The thyroid as our master gland.
Our thyroid is often referred to as the “master gland” because every cell in our body depends on the thyroid to send the right chemical message so they function properly. The thyroid plays a role in all of our critical body systems: metabolism, reproduction, temperature regulation, digestion, cardiovascular, muscle control, brain development, mood and adrenal regulation, amongst others. There is a wide range of symptoms that can occur when the chemical messages from the thyroid are disturbed. Prolonged disruption of the thyroid gland can lead to chronic illness and can damage the thyroid beyond repair.
The thyroid gland has been getting more attention in the last decade because there seems to be an alarming amount of thyroid disease affecting Americans. It is estimated that thyroid disease touches approximately 20 million lives in the US alone. 60% of those don’t even realize they have a problem because their thyroid symptoms are often attributed to other ailments. Compounding this issue is the traditional thyroid blood tests indicating a “normal range” of thyroid hormone in the blood when a better marker for thyroid function is testing at the intercellular level, where thyroid function takes place, with a thyroid reflex test.
One of the reasons thyroid disease is on the rise is due to our increased use of chemicals in almost everything. It is used in crop management, food preservatives, consumer products, cleaning supplies, etc. There are chemicals all around us and many are toxic to our thyroid.
The best defence for protecting your thyroid is to avoid exposure to toxins.
This is a difficult task because they are all around us, and sometimes they are “hidden” in products you wouldn’t even suspect. Being aware of what to avoid is a good start.
Pesticides and herbicides – it is common practice in industrial farming to use these on crops. Eating organically grown food will help you avoid these.
PCBs – they were banned in the US in 1979, but they are still present in the environment and causing issues with thyroid function. PCBs were used in the production of plastics, adhesives and paint. The most common route of exposure to PCBs is from eating contaminated fish.
Dioxins – this chemical is a byproduct in some manufacturing processes, such as herbicide production and paper bleaching. The EPA and industry have been working to dramatically reduce the amount of dioxins in the environment. However, dioxins break down very slowly and a large part of the current exposures to dioxins in the US today are due to releases that occurred many years ago. Exposure to dioxins occurs mainly from contaminated food or drinking water.
Perchlorate – this is a chemical used in the production of leather, paint, batteries and rubber, along with some military applications such as rocket fuel. There are numerous studies linking it to thyroid dysfunction, and yet the FDA still approved it for use as an anti-static agent in food packaging.
Flame Retardants – these can be found in carpeting, furniture and clothing, as well as television and computer screens. Flame retardants contain bromine, which is a halogen just like iodine. Iodine is essential to thyroid function but can be displaced by bromine which disrupts thyroid function. Bromine can also be found in pesticides, plastics, and some soft drinks in the form of brominated vegetable oils (BVOs). Remember to check labels or stick to water instead of soda.
Plastics – they are everywhere! From food storage to personal care products, water bottles and coffee drink lids, they are hard to avoid. BPA and phthalates are found in plastics and they can be mistaken by the body as natural hormones and disrupt your endocrine system. Avoid daily exposure by using a glass water bottle and ditch the lid on your coffee drink.
Heavy Metals – lead, cadmium, aluminum and mercury. Oh MY! While awareness has grown on the dangers of these metals, they are still pervasive in the environment. Lead can still be found in cheap metal jewelry and children’s toys. Cadmium is present in batteries, plastics, pigments and phosphate fertilizers. Mercury can be found in seafood and in coal-burning plants. Aluminum is found in antacids, deodorant and other personal care products, vaccines, cookware and food additives.
Best practices for a healthy thyroid.
Some best practices to put into place to help protect your thyroid include: eating organic as often as possible, filter your water, avoid plastics, cook in stainless steel or enamelled cast iron, reduce your use of antibacterial products and make sure you are getting enough iodine and selenium.
Thyroid function, testing and treatment is discussed during our regular End Hormone Havoc seminars. To find out more, please visit us on the web at WiseWomanWellness.com