Both internal and external environments affect our health. Gut microbiota play an integral part of our immune systems, most of which lives in the digestive tract. Leaky gut is the condition in which intestinal linings become perforated and undigested food and toxins move through the bloodstream. This causes inflammation (among other things); chronic inflammation is a precursor to disease.
Our external environment is fraught with toxins in our food, water, air, and soil. Agricultural and geoengineering chemicals, food additives, heavy metals, fluoride, and endocrine disruptors in home and personal care products are known to cause inflammation and disease. Excessive stress is common as the result of lifestyle pressures. One of the consequences of stress is adrenal insufficiency; this is relevant because the hormones produced by the adrenal glands interact with the thyroid.
“Given the constancy of genetics, growing attention has focused on environmental factors, and in particular, the western lifestyle. Indeed, over the last few decades significant changes in western dietary habits, environmental surroundings and pollution exposure, infectious habitat and stress load, have led to a parallel rise in autoimmune diseases.” (11)
The typical Western diet has been shown to be at the bottom of countless varieties of illness and disease.
“Living in westernized countries has not fundamentally changed the genetic basis on which these diseases emerge, but has strong impact on lifestyle and pathogen exposure. In particular, nutritional patterns collectively termed the ‘Western diet’, including high-fat and cholesterol, high-protein, high-sugar, and excess salt intake, as well as frequent consumption of processed and ‘fast foods’, promote obesity, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease…Genetic factors clearly predispose to the development of inflammatory autoimmune diseases, but a relatively low concordance rate for most of the diseases between monozygotic twins suggests environmental factors as important triggers of disease. ” (10)
What you don’t eat is as important as what you do eat. Thyroid dysfunction has been linked to nutrient deficiencies, specifically:
- minerals (iodine, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and chromium)
- vitamins (A, B1, B5, B6, and C)
- certain proteins
It’s almost unimaginable that in our affluent society that malnutrition can exist. There’s an important distinction between having enough to eat to satiate hunger and taking in adequate nutrition.
Obesity has been linked to metabolic and autoimmune diseases (e.g., diabetes) and is linked to hormone function and balance.
“Proper diet helps to reduce the symptoms of the [autoimmune thyroid] disease, maintains a healthy weight and prevents the occurrence of malnutrition.” (11)