Does quitting sugar heal autoimmune disease?

Posted on January 15th, 2014

This is actually a post I’ve been busting to write for a while. As many of you know, I first quit sugar because of my autoimmune (AI) disease. I have Hashimotos. And a big part of why I’ve stuck to the sugar-free program is that it’s made such a damn big difference.

Image via inspirationlush.com

Image via inspirationlush.com

So the simple answer is this: Quitting sugar has had the biggest impact on my AI, more so than my medication or any other medical fix (and, trust me, I’ve tried everything). In the past three years, I’ve been able to better manage my AI, but also – yes – heal and reverse the damage.

  • I have zero thyroid antibodies now.
  • I’m on the most minimal dosage of thyroxin.
  • My hormone levels have fallen back into the right range (more on this soon!).

It’s taken years to get to this point. I put it down to the massive change to my diet that quitting sugar precipitated. And to breaking the clusterf*ck cycle that autoimmune disease invariably locks you into.

But why? And how? Let me explain…

Warning: Like most of my AI and thyroid posts this is a long one. And as I always remind people, even if you don’t have an AI, you’ll probably find it helpful because the advice I share relates to all of us. Or you probably have a loved one who has an AI…please share this with them.

Sugar mucks up your gut

Blood sugar imbalances inflame the digestive tract, causing leaky gut (literally, a perforated gut lining). In turn, leaky gut triggers the development of AI. Toxins are able to pass through the perforations into the bloodstream triggering an autoimmune reaction as our antibodies head out to attack the foreign invaders. These little antibody soldiers can then get confused and head off to attack parts of our bodies, such as the thyroid.  Gluten, for instance, has a very similar molecular structure to the thyroid gland.

Sugar causes inflammation

The process above obviously creates inflammation, which compromises immune function. In addition, sugar compromises the ability of our white Read more

How to heal autoimmune disease: the most insightful cure I’ve found (so far)

Posted on October 22nd, 2013

Last week I shared some bits I found interesting in writer Meghan O’Rourke’s essay “What’s Wrong With Me” in New Yorker magazine. She has the same disease as me: hashimotos, with a side order of several other (possibly) related vague autoimmune (AI) conditions. And her insights touched me – and you guys – big time.

Photo by Edun

Photo by Edun

But I saved the bit that REALLY grabbed me in the guts for this post.

Have you ever thought you knew Everything about Something, but then you read something that really stopped you in your tracks? It stops you so abruptly because it’s so blindingly obvious. How could I have missed this? A total A-ha! Moment.

In her essay, O’Rourke shares her frustrations about how no one really knows what causes AI, nor what will fix it. It’s “shadowy”, she says. For some it can be a matter of taking the drugs, and off they go to live normal lives. I know lots of folk like this. I’m happy for them. But if, like me and O’Rourke, you let the disease tangle for too long before getting help your clusterf*ck of symptoms  won’t be unraveled with one pill. And, so, like me and O’Rourke, you can develop a domino-ed set of other AI conditions.

And so the “morass of uncertainties” twists tighter.

Like me, O’Rourke reaches a point where she’s largely able to manage her disease through diet – no gluten, no sugar, meditation, kefir, avoiding nightshades, etc. etc. I’ve tried it all. And it’s all required to maintain something resembling a normal life when you have a tricky AI.

But, and this is the two points of note:

  1. She hasn’t been cured as such. The “flares” and cycles continue.
  2. Her focus on trying to find a cure, and on controlling the AI, has seen her AI control her.

Her A-ha moment comes, however, when her endo delivers blunt news after a  “lapse”. Despite her best efforts to control things with her lifestyle habits, she seems to go backwards, causing her to lament, again, that no one knows what the hell is going on. Says the endo Read more

How to heal auto immune disease: 20 weird thyroid symptoms (for your comfort)

Posted on October 15th, 2013

I’m not sure if you caught Meghan O’Rourke’s essay What’s Wrong With Me in a recent issue of New Yorker? It shines a spotlight on what it’s like to live with autoimmune disease. Totally pervy stuff for us AI folk.

Image via

Image via Oyster magazine

I read it. I read it again. And I wept. You know that kind of weeping that is all about the sheer relief of having connected after not realising you felt so, so, so alone? Or of having recognised a part of yourself in another, of feeling the enormity of it all, and finding that this is somehow comforting. The bigness – and one’s own smallness and individual pain – is exponentially comforting. Oddly enough.

Of course, weeping is one of the 2938747 side effects of thyroid disease. And connecting with other sufferers is the most soothing respite we AI-ers can draw on. Ain’t that a fact. (As always, at this juncture, I ask anyone reding this who doesn’t have an AI to  a) read on regardless as any AI insights can be extrapolated out to the meta population’s health and b) pass this to any loved ones with an AI.)

For those of you without a New Yorker account, I’m going to a) suggest you subscribe even just to read this article and then b) outline the bits that I was compelled to underline for those of you who only like highlights. I’m good like that! I’ve added in my own experiences and observations, too.

1. It can feel like depression… but not. “I wondered if I was depressed. But I wanted to work,” writes O’Rourke. “I didn’t feel apathy, only a weird sense that my mind and my body weren’t synched.” Shit! I get this. Let’s break it down…

2. Work is OK. The rest is hard. Of all the commitments in my life, working is the only one I can deal with when my thyroid folds. But only when I can shut out (oh, I hate that this is so…) people and other “complications”. It’s two things. First, in times of desperation (like when I have to do TV or Read more