May 23, 2013

90 Day GAPS Summary: A Piece To the Puzzle (Part three of three)

This is the third post in my three part series on my GAPS journey.  If you would like to read post one about what my GAPS day looks like, click here.  If you would like to read post two about what symptoms and issues I used to have and how I have healed after 90 days click here.

In this post I will address a few big pieces to my puzzle, my Hypothyroidism, Hashimotos Thyroiditis and getting enough sleep and how they affect my progress in healing.

I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism and Hashimotos almost 7 years ago. Having the autoimmune condition Hashimotos has negatively affected my health for a number of years.  It didn't have to be this way but I was deceived into thinking it was nothing to be dealt with and that the thyroid hormone T4 could make it all better. It is just "no big deal," as my old Endocrinologist used to say.  That was SO far from the truth.

Fast forward to the present. I now know that Hashi's is definitely something to be dealt with.  In fact, 80-90% of people with Hypothyroidism have Hashi's and don't know it.  That is crazy! It is crazy because treating Hashimotos Thyroiditis is different than just treating a Hypo-thyroid. Having a thyroid dysfunction impairs every other part of your body on a cellular level. That is because God designed our bodies to run synergistically.  All together.  Everybody works together as a team to make a working, functioning and thriving body.  When one part is off, other parts will be too.  If one part is off for a LONG time (in my case) all other parts get worse and worse along with the main dysfunction. This in turn can cause more infections, more autoimmune conditions and in my case leaky gut. 

It wasn't until recently that I learned that I could actually cause my Hashimotos Thyroiditis to go into remission and that my thyroid could actually heal itself through proper nutrition (whole, non-processed, unrefined foods, rest, and exercise.)  Wow!  This makes sense because God did design our bodies to heal themselves if in the proper balance.

What does all this have to do with GAPS you ask? Well, in my opinion, even though I wholeheartedly believe in GAPS and it's healing abilities there is more we have to address in healing our bodies than just a diet change - especially if you have an autoimmune disease.  Autoimmunity of any type stems from gut dysbiosis and bad pathogens and significant diet changes are a big percentage that can lead to healing but there are other factors to consider.

For instance, I am healing on GAPS but notice that when my thyroid hormones are off I can have some of the same symptoms I have when I am detoxing or have eaten a food I am sensitive too. It is a tangled web to figure out sometimes and that is when I am thankful for my faith in the Lord.  I can't figure it out all the time.

Here is an example: during the first quarter of this year I found out that my Reverse T3 was extremely high.  Have you ever been tested for that?  I can almost assume the answer is no.  Most conventional docs only test TSH.  That cannot, I repeat, CANNOT properly diagnose a thyroid problem OR Hashimotos.  In doing a little experiment with my Naturopath (once we found out about my high Reverse T3) we realized that part of my rashes were occurring because of the high level of this hormone!  I thought all along it was solely from food sensitivities.  Once we remedied the RT3 a big amount of my (rashy) inflammation subsided.  Once the RT3 was low again my TSH shot up though (we knew this could happen) and because of that my Hashimoto's antibodies also shot up.  This rise caused inflammation as well and has affected me in other areas (fatigue, extreme dry skin, hair loss, etc.)  As you can see thyroid balance is delicate.  It is tough to get the right medication dosage while healing through your diet.  The right medication AND right dosage can make all the difference in the world in how you feel though.  For me, maintaining a proper thyroid hormone balance ALONG with sticking to the GAPS diet is crucial in how I feel day in and day out.

I don't just take T4 (like I did for 6 years, making myself sicker unknowingly.)  I take T3 and T4 AND they are compounded. Compounded means that I get them specially made so that there are no dyes or fillers in them.  Did you know that commercial Synthroid has dyes in the tablets in all but one dosage? Yep, it's true. Dyes can affect your healing and health as well. Some of our medications also have gluten in them.  Gluten is very bad for someone who has Hashimotos Thyroiditis. (Notice I didn't call it Hashimotos "Disease?"  It can be healed therefore in my book it is NOT a disease.)

Thyroid is a enormous topic in and of itself and I don't intend to get too deep into the subject here. I just wanted to paint a picture for you that our health is multi-faceted.  Usually, we have to address many different areas of our lives for ultimate healing.  Right now as I heal my gut through the GAPS diet I also have to take thyroid medication (hopefully temporarily) and work closely with my doctor to maintain the proper hormone balance so that my hormones work synergistically with all other parts of my body.  I have to ensure balance so that the gut healing I am doing is not hindered by an imbalance in my thyroid hormones. Make sense?

For me the other facet is sleep.  I am a type A personality.  All or nothing.  Dive in with all I've got.  This can be a blessing and a curse.  I just don't do things half way.  So rest for me is something I am learning.  I like to be "doing," creating, thinking, and contributing.  Down time is new.  I notice that when this aspect of my life is off balance I also start feeling bad. When I stay up late and don't get enough sleep my lymph nodes in the back of my head get swollen and tender again (due to the wonderful Epstein Barr Virus I have that gave me Mono at the beginning of the year and my autoimmune issue.) When I get too little sleep my body starts getting so fatigued that I ache.  I get moody and irritable.  It affects my family and more.  Again, as long as I am addressing my gut health with GAPS, I need to be sure to be getting adequate sleep (9-10 hours a night for someone with an autoimmune disease) otherwise I am hindering the healing that is possible. 

