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Hi, pod fam! 

We talked about hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s a couple weeks ago (here’s the ep, if you missed it!), and I’m SO glad this topic resonated with so many of you. Not glad that so many of us have experienced/are experiencing thyroid issues, but I feel like we’re so much better equipped to deal with it when we have info and resources and community.

But because thyroid health is such a complicated, individualized topic, there’s always something new to learn. With that being said, I’m so excited to follow up that episode with another chat about hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s, and autoimmunity.

As many of us know, autoimmunity (especially hypothyroidism) is everywhere these days. Why is it so common, what factors influence it, and—most importantly—how can we best support our bodies? Here to help us answer those questions is this week’s guest.

Marc Ryan, aka “Hashimoto’s Healer” is a licensed acupuncturist & herbalist, author of two books on Hashimoto’s, and functional medicine practitioner. We’re digging into some of the root causes of thyroid disease and some of the lifestyle and dietary practices that can help support a healthy thyroid. Let’s get juicy! 

Why is autoimmunity (especially Hashimoto’s) so prevalent these days?

We don’t totally understand how autoimmune diseases work, but it tends to be a combination of three factors:

  1. Genetics You might say, “Hashimoto’s/hypothyroidism runs in my family,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get it, just like it doesn’t necessarily mean everyone with a thyroid issue has a family history of it. Our actions and behavior cause gene expression. Which brings us to the next two factors… 
  2. Exposure to Environmental Toxins – We’re exposed to thousands of chemicals, and we don’t actually know what they do to us physiologically. This includes things we intentionally eat, cleaning products we use, unintentional exposure to contaminants like heavy metals, nanoplastics, etc. 
  3. Gut Health – Most of our immune system is found in the gut, so especially in the case of autoimmune hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s), it makes a lot of sense why gut health is a factor. Due to a lot of interconnected factors (diet, inflammation, stress/cortisol, sleep habits) leaky gut (aka intestinal permeability) is a VERY common issue these days. And when our gut barrier breaks down, this affects the whole body and how it’s able to fend off inflammation and other issues.

Some additional thoughts, from a TCM perspective:

  • Thyroid health is hormonal and metabolic, but from an esoteric sense, it’s what drives us emotionally and spiritually
  • TCM deficiencies related to hypothyroidism commonly include kidney yang and spleen yang
  • Liver Qi stagnation (more on that in episode 3 here) can also contribute to hypothyroidism; the endocrine organ relating to the liver meridian is the pineal gland (which is connected to our circadian rhythm and influences metabolism and thyroid health)

“Inflammation is the root of all evil.” —Marc Ryan. Our diets, lifestyle habits (like sleep, stress, and exercise), and exposure to environmental toxins can all cause inflammation. And inflammation is strongly correlated with autoimmune disease.

Now, let’s get into some ways to reduce inflammation, improve our thyroid health, and correct some of our deficiencies/excesses.

Address blood sugar dysregulation.

This can go hand in hand with gut health, but that’s not always the case. Marc notes the 80/20 principle that 20% of the things in the body cause 80% of its problems. Blood sugar is one of those things. And it’s within our control. Our sugar-laden diets can lead to blood sugar dysregulation, insulin resistance, and high cortisol levels (all of which compensate for each other and can affect the thyroid). How to address it: eat more frequent meals (balanced with complex carbs), lower your stress/cortisol levels, and eat foods to build up your spleen chi, spleen yang, and kidney yang. 

Related episodes: S3E02 – Nina Passero, FDN-P; S3E01 – Glucose Goddess

Support your gut microbiome.

Since your immune system is mostly built in your gut, it’s super important to help support a healthy immune response (including autoimmunity). But our gut microbiomes are so diverse (Marc says there’s somewhere around a 5% overlap between most people’s microbiomes), so it’s important to figure out where you’re at and what works for you. Marc’s approach includes:

  • If it’s available to you, consider testing your microbiome to look at the specific gut diversity and health.
  • Start with an elimination diet: remove inflammatory foods (especially dairy and gluten) for 30–60 days to establish a baseline.
  • Then, start reintroducing foods one at a time and keep a journal of how you feel after eating (physically and emotionally). Note anything from bloating and bowel movements to joint pain and anxiety. 
  • Add fermented foods (like sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, etc.) to your diet as a simple way to start building healthy gut diversity.

Find the “goldilocks” sweet spot of exercise.

Physical activity is great for our metabolic health, but we all have a sweet spot. You need some physical activity, but not to the point of hurting yourself. The goal should be to feel energized from  exercise—not exhausted to the point of needing a day or two to recover.  Marc recommends The Scientific 7-Minute Workout to help establish your baseline.

Seek out social connection & express your emotions. 

Hashimoto’s and thyroid issues in general, in some sense, are linked to communication and speaking your truth. We’re really not meant to be alone, and we need community and a sense of purpose to feel our best. We also need to keep things moving by expressing and processing our emotions. Our pituitary gland (the “master” of the endocrine system) is affected by emotions, community, and feeling that sense of purpose—and that can affect your thyroid (part of the endocrine system). 

Get enough quality sleep.

Your liver (important to thyroid hormone metabolism) needs time to regenerate and relax, and it does this while you’re sleeping. Not only that, but quality sleep can help regulate the hormones cortisol and melatonin, which affect insulin resistance and thyroid health.

Practice stress management techniques. 

Emotional/mental stress can be physically inflammatory. And it builds up. We can help support a healthy stress response by practicing meditation, being in nature, connecting with the sun, or talking to someone/seeking out community.

Related episode: S3E08 – Kelly McGonigal, PhD

Support your liver blood/heart blood deficiencies.

Blood = your life experience, and if you’re blood deficient in TCM, consider what is draining you? Where are you not nourishing? Where do you need more love/purpose? You can also help nourish your blood through TCM blood-building herbs like romania, Dong Quai, ligusticum, and white peony. 

My blood-building formula: Mane Magic

Final note: Marc notes (and I’ve said this before) that thyroid medication can be very helpful. The thyroid hormone is so important to the body (every system in our body has thyroid hormone receptors), so definitely work with your doctor alongside any potential lifestyle/diet changes. You may be able to improve your symptoms or even eliminate the need for medication at all, but changes can take time and some trial and error.

As always, tune into the episode for allll the juicy goodness in this ep! Be sure to share your thoughts with me on IG: @shoporganicolivia.



Connect with Marc Ryan:

Follow @hashimotoshealer on IG

Visit his website

Read his book: The Hashimoto’s Healing Diet


The Scientific 7-Minute Workout

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