It’s Official! I’m in remission!
Yesterday I received the news that my Hashimoto’s (an autoimmune thyroid disorder) is officially in remission and I could quit my medication, just 7 months after receiving my diagnosis!
When I initially received my diagnosis back in October, it felt as though the cards were stacked high against me for a quick recovery. Just months prior to my diagnosis I had discovered toxic mold in my home, which led to a hormonal imbalance in my body known as estrogen dominance.
Within weeks after receiving my diagnosis, a home mold test showed the extent of the mold, and the severity of toxicity was much more than I had even anticipated. Mold was also found in my new home office. It was ten times worse than my old office (the original mold location) that I had moved out of. I had been sitting in a room contaminated with extremely toxic mold for almost 6 months before it was discovered and maybe up to two years before that in my old office!
To top it off, within that same week of finding mold in my new office, my mom also passed away. My body was taking a beating from all of the physical and emotional stress, remission seemed far-fetched, but I kept plugging away.
The body inherently wants to be healthy and balanced; we just have to listen for what it needs.
I’ll never forget after receiving my diagnosis, a friend asked “are you upset that this happened to you? Teaching people to be healthy is what you do, and you’re the healthiest person I know.”
Sure, at first I was a bit shocked, overwhelmed, scared and even angry. But then I realized, this wasn’t happening to me, it was happening for me. There was something that my body was trying to tell me. Something wasn’t right and if I listened to what my body needed, if I responded to its call, I could help it get back to being healthy and balanced again.
Autoimmune disorders are becoming an epidemic.
The AARDA estimates that 50 million Americans, 1 in 5 people, suffer from autoimmune disease and research has shown that 80-100 different types of autoimmune disorders have been identified.
For those who haven’t been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder (yet), you can be on what’s called the “autoimmune spectrum”. The spectrum represents the progression of autoimmunity leading up to diagnosis based on the number of symptoms you have and frequency of them. The spectrum goes from none with no inflammation, to “some” with 1 symptom 1-2 times per month, to “mild” with 1-2 symptoms 1-2 times per week, to “moderate” with 2-3 symptoms most days, to “severe” with 3 or more symptoms every day, and then diagnosis.
In order for an autoimmune disorder to show up in the body, three things have to be in place:
- The gene for it
- Leaky gut
- Some kind of environmental trigger
Clearly I had the gene for it, I just didn’t know it. As of right now genetic testing for autoimmune disorders isn’t exactly very specific. You can test for something called “SNP’s” (single nucleotide polymorphisms). These are variations in genetic sequences or mutations. SNP’s don’t cause disease but they can indicate risk factors for disease (here is a list of some autoimmune disease and their associated SNPs).
You can also look at a mutation in the ADAR1 gene, which causes a defect the body’s “alarm system.” These cells normally protect the body from viruses and other infections by triggering the body’s immune system to fight. The mutation causes this alarm system to be tripped by the cell’s own molecules, causing the immune system to attack – the uniting trait of all autoimmune diseases.
Aside from genetic testing, the other tell tale signs can be found in family history. Autoimmune disorders are commonly misdiagnosed, so even if no one in your family has been diagnosed with one you can still look for trends in family health history. You want to be aware of family health conditions such as hyper or hypothyroidism, IBS or other chronic digestive issues, anxiety, depression, arthritis, chronic inflammatory issues and hormonal imbalances. These are all commonly correlating symptoms with autoimmunity.
You can also test for specific antibodies which indicate the onset of or current autoimmune activity – that show the body is already on the attack.
If you do have an autoimmune indicating gene, you can’t get rid of it BUT you can work to control the other two factors.
Genetics only account for about 25% of the probability of developing an autoimmune disorder. It became clear my gut needed some work and I needed to sort out what types of environmental triggers might be at play.
Eating gut-healthy foods and taking gut-healthy supplements had been part of my regular routine for years, but the toxic mold had done a number on my immune system and gut health. My existing gut health practices were helping my gut to fight the fight but ultimately after an extended period of exposure to the mold and other potential toxins my gut and immune system started to lose the battle.
