We talk with Hanna about autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s and rheumatoid arthritis, and their relationship with diet, antibiotics, post-pregnancy, stress, exercise deficiency and other factors.

We discuss in this interview:

  • Hanna’s improvements in her health and symptoms with the Paddison Program
  • Antibiotics and condition onset
  • The impact of diet and lifestyle
  • From Hashimoto’s to RA
  • Pregnancy and hormone medications
  • Gluten
  • Homemade coconut kefir as a trigger for RA symptoms
  • Exercises and meditation
  • The importance of consistency

Clint – Another very interesting story to share with you today. We have Hanna, who is going to be talking about Hashimoto’s and also rheumatoid arthritis. We’ve got some new looks at some familiar topics today, including the onset of the disease and the relationship with antibiotics, post-pregnancy, severity of symptoms, stress, exercise deficiency, and of course, all the good stuff, which is what Hanna is doing now to have less symptoms. And the talk she’s having about coming onto a tapering program with her rheumatologist. She’s originally from Ukraine, and her husband but now they live here in Australia. It’s a pleasure to welcome you, Hanna, and introduce you to our community. Welcome.

Hanna – Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be part of this program and this podcast.

Clint – Yes it’s exciting. So tell us, you know, we like to start off with something really positive and sharp and snappy before you started the program versus how you feel now, can you give us a quick insight?

Hanna – Yeah, absolutely. So before I started the Paddison Program, I was on an autoimmune protocol, which includes a lot of fat, fried food, meat and fish, and of course also vegetables and fruits. So before the program, I had a pain in my fingers, pain in my toes, pain in my ribs, uh, pain in my back, and pain in my hip. And I actually had to do hip replacement four weeks ago. And also after meals, um, when I was on an autoimmune protocol, I had extreme fatigue, I have fullness in my stomach. Sometimes I even couldn’t sleep if I eat a little bit too late, and my stools were not regular. And I feel like the Paddison Program and the vegan plant-based diet, this is what I was looking for years, because I feel like I had been eating fish and meat so much in my life that I had enough of it. And it was so great that, oh, finally, I can now eat quinoa and buckwheat and enjoy lots of plant food-based. So when I started the Paddison Program, I started to feel lightness in my stomach, stool some more regular now, um, and didn’t have this fatigue after meals. I had lots of energy and I started to feel my mind is working sharper. Before was I was thinking too slow, I didn’t understand what my kids are talking to me about, but now I can think quicker and my symptoms are symptoms-free now. Only sometimes have somewhere in my fingers or toes, some pain. But I think it’s is because if I do too much exercises. But in general, um, I’m feeling much, much better and actually didn’t wear today, but actually now can wear my wedding ring. I Couldn’t do that, you know what I mean? You know, people with rheumatoid arthritis, they understand what I mean. So now I can wear it.

Clint – So that’s amazing. Yeah. Congratulations. And how does this make you feel?

Hanna – It makes me feel so, so good, and I’m looking forward to the future because before I didn’t know. Okay, so I was just living one day at a time. One day I’m still alive, Okay. Then another day I’m still alive, all right. Now I’m looking forward to the future. I’m thinking about, okay, the next step in my career. I’m looking forward doing more exercise, more travel. Didn’t think about it before, now I’m looking forward to life.

Clint – Yeah, fantastic. Well, let’s dive into the details here. We love to explore the possible cause or association with certain triggers that onset the disease. You and I pieced a few of these bits of the puzzle together before we hit recording here, and it was really exciting to see how this unfolded for you. You had an onset of a lot of, um, bladder infections when you were a late teenager. And so the treatment for those was, of course, antibiotics. So tell us about how often this happened and how much antibiotics you think that you took.

Hanna – So the first onset happened, I think when I was at school year nine or year ten, something like that. And the first one, we failed to treat the bladder infection, so it went to my kidney. So it was in a very, very bad situation. Um, and then the emergency had to come and give me strong painkillers and antibiotics. And then after this episode, I started to have bladder infections very, very regularly. I had it 1 to 3 months. And they gave me the antibiotics, of course. And no one talked to me about the importance of restoring my gut balance after antibiotics. And I never thought about it as well, there was no literature about it. So I just was taking antibiotics and didn’t think about the courses.

