for the 24 hour adrenal saliva test. The appointment in which she told me that my adrenals suck.

 adrenals


Ok, so maybe those words are mine.

But my cortisol levels are extremely low throughout the entire day, which is the reason that some mornings take what seems to immense strength just to get out of bed. Or you know….deal with people.

So, soon we’ll be getting into a bit more about recovering from adrenal fatigue and I’ll share a bit more about what I’m doing, but today let’s just chat a bit about why the adrenals affect the thyroid.

Because sometimes the thyroid is low, or not functioning properly, and it can instead be traced to the adrenals. And most medical doctors don’t test the adrenal hormones.

In fact, mine thought it was silly that my new doctor requested the lab test and said it wouldn’t really help, so there wasn’t a lot of reasons to spend the money to get it done. (at $175.00 I was actually going to skip it, but for some reason decided on day 20 that I would. It’s a test you do on day 21 of your cycle if you want a bit more accurate results for progesterone/estrogen, etc) This is probably because adrenal fatigue is not a recognized medical term, with medical doctors only looking for true adrenal shutdown, known as Addison’s. So adrenal fatigue is often called a “theory” that mostly alternative health practitioners “diagnose”.

What is Adrenal Fatigue?

The adrenals are two small glands, one on top of each kidney, and they help our bodies react and deal with stress through the production of adrenaline and cortisol. They also produce other hormones that are precursors to reproductive hormones.

Dr. James L. Wilson coined the term ‘adrenal fatigue’ back in the 90’s and it is basically an issue with the adrenals, whether they produce too much cortisol or too little, and the major symptom is fatigue. The direct cause is different for everyone, but it’s brought on by frequent stress, either physical, emotional, or mental.

It’s our bodies fight or flight reactions gone awry.

On Dr. Wilson’s website AdrenalFatigue.org (a wealth of info) he states that:

“With each increment of reduction in adrenal function, every organ and system in your body is more profoundly affected. Changes occur in your carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, fluid and electrolyte balance, heart and cardiovascular system, and even sex drive. Many other alterations take place at the biochemical and cellular levels in response to and to compensate for the decrease in adrenal hormones that occurs with adrenal fatigue. Your body does its best to make up for under-functioning adrenal glands, but it does so at a price.”

Some of the basic symptoms listed on the AdrenalFatigue.org website:

  1. You feel tired for no reason.
  2. You have trouble getting up in the morning, even when you go to bed at a reasonable hour.
  3. You are feeling rundown or overwhelmed.
  4. You have difficulty bouncing back from stress or illness.
  5. You crave salty and sweet snacks.
  6. You feel more awake, alert and energetic after 6PM than you do all day.

Other symptoms that could point to adrenal fatigue:

  • weakness
  • low libido
  • everyday tasks take a lot of strength and effort
  • little annoyances can drive you bonkers
  • mild depression or anxiety
  • PMS
  • thoughts are fuzzy/hard to put them together
  • decreased memory
  • allergies
  • decreased immune response
  • insomnia

Adrenal fatigue usually begins with frequent stress and ramps up the cortisol production. “As the adrenal glands become increasingly compromised, it’s harder for them to make cortisol. Instead, extra adrenalin is produced to compensate, which can make us irritable and shaky.” (source)

Adrenal and Thyroid function begin in the brain.

These glands are being told what to produce and how much of it to produce by a gland in our brain called the hypothalamus. I love how WomantoWoman.com describes this action:

“Hormones are molecules released by one area of the body to carry messages to another area in the body. The thyroid’s main job is to produce the right amount of thyroid hormone to “tell” your cells how fast to burn energy and produce proteins. The adrenal glands’ primary job is to produce the right amount of stress hormones that allow you to respond to stress of a zillion kinds.”

You can also check out their info picture and description to get a better idea of how this all works.

When the body is exposed to stress of any kind, the hypothalamus sends out a signal (the corticotrophin-releasing hormone) to the pituitary for the adrenals to increase cortisol. Both the signal hormone and the cortisol can then inhibit TSH as well as block the conversion from T4 to T3, causing symptoms of low thyroid.