Mold was the primary environmental trigger for me. It triggered a cascade of events that also turned out to be other triggers for autoimmunity too…
>>>Mold toxins mimic estrogen, raising estrogen levels >>> high estrogen can trigger thyroid imbalances and Hashimoto’s
>>> Mold toxins depress the immune system, increasing susceptibility to parasites, bacteria and yeast overgrowth in the gut >>> certain species of gut bugs trigger autoimmunity and/or the inflammation that gut bugs create, contributing to triggering autoimmunity
>>> Mold toxins burden the liver, create inflammation and internal stress >>> these stressors, compiled with other physical and emotional stress, burden the body even more and inflammation skyrockets, triggering autoimmunity
In this week’s video and blog I dive into more detail about what triggered autoimmunity for me, what I did to reverse it and officially put it into remission.
There isn’t one-size-fits-all way to reversing autoimmunity. Healing an autoimmune condition requires looking at the big picture and sifting through all of the variables to understand where the body needs to be supported and balanced. The investigative process can take time but along the way as you find pieces of the puzzle you can start the reversal process.
In any case of autoimmunity there are three main areas to focus on for the healing to happen, in order to reverse its progress and to achieve remission…
Inflammation is the cornerstone of an active autoimmune disorder. Stopping the assault was, and still is, a huge focal point for me. Mold was my number one inflammation offender. Only 25% of the population is significantly affected by mold toxicity, and I happened to be one of them. For those 25 percenters (like myself), mold toxicity triggers Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS). Getting rid of mold exposure to reduce the inflammatory assault was a huge piece to healing my Hashimoto’s.
Aside from mold, other common inflammation-inflicting variables include:
- Foods – grains, dairy, sugar, soy, alcohol, nightshade vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts
- Environmental Toxins – chemically treated water, household cleaning supplies, personal care products
- Physical/Emotional Stress – over-exercising or exercising too intensely when the body is already fatigued/burdened and any mental or emotional stress
One by one I thoroughly examined and reduced as many inflammatory variables asI could over time. I removed inflammatory foods, got a shower filter, swapped out my personal care and household items, reduced my exercise intensity, made massages and self care a monthly priority and created a daily meditation practice.
Restore Gut Health
The gut is where 80% of the immune system lives and leaky gut is one of the strongest risk factors for autoimmune disorders. Autoimmune disorders are the result of an immune system that is on high alert, so it only makes sense to support gut health in order to tame the immune response, but this often goes overlooked. An extended exposure to toxic mold over burdened my immune system and damaged the intestinal lining of my gut. There are many other toxins besides mold that wear on the gut and immune system.
A BIG part of healing my Hashimoto’s centered around healing my gut and strengthening the foundation of my immune system. I did this by:
- Eliminating inflammatory foods
- Testing for gut bugs and getting rid of them
- Minimizing my exposure to toxins
- Adding in gut healing aids such as bone broth, L-glutamine, fish oils and fermented foods
Eventually, my immune system wasn’t at war anymore with my body. My gut was able to better absorb the nutrients I needed and was strong enough to keep the bad bugs out.
Rebuild the Relationship with the Body
Our bodies will do anything we ask them to do, but that doesn’t mean we should do it. I had been asking a LOT of my body for a LONG time, like most of us do. I asked it to work out hard after late nights, I asked it to work 12 hour days, I asked it to push through when I wasn’t feeling well, I asked it to perform at times when I hadn’t properly fueled it with good food, I expected it to do more even when my plate was full. And on top of all the asking I did, I also blamed or shamed my body when it didn’t produce the results I was looking for.
Prior to my Hashimoto’s diagnosis I had already begun to recognize just how tired and beat up my body was because of all the demands I had placed on it. With the help of several programs (Happy to Heal and Wild Light Warrior) offered by my good friend and colleague Molly Hamill, I spent the better portion of 2016 focused on rebuilding my relationship with my body, learning to trust each other again and rebuilding my self worth.
Now I take more rest days from working out than ever before (my body feels great and my weight has improved), I say “no” to taking on more than I can chew without feeling guilty, and I don’t stress about the little things when they don’t go the way I had intended.
The body can ONLY heal in a state of rest and relaxation – doing MORE of this has played a HUGE role in my recovery and I had to learn to value this just as much as I valued diet, exercise, sleep and supplements.
My work with Hashimoto’s isn’t done just because I’ve reach remission. In order to maintain the results I have achieved, I will continue to practice all that I have mentioned. I am not perfect, and don’t claim to be, but I now know better what my body needs from me.
If you, or someone you know, suspects or is struggling with an autoimmune disorder I am here to help, simply schedule a complimentary Ideal Health & Weight Discovery Session here