May 13, 2012 at 1:18am
New Medical Awareness
Keeping Your Thyroid Healthy in a Toxic World
Most people realize that their thyroid is important for controlling their metabolism and body weight.
But did you know that depression, heart disease, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, PMS (premenstrual syndrome), menopausal symptoms, muscle and joint pains, irritable bowel syndrome, or autoimmune disease could actually indicate a problem with your thyroid?
The classic signs of a sluggish thyroid gland include weight gain, lethargy, poor quality hair and nails, hair loss, dry skin, fatigue, cold hands and feet, and constipation -- and these symptoms are relatively well known.
However, some of the conditions you might not associate with your thyroid include:
* High cholesterol
* Irregular menstruation
* Low libido
* Gum disease
* Fluid retention
* Skin conditions such as acne and exzema
* Memory problems* Poor stamina
Your lifestyle choices dictate, to a great degree, how well your thyroid will function. Eliminate junk food, processed food, artificial sweeteners, trans fats, and anything with chemical ingredients. Eat whole, unprocessed foods, and choose as many organics as possible.
Another food that is bad for your thyroid is soy. Soy is NOT the health food the agricultural and food companies would have you believe.
Soy is high in isoflavones (or goitrogens), which are damaging to your thyroid gland. Thousands of studies now link soy foods to malnutrition, digestive stress, immune system weakness, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders, infertility and a host of other problems -- in addition to damaging your thyroid.
Properly fermented organic soy products such as natto, miso, and tempeh are fine -- it’s the unfermented soy products that you should stay away from.
Coconut oil is one of the best foods you can eat for your thyroid. Coconut oil is a saturated fat comprised of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are known to increase metabolism and promote weight loss.
Coconut oil is very stable (shelf life of 3 to 5 years at room temperature), so your body is much less burdened with oxidative stress than it is from many other vegetable oils. And coconut oil does not interfere with T4 to T3 conversion the way other oils can.
Gluten and Other Food Sensitivities
Gluten and food sensitivities are among the most common causes of thyroid dysfunction because they cause inflammation.
Gluten causes autoimmune responses in many people and can be responsible for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a common autoimmune thyroid condition. Approximately 30 percent of the people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis have an autoimmune reaction to gluten, and it usually goes unrecognized.
How this works is, gluten can cause your gastrointestinal system to malfunction, so foods you eat aren’t completely digested (aka Leaky Gut Syndrome). These food particles can then be absorbed into your bloodstream where your body misidentifies them as antigens -- substances that shouldn’t be there -- our body then produces antibodies against them.
These antigens are similar to molecules in your thyroid gland. So your body accidentally attacks your thyroid. This is known as an autoimmune reaction or one in which your body actually attacks itself.
Testing can be done for gluten and other food sensitivities, which involves measuring your IgG and IgA antibodies
Iodine is a key component of thyroid hormone. In fact, the names of the different forms of thyroid hormone reflect the number of iodine molecules attached -- T4 has four attached iodine molecules, and T3 has three -- showing what an important part iodine plays in thyroid biochemistry.
If you aren’t getting enough iodine in your diet (and most Americans don’t), no matter how healthy your thyroid gland is, it won’t have the raw materials to make enough thyroid hormone.
Chlorine, fluorine and bromine are also culprits in thyroid function, and since they are halides like iodine, they compete for your iodine receptors.
If you are exposed to a lot of bromine, you will not hold on to the iodine you need. Bromine is present in many places in your everyday world -- plastics, pesticides, hot tub treatments, fire retardants, some flours and bakery goods, and even some soft drinks. I have written a special article about bromine and its influence on your thyroid gland and I encourage you to read it.
Also make sure the water you drink is filtered. Fluoride is particularly damaging to your thyroid gland. Not all water filters remove fluoride, so make sure the one you have does.
Stress and Adrenal Function
Stress is one of the worst thyroid offenders. Your thyroid function is intimately tied to your adrenal function, which is intimately affected by how you handle stress.
Many of us are under chronic stress, which results in increased adrenalin and cortisol levels, and elevated cortisol has a negative impact on thyroid function. Thyroid hormone levels drop during stress, while you actually need more thyroid hormones during stressful times.
When stress becomes chronic, the flood of stress chemicals (adrenalin and cortisol) produced by your adrenal glands interferes with thyroid hormones and can contribute to obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, unstable blood sugar, and more.
A prolonged stress response can lead to adrenal exhaustion(also known as adrenal fatigue), which is often found alongside thyroid disease.
Environmental toxins place additional stress on your body. Pollutants such as petrochemicals, organochlorines, pesticides and chemical food additives negatively affect thyroid function.
One of the best destressors is exercise, which is why it is so beneficial for your thyroid.
Exercise directly stimulates your thyroid gland to secrete more thyroid hormone. Exercise also increases the sensitivity of all your tissues to thyroid hormone. It is even thought that many of the health benefits of exercise stem directly from improved thyroid function.
Even something as simple as a 30-minute walk is a great form of exercise, and all you need is a good pair of walking shoes. Don’t forget to add strength training to your exercise routine, because increasing your muscle mass helps raise your metabolic rate.
Also make sure you are getting enough sleep. Inadequate sleep contributes to stress and prevents your body from regenerating fully.
Finally, one excellent way to reduce stress is with an energy psychology tool such as the Meridian Tapping Technique (MTT). More and more people are practicing MTT and experiencing amazing results.
Treatment Options for a Sluggish Thyroid
Here are some suggestions that can be used for general support of your thyroid, as well as treating an underperforming one:
* Eat plenty of sea vegetables such as seaweed, which are rich in minerals and iodine (hijiki, wakame, arame, dulse, nori, and kombu). This is probably the most ideal form of iodine supplementation as it is also loaded with many other beneficial nutrients.
* Eat Brazil nuts, which are rich in selenium.
* Get plenty of sunlight to optimize your vitamin D levels; if you live where sunlight is limited, use vitamin D3 supplementation.
* Eat foods rich in vitamin A, such as dandelion greens, carrots, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, and sweet potatoes.
* Make sure you are eating enough omega-3 fatty acids.
* Use pure, organic coconut oil in your cooking -- it’s great for stir fries and sautéing many different meats and vegetables.* Filter your drinking water and your bathing water.
* Filter your air, since it is one of the ways you take in environmental pollutants.
* Use an infrared sauna to help your body combat infections and detoxify from petrochemicals, metals, PCBs, pesticides and mercury.
* Taking chlorella is another excellent detoxification aid.
* Many women suffering with hormonal imbalances report significant benefits from the South American herb maca. For more information, please review this article by thyroid expert Mary Shomon, or her Q&A session with Dr. Viana Muller on this topic.
* Take active steps to minimize your stress ... relaxation, meditation, hot soaks, EFT, whatever works for you.
* Exercise, exercise, exercise!
The information provided in this post is intended to educate the reader. It is not a substitute for examination, diagnosis and medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Do not attempt to treat yourself, your child, or anyone else without proper medical supervision!