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. And I really rather like that I’m finally writing it in Thyroid Awareness Month. 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 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

this is what a thyroid day looks like

Posted on October 2nd, 2012

Since I’ve been back my thyroid has been wreaking it’s annoying old havoc. While I was away it was so much calmer, perhaps one day a week of pain. For the past week, it’s been four days of pain, which is how it was before I left. I’m still trying to work out what triggers it. In the meantime, I cope, I modulate, I recalibrate and I try to see it all as a necessary gift.

Photo by Brian Oldham

I just had a bad few days of it over the weekend. So I thought I would share just how a typical thyroid day transpires for me, while it’s fresh. And how I cope with the various symptoms. Not to garner pity*, but to comfort those out there with chronic illness who grapple with the loneliness of it all. Mostly, I find, when you have chronic, unexplainable, unfixable illness, all you want is to know you’re not alone and that your symptoms are real and understandable and worthy of recognition, if only via some stranger’s blog post.

* although, if I’m honest, I’m often seeking “leeway” from the world.

But also – and I say this often – I reckon what I learn from having auto-immune disease is applicable to anyone wanting to lead a better, more well life. A life closer to the core. More real. More conscious. When you have an auto-immune disease you are that much more sensitive to the bad shit we do to ourselves and that we’re forced to put up with – the smells, the additives… the noise. We are the canaries down the mineshaft. Want to know what’s bad for you? What’s doing you damage? Ask an AI sufferer! They feel it with their every pore in real time where others often do not.

So. My Sunday. Read more