What Really Impacts Thyroid Health Part 2

In part 1 of what really impacts thyroid health, we dug into nutrition, macronutreints, and micronutrients that are important for thyroid health. Today, our focus is on stress and its impact on the thyroid as well as halogens, which are found in our environment.

Stress & Your Thyroid

Our brain is what senses stress, then tells our hypothalamus and pituitary to talk to our adrenals and release cortisol (our stress hormone), adrenaline, and DHEA. The brain, hypothalamus, and pituitary also work with the thyroid to help produce adequate thyroid hormone. Too much cortisol disrupts the loop and inhibits thyroid function. Excess cortisol lowers thyroid-stimulating hormone production (TSH) and can even inhibit the conversion of the inactive form of thyroid hormone (T4) to the active form (T3) (see Part-1 for more on T3 conversion). For this reason, chronic stress can lead to an underachieving thyroid, worsening conditions like hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s. When your body is under chronic stress, it responds by dialing down thyroid function. If you are dealing with thyroid issues or suspect them, first look for possible stressor(s).

This is why addressing outside stressors is HUGE for your thyroid, but making your body more resilient to stress is also key. I think the real key to becoming more resilient to stress is to make sure you’re taking time to get out of the stressed state. So many of us are constantly in fight or flight and are addicted to stress hormones. We get addicted to being stressed out—everything from rushing through our meals to continue checking our phone to feeling like we need intense workouts. We are craving the cortisol. This is the most significant sign that you need to slow down and that stress can be impacting your thyroid function. This is especially so if you’re also dealing with period problems, irregular cycles, headaches/migraines, digestive distress, constipation, sleeping issues, etc. All of these symptoms are signs that your body is crying out for help.

Halogens & Thyroid Function

Halogens are chemicals that have a similar structure to iodine. They compete with iodine. This prevents iodine from getting in the thyroid cells. Iodine is needed in order to make thyroid hormone. This competition with iodine can also disrupt the conversion of T4 (inactive hormone) to T3 (active hormone).

Fluoride: Naturally occurring mineral. The amount that naturally occurs in water typically isn’t’ an issue for health, however, in the US we add a significant amount of fluoride to our water, toothpaste, professional dental products, etc.

Chloride: Naturally occurring mineral, but in excess will compete with iodine. We get excess chloride from water, pools, hot tubs, etc.

Bromide: Naturally occurring mineral in the earth’s crust and in seawater. We get excess amounts in pools (sometimes used as an alternative to chlorine).

Halogens are naturally occurring in our environment. It’s when we get them in excess that we can start to see thyroid issues. The biggest area of exposure we are getting these from is water sources. This can be drinking water, showering, swimming in pools, hot tubs, etc. This doesn’t mean we never swim in a pool or enjoy a hot tub, but you can reduce your exposure at home by using a water filter and shower filter. There are many different types of filters out there–I feel the most confident recommending Pure Effect Filters. They have an array of options and are the filters I choose to use in my own home. Check them out here. 

The approach to a healthy thyroid is very similar to the approach to healthy hormones. The biggest difference looking deeper at iodine and reducing halogens in our environment. If you are new to supporting thyroid health, start with food! Don’t overcomplicate it and get sucked into thyroid supportive supplements. You can’t skip the foundations and may find that making nutrition changes was just what you needed.

To learn even more about the thyroid and how to improve it check out these resources below:

reminder: i’m currently taking on 1:1 clients. if you’d like to explore what it would be like to work together and if we are a good fit, fill out this form to get more details!​

Amanda Montalvo

Amanda Montalvo is a women's health dietitian who helps women find the root cause of hormone imbalances and regain healthy menstrual cycles.

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