Gut Healing Journey: First Steps

A mere two months ago I wrote my first blog post in which I told you that I was jumping into the world of functional medicine. Shortly after my first appointment I found myself drained of 12 vials of blood and stooped over my toilet mixing three tubes of a poop/liquid mixture, all the while trying not to throw up from either experience. Last week I met with my functional medicine doctor to get the scoop on the state of my health.   

You have Hashimoto’s, my friend

If you recall from my first post, one of the major catalysts for me to seek out a new doctor was due to my hypothyroid diagnosis – specifically how it was handled by my endo. I have spent nearly eight months educating myself on hypothyroidism and how to best support my thyroid through food, vitamins, minerals, chocolate (kidding). Now I am told that I actually have Hashimoto’s disease. How did this misdiagnosis happen? My endo did not run a complete thyroid panel, to include a test for thyroid antibodies. He routinely ran the Free T4 and TSH test – that’s it. I have not even begun to dig into Hashimoto’s disease, but you can bet my Amazon cart is filling up quickly with books.  

Lesson here: Do your research and ask for the right tests. Find a new doctor whom you feel comfortable working with and who is not dismissive of your concerns. There is plenty of literature available about which tests to ask for if you’re concerned about your thyroid health: Free T3, Free T4, TSH, TPOAb, TgAb, and Reverse T3.

Waterfall Mendocino

You also have leaky gut

Yap. That’s great – undigested food particles just wiggling their way through my stomach lining. This truth was somewhat a surprise to me given I am very aware of what leaky gut is and I have been incorporating healing and anti-inflammatory foods into my diet for a solid year. Clearly I am not eating enough kimchi! If you’re unfamiliar, leaky gut is when the tight junction proteins between your intestines and bloodstream become permeable. Bacteria and other junk pass through the openings and into your bloodstream causing an immune reaction. There are numerous articles about the syndrome on the interwebs, but this Mind Body Green article about leaky gut is pretty digestible. 😉 

Changes I’m making: Eliminate gluten, dairy, and nightshade vegetables from my diet. Womp womp.  These are all highly inflammatory foods and are not doing me any favors. I’m also taking mad quantities of herbal supplements, and probiotics to heal and repair my gut.  

Have you read the Plant Paradox by Dr. Steven Gundry? No? Well he writes extensively about inflammatory food groups, but what I always always always think about from his book is the term “gut buddies.” My gut buddies are hiding in their homes terrified as a mob of gluten wielding thugs (bad gut bacteria) are roaming the intestinal streets. It’s time to break up the party. Jab jab, right hook.

You may have a parasite too

Super. Nothing like walking around with a belly full of bad gut gangsters and parasites to make a girl feel good about herself. The parasite tests actually came back negative, however there were other markers that indicate a parasite may be lurking around the bushes of my sad sad gut buddies’ homes.

The plan: Heal the leaky gut with hopes that the other markers will also show improvement over time.

Woman Beach

As a bonus you still get to carry around the extra weight

There is hope! My doctor believes that once the other issues are under control that my body may stop feeling like it needs to store fat for the famine that will never happen as long as cinnamon rolls exist. Errrr, gluten free cinnamon rolls?

Be persistent: Despite hustling at the gym four times a week and filling the rest of the week with mild exercise to see the same body in the mirror month after month, I will not give up. There are too many benefits of exercise, aside from physical change, to literally throw in the towel. Movement is so good for our cardiovascular system, to improve sleep, to live longer, on and on.

Take action for your future self

I’m working towards some major improvements over the next 60-90 days and I’m sharing my journey to encourage you to TAKE ACTION. Do I really want to give up my favorite food group – pastries – hell no! Will I do my darnedest to eat healthfully for my current and future self – yes.

What is one thing you can do TODAY to improve your health? Take a 15 minute walk around the block? Drink an extra 8 ounces of water? Skip the bread roll at dinner? Meditate for three minutes? Write down five things you are grateful for? It all counts! Let me know in the comments your goal for the day.

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