By Corri Peterson
Are you trying to lose weight, or maybe you are struggling with depression? What if I told you that improving your thyroid gland function would improve your overall health?
Let’s talk about the weight issue, those pounds that won’t budge no matter what you try. But instead, the scale keeps creeping up.
You probably tried every diet there is, some you don’t want to tell anyone about because they were so crazy and bizarre, but you were desperate. Yet, you are here wondering what is wrong with you because no diet, program, or amount of exercise has done anything to help you lose any weight or feel any better. (If you purchase through the links in this post, we may receive a commission.)
So, what gives! Even if you lose even a pound, you often find you have gained two or three back?
What about the depression? And the anxiety? Why does that keep showing up?
Why Does Thyroid Gland Function Matter?
What if I told you seventeen toxins are causing harm to your thyroid and creating the uncomfortable symptoms you are experiencing!
After treatment for my Graves’ disease, I slowly became sicker and sicker and heavier and heavier. So, about three years ago, after visiting several doctors trying to find relief for my symptoms and a way to stop or slow down the weight gain, a friend of mine who has Multiple Sclerosis recommended I see a holistic or functional medicine doctor.
I found a functional medicine doctor who could also write prescriptions due to my thyroid hormone replacement needs. FTI: not all holistic doctors can write prescriptions.
My initial consultation, which lasted over 3 hours, concluded with blood, saliva, and urine samples.
The results from the tests were eye-opening. The doctor explained how exposure to environmental toxins led to the build-up of toxins and chemicals that created this toxic overload within my body, starting with my thyroid gland function. Since only the over-active thyroid was treated, and not the autoimmune disease, I still suffered from debilitating symptoms.
His plan came in a three-inch-thick 3-ring binder that covered all the steps I needed to take to heal my body.
Here’s part of the information he shared:
The endocrine glands are the drivers of metabolism. They direct activities by releasing chemical messengers called hormones into the bloodstream. These hormones regulate metabolism and endocrine, cardiovascular, neurological, and immune function.
These glands include:
- Thyroid and Parathyroid
- Ovaries and Testes
- Several other organs containing some Endocrine Tissues
These hormones in these glands also regulate our mood, growth, development, sexual function, and every other body function.
He shared The Neuroendocrine Theory states that “we age because our hormones decline, rather than the reverse assumption that our hormones decline because we age.”
Most aging-related diseases have their basis with hormone dysfunction: imbalances, insufficient levels, or hormone resistance.
Furthermore, some cells become resistant to your hormones. The best-known hormone resistance is that of insulin resistance, found in diabetics. However, cells may become resistant to other hormones as well.
He explained how the chemicals, toxins, and the borderline lead poisoning in my body (that was a surprise), had made it impossible for me to feel well, let alone lose weight.
He had pages of recommendations for me to follow.
He made it clear that if I were to get better, I needed to clean up my diet and remove as many toxins as possible from my body and environment.
This purge included cleaning supplies, cosmetics, shampoos, soaps, water bottles, plastic food containers, and processed foods.
He advised me to look at every aspect of my life and eliminate all the toxins I could.
One of the main areas he targeted was my diet.
One Of The Main Areas Targeted Was My Diet
He discussed the chemicals in our food supply that had most likely contributed to my autoimmune thyroid disease, plus my grandmother’s family history of having a goiter removed. Then, he bluntly told me if I didn’t follow his plan, I wouldn’t get better.
He explained how the chemicals in my food and environment affected how my hormones interacted with each other.
His plan included organic beef and chicken, organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts. The program also stated no Teflon pans, no plastics, no processed food, no fast food. He explained that if it’s not a whole food, it most likely has chemicals added that are harmful to all my endocrine glands.
All these toxins and chemicals clog up the natural hormone balance in your body, making it difficult for your hormones to regulate your body’s functions. The problem with these toxins is they bear a structural similarity to thyroid hormones.
The thyroid is designed to pull iodine (a halogen) and selenium (a metalloid) to the thyroid to produce and metabolize thyroid hormones. Unfortunately, the thyroid also pulls harmful halogens and metals within the gland since the thyroid’s toxins mimic thyroid hormones. As a result, your thyroid can’t distinguish between natural or toxic halogens or heavy metals.
