6 Substances that Affect Thyroid Balance
Environmental and dietary factors can affect thyroid balance
Have you been feeling sad, sluggish, anxious, or irritable? Are you struggling with your weight? Does your mind seem fuzzy sometimes? The culprit may be thyroid imbalance. Thyroid hormone is extremely important for regulating your metabolism and for promoting the production of feel-good neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. Thyroid also affects sensitivity to other hormones, which means thyroid imbalance can make menopause or andropause symptoms worse.
Thyroid disease affects an estimated 30 million Americans, according to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. Part of the reason thyroid imbalances are now more common than diabetes and heart disease has to do with changing dietary and environmental factors.
Overexposure to certain substances—and deficiencies in others—can have a big impact on thyroid. With depleted soils, unhealthy diets, and environmental contamination increasingly common in modern life, thyroid function is under attack. Here are the six most important substances to consider.
Iodine is an essential mineral for supporting thyroid function, because the body simply can’t make thyroid hormone without it. Iodine is necessary for creating both T3 and T4 forms of the hormone. If you don’t eat a balanced diet—or if you eat food grown in depleted soils—it can be difficult to get enough iodine.
Selenium is vital for the production and function of many enzymes, including ones that are involved in the activation and deactivation of thyroid hormones. Selenium is found in seafood, organ meats, dairy, and grains.
Because bromine is absorbed in the body in a very similar way to iodine, it can actually prevent the thyroid gland from receiving enough iodine. This disrupts hormone production and causes other endocrine issues. While some foods naturally contain small amounts of bromine, the larger amounts of bromine that are sometimes used as food and beverage additives can be harmful. Unsafe bromine exposure can also come from polybrominated diphenyl ether or PBDE, which is used as a flame retardant in many products from mattresses to car seats to carpets.
This heavy metal interferes with the metabolism of selenium into important enzymes that help support thyroid function. Arsenic is sometimes found in drinking water as well as in fish, shellfish, and seaweed taken from contaminated water.
Mercury is another toxic metal that can build up in the body—particularly in the brain, thyroid, liver, and adrenal glands. Mercury can impair the conversion of T4 (the inactive form of thyroid) to T3 (the active form). Common sources of mercury exposure include workplace contamination and household products like lightbulbs, paint, thermometers, and antiques.
A high-sugar diet can lead to a leaky gut and chronic inflammation, which affects multiple systems in the body including the endocrine system. Plus, the insulin spikes that accompany high blood sugar are very harmful to thyroid function. This can lead to a decline in thyroid function that further impairs the body’s glucose absorption and insulin response.
Get Your Thyroid Tested
Before taking hormones for andropause or menopause treatment, it is highly advisable to get your thyroid function evaluated. After all, a malfunctioning thyroid makes andropause and menopause symptoms worse, so you can’t expect to experience optimal relief without addressing thyroid imbalance.
When testing for thyroid function, don’t settle for just a TSH test. This measures the amount of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone in your system, but it doesn’t show how your TSH is being used. Your doctor should also test for T3 and T4 to check your levels of active and inactive thyroid.
At Renew Youth, we can help you get the testing and treatment you need to support healthy thyroid function so you can look and feel better as you age. Contact us today to learn more.