In some women, they may also have decreased progesterone levels due to adrenal fatigue as some sources mention that the precurser to progesterone, DHEA (dehydioepiandrosterone). DHEA is used to metabolize cholesterol and make the conversion to estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, so poor adrenal function can directly affect the reproductive system.

If you have thyroid problems, most alternative practitioners recommend testing the adrenals and if they are not functioning properly, that the adrenals be properly treated before the thyroid. (of course, thyroid support is essential depending on its function – always work with a doctor or health care professional.) Because the thyroid wont’ function properly no matter the treatment if the adrenals aren’t functioning well.

The issue of adrenal fatigue is one that is, thankfully, getting more and more attention over the last few years. Here are some other resources to help you learn more:

  1. AdrenalFatigue.org
  2. Adrenal Fatigue, the 21st century stress syndrome a book by Dr. James L. Wilson
  3. How adrenals can wreak havoc – Stop the Thyroid Madness
  4. Eating to support adrenals
  5. Low metabolic energy therapies – an in-depth look at the adrenals and thyroid, the differences in symptoms, and the treatments.
  6. Adrenal Fatigue Signs and Symptoms – a metabolic chart
  7. The truth about adrenal fatigue – a look at the connection to the brain (it’s a great article, but please be aware of the scantily clad woman on the screen about halfway down…..wouldn’t want y’all to be shocked!)

I know many of you have dealt with adrenal fatigue, so I’d love it if you could share your story here in the comments of your symptoms and maybe how you began to heal! Patient wisdom is a helpful thing for everyone when we share and get new ideas to research for ourselves.

Check out this month\'s sponsor, Natural Fertility Shop. They are 100% focused on helping you during your journey towards parenthood and have expert staff and knowledgeable customer service here to help you every step of the way.

All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

I am not a doctor and don\'t pretend to be one. Use everything you read only to inspire you to do your own research and be an advocate for your own health. Please read my disclaimer in full.

Healing the Thyroid part three: the liver and detoxification

Part of overcoming and healing thyroid disorders (as well as any other health issue) is that sometimes you see setbacks. You get better, and then for some reason you may start to feel crummy again.

For me this happened last week. I’ve felt a lot better since my lab tests right before Christmas, more energy, better frame of mind, and my thoughts and projects were much more organized. But after a couple of days of eating some indulgent foods and a couple of late nights, I again began to feel very tired and fatigued.

But I also know that my body is healing, because even after a setback, I’m bouncing back better than I had before. And as an added bonus, I’m beginning to really understand what’s going on and listen to my body. When I’m tired, I rest.

So on to the slightly delayed third part of our series on healing the thyroid. (If you’ve missed the others, you can check them all out here: Healing the Thyroid)

natural heal the thyroid

photo credit

Toxins

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of you that our fallen world is a bit toxic. Well, depending on where you live it might be more than a little toxic. We’ve discussed much of that here on the blog and in my book I go into a bit more detail on some specific toxins and how they affect our bodies, so I’m sure most of you have a basic understanding of how our bodies become overloaded with toxins.

For those of you that are new to this information, we are often exposed to toxins and chemicals in our environment and they get in to our bodies. Just a few of the ways our bodies are exposed:

  • Mercury from amalgam fillings, coal plants, and sometimes fish.
  • Aluminum from personal care products and cans
  • BPA and xeno-estrogens (synthetic compounds that are similar in structure to our natural estrogen) from plastics, hygiene products and household materials.
  • Synthetic hormones, chlorine, and fluoride in our water supply
  • Pesticides from produce

Our bodies were wonderfully created and have a natural cleansing system to get rid of these things, in small amounts. We detoxify everyday through sweating, breathing, urination, and defecation. The problem comes when we’re exposed in large amounts, or our detoxification pathways aren’t working properly due to poor diet.

The liver is one of our largest organs and its main responsibility is to break down chemicals and toxins through it’s two stage detoxification process, which renders them harmless and secretes them out through our digestive system.

“When the detoxification system is overwhelmed, the liver is unable to remove these harmful substances from our body. These dangerous substances then begin to accumulate in different cells of the body. As more and more cells of the body accumulate these harmful substances, the cells begin to lose their ability to work and communicate properly.

