What Causes Hypothyroidism- 3 Common Triggers

By Corri Peterson

Thyroid disease is on the rise, but what causes hypothyroidism symptoms?

It’s common to know a friend, relative, co-worker, or neighbor who has some version of thyroid dysfunction, the symptoms are becoming well-known.

But what causes hypothyroidism? According to Dr. Kevin Dobrzynski, D.N., A better question is, “What are the causes of my hypothyroidism?”

Possible Causes of Your Hypothyroidism

What Causes Hypothyroidism

These triggers cause the most common hypothyroidism in the U.S., Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. (If you purchase through the links in this post, we may receive a commission.)

• Gluten intolerance

• Insulin surges

• G.I. infections

• Pregnancy

• Estrogen surges

• Heavy metal toxicity

• Iodine excess

• Vitamin D receptor polymorphism

• Combination of all of the above

There is Good News, says Dr. Kevin Dobrzynski-

You can control many of these triggers. However, you will need some help in identifying and treating the causes of your problem.

Looking at the list, you’ll notice most of them can be controlled by what you put on and in your body.

Gluten intolerance, insulin surges, and G.I. infections result from the incorrect diet.

Pregnancy and estrogen surges may be a little more challenging to correct.

First, start looking at how you can reduce the estrogen in your body.

Estrogen is everywhere, including the makeup and creams you put on your face and skin. It’s in the food you eat and the water you drink.

You can reduce many toxins, including heavy metals, by knowing what you’re putting in your body.

As for excess iodine, check the medication you may be taking and stop taking iodine supplements.

Most people are not getting enough vitamin D, and if you have hypothyroidism, you will need more than the average Joe.

The bottom line is you have to start doing some research and understand what’s going into your body. But, unfortunately, your doctor will not do this for you.

“The causes of hypothyroidism are many, but you can control many of these triggers by educating yourself about your condition – that is the best pill you can take”- Dr. Kevin.

Common hypothyroidism symptoms include:

What Causes Hypothyroidism
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Cold sensitivity
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Brittle nails
  • Enlarged thyroid
  • High cholesterol
  • Irritability
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Slow heart rate
  • Sluggishness
  • Irregular uterine bleeding

The thyroid is a primary member of the endocrine system and regulates nearly every organ in the body. For example, it regulates fat and carbohydrate metabolism, respiration, body temperature, brain development, cholesterol levels, the heart and nervous system, blood calcium levels, menstrual cycles, skin integrity, adult hippocampal neurogenesis, etc.

With the thyroid regulating every system in our bodies, it wouldn’t be surprising to find out there are many symptoms caused by thyroid disease that no one realizes. 

Many healthcare providers report patients scheduling appointments for symptoms they have no idea were related to their thyroid.

Some Lesser-known Symptoms of Thyroid Disease:

  • Mood changes
  • Depression
  • Pregnancy problems
  • Period problems
  • Puffy face
  • Blurry vision
  • Carpal Tummel syndrome
  • Hair loss 
  • Coarse, brittle, straw-like hair
  • Dull facial expression
  • Coarse facial features
  • Yellowing skin and eyes (jaundice)

What Causes Hypothyroidism?

According to experts, the three main reasons for increasing thyroid problems are poor nutrition, stress, and environmental toxins.  

Poor Diet and Nutrition

What Causes Hypothyroidism

The levels of thyroid hormones are an essential factor to consider as a part of well-being and health. Many fatty, sugary, refined, and highly processed foods, do more than add unwanted weight. 

Nutrition, not age, determines the quality and resiliency of every organ, cell, and system in the body. As a result, your eating habits significantly contribute to your thyroid function and overall well-being.

How well your body renovates and repairs organs, tissue and DNA determines how you age on a cellular level. When the body needs new materials used for repairs, it must use what you give it: your food. The quality of that food determines the quality of the repair. 

Herbicides and pesticides 

These chemicals affect the thyroid’s ability to use iodine and cause excess thyroid hormone to be removed from the body. 

When improving your diet quality, focus on organic fruits and vegetables. However, if you find the cost of organic produce prohibitive, soaking your produce in a sink of cold water and a cup of white vinegar will dissolve the pesticides and other toxins so they can be rinsed off.

