For the past 5 years I have gotten comprehensive blood work done annually with my Regenerative/Functional Medicine Doctor, Valerie Donaldson, MD. This bloodwork checks everything from hormones, inflammatory markers, and nutrition. This allows me to be proactive rather than reactive.
*Note, this panel is different than most panels you will complete with a conventional doctor. It is very in-depth – I typically get 8-10 tubes of blood drawn.
A year into dating my boyfriend (now fiancé), Mitchell, he decided to join me in my annual bloodwork. He didn’t have any serious complaints other than being tired a lot, which he just thought was normal. The results indicated that he had Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks the thyroid. It often leads to an under-active thyroid which disrupts the body’s endocrine (hormone) system. When this happens, it can lead to an array of issues including, but not limited to, feeling sluggish, gaining weight, and hair loss. Mitchell immediately started a gluten free diet and within a few weeks he started to feel more energized. When I work with clients managing autoimmune symptoms, the first thing that we do is look at common autoimmune triggers like dairy and gluten and develop strategies for stress management.
The ironic thing is that, at the time we found out Mitchell had Hashimoto’s, I was involved in a research study with Hashimoto’s patients where we utilized the fasting mimicking diet, Prolon. After a month of gluten free living, Mitchell was scheduled to start the study. All participants, including Mitchell, had to get their thyroid antibodies markers checked the day before the study started. We received Mitchell’s results and within a month of strict gluten free living his thyroid antibodies were NORMAL! How could this be? What we fuel our cells with can change everything! Think about it, if you give a diesel car regular gas it will not run correctly. It is the same for our body.
Since then, these are the changes Mitchell has noticed:
“I feel more energized. I no longer need coffee first thing in the morning. I don’t have a mid-afternoon crash anymore. For the first time in years I am working out. My fiancée and I wake up 6 days a week at 4:45 AM and exercise. In addition to eating a gluten free diet (I do have a beer once in a while), I have made a few other small changes in my lifestyle:
1. I try to minimize stress as much as possible. Rushing to work in the morning was once a huge stressor for me. Now I wake up earlier to eliminate rushing.
2. I really cut back on my alcohol consumption. I may have a drink or two once a week, if that.
3. I am eating more nutrient dense foods. Every morning I have a super food packed smoothie: cashew milk, almond yogurt, spirulina, kale, protein powder, 2 bananas, 1 tsp of cocoa powder. I love adding the cocoa powder because it gives it a chocolate flavor.”
· A lot of chronic autoimmune issues can be managed with diet and lifestyle.
· How strict you are will depend on how sick you are. Personally, a tiny bite of dairy will knock me out for days. But for others, like Mitchell, he can have a beer every now and then without drastic consequences.
· Food is powerful. When we start viewing what we eat as energy, our cravings will change.
· Get support! When you make these changes, support is key. Whether it be a family member, friend, coach or an online support group, it is important to have someone to lean on.
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