Recently I interviewed Stephanie Grosvenor, and we talked about the three core body systems that can help to reverse thyroid autoimmunity. If you would prefer to listen to the interview you can access it by Clicking Here.
Dr. Eric Osansky:
Thank you so much for joining me. I am very excited to chat with today’s guest, Stephanie Grosvenor. We are going to be discussing the three core body systems that can help to reverse thyroid autoimmunity. I am going to dive into Stephanie’s short but sweet bio first.
Stephanie is a holistic nutritionist and functional medicine health coach, specializing in simplifying health for you, so not only do you live a life that improves the way you look, feel, and age, but one that you are excited to wake up to and live every single day. Thank you so much for joining us, Stephanie.
Thank you, Dr. Eric. It is fantastic to be here with you on your show.
Fantastic to chat with you. Really excited about getting into the three core body systems. Before we do this, could you give your background? How did you get started? How did you become a holistic nutritionist and functional medicine health coach, which led you to- I know you have your own health journey.
Of course, I’d love to. My health journey or complications that I had with my health started when I was four years old. I didn’t realize how early these things started. I went through about 15 years of experiencing severe health issues, ranging from chronic inflammation, chronic fatigue, weight gain, acne, severe digestive issues, and food sensitivities.
I probably spent a good five years jumping from doctor to doctor—this was when I got into my 20s—looking for answers. Why am I so tired all the time? No matter how much sleep I get, why am I constantly tired? I had terrible acne. I never had that, but the moment I hit my 20s, my weight ballooned, my acne came up, these digestive issues were so bad. Even when I was just drinking water, I used to get severe pain.
Every doctor I went to told me I had food poisoning. You can’t have food poisoning for five years. There needs to be some kind of relief. People wanted to put me on antibiotics, which I knew aggravated the digestive problems I had. When it came to my acne, dermatologists tried to put me on contraceptives and Accutane and other things to fix the problem, none of which I ended up doing. I knew something else was going on, and I didn’t want to use these methods they were talking to me about.
Eventually, when I was about 25, I found functional medicine. After my research, using Dr. Google and YouTube University, and all these things you have to be careful to use, I decided to take control of my own health. Everywhere I was going, I wasn’t getting the answers or support I needed. I dove into functional medicine, reading everything I could get my hands on, and started to implement a lot of the stuff I was learning.
After 15 years of health issues, within four months, I was able to clear up my acne, get rid of inflammation. My food sensitivities dramatically decreased. All of a sudden, it felt like the weight was falling off of me because I tackled the inflammation and focused on looking after and fixing my gut. All of a sudden, everything else fell into place.
That’s really what sparked my interest in getting into this field. Understanding that food is medicine, and it plays such a big role in our health. I ended up going back to school, getting qualified as a holistic nutritionist, and going to go further into becoming a full-blown functional medicine doctor or practitioner.
Looking back at my own journey for so many years, I had great functional doctors on my team. I realized that wasn’t what I needed. I didn’t need another doctor at the time. I needed support. I didn’t know that health coaching was a thing when I was going through my own health journey.
As I was investigating different universities and where to study to become a practitioner, I came across health coaching, and I thought, this is it. This is what was missing in my journey, and this is the gap that I want to fill for other people to give them that continued support in between working with a practitioner. So valuable. When you bring a coach onto your team and create that really strong collaborative care team, that is when you see accelerated results. That is where you see true lifestyle transformation. That’s my journey. That’s my story.
I agree with you. I love health coaches; they have their place along with practitioners. It took about four months for you to restore your health. I’m guessing diet played a huge part in that?
It definitely did. Just to be very honest and realistic, four months is where the initial bulk of the healing took place, but it took me a total of about 2/2.5 years to achieve that full healing, optimal function. It’s something you have to work on every day. We are exposed to so many toxins and stressors. Those initial four months, that was the major healing phase for me.
Diet played a huge role, really looking at what I was consuming. At the time, I was eating what I thought was a healthy diet: low fat yogurt, low fat cottage cheese, whole wheat bread, all this stuff that we have been taught for so many years is very healthy. I was doing smoothies with lots of fruit. I was drinking green juices or vegetable juice, but I was doing it at 9pm. A lot of things I thought were healthy that didn’t quite support my healing journey because I just didn’t know I was doing things incorrectly. Diet played a huge role.
Coming back to what does my body need right now? It’s not looking at it as a good food versus a bad food. What is good for me right now? What is bad for me right now? Taking out the things that were contributing to inflammation and gut dysbiosis. Including a lot of whole foods, lots of color, lots of variety. Completely changed my life.
