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.
We live in a sea of toxins and we all carry significant amounts of heavy metals and environmental toxins in our bodies. Even if you eat all organic foods, drink filtered water, and use non-toxic home and body products, you will still come in contact with numerous toxins as a part of daily modern life.
Thankfully, we can support our health and buffer the impact of these toxins on our bodies. Strategies include a diet that helps your body detoxify regularly and that minimizes toxic exposure, anti-inflammatory protocols to buffer the inflammatory effects of toxins on your body, supporting the pathways of elimination, and including binders in your regular protocol to “sponge up” toxins in your system.
Toxins are inflammatory to the body. One of the best things you can do is reduce your inflammatory load with an anti-inflammatory diet. Although even organic foods are shown to contain toxins these days due to air, water, and soil contamination, choosing foods that have not been produced with pesticides, hormones, or antibiotics will reduce your overall burden.
You also want to keep your blood sugar stable by avoiding sugars and foods that are high in processed carbohydrates. This means not letting yourself crash from low blood sugar and not overeating yourself into a food coma.
Especially important is to avoid the foods that trigger an inflammatory response in you. If you have a food sensitivity or intolerance, eating a food that flares your immune system will keep it in a state of constant red alert, stoking inflammation throughout your body. The most common immune reactive foods are gluten, dairy, soy, egg, and corn.
In addition to minimizing your dietary sources of inflammation, certain supplements can also tame and reduce inflammation.
Studies show taking larger doses of the antioxidants resveratrol and curcumin can help protect the body from the damage of toxins, especially if you take them together in a liposomal form.
Glutathione that is liposomal or in another absorbable form is another way to lower inflammation and protect your body. In fact, insufficient glutathione increases your risk of developing chemical sensitivities. In addition to taking an absorbable glutathione you can also raise glutathione levels inside your cells with n-acetyl-cysteine, cordyceps, Gotu Kola, milk thistle, L-glutamine, and alpha lipoic acid.
Binding toxins in your body
Taking nutritional compounds on a regular basis that bind with toxins for easy removal is another way to buffer your body. Binders can help remove heavy metals, environmental toxins, mycotoxins from molds, infectious bacteria, and fungal infections from your body.
Here are some examples of effective binders:
Modified citrus pectin: This is derived from citrus peel and processed in a way that it allows it to enter the bloodstream and bind with toxins for safe elimination from the body. Modified citrus pectin also serves as a great “prebiotic,” or a nutrition source for your good gut bacteria. A healthy gut microbiome is critical to helping protect you from toxins. Look for a source that is free of fillers.
Activated charcoal: Activated charcoal is a popular and affordable binder for toxins. It can also help soothe common digestive complaints.
Bentonite clay: Bentonite, montmorillonite, and illite (French clay) are used to bind toxins. When mixed with water, these clays develop a sponge like quality and take on an electrical charge to attract harmful compounds. Look for a quality product that does not have lead contamination.
Zeolite: Zeolite is formed from volcanic rock and ash and is a well-known binder for heavy metals and other toxins.
Chlorella: Chlorella is a blue-green algae that has an affinity for mercury and lead. It is also rich in B vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. You may need to avoid chlorella if you take blood thinners.
Silica: Most people think of silica to improve their hair, skin, and nails, but it’s also good at binding metals such as thallium that are harder to detox.
You must support your pathways of elimination when you detoxify
Binders work great at latching onto toxins, but if your body’s pathways of elimination are faulty, you could make yourself more toxic. You also want to ensure you are sufficiently mineralized — heavy metals can bind to cellular receptors in the absence of necessary minerals.
Ways to support the elimination of toxins include supporting healthy liver and gallbladder function, supporting healthy bowel elimination, and making sure you stay hydrated and take care of your kidneys and bladder. Eating 25–38 grams of fiber a day, staying well hydrated, eating foods that are good for the liver (like bitters and greens), exercising regularly to stimulate the lymphatic system, and sweating regularly are some examples of how to keep toxins flowing out of your body.
