I was lying in bed a couple nights ago, thinking back to the early years of my diagnosis of Hashimotos, now many years ago. I was very much a “rebel” to the traditional medicine way of doing things so my doctors were never happy with me within my HMO. I kept asking if diet could change this disease and always got the same answer. Oh, I guess I should tell you what that answer was. I’m sure it isn’t surprising to learn that the answer was always an emphatic NO! But I couldn’t help wondering if there was a trigger, even if it was simply stress. You see, I had come off of a very emotional time in my life right before diagnosis so I knew stress could be a factor, but the ONLY factor? I had my doubts.
Well, instead of going through the details of how I finally arrived at all the diet changes I am currently partaking in, I decided to see if I could explain it in a different way so each one can determine their own journey better.
Now, I’m not an expert at all in military operations, but some of this is common sense to me. Picture a quiet and calm community that has never experienced violence (I know that can be hard to picture these days but bear with me). All of a sudden one day, they see bombs falling from the sky hitting their neighborhood. What is their first reaction? Well, unless I am unusual, it would be to take cover and assess the damage.
This is what I think correlates with the first step after being diagnosed. Basically, assess what the “attack” has done. That means look at the tests and get a grasp of the situation.
I think the logical next step in our scenario would be to set up a “triage” center to help the wounded and get supplies set up for the injured and any further attacks.
This is what I think correlates with the next stage of treatment for me, which was decide how to deal with the “emergency” situation by getting immediate treatment. By then, it was to trust my doctor with a thyroid supplement to help my TSH go back to “normal range”. Of course, I now feel differently about this step but that was the step I took which was now 16 or so years ago when there was no Internet to refer to. This step may be different for you. Some may not yet need a thyroid supplement if their TSH is not out of range.
Okay, now we have done the “emergency” actions. But what now? What is the next logical step? Well, if you are thinking that it would be nice to know where those bombs are coming from, I think you are right!
This correlates with the very long road (for me) of trying to figure out WHY the attack is even happening in the first place. Now this is where traditional doctors in the past have failed. Not because they were stupid, but just because there were no answers back then! In fact, in the traditional medicine world, there are few doctors who are even interested in pursuing this step even now. Mainly because there are no medications (at this point) that could go along with this “revelation”. In other words, there is no money for them in trying to get you to change your diet!
So the next step, we hope, will lead you to your enemy. You would then figure out how to defend yourself. Yes! You need a plan to protect your community. Depending on your enemy, you will need to fight back appropriately. Now, if you find that your enemy can be stopped by putting up a barrier of some sort, you would do that. If your enemy is going to need some “fighting back”, you will have to set that up before you are annihilated. At this point, if the attacks keep coming, you don’t have that long to live, or at least, your community doesn’t.
This is where the excitement comes in! Well, let’s just say it’s exciting to a long time sufferer because until now, we had no idea “what” the enemy was. Well, now we do; in part, that is! We now know about the connection between gluten and organ specific anti-bodies. (See my “Let’s Go Gluten Free Series” for this step.) We also know that a great percentage of those who go on a gluten free diet see a drastic reduction in their thyroid antibodies after a short time abstaining from gluten. Now, this must be a complete avoidance however. So this is information I was unable to know a few years ago. But thanks to Dr. Datis Kharrizian who wrote a fantastic book about the link to gluten and autoimmune thyroid disease, it is becoming widely known. And, IF gluten is the culprit behind Leaky Gut Syndrome which is a very common scenario for the Hashi sufferer, then the GAPS Diet may be the best way to mend those holes in the gut!
Okay, so we are now at the point where we have assessed the damage, held it at bay, and then looked to find the enemy. Obviously, the next step is to avoid the enemy by taking action. This is the step many neglect. You see, if the attack continues, your town is history.
Likewise, if we take no action against the “enemy” which we now know to be gluten (at least in part), we will continue to be hit over and over again, and our thyroid will be “history”. We might be containing some of the damage but ultimately, our thyroid is on its way to die a slow (in some cases) or quick (in others) death. So this step is very important. Again, we did not know this a few years ago. Look around on my site and you will find podcasts and links to places where this link between gluten and thyroid disease is now very well documented.
By taking these steps, we are fortifying our position against the “enemy” until we have enough information to get rid of the enemy completely.
In the thyroid department, we may not be 100% “there” in this battle against the “enemy”. There are many “fronts” to guard and we may not know ALL the enemy yet, but with research so quickly advancing, we may just have that opportunity in the future.
So, KNOW your enemy and take steps to guard that thyroid. It’s worth every effort and the health benefits of a good diet and better lifestyle changes are much more widespread than just helping the thyroid! And remember, these steps normally can’t happen all at once. Give yourself time to adjust to where you currently stand in your own battle. Consider it a journey and one that is worth “fighting for”, because it truly IS!