It’s estimated that over twelve percent of the population in the developed world will experience a thyroid problem at some point—still more conditions will go mis- or undiagnosed.
The situation has been called “epidemic” by some and the incidence of thyroid cancer has doubled in the last forty years. This is troublesome because the small bow-tie gland in the neck is a primary component of the immune system; if it’s not functioning properly, we become susceptible to an infinite number of illnesses.
The thyroid is responsible for producing hormones that regulate metabolism, heart rate, digestion, muscle control, and brain development. Typical problems with the thyroid are hypothyroidism (under-active) or hyperthyroidism (over-active).
When the thyroid doesn’t produce adequate amounts of hormones—particularly “T3” and “T4” (triiodothyronine and thyroxine)—the metabolism slows, resulting in weight gain, fatigue, increased blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and depression.
Producing too many of these hormones has the opposite effect—uncontrollable weight loss, accelerated heart rate, insomnia, and anxiety.
Environmental and lifestyle factors contribute to a malfunctioning thyroid and, while some are seemingly out of our control, many are not.
One important factor in the prevalence of thyroid malfunction is the existence of microscopic fungi in air and food, the over-proliferation of which tax the immune system. These fungi normally live on our skin and in other warm, moist places; mycosis is the term used for an illness that stems from their overabundance internalized via air or through the skin.
Mycotoxicosis is another group of diseases that can occur when humans are over-exposed to these fungi; from research published in Clinical Microbiology Reviews:
“Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by microfungi that are capable of causing disease and death in humans and other animals…mycotoxicoses are examples of ‘poisoning by natural means’ and thus are analogous to the pathologies caused by exposure to pesticides or heavy metal residues…the severity of mycotoxin poisoning can be compounded by factors such as vitamin deficiency, caloric deprivation, alcohol abuse, and infectious disease status. In turn, mycotoxicoses can heighten vulnerability to microbial diseases, worsen the effects of malnutrition, and interact synergistically with other toxins.” (1)
The fungi aren’t destructive per se, it’s that a weakened immune system allows them to run rampant, which further challenges the immune system. It has been found that mycotoxins can cause symptoms that range from annoying eye twitching to multiple sclerosis. (2) The effects of the poisons these fungi can produce can’t be over-emphasized.
“Because of their pharmacological activity, some mycotoxins or mycotoxin derivatives have found use as antibiotics, growth promotants, and other kinds of drugs; still others have been implicated as chemical warfare agents. [emphasis added]” (3)
Food sources of known mycotoxins:
- Alcoholic beverages
A healthy thyroid is imperative for fighting all the toxins to which we are regularly exposed. We are in direct control of the status of our own immune systems through how we live and what we eat unless we are born with a physiological condition to the contrary. By reducing our own vulnerability, we do ourselves a great service.
Potential causes of thyroid dysfunction:
- Family history
- Iodine deficiency
- Radiation, including X-rays
- Too much soy in the diet (4)
- Smoking cigarettes
- Chronic stress
- Chemicals and contaminants in tap water
- Xenoestrogens in food and personal care products
To keep the thyroid at optimal efficiency (which correlates to proper metabolism and—in the case of hypothyroidism—weight loss), consciously support it with these foods:
- Brazil nuts
- Dulce – an unsurpassed source of iodine, critical for the thyroid (5)
- Fish (halibut, flounder, wild salmon, sardines)
- Fruits (berries and lemons)
- Hypothyroid “miracle drink” (click for recipe)
- Sunflower seeds
- Vegetables – stay away from cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts if your thyroid is compromised
- Purified water via reverse osmosis
- Beans and other legumes
- Fried food
- Processed foods
- Refined sugar and artificial sweeteners
Increasing activity levels supports the immune system (thyroid included) in every way. Any exercise will do, as long as it’s regular.
Prescribed diets are antithetical to restoring immune system balance; simply cutting out the stuff we know is detrimental and replacing it with fresh organic produce and healthy sources of proteins and fats will give your body what it needs.