Avoiding chemical sensitivities
Although we want to minimize our overall toxic burden, we especially want to avoid developing chemical sensitivities. In the end, your overall toxic burden may not matter as much as whether you have an immune reaction to these toxins. You can react to a toxin the same you can react to gluten or dairy. This is problematic as it’s much harder to eliminate a toxin from your environment than a food from your diet, especially if that toxin is prevalent in the air, such as benzene, or in plastics, such as BPA.
This is why it’s so important to live an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. If you already have chemical sensitivities, ask my office about methods to lower your sensitivity so you can better tolerate everyday life.
People tend not to think about their gallbladder unless gallstones become a painful and debilitating problem requiring surgery. However, your gallbladder could be causing gut problems or chronic inflammatory issues, even if you have no overt gallbladder symptoms.
In fact, gallbladder issues are one of the most common reasons people have chronic gastrointestinal symptoms that are difficult to treat. This is because people rarely consider gallbladder health.
The gallbladder is reservoir for bile, which it secretes to emulsify fats in the diet.
The issue with many cases of poor gallbladder health isn’t gallbladder stones but instead biliary stasis. This is a condition in which the bile becomes overly thick and doesn’t secrete well to help digest fats.
Gallstones are obvious and easy to diagnose. Symptoms of gallstones include:
Severe and sudden pain in the upper right abdomen and possibly extending to the upper back.
Fever and shivering.
Severe nausea and vomiting.
Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
Clay colored stools or dark urine.
Typically, gallstones include a trip to the emergency room and gallbladder removal surgery, one of the most commonly performed surgeries today.
However, by paying attention to your gallbladder health, you can not only avoid an unnecessary surgery that raises the risks of developing other health problems, but also you can improve your gut function and lower inflammation.
Sometimes in cases of biliary stasis, an ultrasound can show gallstones that have formed but not yet obstructed the gallbladder. However, for many people, overly thick bile is the problem. This can be identified via symptoms.
Symptoms of biliary stasis include:
Bloating after meals
Burping after meals
Fish oil burps from fish oil capsules
Fatty foods make you feel worse
These are symptoms that a conventional doctor may dismiss altogether, and that can also be caused by other imbalances.
Biliary stasis is especially common in overweight women over 40 who have had children due to the effects of hormonal shifts on the gallbladder.
It’s important to address gallbladder function and biliary stasis as sufficient bile flow is necessary to digest fats. When fats aren’t digested, the undigested fats cause imbalances elsewhere in the body.
Undigested fats can lead to poor sphincter function in the digestive tract, which facilitates the transport of bacteria from the large intestine into the small intestine, causing a condition called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). SIBO causes myriad symptoms, including chronic constipation, chronic diarrhea, or both. Bloating is also common with SIBO.
Biliary stasis also backs up the liver’s detoxification pathways. As a result, the liver cannot effectively detoxify hormones, toxins, and other metabolites. This increases the toxic burden on your system, which in turn increases inflammation.
Many people with poor gallbladder function and biliary stasis naturally start avoiding fats, even healthy fats like olive oil and avocado oil. They also may avoid fish or fish oils because they get “fishy burps.” This increases health risks, particularly for the brain and the hormones, because we need ample healthy fats for optimal function. It also leads to deficiencies in the vital fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
If you are taking all the right GI supplements and doing the right gut health diets but still not improving, your gallbladder health is one thing you may want to consider.
How to improve your gallbladder health
Fortunately, various nutritional compounds support gallbladder health, fat digestion, and liver detoxification, including dandelion root, milk thistle seed extract, ginger root, phosphatidylcholine, and taurine.
These compounds can also help if your gallbladder has been removed, along with ox bile.
In order to improve and maintain your gallbladder health, also include these practices:
Infertility has been a growing problem over the last three decades, with most of the attention focused on women’s reproduction. However, 40 to 50 percent of cases of infertility are caused by male infertility. Research shows sperm quality has dropped by 50 percent in the last 80 years. Sperm quality of dogs has also declined sharply over recent years.