Clint – It’s exactly the same as myself. And so I think if you’ve taken five, six more courses of antibiotics and you’re nodding along to that. Yeah, I was similar. I did that and more for multiple years for acne because I had self-consciousness about my acne around about the same age I was in about year ten, I started that. And then you and I have a parallel from there as well. We both then went to university and we know that university years, you’re living a uni lifestyle, you’re not eating well, you’re eating on a budget, you’re spending a lot of time socialising, and so on. It’s not formative years for the microbiome at all, is it?

Hanna – Absolutely no. And when I was a student I started to walk in like McDonald’s cafe. It’s similar to McDonald’s. So you know what the food is like there. And of course, I ate their food. So this is how I ate when I was at uni. So not healthy it all I didn’t remember. Did I eat fruits and vegetables? Maybe sometimes.

Clint – Yeah. Right. So we really can see how this is coming along. Right? So we’re taking tons of antibiotics, and the research tells us very clearly that the amount of antibiotics we take increases our risk of developing RA and also the recency. And although you may have not developed RA for some years later, you’ve gone on and you’ve done anything but improve the gut. You’ve actually worsened it with poor eating. And did you have digestive issues throughout your 20’s?

Hanna – I don’t recall, I think at that stage. Oh, I remember when I was at uni I had a pain or I just remembered that. I had a pain in my stomach or somewhere there, yeah, in my stomach. And I went to the hospital and they told me that we have to check your, we have to do, um, gastroscopy, but they wanted to do it without anesthetic, without anything, and just rejected it and just ran away. I think it’s settled somehow, but I haven’t checked myself regularly. But I did have, I did have some pain.

Clint – And the first symptom that you experienced was that your hip, and when did that begin?

Hanna – So the hip. I think that’s not the first symptom. I think the first symptom was after my first pregnancy in 2013 when I started to have extreme fatigue. People didn’t understand how much fatigue was going on in my body, they couldn’t. Because I was telling even my mom, my husband, like, I don’t have energy, I can’t do that. And they were like, oh, why are you so slow? Why you can’t do this and that? I just didn’t have the energy. I wanted to sleep all the time and I didn’t have iron, I took a lot of iron supplements and it didn’t work. So I think fatigue was the first symptom. And, and then after the second pregnancy, it was the hip at the end of the second pregnancy in 2019.

Clint – Okay. Now your hip progressed and as you said, at the top of the call here that you ended up having to get a hip replacement that’s been scheduled well before you actually began the Paddison Program, that’s been a long term thing. We’ll get to that shortly. But let’s talk about the onset of Hashimoto’s, and we see this all the time. If anyone’s listening to this with Hashimoto’s and they’re wondering whether or not to start the Paddison Program, you ought to get onto this like your butt’s on fire. Because so often we see Hashimoto’s for a few years, develop into rheumatoid arthritis. And it’s only when rheumatoid arthritis hits does basically the life changes to the extent where, you know, people take massive action. But it’s such a common trend, Hashimoto’s then RA.

Hanna – Not just them, not just two of them. So I’ve heard that if you have one of them, then there is a big, big chance you’re going to have second, third, fourth, and all of them if you don’t stop it.

Clint – Right. Well, I would say that your chance now of that has plummeted because you’re now intervening in a way that’s so powerful that let’s touch wood but with a lot of confidence. I’d say that you probably now are going to stop there at two. Um, so tell us about Hashimoto’s. How did that come along? I mean, what was your discovery of that? What did that feel like? What symptoms, and what medications were you put on?