It has been my observation that it is impossible for someone to overcome illness and achieve optimal health without optimizing their detoxification systems.” – Overcoming Thyroid Disorders by Dr. David Brownstein, MD

Dr. Brownstein also writes in his book that he finds heavy metal toxicity in a large percentage of his patients (>80%) and in the case of autoimmune disorders, that percentage is almost 100%. It’s suggested that the metal toxicity causes the immune system to malfunction.

“Mercury has been shown to bind to the thyroid gland and disrupt it’s functioning. Mercury binds very tightly to fatty tissues of the body (i.e. the brain) and to cells with sulfhydryl groups. Many enzymes contain sulfhydryl groups that cause many crucial reactions to happen in the body. One of those is the enzyme that converts the inactive thyroid hormone T4 into the active thyroid hormone T3, iodothyronine 5’deiodinase*.”Overcoming Thyroid Disorders, pg 256

This enzyme is also dependent of adequate selenium levels, but selenium is also one of the most potent chelators of mercury, meaning it binds to it to assist it’s removal from the body. Sop not only does mercury affect the thyroid directly, it may contribute to selenium deficiency and the lack of T4 to T3 conversion.

(*the book Autoimmune, the cause and the cure also mentions this specific enzyme)

So how do we help our bodies let go of toxicity?

Let me first say that heavy metal toxicity should be handled by a holistic health practitioner. This way they can test you (usually through hair and urine analysis) and observe and guide you through the process. Some doctors choose to use chelation, others may take different steps with supplements and herbs.

1. Get away from the toxins

Reducing our exposure to toxins is extremely important and one of the reasons I choose to use as many natural and homemade products as I can. This helps me to lower the amount of toxins I’m exposed to on a daily basis, because there will always be toxins around that I can not control.

So choosing natural cleaners and beauty products along with getting rid of things like non-stick pans and plastic food storage containers will help lessen the toxic load on the body.

(You can also check out the 31 Days to Cleaner Living if you need some help and/or encouragement in making changes)

2. Focus on food

It always comes down to food for me, it’s the foundation to health! If you can lower the amount of toxins you ingest in the foods you eat by choosing organic produce and meats, you’ll be leaps and bounds healthier in this aspect. But you can also use foods to help support your natural detoxification system as well.

I’ve talked about cleansing with whole foods before, but as a quick overview you can decrease the foods that are either harder to digest OR take longer to digest, (foods like grains, sugar, and animal proteins) and instead increase your consumption of foods that support the liver and bile production (foods like beets, lemon, garlic, and asparagus).

Making sure you’re eating a nutrient dense diet will also help build nutrients that are important in detoxification.

3. Work on digestion

We’ve already covered healing the digestive system, but it’s also important to note it here as well since our digestive system helps us rid the body of toxins, in probably the largest amount compared to our other outlets. When our digestive system is working properly, and we are urinating multiple times per day and having at least one or two bowel movements in the same period of time,  we can be sure that any toxins we take in are being moved out in a timely fashion.

Dr. Brownstein also recommends adequate water intake (between meals) to helps flush out toxins as well as carry nutrients into cells.

Other important aspects

  1. Sweating also allows the body to clear out toxins as well as clear the lymph system. Dr. Brownstein recommends a sauna, especially if a person doesn’t normally sweat.
  2. Herbs can also be effective at helping the body rid itself of toxins and there are multiple herbs to look into. A couple of my favorites for liver support are nettle and milk thistle, though you can also find packaged blends specific for liver cleansing.

Depending on your state of health, cleansing the body may take weeks or even months. And the sicker you are, the more you should work with a holistic health practitioner to guide you through the process.

Have ever done a specific detoxification program or been tested for toxins/heavy metals? Please share you experiences!

Check out this month\'s sponsor, Natural Fertility Shop. They are 100% focused on helping you during your journey towards parenthood and have expert staff and knowledgeable customer service here to help you every step of the way.

All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

I am not a doctor and don\'t pretend to be one. Use everything you read only to inspire you to do your own research and be an advocate for your own health. Please read my disclaimer in full.

Naturally Healing the Thyroid part two: digestion

One of my favorite health quotes is from Hippocrates –

“All disease begins in the gut.”