Now, a recent study shows common pollutants in the environment and in the foods we eat affect male fertility.
The British study looked at the effects of two common pollutants on the sperm of both men and dogs. For this study they studied a common plasticizer that is ubiquitous in our environment and the industrial chemical polychlorinated biphenyl 153, which, though banned, is still abundant in our foods and the environment.
They found that when sperm is exposed to both these chemicals at levels found in the environment it damaged the sperm. They reduced sperm motility and fragmented DNA in the sperm. Male infertility is linked to DNA fragmentation in sperm.
Many studies link pollutants to poor sperm quality
The declining rates of sperm quality since the rise of industrialization are no surprise; other studies show links.
For instance, past research has shown that environmental pollutants not only impact male fertility but also raise the risk of testicular cancer. Poor sperm quality has even been linked to the chemical exposure of a man’s mother prior to his birth.
Also, chemicals called “endocrine disrupters” have long been shown to impact male fertility. That’s because they mimic human hormones — the female hormone estrogen primarily, thus throwing male hormones off balance.
If you would like help understanding Pollution effects to Human and Animal’s sperm, you can schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.
Again, it’s the chemicals in plastics that are to blame for skewing male hormones and promoting infertility.
Low sperm counts and poor sperm quality have also been linked to benzenes, toluene, xylene, pesticides, herbicides, organic solvents, painting materials, and heavy metals.
Sugars and processed carbs impact male fertility
While industrial pollutants take their toll, so does a dietary pollutant that is a staple of the modern American diet: foods high in sugar and processed carbohydrates that spike blood sugar and insulin levels.
Eating a diet high in these blood sugar-spiking ingredients triggers a man’s body to over produce estrogen. This not only gives him more feminine characteristics but also impacts his fertility.
Symptoms of too much estrogen in men include:
Decrease or loss of morning erections, fullness of erections, and the ability to maintain erections
Mental fatigue and poor concentration
Lack of motivation
Decrease in physical stamina
Men with excess estrogen also often have high cholesterol and triglycerides, insulin resistance, elevated blood pressure, abdominal weight gain, the development of “breasts” and “hips,” and varicose veins or hemorrhoids. Some men even have hot flashes thanks to high estrogen.
A variety of factors are shown to contribute to estrogen dominance in men, including estrogen mimicking chemicals in pesticides and environmental chemicals, poor essential fatty acid status (too much omega 6 fatty acids and not enough omega 3), gut infections, and poor liver detoxification.
However, the most common cause is the effect of a high-carbohydrate diet on overall health.
When a man consistently eats a diet that is high in starchy and sugary foods, such as sweets, bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, soda, and sweet coffee drinks, this chronically over produces insulin in order to low high blood sugar.
This type of diet triggers an enzyme called aromatase, which synthesizes estrogen. The constant activity of aromatase also leads to insulin resistance—when insulin cannot escort glucose into the cells—which causes hormonal imbalances.
Addressing excess estrogen in men
Don’t be fooled into thinking using testosterone gel is the way around high estrogen. Thanks to aromatase, the additional testosterone will simply be converted into estrogen too. The excess testosterone can also cause testosterone resistance, which makes symptoms of low testosterone worse. Instead, a hormone panel that includes levels of testosterone and estrogen will reveal the mechanisms of the imbalance and what the best course of action is for you.
Functional medicine strategies for male infertility
While we can’t rid the environment of pollutants, we can minimize our exposure and help buffer our bodies. In addition to replacing toxic items in your home, body care, house cleaning, and diet with non-toxic alternatives, you can also help your body by supporting your liver detoxification, antioxidant glutathione status, and body’s stress handling abilities.
It’s also vital to use diet and lifestyle changes to support healthy testosterone levels. Ask my office about functional medicine therapies to support healthy male testosterone and fertility.
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