Hanna – Yeah. So after my first pregnancy, we wanted to try the second child, but we failed. I had a miscarriage and I couldn’t get pregnant and I went to a specialist, infertility specialist here in Melbourne. She discovered that I have Hashimoto and she thought that it might be cause that I couldn’t become pregnant. And she put me on hormone replacement, so she gave me hormone medication, and, um, she told me that you need to monitor it with your GP, the hormones. In terms of how I felt before and after hormones. So the symptoms of Hashimoto’s, I think the big one was, for me, the heartbeat, the heart palpitations, I had heart palpitations. My heart was beating so fast sometimes that I couldn’t understand what’s going on, why it was happening. And I drank coffee, I didn’t understand that I should stop it. But I think it was one of the symptoms, the heart palpitations and then fatigue and weight gain. I couldn’t lose weight. It doesn’t matter what was eating and think it was part of Hashimoto. When I started to take these hormone replacements, I started to feel more energy and heart palpitations were not so frequent.

Clint – And you fell pregnant again? That’s great. Great. Did you monitor your TSH levels and are they under control now on a stable, consistent dose of thyroid meds?

Hanna – They are consistent, they are good. But what was interesting for me, was what I discovered. Because I always ask my specialist not just to monitor my hormone levels and some other things they’re monitoring, but also antibodies. Which shows how much my immune system attacking my thyroid. And what was interesting when with Melbourne Functional Medicine, we dropped gluten and dairy products, my antibodies became normal. I was like on the moon, and I was so surprised presently that, oh, that’s great. And we were started even to think about weaning these hormones. One of the times gluten is very similar to thyroid cells. And when you have an allergy to gluten or sensitivity to gluten, your immune system will attack gluten and thyroid at the same time. So when I dropped gluten and dairy and I’ve done a blood test which shows that I have allergy to gluten, um, so when I stopped dairy and gluten, I lost weight and my antibody became normal.

Clint – Well done. Okay, great. You’ve got no antibodies now, which is great. You’re on the you’re on stable levels of the thyroid medications, which is far less on the fearful side than a lot of the RA meds. Let’s talk about the onset of rheumatoid. So this has happened again which is really, really common after a pregnancy or the symptoms really come about more severely after childbirth. And I did an interview with Richard Matthews some years ago on this podcast, and he went through all the science behind why this occurs. And it’s related to the precipitous change in hormones that occurs after we have the child. So we know that that time is a very vulnerable time for the body to experience elevated symptoms, inflammatory arthritis symptoms. Was that your experience?

Hanna – Yes, it was, but it was just the beginning of my flare-up, the hip was just the beginning. Then about one year later in 2020, I think of 2021. Yeah, 2021. So we had these lockdowns, coronaviruses, school learning, lots of stress, no social activity. So I decided that I’m going to try body ecology diet. I don’t know why I decided I thought that I’m was eating too much sugar and I probably do have candida. So I decided to try, um, the body ecology diet where I excluded all sugar, including all fruits, no fruits at all. And I introduced the coconut kefir, homemade coconut kefir. I introduced it and I don’t know, maybe triggered it. One week later I started to have pain in my shoulders. So at night I started to feel or have pain and I couldn’t move, I couldn’t move, I was struggling to move my hands and shoulders. And then every day it progressed, it progressed. At some point about one week later, I could hardly move, I could hardly walk, I could not walk to the office so I was on sick leave. I couldn’t do anything at home, looking after my kids. I couldn’t watch myself, I couldn’t push the car door, I couldn’t cut potatoes. People with rheumatoid arthritis, you understand what I mean? I couldn’t do that, I couldn’t sleep. And then I decided I needed to go to the hospital because it’s not improving. My husband thought that I was dying. So I went to the hospital, they’ve done lots of tests. I’ve been there for a week, but they didn’t tell me the diagnosis, and then my GP referred me to a rheumatologist. I had no idea who is the rheumatologist at that point, and he told me that I had sero negative for rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory arthritis, and it still set a negative for two years. It didn’t become positive. Good. And she put me on methotrexate and hydrochloroquine.

Clint – I’m going to fast-forward a little bit now. So you’ve been on, did you say hydroxychloroquine, which is Plaquenil, methotrexate as well?