I think a lot of people were in a similar situation. That includes myself. I remember those days many years ago when I was eating whole wheat bread, and I thought it was healthy because it wasn’t white bread. Sometimes, I’ll tell stories of when I used to eat soy nuggets, which I look at the ingredients now and cringe. I thought it was a healthier alternative. There are some health benefits to organic, fermented soy, but the soy nuggets I was eating were not healthy. The perspective has changed for myself and you and I’m sure many others are listening to this.
For some people, maybe they’re in a similar situation that we were in, where they think they’re eating healthy, but not necessarily.
One other thing I wanted to mention. You mentioned it was four months where the main healing took place, but it was really a 2.5-year journey. Just the other day, I had a patient with Graves’ I was consulting with, and she told me, “I want to be the quickest to get into remission.” Her goal was in two months. That’s really quick. It’s great to be ambitious and want to restore your health quickly. But I was explaining that you want to have realistic expectations.
I’m glad you said this, not to discourage people, as some people do heal quicker than others. Two months, even four months, is really quick, especially when dealing with a chronic health condition.
Of course. You’re right. People need to have realistic expectations. Otherwise, that impacts your motivation, and it does impact your dedication. If you are expecting to fully heal and get rid of all your symptoms and get off all your medication within two months, and if it doesn’t happen within two months, a lot of times, people want to throw in the towel. “I have been so dedicated, and I’m not where I want to be.”
We need to remember that where we are right now, it didn’t happen in two months. It happened over five, 10, 15, up to 20 years. Your autoimmune condition may have only been diagnosed recently or within the last few years, but generally, these start to happen many years ahead of time. It takes a long time for us to actually get very sick.
The good thing is it doesn’t take as long for us to heal. We will heal much faster. That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen in two months or three months. You have to stick with it and know every single day, you are doing something to support your body. You are going in the right direction.
The other thing I want to add onto that: I personally don’t feel it’s good for us to try to do everything all at once. We want to look at your detoxification system. We want to look at your stress, your gut. If you are trying to fix all of these things at once, not only does it put more stress on you mentally and physically, but it puts too much stress onto your body. Your body can only handle so much at once. Stress is one of the leading causes of developing an autoimmune condition or thyroid dysfunction. With anything we’re doing, we want to take a faced approach and make sure it’s as less stressful as possible.
Agreed. One thing we also should add is it’s not unrealistic, I don’t think, to get results, like start feeling better in a few months, 2-3 months. That’s the good news. We’re not saying it’s going to necessarily take a year before you start feeling better. But to optimize your health, it does take a while. In most cases, it will take more than a couple of months. To start feeling better, noticing changes in your blood test, after 2-3 months, that’s not unrealistic.
Not at all.
Now, let’s dive into the three core systems. I don’t know which one you want to start with, but I’ll let you take over, Stephanie.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to talk about this because it’s one of my favorite things to talk about. Let me give you an overview of these three core systems that we want to focus on. The first one is your liver and your detox system. The second core system is your gut and digestive system. The third one is your immune system and inflammation levels.
I mention them as three different systems. They are. But what we need to remember is these three systems are very closely linked. When one is affected, it will cause an effect in the other two systems as well. The good thing is once we start to rebalance them, you will see those improvements in the other two systems, too. They are so closely interlinked. You can’t really affect one without having downstream effects on the other two.
Why I mention these three core systems is because you cannot have a symptom or a diagnosis, whether it’s chronic or autoimmune, without having an imbalance in one, two, or three of these core systems. An imbalance in this is going to lead to declining health. Therefore, when we are looking at healing, we really want to pay attention to these three systems. Are they working effectively? Are they working efficiently? What imbalances may be present that we can start to correct?
The first one I’d like to look at, especially when it comes to thyroid issues, is your detoxification system. A lot of the time, I hear from people that they do not focus on detoxification because they don’t consume alcohol. There is this idea that the only time you need to detox is if you are burdening your body with alcohol, and that is not the case.
Something else that comes up a lot is “If I have a liver, if I have a kidney, and if I drink water, my detoxification system takes care of itself.” Unfortunately, with the toxic burden that we carry in today’s world, our detox system needs a lot more support. It is something I personally feel we should all be focusing on every single day. We are exposed to toxins through the food we are eating, with pesticides, through the water we drink, the air we are breathing, the personal care products we use, the cleaning products we use. The coffee you are drinking in the morning is laden with pesticides and mold. I don’t say this to scare anybody. We all are exposed to this. I say this to bring awareness for you and why you need to be looking after your detox system.
