hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism and Toxins - What You Need to Know

Some toxins can disrupt your thyroid, leading to hypothyroidism and other types of thyroid disease. If your thyroid is letting, and getting you down, read on. Because the toxins you're exposed to may be messing with the way your body communicates with it.

Hypothyroidism and Thyroid Disruption

Is your thyroid a bit sluggish? Are you gaining weight, tired all the time, depressed and forgetful? You're not alone. According to the American Thyroid Association (ATA) an estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. And women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems. In fact, one woman in eight will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime.

However, It may not be your thyroids fault. Toxins in the products you use may be sending it mixed messages, leaving it dazed and confused. The ATA also states that the causes of thyroid problems are largely unknown. But there is a growing body of research suggesting that some toxins play a role in messing with your thyroid.

Remember that your thyroid is a gland that produces hormones. It is part of your body’s endocrine system. And there are a slew of chemicals that can mess with your endocrine system.

Hormones and Toxins

So how does this happen? Well, your endocrine system is composed of glands and the hormones they produce. This system regulates many important functions in your body through a complicated system of monitoring and communication.

Some toxins mess with this communication system. They do this by:

  • Mimicking the action of a naturally-produced hormone, such as estrogen or testosterone, thereby setting off similar chemical reactions in the body;
  •  Blocking hormone receptors in cells, preventing the action of normal hormones; 
  • Altering the concentrations of natural hormones by affecting the body’s ability to make, transport, metabolize and excrete hormones.

The Thyroid Gland

The thyroid gland is the master or your metabolism. It uses iodine present in the food you eat to make the two hormones it releases: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). One of the functions of these hormones is to control the rate at which calories are burned. This affects weight loss or weight gain. If the thyroid does not produce enough hormones, it is called hypothyroidism. If the gland produces too many hormones, it is called hyperthyroidism.

The pituitary gland helps with this function by monitoring your body’s thyroid hormone levels and releasing thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). This hormone does exactly what its name suggests. The release of TSH into the bloodstream stimulates the thyroid to release its own hormones. When the pituitary gland detects that thyroid hormone levels are too low, it releases more TSH. If the pituitary gland detects too much thyroid hormone, it releases less TSH.

Your body’s pituitary gland monitors the amount of thyroid hormone circulating in your body. When levels are low it releases a hormone (called thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) that does what its name suggests. It stimulates your thyroid to make and release thyroid hormone.

Toxins can disrupt your metabolism by interfering with your pituitary gland’s ability to make the hormones that stimulate your thyroid to release its hormones. These toxins can also interfere with your thyroid’s ability to make hormones. Both of these effects can reduce the amount of thyroid hormone circulating in your body.

Low levels of TH slow down your metabolism. And you know what that means. When your metabolism slows you gain weight easily and it becomes difficult to lose weight. Even small reductions in thyroid hormone are associated with significant increases in weight. And over 150 toxins have been shown to reduce circulating levels of thyroid hormone.

Some Toxins Linked to Thyroid Disruption

Below is a list of toxins of some of the toxins that researchers suspect can disrupt the way your thyroid is supposed to work. Now the list looks a bit long and intimidating. And you may be thinking - why bother - how can I possibly avoid being exposed to all these chemicals? But what it boils down to is - the majority of exposure comes from plastics, pesticides, preservatives and PFC’s (chemicals used to make things nonstick and stain-resistant.

There are plenty of articles on this website that will help you find nontoxic and less toxic options for pesticides, plastics, preservatives and PFCs. Here are a couple to get you started:
Avoiding Plastic - Reasons and Solutions 
Three Reasons to Choose Natural Pesticides
Why Choose Non Toxic Personal Care Products?

 BPA

Used to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy coatings.

Found in:
Plastics - food and drink packaging, water bottles infant and baby bottles, infant feeding cups, reusable cups, compact discs, automobile parts, impact-resistant safety equipment, plastic dinnerware, eyeglass lenses, toys, and medical devices. It is also used to make polyvinyl chloride plastics (PVC pipe).

Anything that includes epoxy resins - metal food cans, bottle tops, wine vat linings, floorings and paints. o

Paper - thermal paper, such as receipts, self-adhesive labels, and fax paper. Recycled paper can be contaminated with BPA.
For more info check out Are Plastic Water Bottles Harming Your Health?

