Blog Post by Coach Julie
NCI Certified Nutrition Coach L1 • NCI Certified Mindset Coach
We are well into phase one of my gut health protocol. So far this has consisted of moving my diet to a gluten free, lactose free and low FODMAP diet. The purpose of this phase is to bulk up the gut, strengthen it and increase the gut immunity so that it is prepared to kill off bacteria and infection.
I am where I need to be for my diet. In the initial blog post, I was easing my way into it to clear out my pantry and finding substitutions that would still allow me to hit my ideal macros for the cycle I am in right now. I have been able to move entirely to gluten free, lactose free and the FODMAPs are kept to a minimum. Keep in mind the diet is not FODMAP free, but low FODMAP. This has been the biggest adjustment. I have previously completed this type of diet before but it has been quite awhile and there have recently been changes to the diet’s protocols. Learning where FODMAPS are hiding in foods has been quite a challenge. I was able to download a PDF of FODMAP foods and the appropriate serving sizes of select foods that can be consumed if kept to a smaller serving. I also found an app for my phone called, FIG, that allowed me to scan barcodes of products to obtain a detailed readout of what is in the product and which ingredients are not diet friendly. That has been a huge help for me in both adherence and education.
I did have to lower my protein goal now that the dietary changes have been made. I was aiming for 185g of protein per day, but without cottage cheese and Greek yogurt, it was very difficult for me to hit that number. We lowered it slightly to 170g and added 15g to my carbs. This has been much easier to adhere to my macros and the gut health dietary protocol. Lactose free cottage cheese and Greek yogurt are options, however, I have not been able to find them locally.
I did receive the colostrum supplement and I implemented it on March 26th. This was added to the current regimen of the S. Boulardii that I was taking. I am taking one capsule of each per day. So far I have not experienced any adverse effects. The colostrum is a supplement that helps repair the gut lining. This will strengthen it so that while we are fighting infection and the bacterial overgrowth, I don’t experience a leaky gut. Remember the S. Boulardii is to help increase the gut immunity to help head off the H. Pylori.
The implementation of the supplements and the diet has had a remarkable improvement on my situation. I am assuming the inflammation is dropping in my gut. There is really no hard and fast way to know this without lab testing, but judging by the way I feel, I am guessing that is a big component of the improvements. I have noticed that my scale weight does not fluctuate as much as it used to. Inflammation can cause scale fluctuations and even measurement fluctuations depending on severity. I am also experiencing more regular and less painful bowel movements. Previously I would frequently go 4 days without a bowel movement and then have super painful large bowel movements. As of now, this has been resolved. I am having bowel movements nearly daily and sometimes twice per day. Inflammation can cause constipation and vice versa. Inflammation/constipation can become cyclical for sufferers of gastrointestinal issues. I am slowly becoming more confident with my gut. Previously I would eat my lunch at work at a certain time so that I would know I would be able to leave for lunch if I got sick. Now I’ve been finding I’m more confident in eating at random times. This seems insignificant, but my life previously revolved around my stomach. Literally, the fear of being sick and not being confident with my gut determined everything. I am slowly finding freedom from my gut and we are only in phase one.
I am also completing the other necessary tasks to help with digestion. I am training at a reduced intensity, walking after meals, focusing on sleep and trying to manage stress. Because of the work I have put in and being able to be comfortable being uncomfortable, I have seen success with phase 1 of the program. We are now going to proceed with phase 2. Phase 2 will be moving on to kill the H.Pylori infection. I will be maintaining the habits of phase 1 and simply adding on 2 supplements that will kill the infection. I’ll be taking Mastic Gum twice per day with meals and DGL twice per day with meals. Mastic gum supports the gut and duodenal health as well as promoting healthy stomach acid production. DGL stands for deglycyrrhizinated licorice. See why we abbreviate? DGL is a combination of deglycyrrhizinated licorice, aloe vera, slippery elm, and marshmallow root. All of these elements are very protective of the GI tract. The combination helps support the defense mechanisms by stimulating the mass, quality and production of mucus which is a major component of the stomach’s protective lining. You will notice that a lot of the supplements I’m taking are for the gut lining. This is because H. Pylori attaches to your gut lining and can cause ulcers so we have to take care to protect the gut lining. This is why we have to kill the infection before we work on correcting my lack of stomach acid. Introducing acid into my stomach while I have an active infection can speed up the formation of ulcers. When the H. Pylori infection is gone, I will stop taking Nexium (finally) and we will work on improving my stomach acid levels. I will be ordering the supplements and as soon as I get them, phase 2 starts.
I will update you again in 2 weeks and let you know where we are. I don’t know how long phase 2 will last, but I will keep you updated as we go along.
Many of our clients lately have been mentioning thyroid issues. This seems to be a common issue among American adults. Hypothyroidism is the most common condition in the United States. The thyroid affects almost every organ and process in the body. Thyroid dysregulation can be linked to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It regulates fat and carbohydrate metabolism, respiration, body temperature, brain development, cholesterol levels, the heart and nervous system, blood calcium levels, menstrual cycles, and skin integrity. The symptoms of hypothyroidism are wide and seem to overlap other illnesses. Symptoms include: weight gain, fatigue, dry skin and hair, and difficulty concentrating.
