When it comes to autoimmune Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, dampening inflammation and immune attacks on the thyroid is the primary goal. One of the most powerful allies in this quest is to support your regulatory T cells (T reg cells). These are immune cells that do what their name implies — they help regulate the immune system. This means they play a role in either activating or dampening inflammation. The good news is that when it comes to Hashimoto’s, we can do many things to influence the T reg cells to dampen inflammation and quell Hashimoto’s flare ups and attacks so you can have more good days.
Ways to support T reg cells to manage Hashimoto’s
If you would like help understanding ways to support T Reg Cells to manage Hashimoto’s, you can schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.
Following are some proven ways we can support our T reg cells to manage Hashimoto’s.
Vitamin D (cholecalciferol). Fat soluble vitamin D is a powerful supporter of the T reg cells, especially at therapeutic doses (around 10,000 IU a day).
Vitamin D is also important because studies show many people with Hashimoto’s have a genetic defect hindering their ability to process vitamin D. Therefore, they need higher amounts of vitamin D to maintain health. This can be the case even if a blood test shows sufficient levels of serum vitamin D. That’s because the defect is at the cellular receptor site, preventing vitamin D from getting into the cells.
Omega 3 fatty acids. The EPA and DHA in fish oil support T-reg cells. It’s important to make sure you take enough; it’s estimated 80 percent of the population are deficient in essential fatty acids.
Research shows a healthy dietary intake of supplemental omga-3 is 3,500 mg if you eat 2,000 calories per day.
The average EFA capsule is 1,000 mg. Most people in the US eat between 2,000 to 3,000 calories a day and therefore should take 4 to 6 capsules of fish oil a day. Dietary sources of omega 3 include cold water fish, nuts, and seeds.
Glutathione. Glutathione, also known as the master antioxidant, supports T reg cells and is a powerful support in dampening inflammation and managing Hashimoto’s. Straight glutathione cannot be absorbed well but there are other ways to take it, including reduced glutathione, s-acetyl-glutathione, liposomal glutathione, and glutathione precursors.
Glutathione precursors make glutathione inside the cells and include n-acetyl cysteine, cordyceps, Gotu Kola, milk thistle, and alpha lipoic acid. Don’t be shy to take large amounts of glutathione support to dampen inflammation.
Short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs are powerful signaling compounds that influence the health of the body and brain. They are produced by healthy gut bacteria that come from eating a diet abundant in a diverse array of vegetables. The more abundant and diverse your gut bacteria the better your SCFA production.
This helps many functions in your body, including proper T reg cell function and dampening of inflammation and managing Hashimoto’s. You can also take the SCFA butyrate to support your SCFA levels, however, you’ll need to make sure you’re eating plenty of vegetables throughout the day too for this strategy to be effective.
Endorphins. Saving the best for last, did you know a powerful way to support anti-inflammatory function of T reg cells is to experience joy, happiness, love, and playfulness? All of these things produce endorphins, feel good chemicals that reduce inflammation. Methods for increasing endorphins include:
Socializing regularly with healthy people
Meditation and breath work
Massage and other forms of body work
Doing something playful regularly
Daily expression of gratitude via a journal or verbal affirmation
Regular exercise that gives you a “natural high” but doesn’t wear you out
These are some of the ways you can manage your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Ask my office for more information.
The notion that genes dictate our destiny has been solidly debunked in favor of epigenetics, the study of external or internal mechanisms that switch genes on and off. Exciting new research shows epigenetic memory can span multiple generations.
Descendants of people who survived the Holocaust show abnormal stress hormone profiles, in particular low cortisol production. Because of altered stress response, children of Holocaust survivors can be at increased risk for PTSD, depression, and anxiety.
Children of women exposed to intimate partner violence during pregnancy have higher predisposition to mental illness, behavioral problems, and psychological abnormalities due to transgenerational epigenetic programming of genes acting in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis), a complex communication pathway between glands involved in our stress response.