Hanna – Yes,

Clint – Methotrexate as well. Okay. Now then you’ve tried the AIP diet after you’ve come off this other one, which appears to be associated with a dramatic worsening of symptoms, doing homemade coconut kefir, which I wouldn’t recommend in my rest of my lifetime for anyone. Now you’ve stirred things up. I want to get to the stuff where you tell us what’s working. What are your lifestyle interventions now that you find most valuable? Clearly, you are having troubles with the AIP. Tell us just some of those issues and then tell us now what’s working for you within the Paddison Program set of tools.

Hanna – So what’s working for me? Exercises. It’s so, so crucial. It’s so, so important. As you told, in one of your podcasts, it is part of medicine. It’s like food you have to eat every day. You have to do exercises, you have to be active every day. This is working for me. Then meditation. Meditation is working for me every day, at least five, ten minutes, you have to meditate. And I’m also doing the breath walks after each time when I go to the bathroom, I do some slow breathing. So this is working for me. So exercise, medication, and diet is very crucial. Sleep is so, so important, a positive mindset. And I’m working on my thoughts at the moment because I don’t know why, but for, whatever reason, our mind would like to tell us negative things. And our mind is saying, oh, you can’t do that, or you, you are not healthy or you’re weak or whatever, but I’m currently working on my thoughts to make them positive instead of negative. And positive visualization. So every morning before I wake up, I just lay down in my bed and I’m imagining all the things I would like to achieve and how I would like to feel, what activities I would like to do all these things and just feel it. Sun, nature is a treasure, nature is a medicine. When I’m in the office every day at lunchtime, I have to go outside to the local park and just do tai chi or sit or whatever.

Clint – This is good. This is good. You’ve. You’re a wonderful student, Hannah. You do all of the things that I recommend, and you do them well. So let me see, in amongst that, let’s get specific with exercise. What exactly have you found at the moment works for you?

Hanna – So at the moment, because I’ve done just hip replacement, I can’t do much for my lower body, I’m doing just the physiotherapy exercises. They gave me specific exercises and every week I’m progressing. For my upper body, I was doing the exercises you recommended. And I’m hanging from a bar every day. I’m just hanging, I’m hanging, I’m not pulling up, I’m not doing pull-ups. But I’ve been doing it for a while, and it’s so good for my shoulders because I had pain before in my shoulders, in my neck and shoulders. So when I started to do this hanging, it helped me so much.

Clint – But before you move on with the hanging, are you allowing your elbows to be relaxed? Like your arms are straight up? You’re not sort of holding a you’re not holding on like that.

Hanna – Just relax and let it stretch as it should as it wants to stretch. But in the end I’m trying to pull up because this is my dream to do at least one pull up. Maybe. Maybe yes. Maybe not. We’ll see I.

Clint – Love it, I love it okay. I want to get some clarity around this for people. So is your overhead bar at home or did you install one above the doorway, or do you go to a local park or a gym?

Hanna – It is in my backyard. My husband has done it several years ago for himself. He’s doing exercises and my two boys, two kids, I’m pushing them to do exercises. Um, yeah, and I’m using it as well. So it’s in my backyard.

Clint – Um, how long did it take you before you could hang with your own full body weight? And before that, were you having your toes on the ground and just trying?

Hanna – Oh, it took a while. The most difficult part is that you have sensitive parts here, and when you start, it hurts. But when we see progress, it’s becoming harder here and you can then hold. So it’s about this part to strengthen this part. I think it took me, I don’t know, maybe even a month.

Clint – Trying every day.

Hanna – But I was very patient, I was trying every day. The main thing is consistent, consistently every day. And it takes me, you know, I go outside to, to water my garden and just just 2 seconds or 3 seconds. Three seconds. That’s it. Done.

Clint – That’s it. You’re saying all the things I was hoping you would say. This is what we want to do. So we want to make it so simple and so available that there’s no excuse not to. And you can put a little platform under your feet, reach up, hold the bar, try and take your body weight. If you can’t keep your feet on the platform that’s safe and stable under you. And then each day, just try, just try, just try. Now, how would you say that your shoulders are before and after that intervention?

