If you are working to manage your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism or other chronic or autoimmune disorder, you may have heard a positive attitude is good for your health. And it’s true — positive thinking, gratitude, and healthy socialization have all been linked to better health outcomes. However, chasing a positive attitude can have a dark side.
It’s common to hear “just think positive,” “focus on the good,” “don’t dwell on the negative,” and so forth. But the truth is, sometimes life circumstances are awful and sometimes people do horrible things to others.
The demand for a positive attitude when it’s not appropriate is known as toxic positivity. Avoiding or denying negative emotions only makes them bigger and more persistent — and hence more inflammatory for your system if you have an autoimmune condition such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
Also, negativity exists as a survival trait. It alerts you to danger, or if something isn’t right.
In fact, telling someone who is suffering that they just need to be positive is referred to as spiritual bypassing or gaslighting. Spiritual bypassing is an attempt to use false positivity to bypass a difficult issue, and gaslighting occurs when someone tries to make you feel like you’re crazy when you express uncomfortable thoughts or feelings.
Many autoimmune patients have felt gaslighted by doctors who insinuated they were making up their symptoms or just seeking attention.
If you would like help to understand more Positivity in life connected to health, you can schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.
Practice mindfulness, not just positivity
It’s normal to want to avoid negative and unpleasant emotions because they are uncomfortable and distressing. As such, we think of them as “bad.” But they are not there to be banished us but rather to guide us through life and help us make decisions that protect and support us.
Instead of denying them through forced positivity or drowning them out through whatever addiction or bad habit is our go-to, psychologists say we should listen to what they reflect about a current situation.
For instance, if you’re frustrated and angry about your health, it means you care about yourself and being able to participate in life. Allowing and accepting our negative thoughts and feelings can help us understand who we are and make good choices.
Resilience and self-care are the bedrocks of positivity
In self-help circles some tout the theory that bad things happen if you think negative thoughts, but the truth is bad things happen to everyone on a regular basis. Positivity isn’t about feeling good all the time, but rather about practicing resilience and positive self-talk in the face of adversity.
Do you practice these negative self-talk habits?
You filter out the good parts of an experience and dwell on the bad.
You think you are to blame for when things go wrong, or that it’s only happening to you and other people are luckier.
You catastrophize and make problems out to be much bigger than they really are.
You polarize things into very good or very bad and fail to see that most things in life have a grey area.
Practicing positivity through bad things means avoiding the temptation of despair and hopelessness and instead becoming your own cheerleader and coach.
Positivity is a practice, not a destination
Perhaps the most important thing to understand is that positivity is something that takes ongoing practice and application. It is like playing an instrument or a sport — you have to keep up with it to be proficient.
This is the concept of neuroplasticity in how the brain works. By applying yourself regularly to the practice of positivity, you hardwire new neural pathways into your brain, which makes you more efficient at positivity over time. And if you have a chronic autoimmune condition such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, every time you practice positivity you also release anti-inflammatory chemicals in your body that help tame inflammation and modulate immunity.
Try these tricks at learning how to be a more resilient, positive thinker who can also handle the negative aspects of life:
If an area of your life is constant major stressor, whether it’s a job or relationship, start strategizing on how to change it.
Check yourself throughout the day to see if your thoughts are negative or positive.
Seek out humor. Laughing at life reduces its weight and lowers stress.
Follow a healthy diet to lower inflammation. Many studies now prove what we eat affects how we feel. Eat food that feeds a good mood.
Exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Generating feel-good endorphins through exercise beats any addictive substance or habit. It makes it easier to practice positivity and weather the storms.
Surround yourself with positive people. Although we all have down days and need to vent, incessantly negative people can make it hard to stay positive. Seek out and cultivate friendships with other people who also practice positivity.
Pay attention to how you frame things. We all say things that can be reframed more positively. For instance, if you make a mistake, instead of saying, “I’m such an idiot,” reframe it to something like, “Whoops, I’ll see if I can get it right next time.”
Talk to yourself the way you would talk to someone you care about. Chances are you would never talk to someone you love the way you talk to yourself. Make self-respect and self-care a priority in your self-talk.
Some people were taught healthy positive self-talk in childhood by their parents and teachers. Others have to learn it later in life. Either way, it’s a skill that simply takes awareness and practice in order to develop the resilience to see you through the tough times of dealing with an autoimmune or chronic health disorder such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
Anyone who has learned how to manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism or another autoimmune condition will tell you they had to learn it on their own. The vast majority of doctors either do not test for or do not adequately treat Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease that attacks and damages the thyroid gland, causing weight gain, hair loss, fatigue, depression, and other symptoms. Now, the ability to find health advice backed by peer-reviewed, scientific literature is seriously compromised due to censorship, or blacklisting, by Google. Google is increasingly censoring legitimate information and instead sends people to conventional medical, pharmaceutical-oriented sources of information such as WebMd.