While doing some research on the seventeen chemicals my doctor wanted me to eliminate, I discovered their official name:
These are chemicals found in most common household products, cosmetics, plastics, pesticides, food, and water; these chemicals mimic hormones, disrupt your metabolism, and cause weight gain among other problems.
Once these chemicals are inside of us, even low doses can have a negative effect.
As a general rule, these toxins are divided into four categories:
-Pesticides and herbicides
-Toxins in consumer goods
These are the most common and disruptive Obesogens by category:
These toxins are byproducts of manufacturing processes.
PCBs- Polychlorinated biphenyls– These chemicals have been linked to cancer as well as several other non-cancer severe health issues that include your immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, and endocrine system. They reduce the number of receptors with which thyroid hormone can bind in the body, lowering the amount of circulating T4 and weakening the liver enzymes responsible for converting T4 to T3.
PCBs have been used as coolants and lubricants for electrical equipment. The manufacture of PCBs was stopped in 1977 due to evidence of build-up in the environment and harm to humans. Catfish, carp, and buffalo fish commonly have high PCB levels.
Perchlorate- This chemical hinders thyroid function and inhibits early brain development. It’s used to eliminate static electricity and is found in dry food packaging and drinking water. This chemical is used in military applications like rocket fuel and explosives and has leaked into the groundwater around most military bases. It’s also used in the production of leather, rubber, paint, and batteries.
Dioxin-Acceptable levels in the United States have been linked to decreased T4 and reduced thyroid function, with females more affected than males. This is because dioxin mimics thyroid hormones and reduces T4 by binding to cell receptors that enhance the biochemical process that facilitates the body’s excretion of hormones.
Toxins in Consumer Goods:
PBDEs Polybrominated diphenyl ethers- These are flame retardants found in computer and TV screens, furniture, carpet padding, and synthetic textiles. PBDEs mimic thyroid hormones, and they displace T4 from hormone-binding proteins preventing them from being transported in the blood. They also disrupt estrogen activity making postmenopausal women particularly vulnerable to their effects.
BPA-Bisphenol A– This chemical is found in food-can linings and plastic bottles; BPA mimics the hormone estrogen structure and function. It also interacts with hormone receptors, like your thyroid, altering their function. We know low thyroid is linked to weight gain and out-of-balance estrogen, and progesterone is contributed to increased waist circumference, similar to what happens during menopause.
I also didn’t know that shopping receipts also contain BPA, so now I avoid them as much as possible.
My doctor also observed that you would automatically limit your BPA exposure if you eat fresh, whole foods. Plus, it’s worth noting that many BPA-free products have just replaced BPA with bisphenol-S (BPS) or bisphenol-F (BPF), which aren’t any better for our health or hormones.
These chemicals are used in vinyl flooring, adhesives, plastics, and as emollients in personal care items. These chemicals are not a single chemical but a family of chemicals linked to variations in sex hormone levels, problems with genital development, and low sperm count. As a result, these chemicals have been banned from products and toys for children under 3.
Triclosan- This antibacterial and antifungal agent is used in toothpaste, soaps, detergents, toys, and surgical cleaning treatments. It is associated with a decrease in thyroid hormone levels. Triclosan has a close cousin called triclocarban and an alternative name Microban, also in clothing and plastics.
PFOA- Is used in nonstick cookware and stain-resistant fabrics. Studies suggest that triclosan and PFOA decrease T4, lowering thyroid function. PFOA from nonstick cookware can leach into food and be ingested.
PFCs Perfluoroalkyl chemicals- Lead to low-birthweight babies and issues with the immune system, thyroid, and fertility. They are found in fast-food wrappers, cardboard packages, water-repellant fabrics, and nonstick pans.
Microplastics– These tiny particles of plastics have made their way into our lakes, rivers, and oceans, leading to contamination of our food and water. Plus, much of our food comes wrapped in plastic, leading to these tiny particles breaking off into our food. Over time these particles leach off BPA and phthalates adding to our toxic overload.
This Includes bromates in bread, nitrates, or nitrites in processed meats, MSG, dyes, and artificial sweeteners all harm your body and hormones.