Hanna – Much better. I was having pain, especially after walking, after working or sitting in front of the computer. It’s much better and it’s more flexible, it’s very good stuff. If you have pain in your shoulders it’s. Yeah. And for parents with kids, every playground, every school playground, they have monkey bars. Yeah I do that. If I go to the playground with my kids, I do that, they do that and I do it with them.

Clint – I love it I love it okay, great. So we’ve talked about shoulders which is really helpful, I appreciate you sharing there. What about your hands? Was there anything particular that you found most helpful for the hands, or did the hands just seem to improve alongside developing your grip strength by trying to hang and with the improvements to the diet?

Hanna – I think diet is the major cause that it’s because if it’s swollen, you can’t do much if it’s swollen. So diet plus medication, they improved it and was doing a lot of that. Yeah. Was during these moments, this moment actually doing stretches now three times per day. It take me five minutes, three times per day. Just stretch every part of the body, neck, then shoulders, then wrists, you know, elbows. And then just go, go, go down. Five minutes and it’s so, so helpful. Stretches and exercises they are so helpful in controlling our symptoms.

Clint – Do you normally do it later in the day when the body feels a little more warmed up? Or do you get into it straight away?

Hanna – Straight away. So my my morning routine is that the first visualization. Then I do positive affirmations, I have a notebook when reading my positive affirmations and read them every morning. Then I do oil pulling with coconut oil. Then I brush my teeth. I drink lots of water, couple of glasses at least in the morning. And then I do, um, the stretches away. This five minute stretches, and then I dress up and then I eat breakfast.

Clint – Fantastic. Within the food spectrum, what are your favorite meals and anything else that you include in your diet that you think is most helpful?

Hanna – Salads, Leafy greens, sprouts. And I’m sprouting myself. Yeah. So pooches in Sydney sprouts are website pooches. Special container with a top and it’s so easy. I’ll find the sprouts are so easy to grow, it’s very easy. I love quinoa with seaweed. And my child he’s four and a half every time when he see I’m eating quinoa, you’re like, mom for me as well. And if it is without seaweed, he’s like, not the same put seaweed as well. This is my favorite cabbage. Today in the morning I’ve eaten oats with a spoon of honey. But eat special oats gluten-free.

Clint – Just to clarify something there, oats are actually gluten free. But what can happen is the crops can get contaminated by the crops next door to the oats, which might be wheat or barley. And I grew up on a farm, I know how this works. You use the same machinery, you use the same harvester to harvest your wheat crop, to harvest your oat crop, to harvest your barley crop. And we’ve had all of those on our farm as I was growing up. And it does, it just gets mixed up. I mean, this is the practicalities of running a farm. They all go into the same silos, they end up going through the same processes. So you can’t help but get a little bit, and I might be talking about less than a percent, but just a tiny little bit of those grains end up with the oats. And if you’ve got celiac disease, that’s too much. And if you’ve got non-celiac gluten sensitivity, it also may trigger some symptoms. So you can access gluten-free oats which are just really isolated in their farming practices. Therefore you can sidestep any of the triggers that may come with the presence of gluten. So you’re not eating something weird, you’re eating something that’s been carefully produced.

Hanna – That’s right. I also love miso paste, and I started to do my homemade sauerkraut.

Clint – Oh, how about that?

Hanna – It’s actually a traditional food in my country in Ukraine. Lots of family eating sauerkraut.

Clint – Do you have the same name or do you have a different name for it?

Hanna – It’s a different name.

Clint – Huh? I’d be curious. Do you remember?

Hanna – Kysla Kapusta. But you don’t understand it.

Clint – No.

Clint – That’s never one that I’ve spoken through these lips. Wow. Okay. Well, excellent. Well, it’s good that you’re moving into the fermented foods without trouble. The more fermented foods that we can eat without symptoms, the better off we will be. So well done. The miso is a great start. Now you’re into your sauerkraut. All that really difficult name you just said. And that’s exciting, that’s exciting. And you’ve got the mindset. You’ve got the visualization. These are excellent, excellent things. All right, well, um, you and I spoke right before we kicked off, and you said that you’ve you’re going to recover from the hip replacement with doing all the physical therapy, and then you feel so good that you’re going to start talking to your rheumatologist about some tapering of medications. Are you still on hydroxychloroquine and methotrexate?