Research shows that especially for women, we are exposed to up to 200 chemicals by the time we even leave our house in the morning. If you think about that, that is quite a scary statistic. Therefore, we need to help our body out a little bit. We need to give our liver a helping hand. This is why I tend to focus on the detoxification system first.
Every time a client starts to work with me, we go through a very deep assessment of the body. My focus always used to be on gut health. Gut health is central. What I started to notice a few years ago through these assessments is everybody I was dealing with had some degree of toxicity in the body, or a sluggish liver. We can’t fully heal the gut if our liver is not functioning properly, if our detox system is compromised. Your gut plays a role. Your gut is part of your detoxification system.
First of all, we want to look at supporting this. Generally, what I would recommend for people is just a general detox, maybe up to 14 days. Of course, everybody is an individual. Forgive me, I’m speaking generally now. When you work with a practitioner such as Dr. Eric, we would look at customizing a program based on the patient’s needs. Generally, looking at a 14-day detox support program.
What that would look like is using food as medicine. Food is always the core pillar that we look at. That would be eating a lot of cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, kale, even things like mushrooms and onions and all those good things. Getting a lot of that into your diet.
We want to look at slowly starting to clean out your exposure to toxins through your home and personal care. This doesn’t mean I tell people to go throw everything out at their house. What can you start to replace? Look at the things you are using most often: your daily stuff, your deodorants, toothpaste. As one finishes, purchase a healthier alternative.
It’s become so widely available now. It’s not difficult to find non-toxic products. If you look at places like Sprouts, Whole Foods, even Trader Joes or Wal-Mart and Target are getting a lot more into healthy, non-toxic, organic foods and products. Companies like Thrive Market, an online wellness store, have such great clean products on there as well. Slowly starting to replace the things that you get exposed to most regularly, one by one starting to clean them out.
We also want to look at supporting your detox system with supplementation possibly. Things like glutathione are helpful to bind toxins and get them out of your system. If you are looking at a hormonal imbalance, if you are dealing with estrogen dominance, we may support that detoxification with something like DIM broccoli extract.
One of my favorite ones to use, especially if somebody is dealing with a thyroid issue, is something called NAC, n-acetyl cysteine, which has been shown to be effective for a lot of people dealing with thyroid conditions. It helps with your inflammation levels, your cellular health in general. We may look at using supplementation as well. Does that support you with detoxification?
It sounds like you use a combination of diet, supplementation. One thing I wanted to mention, because there might be some people listening who heard you say “cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, and cauliflower,” and there are some who might be concerned about the goitrogenic properties of cruciferous vegetables. I’ve said elsewhere that I’m not too concerned about these foods being goitrogenic. Maybe if someone is eating five cups of raw broccoli or kale per day. Usually, it’s the opposite problem, meaning these people aren’t eating enough of these foods.
I haven’t seen much of a problem when it comes to the goitrogenic effect, so I agree with you. Whether someone has Hashimoto’s or Graves’, I think it’s fine to eat cruciferous vegetables. Listen to your body. If someone is having a lot of bloating/gas, maybe they have some digestive issues, SIBO or something else going on.
Other than that, most people do okay with the cruciferous vegetables. I don’t know if you have anything to add to that.
I completely agree with you. There is such a fear around the goitrogens as you said. In my experience, that research had a place, but it is a little bit outdated.
As you said, listen to your body. Most people are doing fine with cruciferous veggies. It’s actually supporting improving their health, not deteriorating it.
If you are concerned, you can focus on eating your cruciferous vegetables cooked. That will impact the effect it has on your body, and it will minimize. If you are worried about goitrogens, cooking will decrease that.
However, in my experience, it hasn’t really been a problem. If you are eating a lot of cruciferous veggies, or veggies in general, and you are experiencing a lot of bloating, we will jump into gut health in a minute. That is often a sign of dealing with SIBO. SIBO, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, is something we often see come about with thyroid issues, especially Hashimoto’s. Everything slows down. The whole body is slow. Your metabolism is slower. This can increase it quite a bit.
Before we talk about digestion, can I ask what your thoughts are on sauna, especially infrared sauna? Also, things like colonics and coffee enemas.
I missed the first part. You asked about colonics and coffee enemas? Was there a third one?
