So why are we seeing such an epidemic of thyroid problems?
Well, chronic thyroid problems can be caused by many factors, including environmental toxins, chronic stress, chronic inflammation and nutritional deficiencies.
What causes hypothyroidism?
One of the most important factors that leads to hypothyroidism is exposure to environmental toxins such as pesticides, which act as hormone or endocrine disruptors and interfere with thyroid hormone metabolism and function.
In fact, one study found that as people lost weight they released pesticides from their fat tissue. This then interfered with their thyroid function and caused hypothyroidism. The toxins created a slow metabolism and prevented them from losing more weight. This study highlights the importance of overall detoxification. It is quite a significant finding that shows exactly how toxins interfere with thyroid function.
Heavy metals such as mercury can also affect thyroid function. I see many people with chronic hypothyroidism and other thyroid problems because mercury interferes with normal thyroid function.
The other big factor that interferes with thyroid function is chronic stress. There is an intimate interaction between stress hormones and thyroid function. The more stress you are under, the worse your thyroid functions. Any approach to correcting poor thyroid function must address the effects of chronic stress and provide support to the adrenal glands.
The next major factor that affects thyroid function is chronic inflammation. The biggest source of this chronic inflammation is gluten, the protein found in wheat, barely, rye, spelt and oats. Gluten is a very common allergen that affects about 10 to 20 percent of the population. This reaction occurs mostly because of our damaged guts, poor diet and stress.
I also think eating so-called Frankenfoods, such as hybridized and genetically modified grains with very strange proteins, makes us sick. Our bodies say, “What’s this? Must be something foreign. I’d better create antibodies to this, fight it and get rid of it.” This chronic inflammatory response interferes with thyroid function — and contributes to the epidemic of inflammatory diseases in the developed world.
How you can overcome hypothyroidism
I encourage you to take the following steps to rebalance your thyroid:
1. Make a thorough inventory of any of the symptoms that I mentioned in my previous blog to see if you might suffer from hypothyroidism.
2. Get the right thyroid tests including TSH, free T3, free T4, TPO and anti-thyroglobulin antibodies.
3. Check for celiac disease with a celiac panel.
4. Consider heavy metal toxicity.
5. Check your vitamin D level.
7-step plan to boost your thyroid
Once you have confirmed that a sluggish thyroid is contributing to your symptoms, the good news is that there are many, many, many things you can do to help correct thyroid problems. I have developed a seven-step plan to address hypothyroidism:
1. Treat underlying causes: Identify and treat the underlying causes of hypothyroidism, like food allergies, gluten, heavy metals, nutritional deficiencies and stress.
2. Optimize your nutrition: Support your thyroid with optimal nutrition, including foods that contain iodine, zinc, omega-3 fats, selenium and more.
3. Minimize stress: Eliminate adrenal exhaustion and minimize stress by engaging in a comprehensive stress management program.
4. Exercise: Engage in thyroid stimulating exercise, which boosts thyroid function.
5. Supplement: Use supplements to help enhance thyroid function, including all the nutrients needed for proper thyroid metabolism and function.
6. Heat therapy: Use saunas and heat to eliminate stored toxins, which interfere with thyroid function.
7. Thyroid hormones: Use thyroid hormone replacement therapy to help support your thyroid gland.
I believe a comprehensive approach is needed to address chronic thyroid issues and to diagnose them. Unfortunately, most of the options for healing by conventional care are quite limited and only provide a partial solution. But by following my seven-step plan, you can achieve lifelong vibrant health.
To your good health,
Mark Hyman, M.D.
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