Exclusive Interview with Magdalena Wszelaki, a Certified Holistic Health Coach and Founder of the Thyroid Diet Coach, where she talks about how to get off thyroid medication by healing with foods and answers YOUR questions. Part 1.
You submitted so many questions to Magdalena Wszelaki that we decided to make it a two-part interview. Today it is all about thyroid medication, supplements, thyroid diet, gluten and detoxification and how to recover (yes, you read it right!) from Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism.
The life-changing information that Magdalena shares today will be an eye opener for many of you. I can guarantee you that by the end of this interview you will never look at thyroid disease and your treatment the same way as you did before.
So, let’s get started with Part 1!
Question 1: Many people with hypothyroidism struggle to find the right doctor who can help their thyroid problems, try different brands of thyroid medication and take supplements, however still continue to suffer from many hypothyroid symptoms. You are a Certified Holistic Health Coach who successfully helped hundreds of thyroid patients to become symptoms free and for many even reverse the disease. How do YOU use thyroid medication and supplements?
Magdalena Wszelaki: It’s very understandable that we reach for medications when sick; thyroid or any other conditions – after all, this is what we were taught to do when we need to take care of ourselves. Before I answer the question about thyroid medication and supplements, I would ask you to be open-minded when reading this interview. After all, you have tried many different things and you are still feeling sick – so why not try a different way of thinking, for just a moment, and see what opens up for you.
To do that, let’s lay some foundation first which you would need to understand and accept if you were to heal: 90% of thyroid conditions are autoimmune diseases. This means it’s not the thyroid that failed in the first place but the immune system. This is what autoimmune diseases all have in common: our own body turns against itself and start destroying its own body parts. In the case of Hashimoto’s and Graves’, it’s the thyroid.
Many people have not been diagnosed properly and think they just have hypo- or hyperthyroidism but this is only because doctors don’t test for antibodies to conclude a full diagnosis. So, the chances are in 90% of the cases that you have Hashimoto’s if you suffer from hypothyroidism or Graves’ if hyperthyroidism.
Now, the second piece you need to know is that the 70% of the immune system resides in the digestive tract and this explains why most people with thyroid conditions also have poor digestion which is manifested in frequent bloating, constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux, burping, gas or more serious conditions like IBS, IBD or Crohn’s disease. In fact, so many people have digestive issues that we assume they are normal. Let me assure you of one thing: a healthy person never has digestive issues.
Hippocrates, the father of Western Medicine (his oath is taken by all graduating doctors) said “all diseases start in the gut”. I don’t want to make it into a complicated science or biology class, but I do need you to know this much: our digestive tract is equipped with villi (see picture below); tiny hair-like projections in the digestive tract (aka “the gut”).
Villi absorbs all nutrients from the food we give our body. The villi on the left is a healthy one. However, people with chronic digestive issues have damaged villi – this is the image on the right side – and this is why they don’t absorb nutrients in its full ability. This is why I often say that even if you are taking many supplements, your digestive tract is not able to absorb them, only making our poo and pee a pretty expensive affair.
Why is this critical to understand? Let me use an analogy here. Imagine you have a leak in the roof and the water seeps in and makes one of the room walls wet and eventually mouldy. How would you want to address this problem? Would you re-paint the wall every morning to cover the mould OR would you get the roof fixed? Any sane person would fix the roof – and this is what I do – I help people fix their digestive problems and give them proper nutrition – which is addressing the “leak” or the root of the problem. Taking any thyroid medication is repainting the wall over and over again.
I never tell my clients to get off thyroid medication – this is not my job. Most of the people who adopt my protocol end up reducing or getting off thyroid medication and many supplements just by feeling better and reporting their symptoms (or lack of them) to their doctors who then decide what to do. Many people report that their doctors are shocked to see them feeling better – of course, doctors get 30 minutes clinical nutrition education in med school and were never taught how to restore an ailing digestive track, let alone understanding how digestion impacts the immune system and the thyroid.
Let me share with you a very personal experience: I used to work in advertising and some of my ex-clients were pharmaceutical companies. I will never forget a presentation we did in China which showed the projected growth of diabetes, cancer and other diseases in urban Chinese cities. The pharmaceutical executives were salivating; their eyes wide opened and you could feel the air of delight that filled in the room. This was the day I realized that the pharmaceutical companies are in the business of making money (big money) and not in the business of keeping us healthy.
Supplements are also a big business, catered largely to our psyche – we like quick fixes and results.
The truth is: when your digestive system is compromised, you do NOT absorb these synthetic vitamins, minerals and thyroid medication very effectively.
I see over and over again people spending tons of money on the next hyped-up supplement and their health does not improve (and sometimes gets worse) and they remain deficient in micronutrients.