Yes. Personally, I do recommend saunas. One of the ways that we get toxins out of the body is movement and sweating. We get toxins in two forms. You get your fat soluble and water soluble. We are only going to get those water-soluble toxins out through sweating. You want to detox at the rate that is comfortable for your body. Too much too soon can have negative effects.
What I would say is as we are going through the digestive system, through your gut health as well, that will support this detoxification. The problem is if you are releasing too many toxins into your bloodstream all at once, and your pathways are not clear enough for your digestive system, those toxins are going to be reabsorbed elsewhere.
If you are doing saunas, you don’t want to go every day for 45 minutes or an hour. You want to start slow. You want to make sure that you increase your hydration as well as look at your mineral balance. If you are sweating out too much trying to detox but are not bringing back the magnesium or potassium, you are going to feel quite bad. We don’t want that to happen. Yes, saunas. I do like it very much.
Coffee enemas, I know there is mixed research on it. Coffee enemas are shown to be very good for parasites, any that are in your liver. It has been shown to get rid of that as well as parasites in the gut. Coffee enemas, I don’t mind. If that is something that people want to explore, I am happy to walk them through that process.
Colonics are something I am a little bit more cautious of. To each their own. This is your healing journey. Colonics are something I wouldn’t do initially, unless you find a practitioner that you are very comfortable working with. You need to do your research on these things. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend doing colonics until you have gone through a gut protocol because you don’t want to cause any more disruption. A lot of the time, the things you are trying to do with colonics by cleaning all of that up, we can do with food, supplementation, or herbals.
I agree about saunas. One thing I sometimes say, if someone has hyperthyroidism, especially if it’s unmanaged, they might not want to go in the sauna. If they have an elevated resting heart rate, sauna elevates your resting heart rate more. Otherwise, I am a big fan. I went to the sauna this morning myself. I try to do it at least twice, if not three times a week.
As far as coffee enemas and colonics, I am not opposed to them, but they are not parts of my toolkit. I don’t commonly recommend them, but a lot of people do benefit from coffee enemas, and some people benefit from colonics/colon hydrotherapy.
Do you want to go into the second core body system, which I believe is gut?
100%. I’d love to. This is my main area of focus. It’s my favorite thing to work on. It’s the area that had the biggest impact for me on my own health journey as well as where I see my clients make the biggest improvement once we start focusing on your gut.
Your detox system will affect your gut, and your gut health is definitely going to affect your detox system. Of course, as I said earlier, they work hand in hand.
When we are looking at gut health, this is particularly important with thyroid conditions. In 98% of thyroid conditions, you will see an underlying case of leaky gut. The two main gut conditions that we are seeing that specifically relate to the thyroid is what we call leaky gut.
Dr. Eric, I don’t know how much detail you want me to go into this. I’m sure you’ve discussed it a bit on your podcast. Do you want me to recap or carry on with the others?
Sure, why don’t you go ahead and give a brief recap of what a leaky gut is?
Over 70% of the adult population is dealing with leaky gut to one extent or the other at this stage. I assume almost every time I see a client, you can see straight up just from their symptoms without having to do testing if leaky gut is present or not. As I said, if you’re dealing with an autoimmune condition or thyroid issue, you pretty much guarantee that leaky gut is happening.
What happens is your digestive lining, your gut lining, is very thin. It is only one cell layer thick. I will give a very simplified explanation of this. Basically, these cells that make up your gut lining are very tightly packed together. What happens with leaky gut, this is caused by stress, the food that we eat, medications, toxins. There are a host of different things that contribute to leaky gut. What happens is these cells are tightly packed together, the only thing that can get through that barrier is supposed to be your nutrients: vitamins, minerals. That gets into your bloodstream and is then transported around the body to where they need to be.
With leaky gut, these cells that are closely packed together start to separate. They start to open up. All of a sudden, you have these big holes, gashes in your digestive lining. That’s what we call leaky gut or gut permeability.
Now, it’s not just vitamins and minerals that are getting through, but it’s toxins, toxins that are supposed to be pushed out in our stools are now escaping and getting into our bloodstream. Digestive pieces of food are getting through there. Bacteria that live in our gut and are supposed to only be in our gut are escaping into our bloodstream.
Depending on the research you’re looking at, it’s anywhere between 70-80% of our immune system lives in and around our gut. What happens is when these toxins or food or bacteria, these invaders, are escaping our digestive system and getting into our bloodstream, it is triggering our immune system. Our immune system realizes, “Hang on, these guys are there. They shouldn’t be here. There is an invader; there is an enemy.” The immune system starts a process of inflammation in the body and the production of antibodies.