It seems that no matter the health issue someone is suffering from, that their digestion may be a probable cause or at least making it worse. It’s where we absorb the necessary nutrients that allow our body to function, and when we can’t absorb what we need, often times disease and disorder begin to show.

Now this doesn’t happen overnight, or quickly by any means. This is something that happens over a long time, many times from birth.

Our intestines are extremely important, and one post barely serves it justice. Our guts contain billions and trillions of bacteria that form 80% of our immune system. They also form a shield against toxins and undigested food proteins as well as digest our food and absorb large amounts of nutrients.

But on average our digestive health is very poor. We live in a country where laxatives and antacids are commonplace and most people don’t poop as they should. (yes….I totally said poop.)

Did you know that you’re supposed to have multiple bowel movements a day? Food should be spending about 18-24 hours in the digestive system, and since you eat more than once per day, so should you be using the bathroom.

The following chart isn’t the most fun thing to look at, but I do think it’s really important for people to know what’s supposed to be going on in the land of digestion.

digestion and thyroid health

And hopefully no one was in the midst of eating lunch just now……

But it’s said that your bowels should be a 3 or 4, preferably a 4.

The thing is – if you have chronic digestive problems, your body is not getting what it needs.

How it Happens

So how do most of us have issues with digesting our food and absorbing nutrients? It can start as young as the newborn stage, with not only formula, but also from breastmilk that is lacking in beneficial bacteria as well. Often times women and babies are given doses of antibiotics during labor and delivery as well as after the birth, which often leaves the mother’s body with a major lack of good bacteria,. When this happens, often times she may be placed on antibiotics multiple times during the babies first couple of years to fight illnesses and mastitis.

Antibiotic use also starts very young with many babies placed on them for ear infections as well as other illnesses during their childhood. Coupled with a standard American diet that is high in refined sugar and processed foods, all while lacking beneficial probiotic foods, the damage to our guts has begun. Most of us never getting better as we age; we keep the same diets and many times eat far worse.

We also do no do what we should to replace the beneficial bacteria after any antibiotic use.

The connection to the thyroid

There is also a direct connection from your gut to your thyroid health, and that is because the healthy bacteria in your gut convert approximately 20% of the inactive T4 hormone your thyroid produces to the active T3. So if you do not have enough healthy bacteria in your digestive system, you could be losing out on a bit of T3.

Your gut also absorbs nutrients that your thyroid needs, like selenium, zinc, and vitamins A and D.

When your digestion is either too fast or too slow, it also can not eliminate toxins and waste efficiently.

Poor Estrogen Elimination

“Dysbosis and poor digestion prevent the body from successfully eliminating unessesary estrogen, and toxic levels of this powerful hormone build………. Excess estrogen binds the thyroid transport proteins so that thyroid hormones cannot get to the cells to do their jobs, causing hypothyroid symptoms.” –Dr. Kharrazian

The Autoimmune Connection

There is also a large connection from your digestive system to autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s. You see, your intestines have these little things called villi in them that absorb nutrients; most people liken them to shag carpeting. And when you have a lack of beneficial bacteria, or are eating a diet high in refined foods or foods that you’re intolerant to, these little villi get worn down. Instead of shag, you have berber. And the more they get worn down, the less they are able to absorb.

(important side note here – zinc, which is really important for male fertility, is one of the first things the body can’t absorb)

As the villi get more and more worn down, we become nutrient deficient because the part of the villi that absorbs that nutrient is no longer there, or it can not absorb all that we need. It also leads to what is known as “leaky gut” syndrome, where small (miniscule) particles of food that have not been efficiently broken down, get into our blood stream. These particles get deposited in different areas of the body and our immune system begins attacking them.

In the case of Hashimoto’s, a protein found in gluten looks very similar to our thyroid.

And remember, 90% of hypothyroidism cases are due to an autoimmune problem.

How to Fix Your Digestion

So as not to get to carried away, I’ll jut cover some of the most basic steps to healing your gut and helping your body digest its food properly.