While doctors prescribe medications to support thyroid regulation, the impact of nutrition, fitness and lifestyle is often overlooked. In some cases, depending on the individual's thyroid levels, lifestyle changes can manage the symptoms and regulate the levels. However, always consult with your doctor on your specific levels and the appropriate action for you. Implementing these supportive actions will be helpful regardless of your medication status. Do not stop taking any medications without your doctor's advice.
I am sure you have heard Coach Kayli and I speak about the importance of macronutrients in your diet, but if you are looking at overall health and wellness, your micronutrients are just as important. The thyroid is no different. The key nutrients to focus on for thyroid regulation are: iodine, vitamin D3, zinc, selenium, and vitamin b12.
Iodine is the key cause of thyroid disease worldwide. Iodine levels in the United States have not been an issue until lately. Americans used to get sufficient iodine supplementation from salt, but most of the salt intake today is from processed foods that lack iodine, resulting in falling iodine levels. Iodine supplementation is NOT advised as it can cause flare ups for people and can stimulate autoimmune antibodies.
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to hypothyroidism, however it is still unclear whether it is causal or correlative. Vitamin D levels can be increased through increasing your sun exposure or eating foods rich in vitamin D such as: fatty fish, milk, dairy, eggs and mushrooms. Vitamin D can also be supplemented however it is a fat soluble vitamin so it should be taken after a meal containing fat has been consumed. Always check with your doctor before starting supplementation to ensure it will not affect any current medications or conditions. A typical supplement dose of vitamin D is 5,000 IU.
The highest levels of selenium are found in the thyroid. It has a large impact on cognitive function, fertility and mortality rates. Incorporating selenium rich foods in your diet can be helpful to support your body’s selenium levels and thyroid function. Selenium rich foods include: tuna, Brazil nuts, crab and lobster. It is not recommended to supplement with selenium without direction from a doctor.
Like selenium, zinc helps activate the thyroid hormones. If you have hypothyroidism try to focus more on foods like shellfish, beef, chicken, and oysters.
About 30% of people with thyroid issues have a vitamin B12 deficiency. A severe deficiency is irreversible so it’s important for sufferers of thyroid issues to have their levels checked. Foods that are supportive of vitamin B12 levels include: mollusks, sardines, salmon, organ meats, muscle meats and dairy. If you usually practice more of a vegan approach you can find vitamin B12 in fortified cereals and nutritional yeast.
Avoiding goitrogens is an important dietary practice for healthy thyroids. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are goitrogens. They release goitrin when they are broken down. Goitrin interferes with the synthesis of thyroid hormones. If you prefer cruciferous veggies in your diet, heating them will help eliminate the goitrogenic effect.
It is important to note that if you are taking thyroid medications, there are some foods and supplements to avoid or time appropriately so as to not disrupt the function of the medications. Calcium supplements can interfere with thyroid medications and should be separated by at least 4 hours. Coffee and fiber supplements lower the absorption of thyroid medication and should be separated by 1 hour. Chromium picolinate is often consumed for blood sugar control and weight loss, so often supplemented by thyroid patients, however this supplement needs to be kept away from your thyroid medication by 3-4 hours. Flavonoids in fruits, vegetables and tea may also suppress thyroid function and should be avoided in high doses.
This discussion would not be complete without discussing exercise. Exercise is very important for people suffering from thyroid dysregulation. It is important for hypothyroid individuals to help manage weight gain, fatigue and depression. Studies have shown that regular exercise has shown dramatic improvements in thyroid associated fatigue.
Thyroid dysregulation presents numerous challenges due to weight changes, cardiovascular risks, fatigue, mood changes and gastrointestinal upset which often prevents the formation of healthier habits. However, implementing a healthy diet that reduces processed foods, alcohol, caffeine would be helpful to supporting healthy thyroid levels. Focus should be placed on whole foods including: fruits, vegetables, dairy, lean meats, and gluten free grains. Try to limit dietary stress by reducing inflammatory foods such as high sugar foods, highly processed foods, high salt foods, caffeine, and alcohol. Try to incorporate more good fats like olive oil, avocado and healthy fats as these tend to be anti-inflammatory. Avoid eating a lot of food in one setting and try to give your body a break in digestion at night by stopping food intake at 8pm. If you can obtain more organic foods to eliminate toxins such as hormones, antibiotics and pesticides, this will help reduce stress in your immune and endocrine systems. It is also very important to keep your fiber intake at the recommended daily intake of 22-33 grams depending on your age and sex. Fiber is important for digestion, heart health, healthy bowels and helping you feel full, which helps with weight gain. Last, but definitely not least, make sure you are staying hydrated. Staying hydrated keeps your metabolism function efficiently and can reduce your appetite and bloating. Adequate water also improves digestion and combats constipation and fatigue. As a very general baseline, aim for your body weight divided by 2 for the number of ounces you should be consuming per day.
Overall, aiming for healthier nutrition and fitness practices can help with thyroid issues as well as general health and wellbeing. Oftentimes we see if you set your goals to be more healthy, you will find that your desired aesthetic changes will follow that. If you’re struggling with health or hormone issues and need some direction. Click on the link to sign up for a free coaching call with Coach Kayli and she can help you assess your goals and get you on track to a healthier, happier YOU!