We know if we have an autoimmune condition, we have antibodies. They are these bullets that the immune system creates to attack the enemy, to attack the invader. Unfortunately, sometimes the immune system is so overloaded and exhausted that it becomes a little bit confused. These antibodies, these bullets, are no longer attacking invaders. It starts to attack our body as well. This is one of those big links between gut health, leaky gut, inflammation, and autoimmune disease. It’s something we definitely want to look at.
Every time toxins are escaping into our bloodstream, it also increases the load on our liver and detox system, right? You can see that link. The moment we can kill that leaky gut, we create a friendlier communication and clearer communication between the bacteria in your gut and your immune system. We prevent toxins and invaders and these unwanted things from getting into our bloodstream. Therefore, decreasing inflammation and the antibodies. That’s definitely something we want to look at supporting.
The second thing we see a lot happening in the gut is what we call gut dysbiosis. We have trillions and trillions of bacteria that live in our digestive system or in us and on us: on our skin, our lungs, our mouth, everywhere. We have more bacteria in us than we have cells that make us a human being. I always say that because of this, we are basically a very advanced walking, talking piece of bacteria. We have trillions of these things. The fact that we have so many should be a very clear indication that this is something we should be paying attention to and looking after.
What we want is high amounts of very good bacteria, and we want the bad bacteria very low. We will never get rid of the bad bacteria, but we want to keep them low. The good bacteria keeps your bad bacteria in check. It prevents it from overgrowing. Through our diet, medications, toxins, unfortunately our good bacteria is being killed off. This gives our bad bacteria an opportunity to grow. A lot of these bugs in our system are opportunistic bugs. They will stay nice and calm and quiet until they see an opportunity, and they are going to strike. They are going to colonize and take over the gut.
This increase in bacteria also leads to leaky gut, but it leads to symptoms like gas, bloating, abdominal pain, fatigue. It can even lead to joint pain. Yeast overgrowth like candida can lead to a lot of fatigue and joint pain.
Cravings is a huge one. Generally, we see bad bacteria feed off of sugar. The more bad bacteria we have, they will scream at us, “Feed me.” They want sugar. This creates these intense cravings. I say to people all the time, “Your cravings for sugar are not because you don’t have willpower. It is because of this dysbiosis, and bugs are screaming at you.”
When we can correct that dysbiosis and get rid of the bad bacteria and increase the good ones, they will also scream at you for food. Except their preferred food is fiber. That is where you will start having cravings. I promise you this is possible. You will crave broccoli, spinach, fruits and veggies because the good guys in your gut want this.
When we are working on gut health, we need to look at balancing that good and bad bacteria. Again, we do this largely through food. We want to cut out the foods that feed the bad bacteria, and we want to get a variety of different, colorful fruits and vegetables. We are getting a lot of phytonutrients, the things that give food its color. We need a variety of phytonutrients. We need a lot of fiber.
For me personally, I don’t think it is possible to fully heal your gut using food alone. I do encourage supplementation when it comes to this. Let me not say you can’t heal it with food alone, but it is going to take far longer.
I do encourage the use of some supplementation with gut health. Depending on what you are dealing with, I would adjust supplements. Some people may need a digestive enzyme to help them digest their food properly, to absorb the nutrients. We use things like collagen and glutamine to help heal that gut lining. If you don’t have SIBO, we will look at using probiotics to increase your good bacteria. We use things like omegas, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, zinc to help strengthen your gut lining and create a healthier communication between your gut bacteria and immune system. We use supplements like that to support gut health.
We like to include a lot of fermented foods. Your probiotic foods: kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, those sorts of things. If you can get your non-GMO, organic good miso. When you are dealing with a thyroid condition, miso is probably the one that I would leave out. Focus on the sauerkraut, kimchi, those fermented foods. As I mentioned, we want prebiotic fiber. We want to feed that good bacteria with lots and lots of fiber. That would be our approach to healing leaky gut or gut dysbiosis.
If you have signs of yeast overgrowth or severe bacterial infections, we may look at including some anti-microbial supplements. This is something I don’t recommend people do on their own because you don’t want to damage the gut further. I recommend that you work with somebody who knows what they’re doing. You may end up bringing in things like oil of oregano or wormwood or these herbals to speed up the process of getting rid of that bad bacteria, the parasites, the infections in your gut. Does that support Dr. Eric?
Yeah, that was great. I agree with what you said. Obviously, a combination of diet and supplementation, like you do fermented foods along with probiotics or digestive enzymes or agents to heal the gut. That was great.