Classic genetic theory states that genetic change occurs over a time scale of hundreds to millions of years.
Epigenetics explains how our lifestyle, diet, environment, and experiences affect the expression of our genes over multiple generations, but it does not account for actual changes to our genetic code.
If you would like help understanding the Effects of trauma and harm passed on for generations, you can schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.
How do genetics and epigenetics relate?
Via epigenetics our genes can be influenced by factors such as:
Where you live
Who you interact with
Social support (or lack of it)
Method of birth (cesarean vs. vaginal)
We inherit one variant of each gene from each parent. Epigenetics can turn off one of these two gene variants (this is called “imprinting”).
This can result in a negative health outcome if the other, still-active variant is defective or increases our susceptibility to toxins or infections.
The cumulative impacts of our lives on our genes
Related to epigenetics is the exposome, the cumulative measure of all the exposures of an individual in a lifetime — starting at conception — and how they relate to our health. Some consider the exposome the environmental equivalent of the human genome.
The exposome is divided into three overlapping categories:
The environment inside our bodies that affects our cells:
Hormones and other cell messengers
Oxidative stress (excess highly reactive and damaging molecules)
Lipid peroxidation (damage to cell membranes and other molecules containing fats)
The external environment to which we expose our bodies:
Pathogens and toxins
The general external environment, including broader sociocultural and ecological factors:
Urban or rural residence
Using epigenetics to positively impact the future
Epigenetic processes are natural and essential to many bodily functions. But if they go wrong they can negatively impacts not only our health but the health of our children. Researchers feel the ability for these changes to be passed down has significant implications regarding evolutionary biology and disease causation.
There are factors we have no control over such as certain environmental toxins, method of birth, and exposure to some level of stress. The good news is we can affect change in many areas that can powerfully affect our epigenetics:
Good sleep habits
Who we interact with
Addressing food intolerances
Functional medicine offers many avenues to support healthy epigenetic expression. If you seek ways to help your body express its genes in the best ways possible, contact my office for help.
Weight training is not the first exercise choice that comes to mind for seniors. Instead we think of chair yoga, walking, dancing, or aqua aerobics. However, science shows weight training is one of the best types of exercise for aging whether you’ve been doing it your whole life or have never touched a barbell in 60-plus years.
Of the 57 million deaths worldwide in 2008, more than 5 million were caused by lack of physical activity. Roughly 80 percent of adults fail to meet recommended guidelines for physical activity.
For seniors in particular inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle are dangerous, increasing the risk of health conditions such as:
High blood pressure
There is a common misperception that the elderly should stay away from strenuous activity. It is important to use safe equipment, focus on correct form, and warm up and cool down properly, but using your muscles as you age isn’t inherently dangerous.
In fact, studies show that lifting weights — whether heavy or light — helps us in many ways as we age.
Weight training reduces the risk of falling by maintaining or even increasing muscle mass and helping maintain bone density. This makes the elderly much less susceptible to age-related and disabling bone breaks from falls or accidents.
This also helps stave off loss of independence, one of the greatest worries around aging.
Strength training can promote mobility and function and even help combat depression and cognitive decline.
An analysis of the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) database found that adults 65 and older who strength trained twice a week had a 46 percent lower mortality rate. He also found strength training reduces all causes of death, including cancer and cardiac death.
Drawing from the data, the analysis outlined 78 science-backed benefits for seniors who lift weights. The main categories include:
Combat age-related muscle loss and sarcopenia
Burn fat and increase muscle mass
Support functional independence
Improve quality of life
Improve osteoarthritis and bone health
Increase cardiovascular health
Improve mental health and cognitive functioning
Reduce mortality risk
Fight Type 2 diabetes
Improve quality of sleep
Recover from hip fractures
The study showed that those who had lifted regularly for some time were protected against numerous age-related health issues related to neuromuscular functioning, sarcopenia, muscle force-generating capacity, cognitive functioning, overall functional capability and performance, and mitochondrial impairment.
