As I mentioned in the last post, thyroid conditions are becoming a serious issue in America today…the next question is why?
Why is Hypothyroidism Exploding and What Can Help?
There are many factors that can contribute to a poorly functioning thyroid. Below are some potential causes, along with a few helpful tips:
- It runs in the family. In his book Hypothyroidism Type 2, Dr. Mark Starr theorizes that one reason hypothyroidism is exploding is because in the past, people with poor immune function would have died premature deaths. With the significant medical advances of the last 100 years, fewer immune-compromised individuals are dying from infectious diseases at an early age. This allows individuals to pass on weak genes to their offspring. For many years, “survival of the fittest” kept the hypothyroid gene pool under control, but in modern society, this simply isn’t the case. Does it run in your family?
- PUFA (polyunsaturated fats) intake has increased. The consumption of vegetable oils in our diet, such as soy, corn, canola, cottonseed, sunflower and safflower, has skyrocketed 300% over the last 30 years. This huge jump has created a lot of health issues. PUFAS affect the thyroid by interfering with the uptake of the thyroid hormone in cells. PUFAS can also interfere with the conversion of T4 to T3 in the liver. Tip – Minimize or eliminate PUFA oils from your diet!
- Low blood sugar. Your body needs glucose to convert T4 to T3, your active thyroid hormone. Being chronically low in blood sugar is very stressful on the body and makes it more challenging for this conversion to take place. Tip – Eat a small meal or snack every 2-3 hours. Make sure to include a protein and/or fat with a carbohydrate. Example – 2 oz of cheese (contains fat and protein) and a piece of fruit (carb).
- Not enough protein in the diet. Thyroid hormone formed by combining iodine with the amino acid tyrosine. If your diet is deficient in protein, you’ll lack an adequate amount of tyrosine for synthesizing thyroid hormone. Tip – Focus on consuming enough high quality protein (this number is different for everyone). Once convenient way to do this is by adding gelatin to your diet. Click here to find out more about gelatin.
- Consumption of goitrogenic foods. Goitrogenic foods reduce the body’s ability to use iodine sufficiently to convert T4 to T3. Foods that contain goitrogens include: cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, rutabaga, turnips, soybeans, peanuts, pine nuts, walnuts and millet. Cooking or fermenting these foods usually will deactivate goitrogens. Tip – Limit and/or cook these foods when hypothyroidism is an issue.
- High stress hormones. The adrenal and thyroid glands work hand-in-hand. Chronic stress can increase cortisol levels and inflammation in the body, while decreasing testosterone and TSH, which consequently lowers active T3. Tip – Use stress reduction techniques and keep your blood sugar levels stable.
- Too much fluoride and other toxins. Fluoride has been added to toothpaste and drinking water in order to prevent cavities. Unfortunately, many studies have shown a correlation between increased levels of fluoride and hypothyroidism. Fluoride negatively impacts the conversion of T4 to T3. Other heavy metals, such as mercury, lead and arsenic can also lead to problems. Tips – 1) Avoid fluorinated toothpaste and water. 2) Avoid amalgam (silver) fillings put in your mouth.
As you can see, there are many contributing factors to this epidemic. I hope these tips help you implement some diet and lifestyle habits to support your thyroid health. In my final post on this issue, I’ll discuss thyroid blood tests and treatment options.
If you would like more information about me or my services, please visit www.itsyourplate.com.
Tracie Hittman Nutrition, LLC
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Blanchard, Ken and Marietta Brill. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Hypothyroidism. NY: Warner Wellness, 2004.
Hyman, Mark. Ultra-Metabolism. NY: Scribner, 2006.
Langer, Stephen and James Scheer. Solved: The Riddle of Illness. NY: McGraw-Hill, 2006.
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Peat, Ray. “TSH, Temperature, Pulse Rate, and Other Indicators in Hypothyroidism.” Ray Peat.com 2007. 9 Sept. 2009. <http://raypeat.com/articles/articles /hypothyroidism.shtm>.
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Starr, Mark. Hypothyroidism Type 2. Columbia, MO: Mark Starr Trust, 2009.