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I haven’t shared much about my health since I spilled my guts (pun intended) about my Hashimoto’s struggle. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing the work behind the scenes. I’ve been on the road to understanding and recovery, doing research on root causes of Hashimoto’s and how to help heal my body with food and lifestyle changes. I’ve been making changes to help aid my overall mental and physical health. This is not just related to my autoimmune and thyroid issues. I still take medicine for my thyroid, but I have stopped believing that the Hashimoto’s is with me forever and started being proactive in order to take charge of my health. I needed to make major dietary and lifestyle changes in order to support my gut and overall wellness. I needed to reduce my stress and find ways to better cope with it (and meditation has been HUGE for me).
Helping to support my overall health happened in two parts. First, I changed what I was putting into my body, in both adding in things that would help me and removing things that were not. Since I have Hashimoto’s, the first thing that had to go was gluten. Yup, bread, pasta, beer — it all had to go, or at least be modified to gluten-free. Next, I did some experimenting with food, eliminating known inflammation triggers like dairy and legumes during a Whole30. I added them back in one at a time to see how each one made me feel once I had eliminated them. I also did a food sensitivity test (more on that next week!) and used those results to help guide me in what foods to avoid or temporarily eliminate. Because I was eliminating some foods from my diet it was important that I choose a probiotic that was dairy and gluten free (many aren’t, so you have to check the ingredients on the label). I like Nature Made® Advanced Dual Action Probiotics because it is made up of two different probiotic strains, one that assists the large intestine and one that aids the small intestine. If you aren’t familiar with probiotics and what they do, here’s why they are so important. Probiotics are “good” bacteria that naturally exist in cultured or fermented foods (like yogurt, kombacha, sauerkraut, among other things) that offer benefits for your digestive system. They crowd out unwanted organisms and allow more of the “good” bacteria to be present in your gut.† This helps in both digestion and regularity, as well as in your overall health.† For me, my poor gut health and gluten addition in my diet was contributing to flare ups in my autoimmune symptoms including inflammation, poor sleep, mood swings, bloating and weight gain, and hormone imbalances. So you can see why supporting my gut health was so important to me, and why probiotics are one of the first steps in supporting a healthy gut. Using a probiotics supplement is a great way to increase your intake of “good” bacteria and help naturally support your digestive balance and healthy gut flora.† I take mine every night before I go to bed as part of my bedtime routine, that way I never forget! It definitely isn’t easy to eliminate so many foods, especially gluten and dairy. They are in SO many things. You can’t eat out easily and you have to read the ingredients on foods you buy. But that isn’t a bad thing! When you do that, you know what you are actually putting into your body. It is still hard, don’t get me wrong, but it is easier than you think once you get the hang of it. I had already gone dairy-free after Quincy was born for almost a year because he had severe reflux and was breastfeeding, and he seemed to improve when I eliminated dairy from my diet. Gluten was harder at first, but I’ve found substitutes for most of my favorite things. I use gluten-free pasta when I make spaghetti or gluten-free bread crumbs for recipes that call for breading. I haven’t found a good GF bread that I actually enjoy, but I’m used to it and mostly just do without. And I’ve found lots of delicious recipes that I make for my family that are free of gluten, dairy, and soy. I try to stick to a paleo way of eating as much as possible but as long as I limit gluten and dairy I can feel a big difference.
The second thing I did to support my health had to do with what I did with my body: going to bed earlier to get more sleep, doing a daily 15-30 minute guided meditation (and even more as needed, like when my kids are yelling full blast or commitments get overwhelming), and trying to work some exercise in to each day, even if it is just a 30 minute walk around the neighborhood or one of the old When You Have 10 Minutes workouts I shared in some older posts. Getting my body moving and rested helped cut down my stress, increase my endorphins, and supported my overall health. This is still a work in very early stages of progress, but I am making progress. I think one of the most frustrating things about gut health is that it took me so long to know and understand how important it is. Why wasn’t I taking a probiotic for all these years? No one ever told me that I should. And that is why I wanted to share my story with you, because it is one simple thing you can do each day to help give yourself the gift of good overall health and wellness.
You can find Nature Made Probiotics at Walmart at a great low price.
†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.