Lifting weights risks at any age, however, hundreds of studies have shown weight training to be safe, enjoyable, and beneficial as we get older.
Anyone can get injured when working out, so knowing how to safely use equipment, warming up and cooling down properly, and using proper form will keep you in action.
Before starting, have a medical checkup or ask your doctor for clearance. This is especially true if you haven’t exercised before or have taken a long break from physical activity.
What type of weight training is best?
Weight training is an activity anyone can start regardless of age. It doesn’t take lifting like a competitor to gain major benefits, and many of the benefits are immediate. As you train, your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal fitness will improve, thus helping you to prevent injuries as you progress.
Whether you train using your body weight, dumbbells, systems weights, full Olympic style, or with some other style, focus on gradually increasing intensity and power.
A personal trainer can help you meet your goals with a form that works for you, plus teach you how and when to safely increase your challenges. Finding a weight training style you like will motivate you so you keep showing up for workouts — whether it’s at the gym or in your living room.
Before starting any exercise program, be sure to consult with your health care practitioner, and if you are uncertain where to begin, reach out to a local certified personal trainer who can guide you.
If you would like help understanding the benefits of weight training for seniors, you can schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.
Emerging research reveals that higher-altitude living contributes to a higher risk for depression and suicide. While studies continue to look into the mechanisms behind this trend, it’s clear a variety of factors come into play. From the unique effects that altitude has on the brain to social and psychological aspects of life in the high country, many of these factors are influenced by your lifestyle and dietary choices.
In the United States, the highest suicide rates are in the intermountain area — in particular, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Wyoming comes in first with two times the national suicide average, and the other states on this list consistently score in the top ten nationwide.
Resort town life: A recipe for desperation and impulsiveness?
While some studies reveal physiological factors behind the altitude-linked descent into suicidal depression, the experts say social, economic and cultural factors can also play a role.
Mountain community is transient by nature. The mountain resort-town life revolves around two seasons: winter and summer. Ski season and summer tourist season are the main busy times separated by two off-seasons that locals like to call “mud season.”
During mud season, while everything is either buried in spring snowmelt or autumn rain, the tourists disappear, locals have little to no income, and one’s sense of displacement, isolation, depression, and uncertainty can increase dramatically. Having to make it through this tough time twice a year, every year can cause high levels of stress and depression. Schedule a FREE 15-Minute Consultationwith Dr. Celaya.
Social isolation. These remote communities are spread far apart, breaking up the interconnectedness that people have in more populated areas. In addition, many residents come and go during “mud season,” making it hard to develop strong social bonds. This undermines the creation of the well-established intergenerational relationships, deep social connections, and the resulting support systems known for supporting mental health and stability.
Financial struggle and uncertainty. When we think of resort towns, we think of enjoyment and freedom surrounded by natural beauty. However, the reality for many residents is a life of working two to four jobs during tourist season, the twice-yearly mud-season of unemployment, unaffordable housing that changes frequently, and constant financial worries. This puts enormous stress on individuals, families, and relationships.
Party culture and substance abuse. Resort towns are notorious party towns, and the use of alcohol and other drugs is more prevalent. According to Mental Health America, substance abuse is likely a factor in half of all suicides, and the lifetime rate of suicide among those with alcohol problems is three to four times the national average.
Altitude’s effect on the brain may increase suicide risk
A recent Harvard study analyzed previous studies linking life at higher altitudes to increased risk of depression and suicide.
While more than 80 percent of US suicides occur in low-altitude areas, that’s because most of the population lives near sea level. Adjusted for population distribution, suicide rates are almost four times higher at high altitude versus low altitude.
A possible physiological explanation for this trend has been considered: Chronic hypobaric hypoxia, or low blood oxygen, might alter serotonin and dopamine metabolism in the brain as well as negatively influence how energy is transferred in cells and tissues.
Lowered serotonin production. Studies also show high altitude reduces serotonin levels, which is associated with mood and anxiety disorders. And the higher you go, the greater your risk for suicide.