One thing I do want to ask when it comes to finding out if you have dysbiosis, whether it’s parasites or SIBO. Do you recommend testing, whether it’s a comprehensive stool test or a SIBO breath test?
I do. It depends on who I work with. When they come to me, I do a full intake form and medical analysis. Based on that, I can generally tell them that we need to start out with testing. If you do have a diagnosed autoimmune condition, a thyroid issue, I would say go ahead and get tested straight up. There are certain bacteria that we want to know how severe is the overgrowth. That, we can’t tell without testing.
For a lot of people, I recommend testing off the bat. That would be something like a GI Map. I do love the OAT test as well. Fantastic. It doesn’t give you a comprehensive stool or gut analysis, but it does give you some clues. The reason I like it is because it gives you an overall view of your cellular health. If we are looking at gut testing specifically, something like a GI Map would be the best one to go for.
You obviously need to get this done through a functional or integrative practitioner. Your GPs are not necessarily going to be able to order that for you. You need to be trained in how to interpret these tests. I recommend you use a functional or integrative practitioner for this.
A GI Map is a really good test. You can then do the SIBO breath test as well. What I recommend for people to do when they’re ordering the test is make sure you are checking for hydrogen SIBO, methane SIBO, or combination. I know in the U.S., it’s pretty good. Most of your practitioners specializing in SIBO do test for all three because the treatment plan would be slightly different. However, in South Africa, if I’m not mistaken at the moment, they only do a hydrogen SIBO test, and that’s not what we want. Make sure you’re asking your practitioner to test for everything, and then treat accordingly.
You can definitely test off the bat. I don’t do that for everybody. Depending on what they are dealing with, depending on if they can afford testing or not. I would put them through a 6-8-week healing protocol. Generally, most of your symptoms are going to improve through that. Regardless of what bacteria, whether you are dealing with dysbiosis or leaky gut, the treatment protocol is going to be largely the same. A few minor differences here and there, but you will be looking at probiotics, prebiotics, collagen, L-glutamine, bone broth, lots of fiber. We would put them through a 6-8-week gut healing protocol, and we always see massive improvements.
At the end of that protocol, if there are still symptoms that have not resolved themselves, then I would definitely recommend going for further testing.
For those who are not familiar with the OAT, that stands for organic acids test. It’s a urinary test that looks at a number of metabolites related to the gut, like yeast, bacteria, clostridial (depending on what lab you use), neurotransmitter markers, detoxification markers, nutrient markers. Pretty comprehensive test.
You mentioned at the beginning that there are overlaps between the three core body systems. The third one that you haven’t discussed is the immune system, but you kinda did discuss it because most of the immune system cells are located in the gut. What else do you have to say about the third core body system, the immune system and inflammation?
Everything that we have spoken about, looking at incorporating more cruciferous vegetables, looking at eating the rainbow, getting lots of variety of color and fiber into your diet, all these things, even though we focus on them, when we are looking at the detox phase and the gut health phase, we are looking at something else. Throughout all these phases, everything we are doing is also supporting bringing down your inflammation levels.
Sometimes, if you are taking pharmaceutical meds to treat a certain condition, they generally have side effects on other parts of the body. They have negative side effects. When we are using food as medicine, they also have side effects on other body systems, but they are generally positive. Everything we have spoken about, even the supplementation—collagen, probiotics, etc.—are supporting bringing down your inflammation levels.
One of the things I really want to mention here is gluten. We haven’t spoken about that yet. Gluten is something that is severely damaging to your gut health. Even if you are not gluten-intolerant, even if you feel like “I’ve been eating gluten for years, and I don’t have any bloating or stomach issues,” bloating is not the only sign of a digestive problem. I can promise you now that gluten is not doing you any favors. It’s one of my non-negotiables if I work with someone who has a thyroid condition: get off of gluten as soon as possible.
This ties in with your inflammation because gluten is one of those molecules. If you think of it like a little blade, when you are eating gluten, it’s like a little blade making those slits in your digestive system, contributing to leaky gut.
What happens with your immune system that is around your gut, we see something called molecular mimicry. What this means is that gluten itself, as the protein, when you look at the structure of the protein, it is almost identical to that of your thyroid. Gluten creates leaky gut, this permeability. These gluten proteins are getting into your bloodstream. Your immune system sees them and goes, “Oh my goodness, there’s an invader. Let’s create bullets to attack to get rid of these gluten proteins.” Your body starts to produce these antibodies, these bullets. All of a sudden, as it’s floating through your bloodstream looking for the gluten, it comes across your thyroid, and it goes, “Oh my goodness, this is the same thing,” and it starts to attack your thyroid. This is molecular mimicry.