Be Aware of Goitrogens

What Causes Hypothyroidism

These compounds may interfere with the iodine uptake of the thyroid gland. Their name comes from the term goiter, an enlarged thyroid gland that may occur with hypothyroidism.

Surprisingly, many common foods contain goitrogens, including:

  • Soy and soy products included tofu, tempeh, edamame, etc.
  • Vegetables including are cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, spinach, etc.
  • Fruits and starchy plants like sweet potatoes. Cassava, peaches, strawberries, etc.
  • Nuts and seeds like millet, pine nuts, and peanuts are also included.

People with hypothyroidism are advised to avoid goitrogens. However, this seems to be an issue for people who have an iodine deficiency or eat large amounts of goitrogens. In addition, research shows that goitrogens affect some individuals more than others.

FYI– cooking foods with goitrogens may inactivate these compounds.

One noted exception is pearl millet. Studies have found that pearl millet might interfere with thyroid function, even without an iodine deficiency.

In the last century, we have tipped the scales of food production technology with mass-produced goods made of concentrated sugars, refined flours, and preservatives. 

As a result, experts believe money saved on natural food production is now needed to pay billions of health care expenses associated with metabolic disorders. 


Certain foods, such as gluten-containing bread and baked goods, can negatively affect thyroid balance and cause acne.

Immune reactions to gluten can trigger an autoimmune thyroid attack in many people. In addition, studies have shown a link between Hashimoto’s and gluten sensitivity.

The protein structure of gluten shares an amino acid that resembles the thyroid. So when a person reacts to gluten, the immune system may also respond to thyroid tissue. Unfortunately, this mistaken identity causes inflamed immune cells to attack the thyroid.


What Causes Hypothyroidism

Sugar ages the skin and excites the thyroid. In addition, sugar adds to mood disorders, and inflammation and is Endocrine Disruptive. It can disrupt the sebaceous glands, cause acne, create dryness and add to premature aging. 

Sugar also causes leaky gut syndrome, is often the precursor to autoimmune disease and mucks up the whole endocrine system.

Excess sugar triggers insulin ( a hormone) to deal with excess glucose. Daily sugar spikes can destroy adrenal function, and challenge the thyroid & the endocrine system.

The human body has evolved with a limited ability to break down sugar and minimal access to it in concentrated forms, so processing the comparatively giant loads we consume nowadays puts a significant strain on our systems. 

In addition, excess sugar loiters in the blood and causes trouble by latching onto protein molecules; an age-accelerating process called glycosylation that causes cellular aging.

 In addition to damage caused by insulin, a sluggish thyroid gland will slow insulin removal from the bloodstream.


Acne can result from blood sugar issues and chronic inflammation. These trigger hormonal reactions that increase sebum production, blocked pores, and overgrowth of acne-causing bacteria. 

In addition, gluten can contribute to acne. It damages the small intestine and causes inflammation, leading to nutritional deficiencies and an increased toxic body load (leaky gut syndrome).

Environmental toxins

These chemicals are found in most common household products, cosmetics, plastics, pesticides, food, and water. These chemicals mimic hormones to disrupt your metabolism and cause obesity. Once these chemicals are inside us, even low doses can negatively affect you.

What Causes Hy

These toxins are divided into four categories: 

BPA – BPA is a chemical used when manufacturing plastics and epoxy resins. BPA is commonly used in food storage containers and beverage containers like water bottles. BPA is also used to line metal food cans, water supply lines, and bottle caps. 

Not only does BPA damage the thyroid gland, but BPA exposure can also cause cardiovascular problems (hypertension, heart attack, peripheral artery disease, coronary artery disease), reproductive disorders (infertility, libido, and impotence), and increased risk of breast and prostate cancer.

In addition, BPA can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and weight gain and increase asthma and wheezing if that isn’t enough.

PFCs – PFCs (perfluorinated chemicals) disrupt thyroid function, especially in women. PFCs are used to manufacture several items, including takeout containers, pizza boxes, and mattresses. 

PFC is a known endocrine disruptor that takes a long time to break down in the body. Currently, PFCs are being phased out in the United States; however, imported products could still contain PFCs.

Heavy Metals – Most people are aware of the dangers of lead, but many don’t know that several heavy metals can negatively impact the thyroid gland. These include mercury, aluminum, and cadmium.

Lead has been used in paint and gasoline. In addition, children’s toys and cheap jewelry have been known to contain lead. 