In fact, Salt Lake City residents have a 30 to 40 percent higher risk of suicide just based on their altitude compared to those at sea level. Nearby Alta and Snowbird — both ski resort towns — have a suicide rate two times that of the national average.
Raised dopamine production. On the other hand, altitude increases the production of dopamine, the brain neurotransmitter associated with pleasure-seeking and risk-taking.
This is complicated by the fact high altitude living attracts outdoorsy risk-takers who may already have increased dopamine levels that make them prone to the impulsivity associated with suicide.
Support your mental health with dietary and lifestyle measures
While we need more research into the altitude-suicide connection, it’s clear that high-mountain living presents many challenges to mental health. If you live in a high-altitude location, be aware of the factors below to see if your risk for depression and suicide may be higher.
Symptoms of impaired serotonin activity:
Loss of pleasure in hobbies and interests
Feelings of inner rage and anger
Feelings of depression
Difficulty finding joy from life pleasures
Depression when it is cloudy or when there is lack of sunlight
Loss of enthusiasm for favorite activities
Not enjoying favorite foods
Not enjoying friendships and relationships
Unable to fall into deep restful sleep
Symptoms of high dopamine activity:
Heightened cognitive acuity
Lack of self-control
Anti-inflammatory diet to support brain health. Ongoing research reveals a strong link between brain inflammation and various depressive disorders. Support your body’s ability to quell inflammation with a diet free of common allergens and reactive foods.
Symptoms of blood sugar dysregulation. Imbalances in blood sugar can be at the root of many mood issues.
Signs and symptoms of low blood sugar include:
Increased energy after meals
Craving for sweets between meals
Irritability if meals are missed
Dependency on coffee and sugar for energy
Becoming lightheaded if meals are missed
Eating to relieve fatigue
Feeling shaky, jittery, or tremulous
Feeling agitated and nervous
Poor memory, forgetfulness
Signs and symptoms of high blood sugar include:
Fatigue and drowsiness after meals
Intense cravings for sweets after meals
Waist girth equal to or larger than hip girth
Craving for sweets not relieved by eating them
Increased appetite and thirst
Difficulty losing weight
Trouble falling asleep
Support your stress response with adrenal adaptogens and phosphatidylserine.
Holy basil leaf extract
Pantethine (B5) and B vitamins
Phosphatidylserine liposomal cream that delivers 2000mg per day
Moderate your caffeine intake. Caffeine can stress your adrenals, making it harder to cope with high stress.
Support serotonin levels with 5HTP (a serotonin precursor) or L-tryptophan.
Support brain bioenergetics with creatine.
Use moderate exercise to manage stress levels and support brain health.
Stress management practices such as meditation, chi gong, and yoga help to moderate stress and relieve depression.
Actively build community and social connections by joining a volunteer group, drama club, book club, or other organization.
Know the signs of increased social isolation in yourself and loved ones.
If you have substance abuse issues, please contact my office for a referral for assistance.
Check for deficiencies in vitamin D, B2, and iron, all of which can affect mood.
High altitude life has many joys and benefits, and it doesn’t have to be a recipe for depression disaster. To learn more about how you can support your well-being while living at altitude, please contact my office.
Osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, is the number one cause of disability in the US, afflicting 31 million people. Until now, treatment strategies have been aimed at pain relief but not the inflammatory factors driving it.
However, new research shows that improving the gut microbiome — the community of bacteria that live in your gut — through prebiotic fiber may be the key to not only reducing the pain of osteoarthritis but also curbing the inflammation.
Inflammation drives the arthritis of obesity
Obesity is a key risk factor for developing osteoarthritis. While it has been long been thought this is due to the extra weight overloading the joints, the new findings suggest it’s more likely linked to inflammation caused by shifts in an “obesity-prone” gut microbiome profile.
In the study, obese, arthritic mice showed less beneficial Bifidobacteria and an overabundance of inflammatory bacteria. The harmful bacteria caused inflammation throughout their bodies, leading to rapid joint deterioration.