Most doctors do not adequately test for or treat autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism because there is no drug for autoimmunity. True, people are prescribed thyroid hormone replacement medication, which is frequently necessary. However, it does not address the ongoing and progressively worsening immune attack on the thyroid gland. That is why many people do not feel better when they begin taking thyroid hormone.
The lack of adequate autoimmune care in conventional medicine means millions of people go misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. In most cases, autoimmune destruction has to be advanced and severe before an autoimmune disease can be diagnosed and treated with steroids, surgery, or other methods that are invasive and riddled with side effects and problems. For instance, nerve damage has to be significantly advanced before conditions such as multiple sclerosis or type 1 diabetes are caught, while patients suffer for years.
Add to this studies that show the inherent sexism in conventional medicine. Women account for more than three-quarters of autoimmune patients. Yet when women go their doctors with complaints of autoimmune symptoms, most are not adequately tested. Instead, they are told they have depression or anxiety, that they need to lose weight and exercise, that they are making it up, or that it’s just aging.
Until now, millions of people have been able to successfully learn how to manage their Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and other autoimmune conditions through online sources based on peer-reviewed science. They have also been able to find healthcare practitioners who are knowledgeable in how to apply this science to help manage chronic conditions.
Please note that just because something is in the published scientific literature, that does not mean your local medical doctor is either aware of it or supports it. There is a huge gulf between the scientific literature and the doctor’s office, with pharmaceutical companies wielding significant influence over doctors’ practices and education.
Now, Google is limiting our access to legitimate information and redirecting searches toward conventional sources, which are extremely limited when it comes to chronic illness.
True, opportunists and snake oil salesmen abound on the internet and consumers must do their due diligence in rooting out valid sources of information and good communities to help them on their health journey.
Vitriolic corporate-driven public controversies lend a hand in the Google censorship. Rather than looking at the peer-reviewed literature on the links between environmental toxins and brain inflammation in the developing child’s brain for instance, complex neuroimmune topics have been reduced to crude black-and-white arguments that have no basis in relevant neurophysiological mechanisms.
While Google is penalizing many science-backed integrative health sites so they no longer show up on the first page, other search engines such as Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, and Ecosia (a search engine that plants trees based on searches) still rank sites legitimately.
About one billion health questions a day come through Google. Now, they are routing those searches away from such well-known sites as Mercola, PaleoHacks, Bulletproof, GreenMedInfo, Self-Hacked, Kelly Brogan, and many more.
Instead, seekers are routed to sites such as WebMD, Healthline, Mayo Clinic, and other institutional sites. While these sites offer worthwhile information, they are not yet caught up to the science surrounding the many chronic illnesses that have become so common today. They even provide false information in some instances, especially in regards to nutritional compounds.
Google is unfairly throwing its weight around in other industries as well, and the EU levied its third antitrust fine against Google earlier this year.
Don’t let Google bully you into Big Pharma’s pipelines. If you are looking for sources of legitimate health information that have been blacklisted by Google, try alternative sites such as Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, and Ecosia.
In the meantime, we attend educational conferences to stay up to date on the latest research and clinical protocols to help manage autoimmune and chronic conditions such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. As the field is ever evolving, it’s important to stay abreast of developments. Contact my office if you need help managing your chronic health condition.
Although few doctors know how to successfully manage autoimmune disease — a condition in which the immune system attacks the body — researchers say it has become a modern epidemic, affecting more people than heart disease and cancer combined. Conventional medicine also argues autoimmune disease has mysterious origins and is primarily genetic, but again research paints a different picture — autoimmune disease has largely been traced to the tens of thousands of toxic chemicals in our environment.
It takes the average person five years and visiting at least five different doctors before they receive a diagnosis for autoimmunity. Despite many published and peer-reviewed scientific studies about autoimmunity, rare are medical doctors who know how to identify symptoms of autoimmunity, properly screen for it, or appropriately treat it.
Most autoimmune patients are prescribed antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, told they need to exercise more or lose weight, or told they are making up their symptoms. More than 75 percent of patients with autoimmunity are women, which suggests the sexism shown to exist in medicine stands in the way of better treatments.
If medical doctors do diagnose autoimmune disease, it is typically only after the disease has almost completely destroyed the targeted tissue, whether it’s parts of the brain, the thyroid gland, or the sheaths that coat the nerves. At this point they can offer invasive treatments such as steroids, chemotherapy drugs, or surgery.
Examples of popular autoimmune diseases include Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, lupus, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and vitiligo. Although about 100 autoimmune diseases have been identified so far, the truth is the immune system can attack any cell in the body and researchers believe there are probably more than 100.
Autoimmunity rates are skyrocketing. Consider the following:
Type 1 diabetes rose 23 percent between 2001 and 2009 in the US
Crohn’s disease rose 300 percent in 20 years in the UK
Inflammatory bowel disease has risen more than 7 percent every year in Canada
An Israeli study showed autoimmune rates are rising worldwide
Studies show autoimmune rates rise the most in developed nations and in countries that are developing while they are lowest in the least developed countries.