If we want to stop the attack on your thyroid or minimize the antibodies, one of the best things you can do is to stop eating gluten. Not for two weeks. This is a big mistake I made in my healing journey. I went from eating gluten every day to eating gluten once every week or once every two weeks. I thought I have such little gluten in my diet that it’s not a problem.
The reality is there is no such thing as a low gluten diet. Unfortunately, we do find gluten in spices, sauces, etc. You need to understand how to read your labels. You need to start looking at your food labels.
What happens in the body is you stop eating gluten for seven days or 14 days, and the immune system says, “All right, the threat is not there anymore. Let’s decrease the amount of antibodies we are making against the thyroid, against gluten.” Your body slowly starts to decrease, which is great. All of a sudden, you have that one bite of a cookie or that sauce that has some flour in it. Gluten is present, and the immune system says, “I was wrong. Produce the antibodies. We need inflammation. The danger is still here.”
You need to get to a point where your body has stopped producing those antibodies completely. Gluten is a big driver of inflammation and your thyroid antibodies.
When we can minimize the toxic load in our body, that is when we will bring down inflammation. Does that support?
I agree with what you said about gluten. A client of yours says, “No problem, I will give up gluten, and I will just substitute it with non-gluten products. I will have gluten-free pizza, pasta and cookies.” Is that okay, since all of those are gluten-free?
Absolutely not. Let me put it this way. Everything should happen in phases. If you want something to be sustainable, it needs to be easy for you to do. This is why healing and doing everything in a month or two months or three months for me is not really realistic. If we try to do everything all at once, if we are doing too much, as I said earlier, it’s going to cause a lot of stress on the body.
The first thing I would really do with people before we look at stopping gluten is what can we add into our diet that you don’t have? Can we add berries? Can we add fermented foods? Can we add colorful fruits and vegetables? Then we can look at removing gluten, dairy, and other inflammatory compounds. If that means at first that you are having one gluten-free cookie every day, but you’re not having the pizza or sugar or gluten cookies, if that’s what we need to do at first, for the first week or two weeks, then that’s what we do, with the goal of getting off of all of that stuff completely.
Some people will come in and say, “I don’t want that stuff. I’m going all in. Let’s do it.” I love that. What are you able to stick with? What is the pace that you’re going at? Obviously, the faster you can implement these things, the faster you’re healing.
But when I talk about gluten-free, I encourage people to eat foods that are naturally free of gluten. Your cauliflower doesn’t have gluten in it. Your broccoli doesn’t have gluten in it. Quinoa doesn’t have any gluten in it. If you are someone who wants that starchy grain, if your gut can tolerate quinoa, that’s something you can look at doing as opposed to couscous.
A lot of the time, these gluten-free products, your cookies, pretzels—are just pieces of starchy, white nonsense. It’s tapioca starch and other things that have so many additives in them that are spiking your blood sugar. It is not feeding your gut bacteria. They do not do any favors.
A gluten-free product marketed gluten-free is not a healthier option. People get confused, thinking that just because it doesn’t have gluten or dairy, that means it’s healthier. There is a difference between something being good and healthy versus something being slightly less harmful or harmful in a different way. It’s like thinking diet soda is healthier. It’s not healthier just because it doesn’t have sugar. It’s damaging in a different way.
To answer your question, no. If you can get all of that stuff from the beginning, 100% do it.
I love that response. The only other thing I’ll add, which obviously we can’t cover everything. There is so much more we could chat about, and you could talk about. When it comes to the immune system, you mentioned stress earlier. Chronic stress drags down the immune system and can make people more susceptible to viruses. You want to do things from a stress management perspective.
Sleep, same thing. Lack of sleep is inflammatory. Both stress and sleep are very important for optimizing immune system health.
Definitely. You are so right. Both of those things impact your detoxification and gut health as well. A lot of your detox happens at night while you are sleeping. Between the hours of 1-3am is a very active time for the liver. If you are not getting quality sleep, you are not detoxing your body. Your brain gets detoxed. It gets cleansed at night while you’re sleeping. If you don’t get that deep restorative sleep, that won’t happen. You will wake up feeling tired and foggy brain. Sleep is incredibly important as well as stress management, specifically for thyroid issues. We know that stress is one of those major triggers for autoimmunity and thyroid.
