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Adventures with Hashimoto (part 3)

I have been asked several times how serious is Hashimoto. It depends on how you look at it. On one hand, tons of people have it. You can take medication and it keeps your hormones on the necessary level. On the other hand, the treatment is not addressing the autoimmune aspect. The attack on the thyroid continues and it gradually stops functioning. The more I read about it, the scarier it seems. Also, there is evidence that if you have one autoimmune disease, the likelihood of developing additional ones also increases. There is some pretty awful stuff on the autoimmune disease list.

Autoimmune diseases are strange beasts and even though we know some things about them, there is still a lot unknown. There are three components that contribute to developing an autoimmune disease - genetics, environmental factors, and gut dysbiosis, often referred to as leaky gut. Just having the genetic component does not mean you will develop an autoimmune disease. The most often used explanation is that genetics loads the gun, but you need all three for the trigger to be pulled. And once you have it, there seems to be no return. Though there are examples that sometimes you can keep it under control and live a more or less normal life.

Obviously, there is nothing you can do about genetics. But you can do something for the other two. That’s where I set my focus - addressing the environmental factors (stress, food, toxins) and healing my gut. I started by educating myself. I made sure to pick one teacher at a time and committed to the plan that they proposed. I trusted the process.

First, I educated myself about Hashimoto. I strongly encourage you to go for a book instead of articles on the web. The latter is very overwhelming and there is a lot of questionable information (also, all health issues always lead to cancer somehow). I read and followed “Hashimoto's Protocol: A 90-Day Plan for Reversing Thyroid Symptoms and Getting Your Life Back” by Izabella Wentz. In the first three months, I implemented many things from that protocol, most of them temporarily. While healing my gut, I also went back to a book I had read before: "Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Under-Rated Organ" by Giulia Enders. This is a really awesome book if you want to get insights into how your gut works.

Next, I started diving into the world of autoimmune diseases in general. A really insightful experience was following an autoimmune conference. It covered so many different angles and introduced me to many experts in the field. Later, I followed a recommendation of a colleague and read the “Wahls Protocol” by Terry Wahls who battles with another type of autoimmune disease. This book inspired me to find a balance between focusing on excluding certain (bad) foods and including some other (good) foods.

Just recently, my husband introduced me to Kurzgezagt, more precisely a video about the immune system. That made me order and read the book "Immune" by Philipp Dettmer. He does an extremely good job at explaining something so complex in an understandable way.

I am no longer actively seeking new information about Hashimoto but as I read a lot about health topics in general, I do stumble upon something every now and then. Right now my body is my biggest teacher and trial and error is my go-to method.

Except for trying to avoid dairy and gluten and limiting sugar as much as possible, I have followed a pretty normal life since June. At home, I try to live by my rules. At restaurants, or when visiting friends and family (or when being in Italy like in the pictures above), I have not restricted myself too much. And based on my latest blood test results, my strategy seems to work as my numbers keep improving. For the ones on a similar path and interested in numbers - in the last 10 months, I have gotten my TSH (signal the brain sends to the thyroid to produce hormones) from 18 to 5.5, T4 (a hormone that the thyroid produces) from 11.5 to 18, and TPO antibodies from 315 to 70. For now, the only thing within the official norm is T4, but I am very happy with the progress and I see it as the most important number of the three. Most importantly, I feel good too. So for now, I will keep doing what I am doing for the next 6 months. Cheers!

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