“Developed” has become synonymous with “toxic.”About 80,000 chemicals that haven’t been tested on humans are in our environment in the US and about 5,000 new ones are added every year. Random blood sampling studies show that we all have dozens, if not hundreds (depends on how many they test), of these chemicals in our bloodstream. One study of fetal cord blood found almost 300 different chemicals in newborns around the country.
Other studies link different chemicals to different autoimmune diseases. For instance, mercury has been shown to trigger lupus and pesticides are linked to rheumatoid arthritis.
Rising autoimmune rates are also traced to poor diets high in processed foods and low in plant fiber. This compromises the gut microbiome, or gut bacteria diversity, which has been linked to poor immune function.
Low vitamin D levels, high chronic stress levels, hormonal imbalances, high sugar consumption, and sedentary lifestyles are some of other common reasons for the autoimmune epidemic.
A functional medicine approach to autoimmune disease
When it comes to autoimmunity, functional medicine shines.
For one thing, we listen to you. We know you are not crazy, making up your symptoms, or attention seeking. Autoimmunity is frustrating and confounding in its wide variety of symptoms and mysterious nature. We understand how demoralizing this can be.
Although symptoms vary depending on the tissue being attacked, common symptoms among all autoimmune sufferers include fatigue, malaise, pain, brain fog, depression, and periods where you “crash,” or have such low energy you can’t function.
In functional medicine we use lab tests that screen for multiple autoimmune conditions at once. This allows us to identify an autoimmune reaction taking place that may not be advanced enough yet to cause extreme symptoms. This allows us to halt or slow its progression.
We also can test for the triggers in your environment, such as certain foods you may not be aware are sending your immune system into a tailspin, such as gluten, or specific chemicals, such as benzene. Avoiding these triggers can help you feel better.
Successfully managing autoimmunity is not necessarily about managing the part of your body that is being attacked. Instead, it’s about addressing your hyper zealous and misguided immune system. The immune system is very complex and always in flux, but thankfully new research is continually helping us learn new strategies to balance immunity, dampen inflammation, tame autoimmune flares, and prevent autoimmunity from progressing and devastating the body.
In fact, some autoimmune patients say their autoimmune disease has taught them how to live more balanced and healthy lives than they would have otherwise.
Ask my office for more information about how to manage your autoimmune condition.
If you’re getting your TSH levels checked to monitor your thyroid health, it’s best to get that done in the morning. Otherwise, your results may come back normal even though you have hypothyroidism.
All the body’s hormones follow a daily rhythm, including thyroid hormone. This means there are times of the day when it naturally higher or lower. Researchers tested the blood of hypothyroid subjects both before 8 a.m. and again between 2 and 4 p.m.
In hypothyroid patients both untreated and on thyroid medication, TSH dropped was substantially lower during the afternoon test. This means an estimated 50 percent of people with hypothyroidism are not being diagnosed.
In the untreated group, TSH was 5.83 in the morning and 3.79 in the afternoon. In the treated group, TSH was 3.27 in the morning and 2.18 in the afternoon.
A 2004 study also showed late morning, non-fasting TSH was 26 percent lower compared to the early morning, fasting TSH. This means even a late morning blood draw could result in a failure to diagnose. Do you really want to know what is going on with your thyroid? Schedule a FREE 15-Minute Consultation with Dr. Celaya.
TSH blood test timing and functional medicine ranges
The timing of your blood draw plays an important role in reading a thyroid panel. However, there is more to it.
Even with an early morning blood draw, many doctors will still fail to diagnose hypothyroidism because they use lab ranges that are too wide and that do not reflect genuine thyroid health.
Many doctors still use a hypothyroidism TSH range of 0.5 to 5.0 even though the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists recommends 0.3 to 3.0.
In functional medicine, we use an even narrower range of .25 to 1.25. We also know that only looking at TSH can miss hypothyroidism.
For example, TSH may be normal but other thyroid markers are off. That’s why it’s important to order a thyroid panel that includes total and free T4 and T3, reverse T3, free thyroxine index (FTI), T3 uptake, and thyroid binding globulins. Many conditions can cause poor thyroid function, including inflammation, hormonal imbalances, and chronic stress. Ordering these other thyroid markers provides more insight into such imbalances.
Always include a test for autoimmune Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism
In addition to these markers, anyone with symptoms of hypothyroidism should also test for Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease that attacks and destroys the thyroid gland.
Why? About 90 percent of hypothyroidism cases in the US are caused by Hashimoto’s. To screen for Hashimoto’s, order TPO and TGB antibodies.
Thyroid medications may be necessary to support thyroid function, but they do not address the autoimmunity attacking the thyroid gland. Failing to manage Hashimoto’s increases the risk of developing other autoimmune diseases such as pernicious anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, vitiligo, and Type I diabetes. It will also make it more difficult to manage your symptoms.
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.