However, when researchers fed the mice a nondigestible prebiotic fiber called oligofructose (a type of inulin), it shifted their gut microbiome to reduce inflammation protect from osteoarthritis despite no change in body weight.
This research suggests a new approach to treating osteoarthritis with a focus on gut microbiome and inflammation. You can learn more by having a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.
Prebiotics feed your gut bacteria
The effect of gut bacteria on arthritis pain is only one reason to improve your gut microbiome. It also helps your immune system, brain function, mood, and more. Systemic inflammation, regardless of obesity, is at the root of many chronic health disorders, including autoimmunity, heart disease, cancer, and more.
While probiotics — bacteria that line your digestive tract, support your body’s absorption of nutrients, and fight infection — have received a lot of notice in recent years, prebiotics are only now getting the press they deserve.
Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that serve as food for the bacteria (probiotics) in your gut. They come in the form of dietary fiber supplied by the fruits and vegetables you eat.
Prebiotics pass through the small intestine undigested. Once they reach the colon, gut bacteria consume them for fuel and create byproducts, such as vitamins and short chain fatty acids, valuable to human health.
Strong sources of prebiotics include all vegetables but especially:
Prebiotics and probiotics together are important for battling inflammation and lowering overall disease risk.
Support plentiful SCFA for proper immune function
The short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) gut bacteria produce are essential to dampening the inflammation implicated in obesity and osteoarthritis.
One of the most important SCFAs is called butyrate. To increase butyrate and other SCFAs:
Eat abundant and varied fruits and vegetables daily — 7 to 9 servings is recommended.
Eat probiotic-rich fermented and cultured foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and coconut water kefir.
Take SCFA-supporting supplements such as Saccharomyces boulardii, Lactobacillus sporogenes, and DDS-1 Lactobacilli acidophilus.
Take arabinogalactan, a compound made up of protein and sugar, which is helpful for immune support and SCFA production.
Intolerance to gluten, dairy, or other foods also provokes joint pain
Joint pain can also be driven by immune reactivity to certain foods.
Two of the most common inflammatory foods are gluten and dairy — prevalent in most people’s diets. When a person with gluten sensitivity eats gluten (not just wheat, but gliadin, glutenin, and transglutaminase proteins in other grains), the immune system jumps into action, releasing pro-inflammatory signaling cells. This leads to systemic inflammation affecting the body’s organs and soft tissue, including the joints and even the brain. A similar process happens for those reactive to dairy.
Some people find vegetables in the nightshade family cause pain and inflammation in their joints. These include eggplant, potatoes (but not sweet potatoes or yams), peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, hot pepper products (cayenne, Tabasco, etc.), and pepper-based spices. Simply removing nightshades from the diet has brought relief from joint pain for many, especially those with rheumatoid arthritis.
Gluten, dairy, and nightshades are common reactive foods, but there are more on the list. An anti-inflammatory diet is a great tool for dampening pain and inflammation while helping you determine your immune reactive foods.
Chronic pain can create vicious cycles both in the immune system and in the brain that perpetuate even more pain. Fortunately, through dietary measures and nutritional support, we can unwind these vicious cycles.
When done properly, exercise can help you go a long way, provided you’ll perform your routine correctly. Aside from giving you numerous physical benefits, did you know that it can also provide you with adequate emotional and psychological benefits that can help you in the long run? Read on to know more about this.
How does exercise aid in positively changing the behavior of someone?
One study stated that regular exercise can help control eating behaviors by suppressing the appetite. The body does this by releasing hormones that are closely related to satiety. As a result, you have a reduced urge to eat more. This mechanism works in a similar fashion, as far as the general feeling of well-being and the motivation levels are concerned. Instead of having the satiety hormones released, the body releases the “happiness hormone” to elicit this effect.
Exercise can provide you with benefits that are both, directly and indirectly, related to behavioral change.
