For three years now I’ve been running this occasional series of posts geared at making anyone with autoimmune disease feel less like a freak. It’s been extraordinary… I’d say more than half of all readers here came to this blog for the AI information. Even more extraordinarily, a huge chunk of the rest of you have later developed an AI or found out a loved one had. Add to this, so many of the like-minded bloggers who I’ve got to know around the world have AI’s. I’m talking Cannelle Vanille, Glutenfreegirl, Gabby Bernstein, Clare Bowditch, DeliciouslyElla, Louniverse and many more.
As I say often, we’re a “type”. We’re earnest, ambitious, solo operators and with a drive to communicate and help. It should come as no surprise to us that our thyroids, the site of communication, presents us with challenges!
Recently, Mickey Trescott came into my orbit and we hooked up for a Paleo breakfast – and an impromptu hike! – in Seattle. She began following my blog a few years back… and now has her own site where she shares incredible, dedicated information about how to heal AI. She’s also just self-published her own cookbook, The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook.
I figure you all might find her personal story and her tricks for dealing with thyroid crappiness helpful. She knows her stuff. Over to you Mickey…
I’m Mickey Trescott and I write about nutrition and autoimmune disease. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and Celiac disease when I turned 26 and have spent the last three years digging myself out of the deep, dark hole that was my epic autoimmune crash. I started my journey having been vegan for a decade, and ended up on the Paleo end of the spectrum after I figured out that grains, sugar, and a lot of other elements of my diet were doing me no good. I like to take a multifaceted approach to managing autoimmunity—one that takes into account not just diet, but stress management, movement, and living a more balanced life. Here are a few of my tricks to staying healthy and happy, despite autoimmunity!
Six ways I keep my autoimmunity at bay:
1. Mini rebounding trampoline.
Those of us with Hashimoto’s know how awful it feels to have lymphatic congestion—I get it mostly in my face and neck (which is quite unattractive!). Since the lymphatic system does not have a pump, it is dependent on the movement of our bodies for circulation. Mini rebounding trampolines are great because they vigorously circulate lymph with just tenminutes of gentle bouncing. I bought one from Rebound Air and keep it in my office for “bounce breaks”. Even on days where I am not feeling up to exercising, I can manage a little bounce to get everything moving, reducing puffiness and congestion.
2. Soil-based probiotics.
Since we now know that gut issues are at the root of autoimmune disease, I do everything I can to keep my flora balanced and happy. Our digestive tracts are home to thousands of different species of bacteria, not just the few strains found in regular probiotics these days (like lactobacillus). While I eat fermented foods and have taken traditional probiotics in the past, they don’t compare to the effect that taking soil-based organisms has had on my digestion and overall health. I personally recommend Prescript Assist. To learn more about how dirt can help our guts, read here. A low-cost alternative would be to not peel organic veggies, as well as getting your hands in the dirt regularly (gardening is a great activity to make this happen!). This way you can naturally get some of the beneficial bacteria found in the soil.
Movement is essential, but so hard for those of us who suffer from fatigue and joint pain. I gave up my years of chronic running and cycling and have taken up walking and hiking instead. At first I hated walking because of how slow it was… but I have learned to use it as a meditation, to be present, notice my surroundings, and take in my environment. On tired days I might take a stroll down a few blocks and sit for a while in a park and on better days I might go hiking in the mountains for an all-day adventure.
4. Eating liver and bone broth.
I consume bone broth every day, either heated and salted in a mug or incorporated into a soup or stew. This isn’t the type of broth that can be bought at the store—it has to be made from scratch, cooked for a long time to extract all of the minerals, collagen, and gelatin that are so healing to the body (my recipe here). I also include liver in my diet at least once a week—more like 2-3 times when I am not feeling my best. Liver is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, being a good source of hard-to-get iron, b12, and zinc, along with the fat soluble vitamins A and D and glycine. I eat it as pate (recipe below) on slices of raw carrot, cucumber, or wrapped up in a collard leaf.
Bacon Beef Liver Pate with Rosemary and Thyme
- 6 pieces uncured bacon
- 1 small onion, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound (half a kilo) grass-fed beef liver
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
- ½ cup coconut oil, melted
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- slices of fresh carrot or cucumber
Cook the bacon slices in a skillet until crispy. Set aside to cool, reserving the grease in the pan to cook the onion and liver. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes on medium-high. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Then add the liver, sprinkling with the herbs. Cook for 3-5 minutes per side, until no longer pink in the centre.
Turn off the heat, and place contents into a blender or food processor with the coconut oil and sea salt. Process until it forms a thick paste, adding more coconut oil if too thick. Cut the cooled bacon strips into little bits and mix with the pate in a small bowl. Garnish with some fresh herbs and serve on carrot or cucumber slices.
I use an earthing mat when I sleep to ground any electrical charge I might pick up during my day—which is a lot, since I live a high-tech, city lifestyle full of computers and sidewalks (all that to say I have to try to find connection with the earth, which is a pity!). There is some conjecture on whether these work; Sarah outlines things here. Personally, the earthing mat helps me sleep more deeply, and my body feels more restored when I awake. If you don’t have access to an earthing mat, any way you can get outside and touch bare skin to the earth will accomplish this task—being barefoot in your yard or a park is a great solution.
6. Circadian rhythm balance.
Our modern lives do not lend themselves well to being in balance with the biological clock that takes its cues from the periods of light and darkness. Artificial light, cell phones, televisions, and computer screens all omit blue light, which confuses our bodies into thinking that it is natural light and setting off our rhythms. I make a conscious effort to rise with the sun and start winding down when the sun sets. If I can’t make that happen I will wear amber-tinted glasses at night to mitigate the effects of the blue light on melatonin production. I got mine from Amazon here. This helps me get to sleep when I need to!
You can get hold of Mickey’s book here.
Have you tried any of these autoimmune tricks? Do you have anything else to add to this list? Feel free to add a comment below.