Did you know that between 10pm-4am is when our body does the most clean-up and repair?  It is when we are rested enough (or we should be) that the cells in our bodies start the detox process and fix all the damage so that we can get up and function the next day.  If we don't give our bodies ample time for this restoration then we impede the healing process and we keep feeling worse and worse.  It is another piece to the puzzle. 

This is specifically my puzzle.  Everybodies puzzle pieces are different. It does take a lot of trial and error to figure out how our individual bodies work the best and what we need but I will tell you from personal experience that it is well worth it to commit to figuring it out.  Feeling better and thriving in life is much better than just surviving (as I was doing for quite some time.) It also takes a lot of patience.  The waiting game with labs, finding the right doctor, challenging sensitive foods are all what require this virtue of patience.  For me it has taken great faith in My Lord Jesus to heal me.  I could not be going through this without him as my refuge because there are tough times and discouraging times. He comforts me and is my Shepherd who guides me where I need to go.

I hope I have helped you to understand that we need to address our health issues from many levels.  This is where "Functional and Integrative Medicine" comes in.  This kind of medical practice addresses your WHOLE body as well as your WHOLE health history, not just ONE symptom with a quick pill fix. Our bodies are intricately designed and need a holistic approach to heal. Our puzzles are each unique because we are all specially made and different.

In a future post I will address one other piece to the puzzle and that is what we put ON our bodies.  Make-up, lotions, soaps, shampoos and more. It can affect our healing as well.

For those of you with Hypothyroidism and/or Hashimoto's Thyroiditis I wanted to leave you with some incredible websites that address this topic (way better than I ever could.)  Please see below for links.  For those of you on GAPS or with any health issues that you think I may be able to help with please feel free to comment with any questions or concerns and I hope I can address your needs.

Excellent links for learning about Hashimotos and Hypothyroidism:

Hope for Hashimotos I HIGHLY recommend reading Dr. Haskell's ebook it was THE BEST Thyroid book that I have ever read. It educated me SO  much. I still refer to it to this day.

8 Series audio about Hypothyroidism and Hashimotos A great way to educate yourself on Hashi's by Dr. Alexander Haskell. There are also several other videos on you tube with him as the educator.  Just search his name.

The Paleo Mom This site is a wealth of info. Literally you could read it for hours  If you click on the link search "thyroid," "Hashimotos," or "Autoimmunity" and you will find some amazing facts and information from this Ph.D stay at home mom. She has a book coming out in October 2013 that I literally cannot wait for!  It will address autoimmune conditions as well as eating the Autoimmune Paleo way (AIP.)

Chris Kresser He uses many facts as well as the latest research to help guide you through Hypothyroidism and Hashi's.  I highly recommend spending some time reading the posts on this site.

Dr. Datis Kharrazian Dr. K. wrote an excellent book called Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? When My Lab Tests are Normal You can search around his site and learn a lot as well.  He is a very knowledgeable doctor in this arena. You can also find a practitioner on his site (for your area) that is well versed in thyroid conditions.

Stop Thyroid Madness This site addresses a lot of the commonly occuring problems with thyroid that aren't addressed by conventional doctors and has recommend lab work that you need to have if you have a thyroid condition. This is also a site worth spending some time on.

Hashimotos 411 There are so many resources on this website from book recommendations to how to avoid gluten, what supplements to take and more. Please take time to check it out! There are also forums on this site that allow you to chat with other people going through a similar trial.

I hope somehow you are encouraged or find some help through this post.  Please remember that our bodies literally are puzzles and all the pieces fit intricately together. Through much research, trial and error, and support you can and will get better and could potentially heal your thyroid!


Please note - I am not a medical doctor.  What I say on this blog is based on my own research along with my own personal experiences.  I assume no liability and my advice, ideas or suggestions should not replace those of your own practitioner.


  1. Jennifer,
    I took an ALCAT test a year ago and attempted to do it for six months but found it to be so restrictive, that I gave up after about two. I'm wanting to begin the AIP, which for some is incredibly restrictive. Compared to my ALCAT, it's easier. The funny thing is that a lot of the ALCAT foods are restricted on the AIP but not all of them AND the ALCAT says I can have things like dairy which is not allowed on AIP. In your opinion, should I combine the two (ALCAT & AIP) together so that I'm not eating things that should be restricted?

    1. In my own personal experience I would not do what ALCAT recommends ever again. I spiraled downward in my health in a big way through doing ALCAT for six months.

      I think you are on the right track to do AIP. If you are really struggling with your health I would do AIP because it gets you down to almost the bare bones of eating. You can minimize symptoms and then once you are feeling better and have better healed (your gut since that is where our illnesses stem from) you can trial foods back in to see if you can tolerate them. Only reintroduce foods when symptoms are gone though. If you do AIP and still have symptoms then you should work with a functional and integrative practitioner to have some testing done for SIBO, parasites and any other gut dysbiosis or infection.

      As for following and implementing AIP there are lots of sites out there with recipes. A good start is Mickey Trescott at She has pinterest boards too. Also, I have a pinterest board that has GAPS AIP and Paleo recipes on it. Here is the link:

      Hope this helps. Blessings on your journey!


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For any and all health advice/suggestions and/or posts on this blog, I do not assume any liability for you. The posts and comments on this blog are not meant to be a substitute for your own practicing physician's care in your life. These posts are based on my experience and research in my own healing journey and are placed here to encourage and help those ailing with their health. We are all individuals and there is not ONE pat answer or resolution that applies to everyone across the board.