How’s Your Thyroid?

thyroid butterflyDr. Dan Gleason and I recently shared a presentation at Nourishing the Lakeshore, our local chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation. This post is based on our presentation.


What is the thyroid?

A butterfly shaped gland at the front of the base of the neck that produces about a teaspoon of hormone per year and acts as the thermostat for your metabolism in every cell of the body

How common are thyroid issues?

This is a tricky question.  The Cleveland Clinic says about hypothyroidism that it “has a total prevalence of 1% to 2%,1 increasing with age (~10% adults >65 years). In the U.S. population, the prevalence of biochemical hypothyroidism is 4.6%, but clinically evident hypothyroidism is present in 0.3%.”  However, iodine and thyroid expert Dr. David Brownstein estimates that as many as 40% of the population may be suffering from hypothyroidism. The numbers are much lower for hyperthyroidism, thank goodness.

There are those who actually have lab numbers out of range. But then, even more people have numbers in the normal range so their doctors tell them they don’t have an issue. The “normal” range .5 to 4.5 (a range big enough to drive a bus through) is based on the labs scores of average people and the average person today is not really healthy. If your TSH is within range your thyroid isn’t necessarily functioning optimally. Dr. Broda Barnes cautioned that hypothyroidism is the “unsuspected illness” because lab values can appear normal and thus the problem goes undiagnosed. He strongly advised using basal temperature readings to help determine thyroid functioning.  Dr. Brownstein sites that through his experience, a more optimal TSH range is between .3 to 2.0.

What are some of the signs of an underactive thyroid?

*        Dry skin, brittle nails

*        Fatigue/difficulty concentrating/nervousness

*        Weight gain and/or difficulty losing weight

*        Difficulty sleeping

*        Hair problems (thinning, brittle)

*        Cold feet and hands

*        Puffy eyes

*        Muscle cramps/weakness

*        Elevated cholesterol

What are some of the signs of an overactive thyroid?

*        Goiter/Nodules

*        Fatigue and/or weakness

*        Weight loss

*        Sweating and/or heat intolerance

*        Hypertension

*        Nervousness

*        Palpitations

What toxins contribute to thyroid problems?

*        Halogens – chlorine, bromine and fluoride

*        Environmental toxins

*        Heavy metals

*        Medications

*        Smoking

What nutrient deficiencies can lead to thyroid problems?

*        Low iodine

*        Low selenium, zinc, iron and/or copper

*        Low tyrosine

*        Low levels of certain vitamins (A, B2, B3, B6, and C)

What other issues can lead to thyroid problems?

*        Food allergies/dysbiosis

*        Inflammation/infection

*        Toxins

*        Neurotransmitter imbalance

*        Endocrine imbalance

*        Stress/sleep

*        Sugar

Sources of toxins that harm the thyroid

*        Water

*        Food

*        Medications

*        Dental work

*        Pollutants in the air

*        Building material, carpets, flame retardants

Heavy metals and their sources

*        Mercury – fillings, vaccines, fish, some pesticides

*        Cadmium – cigarettes, industrial waste, exhaust

*        Aluminum – vaccines, baking pans, baking powder, antiperspirants, dental work

*        Arsenic – Older treated lumber (i.e., decks and playground structures), insecticides, exhaust

*        Lead – paint (prior to 1978), bone meal supplements, hair dyes, water through lead pipes

*        Nickel – dental crowns, hydrogenated fats, fertilizers

What’s in water that hurts your thyroid?

*        Chlorine – taken in through drinking AND through our lungs in the shower

*        Fluoride – not what you think it is

NOTE: Keep in mind the water that serves as the base for drinks like bottled sodas, bottled teas and fountain soda is fluoridated.

Ingredients in food that harm the thyroid

*        Bromine in breads, fruit drinks and sodas

*        Soy

*        Pesticide residues

*        Aspartame/Splenda (check your gum)

*        Gluten

Then, what should I eat?

*        Grass-fed meat, eggs and poultry

*        Wild caught fish

*        Healthy fats (coconut oil, EVOO, fresh flaxseed oil, butter, lard )

*        Organic produce whenever possible

*        Ferments like sauerkraut (esp. homemade)

*        Bone broths made traditionally

What should I avoid?

*        Trans fats (margarine, vegetable oils, products made with corn, soy, and canola oils)

*        Non-organic foods and GMOS

*        Processed foods/refined sugar

*        Unfermented soy

*        MSG

*        Artificial sweeteners

*        Farm-raised fish

*        Ingredients you can’t pronounce

*        Gluten


Much of the information provided in our presentation was taken from the Dr. David Brownstein’s book OVERCOMING THYROID DISORDERS which we highly recommend. Additional information came from THE IODINE CRISIS by Lynne Farrow, which will be discussed in my next blog post.