Experts say 20 million Americans are living with this condition. That’s more than three times the amount of folks with Alzheimer’s disease.
Yet your doctor had likely never mentioned its symptoms to you. There aren’t any national television and social media campaigns to educate the public. And regular media coverage practically doesn’t exist.
We’re talking about thyroid conditions.
Over 12 percent of us will struggle with one in our lifetime. But researchers say as many as 60 percent of the folks who develop one go undiagnosed.
A healthy metabolism relies on thyroid health
The hormones your thyroid gland produces control or influence just about every aspect of your metabolism. This includes how fast your heart beats, and how quickly you burn through calories, for example.
And a problem with your thyroid can range from difficult but manageable, to a life threatening cancer.
We regularly talk about our heart, lung, breast, brain and liver health. It’s time to add our thyroid health to that list. Because the truth is, our thyroids are taking a beating every single day. And we should be doing more to protect them and keep them healthy, so they can help keep us healthy.
5 common toxins that threaten your thyroid health
Following are five common toxins we encounter regularly that are threatening to destroy our thyroid health.
Bisphenol A, or BPA, is an industrial chemical that’s been used since the 1960s to make certain plastics and epoxy resins. But BPA doesn’t stay in the plastic, and that’s the problem.
BPA is a known endocrine disruptor. Which is a fancy way of saying it messes with your all the systems in your body that produce hormones, including your thyroid.
Unfortunately, avoiding BPA can be difficult because it’s hiding in many plastic bottles, canned goods and food containers. But you can cut back on your exposure
Look for products marked BPA-free (and BPS-free another, related questionable chemical). Switch to eating more fresh foods. Replace plastic water bottles with safer stainless steel and plastic food containers with glass, ceramic or stainless steel versions.
Mercury is a naturally occurring heavy metal that’s in our air water and soil. But overexposure to this element can be toxic, causing a wide range of health problems including thyroid issues.
Mercury is hiding in some surprising places including cosmetics, pesticides (more on those in a moment), and even the fillings in your teeth, if you’re “of a certain age.”
Your thyroid essentially mistakes mercury for iodine, a chemical that’s essential for thyroid health. So it stores the mercury, just as it would iodine, leaving no room for the actual iodine.
But while mercury looks like iodine to your thyroid, it doesn’t work like iodine. As a result, your production of thyroid hormone slows down to a crawl.
Plus researchers say there’s a connection between heavy metals such as mercury and Hashimoto’s disease. This autoimmune illness triggers your immune system to attack your thyroid gland.
You can reduce your mercury exposure by using HEPA filters to clean your air and filters on your taps to clean your water. Buy organic foods whenever possible. And only purchase cosmetics and body care products from companies you trust (check the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database for help choosing safer products).
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, are compounds used as flame retardants. They’re in virtually all of our homes lurking in upholstery, carpeting and curtains. Which means you’re absorbing them through your skin, and breathing them in.
PBDEs are supposed to be making you safer, but they’re bashing your thyroid health at the same time. Once in your system, these compounds can prevent the T4 hormone produced by your thyroid gland from doing its job. Plus, it raises your risk for Hashimoto’s disease.
Perchlorate is an ingredient used mainly in rocket and jet fuel. (It’s sometime used in fireworks and pesticides, as well.) So unless you work at NASA or an airport, it may seem strange to find it on a list of common toxins threatening your thyroid health.
But the truth is due to runoff perchlorate is commonly found in our water supply. Which is why the CDC says this creepy chemical is in ALL of our bodies.
In the past, most studies focused on how perchlorate affects children. But recent research is linking it to problems with thyroid health in adults, as well. Similar to mercury, perchlorate prevents your thyroid from using iodine efficiently. And a 2006 study found that even low levels of exposure can causes decreased thyroid function in women.
Although regulations on perchlorate are in the works, none has been set yet. But you can help lower your exposure by using a reverse osmosis water filtering system in your home and purchasing organic foods whenever possible.
You already know pesticides can be bad for your health. They’re already suspects in the development of some cases of Parkinson’s disease, ADHD, cancer and more. But there’s another reason to avoid exposure to them. They can wreak havoc with your thyroid health.
Research out of India has linked a rise in thyroid issues to exposure to these toxic chemicals. Here in the U.S., a large study of women exposed to pesticides found they had a 12.5 percent high rate of thyroid problems than women who had little to no contact with pesticides.
As always, organic is the way to go.
It’s time to get serious about your thyroid health. Just because no one’s talking about thyroids doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be. Don’t let these six common toxins destroy YOUR thyroid health. Take steps to reduce your exposure starting today.