Most people with thyroid conditions are known to be deficient in Vitamines D, B, A, E, K, calcium, zinc, copper, selenium, iron and magnesium.
Most people who start working with me bring (or email) long lists of supplements they are taking; they typically include iodine, fish oil, expensive multivitamins, selenium, iron, calcium and magnesium.
This is my question for you: has it worked for you? Do you feel better?
From my experience, supplements can bring some results but not anywhere close to what a diet change would do for you.
Firstly, our body is built to absorb micro- and macro-nutrients from real food, not synthetic sources. Secondly, when your digestion is weak and the villi are damaged, little gets absorbed. The same goes for thyroid medication. Many people don’t absorb it properly and have to take higher dose at expense of other body systems to make thyroid medication work and feel some of its effects.
A proper nutritional plan is focused on restoring your digestive tract would therefore restore your villi, pacify your immune system which will then stop the aggressive attack on the thyroid and other organs and body systems. This is the proper way how to get off thyroid medication. A this is what I do to get this result – we “fix the roof” together, not repaint the walls. Give good food a chance, it’s well worth it. Besides, what is the worse that can happen if you try?
Question 2. Conventional doctors don’t give any hope for people who have autoimmune Hashimoto’s disease and/or are hypothyroid telling them that it is a life-long incurable condition and patients have to take thyroid medication for life. You successfully reversed your own Hashimoto’s and are in the remission for more than 5 years now. Let’s talk about the results you are getting with your clients. Is it possible to get off the thyroid medication completely after being on it for a long time?
Magdalena Wszelaki: There is a saying “you can’t treat what you have not experienced yourself” and perhaps it’s not completely true but I certainly feel I excel in my work because of my own painful journey. I wish there was a person like me who could have distilled it all for me without me having to go through all the trial and error over the years!
It took me years to put my natural thyroid healing protocol together. There is no one single book that puts all the pieces together; some focus on diets, some on the thyroid itself, others on the immune or hormonal balance. In reality, every person is different and since so many factors (from toxicity, digestion, adrenals/stress, poor self-esteem, lack of sleep, lifestyle choices) that impact the thyroid, it’s hard to lay it out in simple steps that will heal everyone.
Western medicine deals with symptoms and not the root cause of the disease, this is why conventional doctors say there is no cure for autoimmune conditions.
Let’s remember that pharmaceutical companies sponsor med schools and take care of the doctors from first day of school – so there is a sense of loyalty and dogmatic thinking that closes off all other ways of healing. I have to say, even many naturopaths don’t really understand thyroid conditions and go the supplements-herbs route which most often is not enough – this is why people come to me.
The results most of my clients experience are: restored digestive system (no gas, constipation, bloating, acid reflux, etc), increase of energy, lifting of depression and anxiety, better sleep, disappearance of joint pains and aches and most importantly: a breath of new life, hope and excitement which gives me immense joy and pride from my work.
A doctor I met once on a flight told me that food alone is too simple to be true (as a healing technique). Having worked with pharmaceutical clients, I also know that there is no money in treating with food. They always talk about “patents” on medication as this is the cash cow for them.
Recently, coconut oil got mass publicity in reversing Azheimer’s disease (which too is an autoimmune disease but here the immune system is attacking parts of the brain). The next thing we hear is: pharmaceutical companies are now working on modifying coconut oil to “extract the compound that has the reversal impact”.
Why, I ask? The answer is simple: to create a patent on it so they can announce it, their stock goes up and billions will pour in from sales. But, you can’t patent coconut oil alone so expect to see a “new cure” soon which is most likely a modified version of good old coconut oil. In reality, the patient would benefit equally from consuming coconut oil on a regular basis.
Can you get off thyroid medication for good? That all depends on the person’s health history. Some people do, as they are able to:
- Restore the digestive system,
- Pacify the immune system,
- Detoxify the body by boosting the liver function for optimum T4 to T3 conversion,
- Stabilize their sugar levels because the pancreas regulate sugar and same as the thyroid, the pancreas are part of the endocrine system; we therefore can’t have a healthy thyroid with low/high sugar levels
- Manage their stress levels.
Remember, our body is an amazing machine designed to self-heal. You don’t need much for a wound to heal – the body does the repair job. All you need to do is: give your body the right environment and tools to start healing.
From my experience, the people who have slowest recovery are the ones who are not able to cope with stress very well; poor self-esteem, negative self-talk, guilt, fears, unreleased emotional baggage from the past – all contribute to chronic stress and adrenal over-activity or exhaustion (then it’s under-activity) which impact the thyroid and the immune system.
Most people don’t realize that the adrenals are also responsible for managing the immune system – this is why after 2 weeks of stressful events, when it all calms down, we often come down with a flu – it’s our adrenals that are just too tired to stimulate the immune system which then becomes too weak to act as a good defender.
