Thursday, 9 October 2014

From Clean Eating to Gluten Free and Paleo ish

So I'm eating clean, I'm exercising my not so little bum off, and I'm feeling much much better....

Except for the brain fog. The immense cloud of fog that is simmering about in my head and bouncing into my skull. 

For those of you who don't have an autoimmune disease, I'm hoping you have never had this feeling. It's like my head has been stuffed with cotton wool and no amount of shaking will dislodge it. 

It affects my ability to think clearly. Quite often I have abandoned a task because it is just too exhausting to try to think around the fog. 

I am a little bit OCD about being organised. I'm mortified if I forget to send a birthday card. The brain fog plays havoc with my organisational skills, which is more than a little stressful for me. 

So, why, when I appeared to do everything right, did I still have some of those pesky thyroid symptoms. 

Unfortunately, once you develop one autoimmune disease, you are on the hit list for more (because one clearly is not enough for anyone). What you take into your body, in all forms, suddenly becomes even more complicated in the modern world of processed convenience food. 

For example, if you have celiac disease you are 4.4 times more likely to develop an under active thyroid than the general population. 
(Risk of thyroid disease in individuals with celiac disease. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008)

As I have said in a previous post, my thyroid condition is autoimmune. So the blood levels of thyroid antibodies sits at around 300, despite the normal range being 0-60. 

People who have celiac disease also have raised levels of thyroid antibodies in their blood. Even if they do not have issues with their thyroid. 
(Naiyer AJ, Shah J, Hernandez L, et al. Tissue transglutaminase antibodies in individuals with celiac disease bind to thyroid follicles and extracellular matrix and may contribute to thyroid dysfunction. Thyroid. 2008;18(11):1171-1178.)

When people who are diagnosed with celiac disease go onto a gluten free diet, their thyroid antibody levels return to normal, alongside the celiac related antibodies. 
(Ventura A, Neri E, Ughi C, et al. Gluten-dependent diabetes-related and thyroid-related autoantibodies in patients with celiac disease. J Pediat. 2000;137(2):263-265.)

The levels of thyroid antibodies seem to normalise after 12-18 months on a gluten free diet. 
Cassio A, Ricci G, Baronio F, et al. Long-term clinical significance of thyroid autoimmunity in children with celiac disease. J Pediat. 2010;156(2):292-295.

I have been diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid problem for almost a decade, and yet not one person has ever suggested I reduce my intake of gluten. It has been my own research on a clean eating diet that lead me to suggestions that cutting out gluten could assist my thyroid function. 

So I am moving towards a gluten free diet. I have been falling off the wagon often. Going out for afternoon tea is a favourite pastime of mine, and it's a hard habit to break, but I'm working on it. 

It will be really interesting to see how my thyroid antibodies have changed in a year or so. It would be fabulous if I can stick to a gluten free diet and if it really does make a difference to my blood levels. 

Although, having been working towards gluten free for the past two months, I have also stumbled onto the paleo diet. 

The Paleo Diet is lifestyle change so that you are eating foods that are much closer to the foods our ancestors ate when they were hunter gathers. So long before processed foods were even thought of. 

Is short, the foods you can eat are:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Meat - preferably lean meat
  • Seafood
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Healthy fats such as olive oil and coconut oil 
And the foods to avoid are:

  • Grains - particularly wheat but also includes rice
  • Processed foods and sugars
  • Starches like white potatoes.
  • Dairy
  • Legumes - such as lentils and beans
  • Alcohol

The Paleo Diet is supposed to be fantastic at supporting the body, particularly for those who have autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis and thyroid disease. 

It is, of course, a much stricter diet that clean eating or gluten free. But it claims to have a real impact on those who suffer from autoimmune diseases. 

So I have decided to try to move towards a more Paleo diet than a gluten free one. It is one step further down the road of a strict diet, and it's a lifestyle change not a quick fix. But, if it really can provide me with a better standard of health, I'd be foolish not to try it. 

There are a lot of changes to make in becoming Paleo, and I don't think an immediate switch is going to be sustainable. I think I'm going to start incorporating Paleo into my diet and slowly phase out the non Paleo foods. 

I had no idea when I started an exercise class that it would have such a dramatic change on my lifestyle and on my thought processes. It's amazing what one change can do for your whole life.