1. Eat fermented foods

There is no other way around it. You and I both need to eat fermented foods a lot more often than we do. Properly prepared ferments can contain trillions of beneficial bacteria to help boost your immune system and break down the foods you eat.

Probiotics can be helpful, but as I’ve found out, they are no substitute for the real thing.

Fermented foods are things like kombucha, yogurt, dairy kefir, water kefir, and sauerkraut among many, many others. And I don’t know about you, but I sure haven’t been getting enough of them in my diet. The nutrient deficiencies in my lab test show this clear as day! In order to help my body I’m eating something fermented with every meal. Even if I don’t like it.

2013 shall be known as the year of fermented foods!

I’ve already begun working on a gluten-free sourdough starter as well as sauerkraut, with many more recipes that I look forward to trying.

2. Cleanse

You can also do a simple whole foods cleanse to give your digestive system a break every once in a while. This will also give your body more energy to focus on cleansing toxins.

There are also herbs that may help cleanse the digestive system like black walnut hull (especially useful for parasites – and yes you have them, most people do), and cascara sagrada. It’s most helpful (and safest) if you work with a holistic health care professional so that you can learn how to use the herbs correctly and in the right amounts for your body.

By helping your digestive system eliminate harmful substances it can then work more efficiently.

3. Repair the leaky gut

Often times this can take a matter of a year or more depending on your health. The repair that needs to be done may also specify what type of healing diet needs to be done. For those of us with very minimal food intolerances, or a digestive system that seems to work fairly normally, sticking to a diet that is focused on meat, vegetables, some fruit, bone broths, and of course fermented foods may be all that it needed. For others with multiple health issues, it may be wise to research something like the GAPS diet or SCD diet to help you eliminate foods that are harder to digest.

For those who have tried GAPS or SCD and aren’t finding the healing you desire or need, please be aware that those are not end all be all “leaky gut fixers”. They can both be very helpful, but only if you also stay away from foods you may be sensitive to.

Which leads me to – finding out what your food sensitivities are. You may very well be eating something very often that your body can not currently tolerate. Even things like carrots, chicken, and eggs. Many times it’s the foods that you eat daily or almost daily. You can find out what foods your body does not like by having either an IgG lab test done, or by having a holistic health practitioner so some muscle response testing.

4. Go gluten free

Most people get very upset with me when I mention that they may want to look in to going gluten-free. But gluten is one of the most aggravating foods to the digestive system as our modern wheat contains much more gluten than it used to and we don’t properly prepare it through sprouting and fermenting.

And this doesn’t mean that you will always have to be gluten free, but I do recommend trying it out for at least six to eight weeks to give your digestive system a time to heal AND so that you can see if some of your symptoms disappear during this time frame.

side note – Many people who are lactose intolerant are actually gluten intolerant as the gluten damages the intestines so that they no longer produce the enzymes needed to break down dairy products. This has been the case for Todd, who, after going gluten free, his gut has healed enough to be able to tolerate dairy again.

Also interesting to note:

“The molecular structure of gliadin, the protein portion of gluten, closely resembles that of the thyroid gland. When gliadin breaches the protective barrier of the gut, and enters the bloodstream, the immune system tags it for destruction. These antibodies to gliadin also cause the body to attack thyroid tissue. This means if you have an autoimmune thyroid disorder and you eat foods containing gluten, your immune system will attack your thyroid.” Chris Kresser

What you also have to remember is that if you are in fact intolerant to gluten, it takes three months from the moment of consumption for the inflammatory response to die down. And unless you take proactive measures to reduce that inflammation, it remains. Dr. O’Bryan did a great job of explaining this in our podcast; he likened the inflammation to a fire. This fire does not go out without adding things to the diet like fish oils or reducing and eliminating inflammatory foods for  a time.

And if you think that your digestion is rock solid (and I’m not talking about the contents) you may want to think again. I never in a million years thought I had issues with digestion as everything seems to function as it should, thank you very much. But the thing is, I have nutrient deficiencies even though I consume enough of those nutrients.

It’s not so much about the foods you eat as it is the nutrients you absorb!

There is not one person I can imagine that doesn’t need to work on their digestion at least a little bit.

So what about you? How are you working on increasing your body’s ability to digest foods and absorb nutrients?

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