Chlorpyrifos

 An organophosphate insecticide used on food and non-food crops, including corn, soybeans, wheat, sugar beets, as well as on turf and greenhouse plants. Chlorpyrifos is still heavily used on fruit and nut orchards.

Found in:
Nonorganic produce and drinking water.
For more info check out Pesticides in Fruits and Vegetables and Water Quality and Your Health

Flame Retardants

Flame-retardant chemicals are added to plastics, foam products and textiles to make them difficult to burn. They are not chemically bound to the products they are in.

Found in:
Strollers, polyurethane foam furniture such as couches, chairs, foam mattresses and mattress pads, synthetic upholstery fabric, car interiors, car seats, crib mattresses and nursing pillows. Also in vinyl and styrofoam products, electronics, adhesives, plastics, paints, varnishes, carpet backing, wood and wood products. ( ex. Firemaster 550)
For more info check out 5 Carcinogens You Live With

Glyphosate

An organophosphate herbicide that kills grasses, broadleaf and woody plants. Glyphosate is a very common agricultural herbicide and is also widely used by homeowners, golf courses, towns and cities to control weeds.

Found in: Does Roundup sound familiar? Well that’s where you can find it. It’s also in many other brands of weed killer.  
For safer alternatives to Roundup check out The Best Reason to Try Natural Weedkillers

Parabens

Man-made chemicals often used in small amounts as preservatives (antimicrobials). Common parabens are methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben. Often more than one paraben is used in a single product.

Found in:
Cosmetics, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, foods, and beverages.
For ways to avoid parabens check out Why Choose Non Toxic Personal Care Products?

Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs)

PFCs are a class of chemicals that are used to make things stain and stick resistant. 

Found in:
Every stain resistant and non-stick product, including non-stick cookware, clothing, carpeting, furniture and food packaging (microwave popcorn, pizza boxes, fast food containers).
For more info check out Non Toxic CookwareAvoiding Non Stick Coatings in Small Appliances, PFOA is Bad and How to Make Healthy Non Toxic Popcorn

Phthalates

Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl and as fragrance ingredients. They are not chemically bound to the products they are in so they leach out easily.

Found in:
Cosmetics, personal care products, including fragrances, soap, shampoo, and nail polish, food packaging (canned food, soda and frozen dinners), plastic wrap, flexible plastic and vinyl toys, vinyl shower curtains, vinyl blinds, vinyl flooring, wallpaper, insecticides, flame retardants and as an inert ingredient in pesticides. Scented products such as candles, detergent and air fresheners, Art supplies including paint, clay, wax and ink.
For more info check out How Many Fragrance Chemicals Does it Take to Make An Ocean Breeze?

Triclosan

A synthetic antibacterial ingredient. 

Found In: Any products labeled antibacterial, including toothbrushes, toothpaste (Colgate), toys, cutting boards, detergents, bar and liquid soaps, and skin cleansers. Also found in acne treatments, blush, eyeshadow, deodorants, lotions, creams, after shave, shave gel, and dishwashing liquids.
To avoid exposure read the labels of the products you use to check for triclosan.

Triflumizole

A fungicide used to prevent mold on corn, barley, wheat, fruit and leafy greens.

Found in:
Produce that is not organic - highest levels on apples, grapes, pears, leafy greens
For info on reducing your exposure check out Pesticides in Fruits and Vegetables

2,4-D 

You know it as Weed n Feed for lawns, an herbicide that kills broad leaf weeds. It is also the most commonly used herbicide by homeowners, lawn treatment companies and golf courses. It is in the top 10 most common farming herbicides.

Found in:
The main active ingredient in weed and feed products.
For safer alternatives check out Natural Lawn Care for Fall


Toxins that mimic your hormones can mess up your body's communication system and wreak havoc on your thyroid. This can cause hypothyroidism and other types of thyroid disease. Using safer alternatives to pesticides and reducing your use of plastic and nonstick and stain resistant products will help you avoid exposure to thyroid disrupting toxins.


Disrupting the function of your thyroid is just one way that toxins can mess with your metabolism and cause you to gain weight. Toxins called obesogens can also cause obesity by affecting the number and size of your fat cells and the hormones that influence appetite, food preferences and energy metabolism. If you want to learn more about how toxins can make you fat, check out my ebook Sabotaging Skinny: How to Protect Yourself From the Toxins That Make You and Keep You Fat available at Amazon.

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