Who wouldn’t want to enjoy anything that can help you a lot in the long run? Of course, most of us do. However, keep in mind that you can only reap the benefits with constant dedication to exercise. It may be hard to figure out how to be motivated at first, but you will eventually get the hang of it.
These are just some of the nice benefits you can get from exercising regularly:
This promotes a healthy weight, or at least help you get closer to your ideal one.
It promotes strong bones and muscles.
Exercise helps improve your heart function.
It aids in improving your mental health by supplying your brain with happy hormones called endorphins.
Furthermore, exercise can provide you with behavioral benefits as explained below.
Are there are any specific types of behavior that exercises can change?
In general, you can change a lot of unpleasant behaviors just by clocking in on some simple calisthenics or sweat-inducing activities. Some of the typical behaviors that exercise can somewhat alter include the following:
Lack of motivation
Disregard for need to organize things
Numerous studies support the potential of various types of exercise in positively altering the behavior of a person, and vice versa.
In one of the studies, self-monitoring systems are used to observe how various behavioral modification techniques may vary among the systems. Some of the behavioral areas assessed include sedentary behaviors, sleep, and exercise. The respondents were asked to participate in the study for a one-week period.
The research concluded that these self-tracking systems help improve the patterns and behaviors in relation to sedentary behaviors, sleep, and physical activities like exercise. However, there is still no result to show that these same tools can help improve the behavior of people beyond this period.
In another study, the investigators tackled the effect of morphine and exercise on the genetic expression in the hippocampus of rats. Hippocampus is a part of the limbic system in your brain. The hippocampus of a rat is somewhat similar in a sense that both types are responsible for the general behavior.
The researchers eventually came up with the findings that regular exercises, regardless of the intensity, helps activate the rewarding aspect of the brain. Aside from that, this activity also encourages higher levels of activity from the hippocampus, thus further promoting the habit of exercising regularly.
In a semi-structured interview-based descriptive study, the experts had the chance to correspond with 12 elderly individuals who are at least 75 years old. For this research, the investigators probed more on the respondents’ perceived benefits and general activities related to regular exercise. Physical therapists were asked to incorporate exercises in the respondents’ usual activities.
After the study period, the experts concluded that exercises helped them see their potential of being stronger. Furthermore, they felt hopeful that this additional set of activities can help them have extended lives.
Are there any specific types of exercises that I need to perform to facilitate positive behavior change?
Actually, you can perform most types of exercises to achieve positive behavior change. You just have to make sure that the activity:
can help consistently raise your heart rate
is not too lax or too difficult
is performed at least 30 minutes at a time
is mostly enjoyable for you
If I want to exercise, do I have to do anything else to get going?
Adequate preparation is very important before starting exercises. Preparation should not only include the physical aspect but also other parts of your personality like the mental and psychological aspects. Here are just some helpful tips to prepare for your exercises:
Come up with a plan. One study shows that your purpose or intent can be sufficient to change your behavior towards exercise. This would mean you should formulate your goals, both short-term and long-term.
Another thing that will perfectly work with your goals is your perception of controlling your behavior. This just means that you must believe in your plans and goals.
In relation to these, your general outlook towards your goals and how to reach them can help decide if you’ll go that far. Do you see the activities as helpful or useless, boring or exciting? The way you see things can make a big difference!
If you want to make a difference, experts show you must perform strenuous physical activities at least 150 minutes a week if you’re going for moderate intensity activities. If you prefer vigorous levels, you should target at least 75 minutes a week.
There are many reasons why different people resort to various forms of exercises. While some of you may want to get started due to health reasons, it’s also perfectly understandable if you prefer to do it just for the happiness hormones. Whatever your motive is for getting into the groove, just remember never to overdo it, and have fun!
Have you ever wanted to know everything there is to know about your thyroid? This 7-part video series will cover thyroid lab testing, nutrition and infections that affect the thyroid, toxins, thyroid hormone conversion, lifestyle, and adrenal interplay.