Duncan Capicchiano, Guest Thyroid Nation
Iodine deficiency is one of the major causes of hypothyroidism, but very few people know that this can be the result of three everyday chemicals. These harmful chemicals are everywhere in our environment, meaning that it is virtually impossible to totally eliminate exposure. However, there are a few ways to reduce them, and this article will hopefully show you just how important that really is! So what are these three chemicals, and how do they affect your thyroid? Here are some names to remember – Fluoride, Bromine and Chlorine. All three of these chemicals interfere with the absorption of iodine by the thyroid gland. Why does this matter? Well, adequate iodine is vital for the proper function and health of your thyroid. If this absorption process is affected, insufficient iodine is retained in your thyroid and hypothyroidism is the result.
There has been a lot of controversy around fluoride over the years, but fortunately there is no debate now. The evidence is clear that fluoride is a harmful toxin that causes a whole range of health problems, including hypothyroidism. There are many campaigns calling authorities to stop adding fluoride to the water supplies, with some success in parts of Canada and the US. Even in small quantities, fluoride affects the function of your thyroid. In the past fluoride has actually been used as a treatment for an over active thyroid! That says it all – a chemical that is used to treat an overactive thyroid simply cannot be good for sufferers of hypothyroidism. Here are a few steps to reduce your exposure to fluoride:
- Switch your toothpaste! If you have a fluoride brand, you are being exposed every time you brush your teeth. You can find fluoride-free toothpaste at most health food stores. Also be sure to refuse any fluoride treatments at the dentist, despite what they may say.
- If your tap water contains fluoride, buy a good reverse osmosis filter system, a water distiller system or use activated alumina filter cartridges.
- Avoid using Teflon-coated non-stick pans. These pans are made with polytetrafluoroethylene. which releases carbonyl-fluoride and other extremely toxic gases when it is heated. These chemicals from non-stick pan have been linked to thyroid disease. Try to avoid this type of cookware – cast Iron, carbon steel, and stainless steel are healthier options.
- Be careful what prescription drugs you take. Prozac, Paxil, some other SSRI antidepressants, antacids, antibiotics and antihistamines can all contain fluorine. Fluorine metabolizes into fluoride in your body. You may want to check with your doctor to see if your medication contains fluorine, and consider an alternative.
You also have to be careful what you eat, as fluoride is an ingredient in some surprising foods. Here are a few to watch out for:
Black tea and green tea leaves absorb a substantial amount of fluoride from the soil and air. Some argue that this is a harmless ‘natural’ fluoride and this does have some truth to it, however natural fluoride is harmful too. Organic teas have less fluoride than others but still have considerable amount. I know this isn’t the best news for all you tea drinkers, but now at least you know. (and with Thyroid hypothyroidism, be careful of Green Tea)
Grapes, grape juice and wine
Wineries use fluoride-based pesticides in their vineyards. Unfortunately a high amount of fluoride ends up not only on the grapes, but in your wine glass too. Buy organic wines if possible. California wines have higher levels of fluoride than European wines.
Juices and sodas
Avoid reconstituted juices, infant juices, sodas etc. You can’t be sure what water was used, and very often it would have been fluoridated water. Only drink filtered water and fresh juices to be safe.
Bromine is another chemical that displaces iodine in the thyroid, similarly to chlorine and fluoride. Unfortunately its found in a very wide variety of places. Brominated fire retardants are used to reduce the flammability of computers, household appliances, carpets, car seats, furniture, mattresses and even clothing. These items release vapors that you can inhale into your lungs, so open the windows in your house and car every once in a while. Bromine is also used in food items. Commercial flour products such as cookies, cakes and bread use it as a dough conditioner. So buy organic products or make your own with organic flour. Brominated vegetable oil is an ingredient in some soft drinks such as Mountain Dew, Fresca, Gatorade and other citrus-flavored sodas and soft drinks. Avoid these completely. They really aren’t healthy for your thyroid gland (or the rest of the body for that matter). Even your swimming pools can contain bromine, as some use it as an alternative to chlorine. And lastly, many pesticides contain bromine, and it is used as a pre-soil fumigant by farmers to protect their strawberries from weeds. Try to always buy organic!
You probably know chlorine as the chemical that keeps swimming pools clean. But did you know that you are exposed to it when you drink a glass of water or take a shower? Triple Whammy! Additionally, chlorine is used to disinfect the water supply of harmful organisms and pathogenic bacteria, and your tap water probably contains a significant amount. So when you drink tap water, you’re putting chlorine direct into your body. But that’s not the only source of exposure in your house. When you take a hot shower, chlorine is absorbed into your body both through your skin and through vapors going into your lungs. A hot shower is even worse, because hot water opens your pores and allows the chlorine to absorb more easily.
Chlorine in your home and shower
There are a couple of ways to eliminate chlorine exposure in your home. Firstly, you can buy a filter for each tap, and shower filters for your bathrooms. There are some excellent filters available which will eliminate more than 90% of the chlorine, and they will also reduce the heavy metals and other nasty chemicals that are present in your water. An even better alternative is to buy a whole house filter. This eliminates chlorine before it even reaches your home, and means that you don’t need to install and maintain filters all around your house. Even better, it means that your clothes are washed in chlorine-free water too. That brings me on to cleaning products, another thing that you need to remember when you make your house chlorine-free! Always use chlorine-free bleach and cleaning products. If you don’t, you could be inhaling chlorine vapors without even realizing it. Avoiding chlorine is not all about what you can do in your home. As I mentioned, swimming pools are normally full of chlorine and should be avoided. Unfortunately that goes for hot tubs too! If you feel like a swim (and you live near some water), try a lake or the sea. Sea swimming is particularly beneficial for your thyroid gland, as seawater contains many minerals including Iodine.
About the Author
Duncan Capicchiano, ND, is the owner and creator of KidneyCoach.com. His professional background is Naturopathy, and is also an International Author and Researcher that specialises in the treatment and management of kidney disease. His most famous work in kidney disease is The Kidney Disease Solution Program. He is a fully qualified naturopath, nutritionist, herbalist and a medical researcher. Check out the original article, here.