Hanna – That’s right.

Clint – So the question would be the doctor, how to go about the tapering. And, you know, there might be some debate about which one to start first, but typically you would start one and then work to get one down to zero. And then you’d be left with one, and then you’re slowly going down that one too. Have that been the early discussions?

Hanna – Yeah. So actually I’m going to two rheumatologists. One is public and it’s, and it’s difficult to talk a public rheumatologist about tapering medication. And another is private, my private rheumatologist, he’s not just treating a patient with medications. He’s talking about medications and a diet. He actually heard about the Paddison Program, and he said, yeah, that’s good. Try it and tell me how you feel. He’s actually waiting for me. So we had a discussion about lowering methotrexate first, before my surgery. And he said, okay, so keep doing the Paddison Program, do the hip replacement, recover after hip replacement, and then come to me and we will talk about a strategy, how we can lower it.

Clint – That’s fantastic. Well, awesome. I would love to get an update from you down the track. I think you’re such a candidate to have a taper of your medications. Given how how you feel and you’ve got the right medical support, you’ve got all the right pieces in place with your lifestyle. So it’s all very exciting for your future. And I appreciate you sharing all of the insights as to how this may have come about. Some of these themes like Hashimoto’s, then rheumatoid arthritis, antibiotics used very frequently in our youth, and then the development of autoimmune disease symptoms returning or flaring up after pregnancy. That’s a very, very common theme. And then also doing dietary interventions that aren’t scientific to stir up symptoms and then eating things like autoimmune protocol, which is like a halfway step to ideal eating and microbiome restoration. Because it still retains foods that are known to be inflammatory, to increase the translocation of lipopolysaccharide into the bloodstream, to increase leaky gut. And so we know these things, and despite their popularity, people keep doing them. So I need stories like your wonderful stories, to shine a light on the truth and illustrate the ways of things not to do, and to ultimately get onto the right path and a path that is sustainable for health long term and not a titanic diet, as I call them, like the keto and paleo and apes and Carnival. These titanic diets in due course will sink and sink you to the bottom.

Hanna – That’s right, that’s right. There are two more things Clint wanted to mention, which I think helped me as well. One of them is that make sure that they have all vitamins and minerals because I was low in vitamin D, very low. But, you know, my doctor didn’t pay attention much in that and didn’t also understand the impact of that. So I had done nothing about it for years. Now of course I’m good, I’m making sure that I’m checking vitamin D, I’m checking it regularly, so it’s good. The second thing is toxins, when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, I read a book, um, Hashimoto Solution by Isabella Wise. And she was talking about gluten, meditation daily, and also toxins. And I started to make sure that my house is cleaner, my body products are much cleaner, my food is cleaner, my water is cleaner. So I also think it took a big role in my recovery.

Clint – Right? Yeah. For sure. These are great things. The first two no-brainer things that I’m rolling out now in our coaching program is the optimization of vitamin D and omega 6 -3 ratio. These are two things that we can easily achieve and two things which are very measurable and have a huge impact on disease outcomes. So if we can optimize our vitamin D and optimize our omega 6 -3 ratio straightforwardly, much more easily than some of the other objectives that we’re working on, we should be doing that. So I’m glad you brought that up. Great work. You really have a lot of these things covered, really on top of so much of the principles here. So it’s it’s great.

Hanna – Thank you Clint. You’re doing so great job with all the community. You have so many people and I’ll keep listening. Still you have so many resources, videos to listen and to learn. Every time when listen new video, I learn something new. So you’re doing a fantastic job.

Clint – Well, thank you, Hanna, and thanks for contributing to that collection of information. Now people will be watching or listening to you and have learned a lot, I’m sure, from today. So thanks so much and good luck on the next stage of your healing mission.

Hanna – Thank you so much Clint and good luck to everyone in the community. I wish you all to be healthy and happy.


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