Did you know that your environment directly impacts thyroid health? In fact, countless studies have linked environmental toxins to autoimmune thyroid disease and thyroid dysfunction, such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
These environmental exposures interfere with the production of thyroid hormones and inhibit the utilization of necessary nutrients, ultimately contributing to varying levels of thyroid dysfunction.
It’s essential to take a second look at these environmental exposures and ask ourselves if they may be contributing to or putting us at risk for thyroid issues.
The good news is that there is a lot you can do to protect yourself and your family from these everyday thyroid-disrupting exposures.
Here are the most common environmental factors that affect thyroid health and what you can do to protect yourself from each
1. Fluoride & Other Water Contaminants
Did you know that people who live in areas of water fluoridation are twice as likely to have hypothyroidism? This is because fluoride is a direct antagonist to iodine, which is one of the key nutrients for thyroid health. Fluoride inhibits the thyroid’s ability to utilize iodine, which is one reason that it’s essential to use a water filter that removes fluoride.
What you can do:
Invest in a high-quality water filter that offers fluoride filters, yet leaves beneficial minerals in the water (something reverse osmosis filters remove).
2. Thyroid Disrupting Compounds found in everyday items
Everyday items such as plastic water bottles that leach phthalates and BPA into your water, as well as conventional personal care products that contain triclosan, and PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) that are found in flame retardants.
What you can do:
Replace plastic water bottles with a glass water bottle and food storage with glass and other nontoxic options. A great place to find nontoxic alternatives is Be Home Well. They offer food storage options and my favorite alternative to plastic wrap, which is Bee’s Wrap! You can save 10% on their entire site with code healthfully10.
Begin your transition your nontoxic personal care products, especially those containing triclosan, to safer alternatives. Each transition goes a long way in reducing your overall exposure, so take it one product at a time if you need to!
If you’re looking for some guidance as you make this transition, I’ve created a step-by-step Worksheet and Checklist, which you can download right here. You can also browse my favorites!
When purchasing new items for your home, whether it’s paint or new furniture, choose safer alternatives or allow time for off-gassing. This nontoxic paint has no VOCs and no odors. If buying new furniture, choose brands that have eliminated flame retardant chemicals. Crate and Barrel, West Elm, Pottery Barn, IKEA, and Ashley Furniture all have safer/less toxic options available. Just ask questions before purchasing!
One of the most important areas of your home to transition is your mattress, since we spend about one-third of our lives sleeping. You can learn more about mattresses here and why it’s so important (especially for thyroid health) to choose a nontoxic mattress.
3. Exposure to Heavy Metals, Cigarette Smoke, and Radiation
A wide range of heavy metals, specifically mercury (think mercury fillings!) have been associated with autoimmune thyroid disorders. Exposure to mercury inhibits the thyroid from producing T3 and T4, which can lead to hypothyroidism and increases the risk of autoimmune thyroid disease.
Cigarette smoke contains cyanide, which interferes with iodine in the thyroid. Exposure to radiation has also been associated with autoimmune thyroid disorders and hypothyroidism. Each of these is associated with impaired thyroid function, but don’t worry! There are several things you can do to protect yourself.
What you can do:
In addition to choosing a water filter that removes fluoride, you’ll also want to make sure your water filter effectively removes toxic metals. If you have mercury fillings, look for a biological dentist who can discuss the effects of mercury fillings with you and give you options for replacing the fillings with safer alternatives.
Implement daily detox methods through your diet and lifestyle to help your body detoxify and eliminate heavy metals.
Related: How to Detox Safely and Naturally
Protect your thyroid from radiation whenever possible. For example, make sure to ask for a thyroid guard when you receive x-rays at your dentist appointment. (I refuse most x-rays unless absolutely necessary) Most ‘x-ray gowns’ leave your thyroid gland completely exposed to radiation. Many dentist’s offices don’t offer this unless you specifically ask for it, and some don’t offer it at all. If you’re going to a new office, I encourage you to ask if they offer this before you go.
Now that you are aware of the most common environmental agents that impact thyroid health, you can choose one area to focus on first. We covered a lot in this post but just remember, each transition goes a long way in reducing your overall exposure to thyroid-disrupting chemicals.
Which of these environmental exposures surprised you most? Share your thoughts below.
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Hannah is the founder and health educator at Healthfully Hannah, empowering women to live healthfully through science-based, step-by-step guidance. Read Hannah’s personal health journey that led her to discover the power of Functional Medicine and Nutrition. Feel free to send Hannah a message here.
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