Can’t get to the root of your thyroid problems? You might want to check your environment.
More likely than not you, or someone you know, has a thyroid condition. I say this because the stats are already high AND are rising even higher year after year. Currently it is estimated that around 20 million Americans have a thyroid condition. One in eight women will have a thyroid issue in their lifetime!
So what is up with our thyroids these days? Why the trend in increasing thyroid conditions?
There are multiple reasons why our mighty lil thyroid gland’s state of health is compromised, but in this post we are going to focus on one. And it’s a pretty big one- your environment.
Okay so before I go on, I want to clarify what I mean by environment.
I am talking about your home, your community, your room, your workplace (AKA wherever you spend the majority of your time). So know that in this post I am mainly referring to your house and all the products, materials, goods, and furniture that is inside of it.
How is your thyroid related to your home environment?
Well I could go on and on about this, but basically every single cell in your body can be affected your home environment. And not in a good way. We are just focusing on the thyroid here.
Two words: Endocrine disruptors.
What the what?
Here’s the short explanation: your endocrine system is made up of all your hormones and hormone glands that basically send and receive signals to make your body work like it is meant to. Hormones are like little messengers that have specific jobs to do depending on the type of hormone they are. For example, your thyroid gland produces the thyroid hormones T4 and T3. Thyroid hormones have the important task of regulating vital functions like your metabolism, heart rate, central nervous system + more. Very important stuff!
Endocrine disruptors (EDs) can be natural hormones (in the environment from other animals and humans), natural chemicals (toxins produced by plants and certain fungi), synthetically produced pharmaceuticals (which are VERY hormonally active), or man-made chemicals & by products (pesticides, plastics, etc.).
When EDs enter our system, they can cause hormone havoc a couple different ways. EDs can disrupt signaling pathways leading to changes in gene expression, mutations and can even alter our epigenetics. They can do this by binding to receptors, altering the hormone synthesis process, transportation process, and can inhibit the breakdown of hormones.
Yep, I know this stuff is not sexy to read about. But, I feel that it is important to first understand the why and the how here so you’ll have more leverage when we get to the juicy main points.
Here they are! Get out your notepads…this is what you’ll want to write down.
The thyroid gland has shown to be affected by these EDs:
- Perchlorates & other pesticides
Now let’s briefly go over these one by one. Starting with good ole’ BPA also known as bisphenol A. You’ve probably heard to be aware of BPA. You might be aware to look for BPA free labeling. That is because there are multiple studies that have shown for quite some time that BPA can cause damaging effects to our bodies.
The takeaway: Items can be labeled BPA free, but unfortunately that does not deem it safe. Pretty much all bisphenols (BPA, BPS, BPF) are dangerous to our bodies. It’s best to avoid any kind of plastic as much as you can. Choose glass or stainless steel water bottles, glass food containers, reusable metal straws, and avoid processed foods that come in plastic packaging. I mean we’ve all heard that we should be eating less processed foods, this just adds to the list!
Dioxins AND furans are very similar. They can cause reproductive/developmental problems, cancer, and can damage the immune systems. Sound like a couple of gems. So where are they found?
Dioxin/furan is created as byproducts of other chemicals in settings like the burning of forests or household trash; chlorine bleaching of paper; or manufacturing/processing pesticides. They have been banned for use in paints, caulks, hydraulic fluids, etc. since 1979. Due to the low rate of breakdown, these chemicals still remain in our environment.
Believe it or not, you may be getting the bulk of your dioxin/furan exposure (90%+) through the food that you are eating. Mainly meat, dairy, fish, and shellfish because the toxin accumulates in animal fatty tissue. The higher an animal is in the food chain, the higher the concentration.
The takeaway: If you are consuming meat and seafood- try to trim away excess fat. Cycle your meals with plenty of vegetables and fruits. Dioxin/furan levels in our foods are claimed to be monitored, but you can never be too safe. This is not just an American issue, dioxin exposure risk is worldwide. You can read more here.
PBDEs is a flame retardant mixture linked to altered thyroid hormone due to a decrease in TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), cancer, and other health conditions. In the 1970s, California fire safety laws required flame retardants on everything from children’s pajamas to furniture. They were not fully banned until 2014. They have mainly been replaced with new brominated and chlorinated compounds which have not been fully tested for health effects!
The takeaway: 2005+ made products should NOT have PBDEs (polyBDEs). BUT you need to check 2005-2014 products for the other mixtures of flame retardants (octa and deca-BDE). Check your furniture and look for a TB117-2013 label on the tag. Other ways to stay safe: Choose natural fiber couches and chairs, solid or wood frames, natural latex or low-VOC certified foam. If this is not in the budget right now, you can take precautions by placing a cover on your couch and regularly vacuuming with a HEPA filter vacuum.
PCBs: PCBs are not commercially produced in the United States, as of 1979 due to a ban. However they can still be present in products and materials produced before 1979 and if you have any in your house you may want to highlight this next part. Some of these materials/products include:
- Oil used in motors and hydraulic systems
- Old electrical devices or appliances containing PCB capacitors
- Cable insulation
- Thermal insulation material including fiberglass, felt, foam, and cork
- Adhesives and tapes
- Oil-based paint
- Carbonless copy paper
- Floor finish pre-1979
Last, but not least we have the Perchlorates & other pesticides. This is another one you’ve likely heard to avoid. But we are highlighting Perchlorates mainly here because they have been found to reduce thyroid hormone production in exposed groups. This likely through contamination through food and water sources.
The takeaway: to avoid pesticides in general do your best to buy organic whenever possible. Get yourself a high quality water filter system and shower filter while you’re at it! I love my Berkey Water system and I literally only drink water from it!
WHEW THAT WAS A LOT! I hope you are not feeling overwhelmed! I am proud of you for getting this far…I told you, it wasn’t going to be a sexy topic. But don’t you think it’s super important to know this stuff? You have control over the things you buy and let into your house, now you are just armed with a little more info.
Remember, I highlighted the relationship between your thyroid and your environment in this post. BUT it is just as important to be aware the effects EDs can cause to the other hormone systems in your body.
To help you out in this process I created a free, downloadable, 5-step guide called “Non-toxic Living in 5 Steps.”
You can grab it here: https://khliftingyouup.com/non-toxic-living-in-5-steps/
When you grab your copy, you’ll be walked through the exact process I took when I chose to live a non-toxic lifestyle. I hope that you have learned a lot here and can use my guide to create your own healthy lifestyle using the non-toxic approach!
Here’s to safer, cleaner, happier, and healthier living!