I know I haven’t posted on the wellness part of my blog in a while, but it took me only so little to realise that I’ve actually been ignoring my health and that the blog is a direct reflection on my life. Somewhere in between, I got a chance to try and understand Hashimoto’s as a disease with Nourishing Dubai and the fact that it is less of a thyroid problem and more of an auto immune condition. I first encountered Hashimoto’s in 2010 and it has stuck with me ever since, much like being in a toxic relationship.

Have a look at the difference within just 2 years:

This was me in 2010.
This was me in 2010 a few months before I was diagnosed.
This was two years later in 2012.
This was two years later in 2012.

Big difference huh? Not only did I struggle with weight gain, my hair thinned out, I felt depressed and my vision was affected.

I, like almost all people have done everything to lose weight. Countless hours at the gym, eating endless salads for lunch for months, pushing myself to the edge of starvation. And the weight always came back once I decided to indulge. It’s an exhausting process, both mentally and physically and gave me very little time to actually enjoy the things in life. I then dropped what I did to focus, travel and enjoy the other things in life, but then struggled with having too laid-back a lifestyle. All this time, it’s been a bloody struggle to get my life in balance. And let me tell you, it just never happens.

It wasn’t till I encountered a really strong Facebook support group called Hashimoto’s 411 that I first came face to face with the idea of curing through nourishment and not just medication. Because I was extremely overwhelmed by the information, I then decided to look for expert comment.

That’s when I ran across Jeffery Zorn, the founder of Nourishing Dubai. Nourishing Dubai is a gourmet meal delivery service which firmly believes that food is meant to heal and to…well, nourish! Jeff was kind enough to also include Lulu Al Armali, a qualified dietician to help explain all my doubts. Here is part one from the excerpts from my interview. I’ve split it into 3 posts for easy reading and understanding. (Also, my version of TL;DR – the Bott’om’line.) This is first of three posts that go over debunking myths about Hashimoto’s.

Jeffery Zorn of Nourishing Dubai
Jeffery Zorn of Nourishing Dubai P.C. Nourishing Dubai
Lulu Alarmali|Nourishing Dubai
Lulu Alarmali P.C. Transform

Q: What would be an ideal diet for a person suffering from Hashimoto’s disease?

Lulu: Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease, and a dysfunctional gut heavily contributes to the onset of most autoimmune diseases. In order to heal them, one should be on an anti-inflammatory diet that excludes all potential ‘triggers’ and food intolerances. Aside from gluten and dairy, which are the biggest contributors, individual people may have specific intolerances they may need to eliminate from their diet.

Jeff: An ideal diet for people with Hashimoto’s or any autoimmune disease (or health issues, for that matter) is the one provided by Nourishing Dubai. Nourishing provides a gluten free, dairy free menu made with the highest quality ingredients. All our meals and ingredients are accounted for and made in a non-contaminated facility.

Research shows that the smallest amount of gluten can trigger inflammation and autoimmune reactions lasting up to six months. For this reason, Nourishing Dubai offers only complete packages of breakfast, lunch and dinner because the whole point of the diet is negated by having even a small amount of gluten.

BOTT’OM’LINE: Eliminate gluten and dairy first!

Have a look at one of the awesome meals from Nourishing Dubai below:

Q: I’ve often read that junk food, sugary foods, gluten, cruciferous veggies , dairy, soy, (mostly goitrogenous susbstances)etc. inhibit function of the thyroid gland. How true is this and what’s the psyche behind this?

Lulu: Simply put, they negatively impact digestive health. If a person has leaky gut or intestinal permeability, foods that are not considered toxic or harmful when digested properly, may leak out of the gut and into the bloodstream, and present as foreign bodies, triggering the body to attack them as if they were foreign substances. This in turn may trigger autoimmune conditions, such as Hashimoto’s.

BOTT’OM’LINE: Eliminate the above as well.

Q. How often do you think people with Hashimoto’s should eat? 

Lulu: There are no specific recommendations for timings or frequency of eating. It is, however, not recommended for people with thyroid issues to restrict carbohydrates or calories for too long of a period (eating too little or too infrequently), as those may down regulate thyroid function.

BOTT’OM’LINE: Eat when you like but watch the calories & carb content.

Q. What is the role of iodine and selenium when it comes to improving the function of the thyroid gland? How much is too much?

Lulu: 

  • Thyroid dysfunction and Hashimoto’s disease may have common links but iodine deficiency is not one of them. It is important to separate Hashimoto’s from other thyroid issues because, although Hashimoto’s disease presents similar symptoms to either hypo- or hyperthyroidism (sometimes both), it is an autoimmune condition, and typically develops when the patient has a genetic predisposition to it. Hashimoto’s is also related to iodine malabsorption, more than it is to iodine deficiency.
  • Before iodine was added to food sources (like iodized salt), iodine deficiency was a common cause of hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism was therefore commonly treated with iodine supplementation, either through food or supplements.
  • If a person doesn’t have an iodine deficiency, high iodine supplementation may exacerbate the problem. There are different upper limits among individuals, but if symptoms worsen with an increase in iodine intake, drop the dose or stop it altogether.
  • Selenium is one of many nutrients (including B vitamins, folate, zinc, and vitamin D) involved in thyroid regulation, so ‘supplementing’ with that alone may or may not improve the condition. It is also important to note that thyroid dysfunction has many aspects and its root cause is not easy to diagnose without proper testing. All the thyroid hormones (plural), their ‘free’ versions, and thyroid antibodies must be determined before a doctor can properly diagnose the root cause. Not only do individual cases vary, but one issue is intertwined with another and it is best to visit a qualified medical practitioner who can put the pieces of the puzzle together. A great functional medicine practitioner in Dubai is Dr. Shefali Verma-Johnson, who routinely deals with thyroid cases among many others.
  • To answer the question: self diagnosing or ‘medicating’ (some Drs agree that iodine’s effects on thyroid function are so significant it is treated as a drug) is not recommended without understanding what the root cause is and why you would want to take certain supplements for it.

BOTT’OM’LINE: Hashimoto’s is a genetic, auto-immune disease. It should not be treated as a person suffering Hypothyroidism. Iodine is not absorbed well during Hashimoto’s. Consult with a functional medical practitioner about supplements such as selenium.

And that concludes part 1 on debunking myths on Hashimoto’s Disease. In my next post, I will draw light on what makes an ideal daily diet of a person who suffers from Hashimoto’s and how Nourishing Dubai can provide the right solutions.

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