Cadmium is found in plastics, batteries, certain fertilizers, pigments, and sewage. Aluminum and mercury disrupt iodine uptake. Mercury is found in dental fillings, seafood, and vacines. 

Aluminum is used in cookware, vaccines, deodorant, antacids, and food additives. So, as you can see, it’s difficult to avoid being constantly exposed to heavy metals in our daily life.

Flame Retardants – This chemical reduces the flammability of fabrics, clothing, furniture, and carpeting can cause thyroid dysfunction. 

Flame retardants contain bromine (halogen) which mimics thyroid hormone and competes to attach to thyroid hormone receptors. Bromine can be found in pool cleaners, carpets, pasta, drinks, baby blankets, and everything in between.

A primary concern is bromine affecting the fetus’s development and the development of infants and children.

All these toxins and chemicals disrupt 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.

What Causes Hypothyroidism


In today’s world, skin rashes and thyroid problems have ties to ingesting fluorides. In addition, the U.S. National Research Council has stated that fluoride exposure can affect thyroid function. 

Therefore, someone who drinks a lot of fluoridated water may risk developing thyroid problems. It has also been associated with perioral dermatitis, and acne-like bumps that form around the mouth as a chemical. A skin disorder that is often mistaken for acne.

Even though fluoride is added to water to prevent cavities, it can damage your thyroid health. Studies show that consuming small amounts of two to five milligrams of fluoride over a few months can lower thyroid function and can contribute to what causes hypothyroidism.

Sadly, that is about the amount of fluoride you drink in fluoridated water each day. Therefore, drinking fluoridated water could lower your thyroid function.

Fluoride also interferes with your cellular process, as well as causing the release of superoxide free radicals in resting white blood cells. As a result, minor infections take longer to clear and cause more severe illnesses. 

When people are bombarded with fluoride in fluoridated water, toothpaste, mouth rinses, muscles, and connective tissue elements, particularly collagen fiber and bone tissue, start to degenerate.

The most readily identifiable symptom of soft-tissue fluorosis is fatigue, frequently linked to thyroid deficiency.

Additional issues include:

  • Calcium levels fall as fluoride levels in the body rise.
  • Gastrointestinal tract mucosa damage, causing irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Blood fluoride levels are on the rise due to continuously using fluoridated toothpaste.

I will also note that through the 1950s, fluoride was used as a treatment for hyperthyroidism and Graves’ disease due to its ability to slow thyroid function.

Adrenal Glands

Adrenal glands sit above the kidneys and secrete hormones. For example, the adrenals produce the stress hormone cortisol; too much results in Cushing’s disease, and not enough is adrenal insufficiency or Addison’s disease.

Nontraditional doctors (holistic or functional medicine) also recognize adrenal fatigue, a condition when you’re under continuous stress, and your adrenal glands fail to keep up with the body’s need for hormones.

The health of the adrenal gland can dictate the health and recovery of many types of disorders, including thyroid and skin issues. 

Skin issues can range from dry, itchy rashes, thin skin, aging, or dry scalp and weak, peeling fingernails. 

Stressed adrenals are another reason the body hangs onto weight. 

What Causes Hypothyroidism


When under chronic stress, the body produces the stress hormone cortisol. However, too much cortisol forces your thyroid gland to work harder to produce enough thyroid hormone, leading to thyroid hormone imbalances in your body.

Stress causes the thyroid to produce fewer hormones, slowing your body’s metabolism. Slowed metabolism leads to weight gain along with other symptoms. 

As thyroid function slows due to stress, T3 and T4 hormones fall, leading to lower conversion rates of T4 to T3. T3 is the useable hormone and the one needed for energy.

When under stress, men and women both release epinephrine and cortisol. Excess cortisol can cause sleep disturbances which can bring on more stress. 

Our cortisol levels can wreak havoc with unhealthy sleep habits and extra stress. 

As you can see, it’s a vicious circle. Plus, as you sleep, the skin eliminates toxins. So unhealthy toxins start to accumulate without a good night’s sleep, compounding existing symptoms.  

Healthy food, reducing toxins, and moderate exercise will help rejuvenate your skin, boost mood, and balance your thyroid health. In addition, a few lifestyle changes lead to feeling better and enjoying life. 

Take care,



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