When I talk about stress, all these three areas that we have just discussed is a form of decreasing your stress. We didn’t mention it in that way. A lot of the time, people look at stress as the mental or emotional side. “It’s my finances, it’s my job, it’s my family, it’s my relationships.” These things that cause mental or emotional stress.
What people misunderstand is there are three different kinds of stress that we are exposed to on a daily basis. It’s the mental or emotional, which we all recognize. Then we have the physical stressors as well. Physical stressors could be the parasites or bacterial overgrowth in your body. That creates an immune response. It triggers your immune system into overdrive, and that creates a stress response in the body.
Then we also have our chemical stressors, which are things like the pesticides and toxins that we are exposed to. By focusing on these three areas we discussed today, you are indirectly supporting your body or reducing the amount of stress, what we call allostatic load, on your body.
Wonderful. Obviously, there is a lot more we can both talk about. Is there anything you really wanted to talk about other than the three core systems? Anything I should have asked you that I didn’t ask you?
Just because this is a save my thyroid podcast, and I am sure you’ve had many people talk about this, one thing I think is worth noting, if you are dealing with a thyroid condition, looking at nutrient deficiencies are important as well. When we improve our gut health, you improve the absorption of nutrients, so this will support that. Dr. Eric, I’m sure you will have a lot more to add and speak about within this.
In my experience, some of the most common nutritional deficiencies that we see that are aggravating your thyroid condition are magnesium, B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin D. These all lead to a compromised thyroid function. Always getting tested first. We don’t want to supplement with a bunch of selenium and magnesium if we don’t know what our levels are. It’s very important that you get tested and start to work on those deficiencies. The nutrients that really do support your thyroid function: magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, methylated B12, omegas, and I’m sure there is one or two I’ve missed. Those are the ones that come to mind. Selenium. Looking at that.
Also, reminding you guys: take it slow. I know we have discussed a lot. I don’t want health to seem overwhelming because it’s really not. There is a saying that I don’t know if you’ve ever heard. How do you eat an elephant? It’s one bite at a time. One thing at a time, one small thing. You don’t fail when you fall off the wagon. Don’t throw in the towel if you didn’t have a perfect day staying on your plan. You only fail when you give up. Every day, if you can focus on what is one thing I can do for my health today? What is one thing? Is it that delicious, nutritious meal I ate? Is it taking my supplements? Is it going for a 10-minute walk? Is it sitting in gratitude for the fact that I am alive? Do something small for your health every day. Not only will it benefit your physical health, but it will benefit your mental health and support your motivation.
Well said. Stephanie, where can people find out more about you? I know you have a monthly membership, the Healthy Mastery Academy. Feel free to talk about that. You also have an upcoming health summit.
If anybody wants to follow me on Instagram, I’m @UnlimitedYouCoaching. Every day, I post different recipes and tips and tricks. You see the quick things I do in my own life to make health simple.
That’s my goal. I really want to make health as simple for you as possible. I’m not somebody who likes to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Cooking is not a passion of mine. As I said earlier, if something is going to be sustainable for you long-term, it has to be easy. If you follow me, I will show you ways to make things much easier on a day-to-day basis.
This is what we do in the Health Mastery Academy as well. It’s a monthly membership group program. Every month, I give you a different meal plan, one to support inflammation. The next month, we focus on foods that support the gut. This month, we are doing a high fiber meal plan. We also pair it with monthly challenges for accelerated results. Lots of fun. Really great community.
Dr. Eric, you’re featured in there as well. One feature is the access to a video vault, where we have done trainings with practitioners from all around the world on how to heal your condition at the root cause as well as how to create optimal health. Within the membership, you get access to all of this. It’s a one-stop shop. I encourage you guys to check it out. You will find it on my website, www.UnlimitedYouCoaching.net. On the home page, there is a button for you to check it out. I encourage you to take a look if it’s of interest to you.
Dr. Eric, you are also this year coming back onto the Healthy Living Blueprint, an online summit. You and I have had three chances to be together on these events, which I am so grateful for because you have so much wisdom and value to offer everybody. The enrollment opens on September 18, 2023. If you are interested in attending, it’s completely free. Shoot me a DM on Facebook, and I can send you the link, if this is before the podcast.
The summit will be live for registration once this episode goes up. Thank you so much, Stephanie. It was great chatting with you about the three core body systems. Look forward to maybe having you back on the podcast again in the future.
Thank you, Dr. Eric. It’s been an absolute pleasure. I hope your audience got some value out of what we had to share today.