Last week, I told you about low thyroid function and how it affects more than 30 million women and 15 million men.
So why are we seeing such an epidemic of thyroid problems?
Well, chronic thyroid problems can be caused by many factors …
What Causes Hypothyroidism?
One of the most important factors that leads to hypothyroidism is exposure to environmental toxins such as pesticides, which act as hormone or endocrine disruptors and interfere with thyroid hormone metabolism and function.
In fact, one study found that as people lost weight they released pesticides from their fat tissue.
This then interfered with their thyroid function and caused hypothyroidism. The toxins created a slow metabolism and prevented them from losing more weight.
This study highlights the importance of overall detoxification. It is quite a significant finding that shows exactly how toxins interfere with thyroid function.
Heavy metals such as mercury can also affect thyroid function. I see many people with chronic hypothyroidism and other thyroid problems because mercury interferes with normal thyroid function.
The other big factor that interferes with thyroid function is chronic stress.
There is an intimate interaction between stress hormones and thyroid function. The more stress you are under, the worse your thyroid functions.
Any approach to correcting poor thyroid function must address the effects of chronic stress and provide support to the adrenal glands.
I also think eating so-called Frankenfoods, such as hybridized and genetically modified grains with very strange proteins, makes us sick.
Our bodies say, “What’s this? Must be something foreign. I’d better create antibodies to this, fight it, and get rid of it.”
This chronic inflammatory response interferes with thyroid function — and contributes to the epidemic of inflammatory diseases in the developed world.
There are so many reasons for low thyroid function, yet I have seen lots of patients with this problem who were just ignored by their doctors.
For example, one young female patient of mine had more than 30 percent body fat and was unable to change her body, no matter how hard she worked. She ate perfectly, exercised with a trainer every day — and her body still wouldn’t budge.
She also had a slightly depressed mood and other vague symptoms.
So I treated her with a low dose of Armour Thyroid, which is a natural thyroid replacement.
Well, she not only lost 20 pounds and improved her body composition, but her mood improved and all her other symptoms went away.
How did I know she had low thyroid function?
Once I have asked about symptoms, done a physical exam, and considered all the potential causes of thyroid problems, I do the right tests.
Most doctors just check something called the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which doesn’t give a full picture of the thyroid. In fact, even the interpretation of this test is incorrect most of the time.
The newer guidelines of the American College of Endocrinology consider anybody with a TSH level over 3.0 as hypothyroid. Most doctors think that only anything over 5 or 10 is worth treating.
Unfortunately, this leaves millions suffering unnecessarily.
There are also other tests, including free T3 and free T4 and thyroid antibodies, which are essential.
I also look for associated problems such as gluten intolerance, food allergies, and heavy metals, as well as deficiencies of vitamin D, selenium, vitamin A, zinc, and omega-3 fats.
There are many things to consider in a careful approach to hypothyroidism.
It is one of the most common problems I see, and treating it properly makes one of the biggest differences in my patients’ quality of life.
Unfortunately, by using the old guidelines and thinking, conventional medicine misses millions who suffer with hypothyroidism.
In fact, in one study, researchers tested everybody who walked through the gates of a county fair with conventional thyroid testing. They found that according to even conservative conventional standards, half of all the people who had hypothyroidism were undiagnosed, untreated, and suffering.
So what’s the solution?
How You Can Overcome Hypothyroidism
I encourage you to take the following steps to rebalance your thyroid:
1.Â Â Â Â Make a thorough inventory of any of the symptoms that I mentioned in last week’s blog to see if you might suffer from hypothyroidism.
2.Â Â Â Get the right thyroid tests including TSH, free T3, free T4, TPO, and anti-thyroglobulin antibodies.
3.Â Â Â Check for celiac disease with a celiac panel.
4.Â Â Â Consider heavy metal toxicity.
5.Â Â Â Check your vitamin D level.
Once you have confirmed that a sluggish thyroid is contributing to your symptoms, the good news is that there are many, many, many things you can do to help correct thyroid problems.
I have developed a seven-step plan to address hypothyroidism:
1.Â Â Â Treat Underlying Causes – Identify and treat the underlying causes of hypothyroidism, like food allergies, gluten, heavy metals, nutritional deficiencies, and stress.
2.Â Â Â Optimize Your Nutrition – Support your thyroid with optimal nutrition, including foods that contain iodine, zinc, omega-3 fats, selenium, and more.
3.Â Â Â Minimize Stress – Eliminate adrenal exhaustion and minimize stress by engaging in a comprehensive stress management program.
4.Â Â Â Exercise – Engage in thyroid stimulating exercise, which boosts thyroid function.
5.Â Â Â Supplement – Use supplements to help enhance thyroid function, including all the nutrients needed for proper thyroid metabolism and function.
6.Â Â Â Heat Therapy – Use saunas and heat to eliminate stored toxins, which interfere with thyroid function.
7.Â Â Â Thyroid Hormones – Use thyroid hormone replacement therapy to help support your thyroid gland.
I believe a comprehensive approach is needed to address chronic thyroid issues and to diagnose them. Unfortunately, most of the options for healing by conventional care are quite limited and only provide a partial solution. But by following my seven-step plan you can achieve lifelong vibrant health.
Now I’d like to hear from you…
If you have low thyroid function, how was it diagnosed?
Did you face any resistance from your doctor?
Which of these steps have you tried to treat it and have they helped
Please let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment
Mark Hyman, M.D. is an internationally recognized authority in the field of functional medicine—a revolution in 21st century medicine that provides a new road map for navigating the territory of health and illness. He is founder of The UltraWellness Center where he treats patients using this new model in his medical practice and is co-founder of UltraWellness whose mission is to make the principles of functional medicine accessible to everyone.
You can learn more about Dr. Hyman’s exhaustive work to change healthcare as well as his program for achieving UltraWellness by following him on Twitter, watching his videos on YouTube, connecting with him on LinkedIn, or becoming a fan on Facebook.
Dr. Hyman is the author of multiple New York Times best-sellers including The UltraMind Solution, The UltraSimple Diet, UltraMetabolism, and the weekly UltraWellness Newsletter in which he provides insight into how you can integrate functional medicine into your life and achieve the state of UltraWellness—which is nothing less than vital mental and physical health, optimal weight, and a renewed lease on life.
He is also Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors and faculty of the Institute for Functional Medicine; is on the Board of Directors of the Center for Mind Body Medicine in Washington DC; on the Board of Advisors and faculty for the “Food as Medicine” training program; and is a part of Memhet Oz’s HealthCorps. In each of these capacities he actively advocates for fundamental changes in healthcare—changes that takes into account diet, lifestyle, and personalized treatment based on the paradigm of functional medicine as essential components for medical education and practice.