How the Thyroid Works
The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland, with two lobes on either side of your throat that is responsible for producing hormones that control vital functions of your body. This gland produces two key hormones, triiodothyroinine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). Both T3 and T4 interact directly with the mitochondria in your cells that produce energy, which is why optimal thyroid hormone levels are important for experiencing optimal health. These hormone functions influence almost every cell in your body and are seriously important for growth and development. However, if your thyroid levels go out of balance, your health can be in for a wild ride.
What can go wrong?
Hyperthyroidism (too much hormone secretion) and hypothyroidism (too little hormone secretion) has been linked to a variety of health conditions. Hypothyroidism is often linked to an iodine deficiency and can cause symptoms such as fatigue, sensitivity to cold temperatures, weight gain, shortness of breath during exercise, constipation, and hair loss. The condition can lead to health complications such as goiters, heart disease, infertility, and damage to peripheral nerves, so it is important to get a sufficient amount of dietary iodine to support adequate thyroid hormone levels.
Hyperthyroidism is more common in women and can reveal itself in many ways, including palpitations, fatigue, tremors, anxiety, disturbed sleep, weight loss, and heat intolerance. Depending on your age and overall health, these symptoms can go unrecognized as being thyroid-related. If untreated, these symptoms can lead to more serious problems such as angina, cardiomyopathy, and even heart failure.
What sends the thyroid into a tailspin?
Several contributing factors can negatively influence your thyroid function. Gluten sensitivities are a notorious culprit of thyroid dysfunction because gluten can cause inflammation and autoimmune responses. The most common source of gluten is wheat. Another culprit, soy, is infamous for its naturally occurring antinutrients that can often have a negative impact on digestive health and thyroid function. You can see why many health experts advise adopting a diet that eliminates foods that contain wheat and soy.
Another problem for the thyroid is bromine. Bromine is also a common endocrine disruptor that dampens hormone transport by displacing iodine. This compound is commonly found in foods with white flour. In the U.S., refined wheat flour is commonly bleached using bromates (and also chlorine and peroxides) which have been banned in Europe (and other countries) since the 1990s. Why? Residues of these chemicals may cause cancer. That’s why the smart consumer may want to avoid foods with white flour (think: pizza, pretzels, buns).
Neurotoxic bromine residues may also be found in fire retardants (that have been sprayed on mattresses, clothing, etc.), pesticides, and soft drinks with a citrus flavor.
In addition, stress and adrenal function is tied to your thyroid function. If you feel chronically stressed, your adrenal and cortisol hormone levels may be hampering your thyroid function by flooding your body with too many negative hormones.
The Bottom Line
Make it your goal to live a radiant life. Keeping your thyroid healthy is an important key to becoming your healthiest self. Strive to get your thyroid levels under control before they become a problem. To help address thyroid-related concerns, try to minimize stress levels as well as avoiding gluten and soy in your diet. Limit your exposure to thyroid-depleting toxins such as bromine by avoiding white flour foods. Nurture yourself by getting adequate amounts of sleep. When your thyroid is happy – and then so will you!