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Little Gland, Big Trouble

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Chemical Barrage
Getting the right food and nutrients is just the start of your thyroid challenge. Environmental scientists are pointing to a growing body of research that suggests the chemicals in our air, water and food supply may be confusing and taxing our immune systems. According to Paul Connett, professor of chemistry at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., the fluoride we ingest through tap water, processed foods, toothpaste and mouthwash suppresses thyroid function.

“In the 1950s, doctors in Europe treated patients with hyperthyroidism with sodium fluoride tablets,” he explains. “The doses they were using are within the range of what we get in people living in fluoridated communities.” Connett suggests that fluoride may cause problems for those with hypothyroid disorders because it mimics the action of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), the hormone that catalyzes the release of hormones from the thyroid, and desensitizes the protein receptors that receive TSH.

Connett and others believe that people concerned about their thyroid health should not only filter their tap water or drink bottled water, but also avoid fluoridated toothpastes and mouthwashes, as well as processed foods (which may be made with fluoridated water) and fluoride-rich foods such as sardines and cooked spinach. (Connett is among a group of scientists and alternative practitioners who reject the notion that fluoride has dental health benefits; most conventional dentists disagree and continue to support fluoridation.)

Easy on Stress
While the idea of chemical stressors is daunting, emotional and mental stress may be an even bigger concern. Some doctors believe that serious physical or mental stress can trigger the immune system to attack the thyroid, especially if you have a family history of low thyroid, diabetes, or other rheumatic or autoimmune illnesses. But even if you don’t have a family history of autoimmune diseases, it’s still important to make sure that your stress levels aren’t weakening your thyroid or getting in the way of your body’s healing processes.

“There is a tremendous amount of frustration built into our everyday lives,” says Shames, “all of which has a negative impact on our biochemistry. Plus our rapid pace of life leaves little time for immune-restoring activities such as exercise and a solid night’s sleep.”

“When you are going through a difficult time or a chronically stressful situation,” advises Shames, “utilize every good stress-reduction technique available to you. If you don’t know any, get some training and try a few out. You could choose meditation, self-hypnosis, or specific relaxation exercises from biofeedback or yoga.”

Shames also advises his thyroid patients to exercise, to stay connected with friends and, if they need it, to seek out professional counseling. But the basic message is simple: When your body starts breaking down or getting overwhelmed, it’s a clear sign you need to take better care of yourself. Go easy, advises Shames. Back off from overly ambitious plans. “If you’ve been working without a break for months on end, schedule a vacation. Get out of your body’s way and let it heal.”

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Megan, selected from Experience Life

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit experiencelife.com to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.

73 comments

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10:59AM PST on Dec 11, 2011

thanks

1:55AM PST on Nov 27, 2010

thanks

8:49AM PST on Mar 8, 2010

Thyroid problems seem to be a Western problem. My former chiro came from Sweden and in all of his training and practice he only came across 1 woman with a thyroid problem. When he came to the UK he found that at least 1/4 of his patients had thyroid related problems.

If you think that you have problems with your doctor ask him/her to test for T4!

8:16PM PST on Mar 5, 2010

Hi Laura. You could click up a Notepad, copy & paste the text of each of the four pages onto the Notepad, and then click File > Print. No illustrations, no color, no waste.

I've read over this article and am very sympathetic regarding this condition. Best wishes to my friend who suffers from it.

3:20AM PST on Feb 28, 2010

When I hit the "print" function at the bottom of the article, I only get the view of the page that's showing, and not the entire article. This article is FOUR pages long. It will take at least 8 sheets of paper to print the entire article. I'll have to print 4 illustrations. There'll be inches of blank space at the bottom of each page. They'll need to be stapled or bound together in some manner. What a waste.

If this were anywhere else, I might expect the lack of foresight concerning this issue, but I'm reading this article on "care2", for heaven's sake. If the prudent use of resources isn't a concern HERE, how on earth can we ask anyone else to make it THEIR concern?

Is it possible to make a "printable view" on any and all multi-page articles in the future? I, for one, would really appreciate it. I doubt that I am alone.

10:49PM PST on Feb 13, 2010

Thank you for this article. Thyroid disease is a very frustrating disorder.....it is nice to get some new information.

10:34AM PST on Feb 10, 2010

As someone with hypothyroidism, I found this article very interesting...but a little disappointing in that it indicates once you've been on thyroxine medication, it is difficult to change to homeopathic methods for improving thyroid function since I was thinking of making a switch if possible...oh well, at least the medication is working for me

7:36PM PST on Feb 4, 2010

Thank-you a zillion times for this article.It helped me and I am sure a lot of others.So,Thanks again.

7:25AM PST on Feb 2, 2010

I WORK AT A RURAL HEALTH CARE CLINIC AND THYROID PROBLEMS IS ONE OF THE MOST COMMON HEALTH PROBLEMS WE SEE

11:15AM PST on Jan 30, 2010

The advice to use iodized salt should betaken with a grain of salt: read the label. Iodized salt often has an aluminum-containing additive in it. I'd rather get my iodine from sea vegetables or some other more natural source.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

Very funny! Thank you!

It's a problem in every household so these tips will surely helps a lot! Thanks to you!

I like hemp milk.chocolate.

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