The body’s detoxification systems have difficulty processing artificial chemicals that don’t occur in nature.
Artificial Food Colors-
Studies found these food colors aggravate symptoms of children with ADHD. They are found in all types of food products, particularly those for children.
Nitrates and nitrites–
These chemicals interfere with thyroid function and the blood’s ability to deliver oxygen to the body. They may also increase cancer risks. They are found in processed foods, particularly meats, to preserve and enhance color.
Common mercury exposure sources include dental amalgams, seafood, and pollution from coal-burning power plants.
Although mercury is not technically in flu shots, Thimerosal is. Thimerosal is a compound containing mercury that prevents the growth of bacteria and fungus. The injectable flu vaccine contains 25 mcg of Thimerosal per 0.5-mL dose.
This toxin damages the thyroid, affecting iodide uptake and hormone production. Aluminum triggers an immune response leading to the production of antibodies that may target the thyroid.
This chemical is known for slowing thyroid function. There is a history of fluoride-causing goiters starting in 1854.
1949 – Richard May reports on the highly successful use of the organic fluoride compounds Pardinon (IG Farben) and Capacin (Knoll AG) to treat hyperthyroidism. Up until 1943, 10,000 patients had been cured using these compounds.
1950 – Richard May reports that between 1935 and 1947, over 5000 hyperthyroid patients had been treated successfully with Pardinon and Capacin in the May clinic alone.
1978 – George Waldbott writes that in most cases of poisoning from fluoridated water in which he had studied the thyroid gland’s action, its function was low. Within three months of consuming no fluoridated water, the thyroid function had returned to normal (BMR=0). Also, Waldbott writes that “simultaneously, other symptoms associated with low-grade fluoride poisoning – including excessive thirst, headaches, blurred vision, arthritis in shoulders, elbows, knees, and gastrointestinal disturbances – also disappeared.”
He did not know that the symptoms he ascribed to “low-grade fluoride poisoning” would likewise be considered symptoms of hypothyroidism some 20 years later.
Yet, dentists will tell you fluoride poses no danger; however, beware of the exposure levels.
Pesticides and Herbicides- These chemicals interfere with thyroid gland function by interfering with gene expression, reducing iodine’s thyroid uptake, binding to thyroid transport proteins, and reducing cellular uptake of thyroid hormones.
They also cause cancer, endocrine disruption, reproductive issues, neurotoxicity, kidney and liver damage, congenital disabilities, and developmental changes.
The heavy metals most often associated with poisoning are lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium. In addition, heavy metal poisoning may occur due to foods, medicines, industrial exposure, air or water pollution, the ingestion of lead-based paints, and improperly coated food containers.
Lead exposure has been linked to lowered thyroid function and elevated TSH. But, beware of how you could be exposed; these heavy metals are everywhere! (My lead exposure came from an old lead water pipe that ran from our house to the street)!
Now, I know these chemicals are everywhere, and it’s impossible to avoid them altogether; but, there are some steps you can take.
- Add two or more servings daily to the amount of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables your and your family eat.
- Serve fewer processed meats.
- Avoid heating or microwaving foods or beverages in plastic containers. Heat causes BPA and phthalates in plastic to leach into your food or drinks. Also, wash plastics by hand rather than the dishwasher.
- Switch to using more glass and stainless steel in place of plastic.
- Avoid plastics with these numbers: 3, 6, 7.
- Clean all fruits and vegetables thoroughly. I soak fruits and vegetables in a sink of cold water and a cup of white vinegar. Let your produce soak for 15 minutes, rinse well, and pat dry.
- Cut back on canned fruits, vegetables, and beverages.
- Focus on reducing or eliminating fast and processed foods.
- Buy naturally made and fragrance-free lotions, soaps, and beauty products.
- Make your cleaning products. There are several sites with recipes on the internet, or you can use baking soda or vinegar.
- Avoid nonstick cookware.
You will also notice your body feeling heavy and sluggish after eating processed foods once you have removed most of these toxins and chemicals from your diet. You will naturally avoid eating certain foods because you don’t like how they make you feel.
I want you to know, by just making some changes in your diet and lifestyle, you can improve your health and increase your weight loss efforts.