Of course, if a person had a total or partial thyroidectomy or a RAI treatment done, there will always be a need for thyroid medications.
However, I’ve had incredible results with these patients as most of their debilitating symptoms lift and they feel 90% themselves again. I just would like to give you one example. My client Joy lost her thyroid to cancer; Here is a 4-min interview where she talks about results she was able to achieve after 3 months working with me.
Many holistic practitioners attribute the thyroid pandemic to high toxicity levels in our bodies today. It’s not a far-fetched idea because if you look at people living in Asia, Africa or South America where Western “ways” have not been fully embraced yet – they don’t experience thyroid and autoimmune conditions in numbers like we do.
Dr. Henry G. Bieler, MD, author of “Food is your best medicine”, wrote: “Toxicity is caused by improper food. The organs then are forced to become emergency streams of vicarious elimination to discharge these toxic wastes. The endocrine glands are called into action to aid in eliminating toxin poisons from the system.”
This explains thyroid nodules and cases of goiter (which can also be caused by iodine deficiency but most Americans get enough iodine so the next cause to look into is toxicity) – which I see go away after a diet change and detoxification of the body. I too had two nodules that miraculously disappeared a few years ago.
Question 3. You are well-known as a Thyroid Diet Coach. How do you use diet to help people to improve thyroid function? Many readers would like to know in particular if going gluten-free absolutely necessary for everybody who has autoimmune Hashimoto’s disease to recover and is it a part of how to get of thyroid medication protocol?
Magdalena Wszelaki: The “Thyroid diet” is not really a “diet” the way we know diets to be; restrictive, depriving and to-be-feared in the longer term, as in: “is it going to be a failure like all my other diets”. It is a way of eating, one that is nourishing, satisfying and very yummy. This must be the case if we want to make a change for life, otherwise you will experience what you already did on
Atkins’s, South Beach diet or Weight Watchers – most people are just not able to sustain them.
The Thyroid Diet generates amazing, life-long results for people who follow it. It has taken me many years of trial and error to formulate this protocol. I base it on three principals of: remove-add-balance. We first look at what need to be removed from your diet and your current lifestyle that depletes your immune system and your thyroid. We then look at what needs to be added to strengthen your digestion, hormones and your immune system. Lastly, we balance the protocol based on your bio-individuality.
The first step is to repair and detoxify the digestive tract since most people suffer from chronic constipation, bloating, gas, acid reflux, bouts of diarrhea or burping. Since most of thyroid conditions are autoimmune diseases and the immune system resides in the gut (especially the smaller intestine), it’s paramount to address this part first. It’s amazing what great results people get from just 2-3 weeks of implementing the changes.
So how do we do that? The first step is to go on an Elimination Diet where you cuts of gluten, dairy, eggs, soy and corn as they are known to be the biggest aggravators of the digestive tract and contribute to destroying the villi which absorb all micro and macronutrients.
Unfortunately, gluten is not an option – there are various theories why gluten is so detrimental for us and I will not go into details on this here – let’s just accept the fact that when you have an autoimmune disease, you just have to learn to live without it. It’s hard at first but we, as human, are highly adaptable creatures and every person I worked with accepts this change just because they start feeling so much better. So much so that people don’t even want to touch gluten once they start feeling better as they associate it with days of feeling sick and weak.
For most people, eliminating gluten is not enough – this is why you need to test other foods mentioned.
For people with serious digestive issues and a highly compromised gut, it’s also very beneficial to cut out all other grains, even the non-gluten once like quinoa, rice, millet, etc. All grains contain sugars that feed pathogenic intestinal bacteria. This change, however, does not have to last forever – many people use it as a “healing phase” and once the gut is restored, they slowly re-introduce grains (at first soaked overnight, cooked in whey, etc) and, in fact, feel good on them again. I can’t say the same about gluten, even though the sensitivity to gluten reduced over time.
Some people have other food sensitivities which are less common but they do happen – to nuts, nightshade vegetables, citrus fruit or even certain meats, garlic or even avocados. This is a very tricky area and I would advise doing an IgG food intolerance testing (it’s a blood test) or muscle testing to drill further. I also started working with the blood type diet and it produces astonishing results for some.
As you can see, there will be no “one diet fits all” here – this is why I work with people over a period of a few month to guide and support this discovery journey. At the end, everyone walks out with “their own thyroid diet” that they like, respond well to and heal on.
My key value as a coach (I’m told by my clients) is helping them create a diet that not only eliminates a few foods but introduces many more. As the saying goes: when one door closes, three others open – this is the only way to create a sustainable, like-able way of eating for life.
P.S. Read the Part 2 of the interview with Magdalena Wszelaki How To Get Back Your Thyroid Health (And Much More)
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