How is your energy level? Do you have cold hands and feet? Have you gained weight in the past few years and don’t know why? Are your eyebrows thinner on the outside half of your brows? Are you constipated? These can all be signs of low thyroid function. How many times have you heard someone talk about their thyroid? Many even have it tested and were told it was “normal”. But “normal” may not be normal for you! A low functioning thyroid is called hypothyroidism and it is more prevalent in America than most believe. Some have estimated up to 40% have sub-optimal thyroid function! But there is usually no real problem with the thyroid, just an iodine deficiency in the diet!
I am very passionate about thyroid health since I had thyroid cancer 17 years ago and had a thyroidectomy. Something I would never do again, but what’s done is done, and now I try to help others keep their thyroid healthy. A key to keeping a healthy thyroid is iodine, an essential mineral for every cell in the body, but especially thyroid, breast, ovary, and prostate tissue cells. This essential mineral used to be very easy to get in our foods, but our soils have become depleted of this mineral through commercial farming that it is hard to get now without being mindful of it. You are probably thinking that you get enough with iodized salt, but that’s not near enough.
Iodine is part of the halide family of elements along with fluoride, chloride and bromine. As much as Iodine helps the thyroid and other endocrine glands, the other three will disrupt their functioning by taking up iodine receptor sites and keeping the body from using the needed iodine. As you read these names, I’m sure you recognize all of them, but probably bromine the least, yet you are exposed to it more than you ever realized! Here is a short list:
• Pesticides, especially Methyl Bromide (Strawberries from California)
• Plastics (think of how many you are exposed to daily: computer, glasses, cars, toys, etc.)
• Bakery items using Potassium Bromate as dough “conditioner” (doesn’t that name sound innocent with potassium in it!)
• Some toothpastes and body care products
• Citrus flavored soft drinks like Mountain Dew, Fresca, etc. (use brominated vegetable oils, BVOs)
• Medications like Atrovent, Pro-Banthine, and other anesthesia agents
• Fire Retardants used in fabrics, kids clothing, upholstery, and mattresses (polybromo diphenyl ethers or PBDEs are most common.) Think about this one, I believe all infant sleepers are flame retardant…our kids are attacked from a very young age.
• Bromine based hot tub and swimming pool treatments
As well as playing havoc with your thyroid through iodine receptors, it is also a central nervous system depressant and can trigger psychological symptoms as well. Other symptoms of bromine toxicity are skin rashes or acne, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, metallic taste, fatigue, and cardiac arrhythmias.
As you look at the above list, you can see where you are ingesting bromine daily from foods made with commercial flour, to the cloths you wear, to just riding in your car! The United States is far behind other countries that have banned using Bromine related products in foods. The United Kingdom banned bromates in breads in 1990 and in 1994 Canada did the same. Bromide in flour was recently banned in Brazil too. People truly believe the FDA is here to protect us; I have to clearly ask you to really think about that and start taking your health in your own hands!
Exposure to all this bromine just makes taking iodine that much more important! Here is a list of ways you can reduce the bromine exposure and increase iodine:
• Eat organic produce, washing effectively with soap to reduce pesticide residual
• Avoid eating or drinking food from any type of plastic container unless it is BPA free. Store foods in glass or ceramic containers
• Eat breads made with “bromine free” flour. Grind your own grain to make it the most nutritional available!
• Avoid sodas
• Use chemical free personal care products, anything going on your body also goes “in” our body
• READ LABELS!!!
• Keep good air flow in buildings and cars to reduce off-gassing of chemicals.
• Avoid unfermented soy products
Limiting your exposure to Bromine is one way to actively help keep your thyroid healthy as well as other endocrine glands. This is one part, and taking iodine is another. I will talk more about iodine in my next blogs before I go into the other 2 halides because I feel iodine is that important.