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Environmental Toxins and Autoimmune Thyroid Disorders

There is a book called the Autoimmune Epidemic, which talks about how autoimmune conditions are on the rise, yet still don’t gain the attention that cancer and heart disease have received. The author talks a great deal about how environmental toxins are potentially responsible for many of the autoimmune conditions that exist.

There are over one hundred autoimmune conditions, and the bad news is that someone with Graves’ Disease or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is more likely to “acquire” one or more additional autoimmune conditions when compared to the general public. This makes sense when you think about it, as one with a compromised immune system will be more susceptible to other autoimmune disorders.

Although I talk a great deal about how lifestyle factors and nutritional deficiencies can contribute to or directly cause an autoimmune thyroid disorder, as well as any thyroid condition for that matter, one can’t discount the impact that toxins have. After all, in this day and age we are being exposed to toxins that weren’t as prominent decades ago. And so perhaps it is no coincidence that as we are being exposed to more environmental toxins the rate of autoimmune conditions is increasing.

The bad news is that unlike lifestyle factors, you don’t have complete control with regards to the toxins you’re exposed to on a daily basis. It is impossible to avoid all of the environmental toxins out there, but most people can do a better job of minimizing their exposure. A big area is with the household products we buy, as there is really no good reason to purchase all of these cleaners with strong chemicals when you can visit Trader Joes or your local health food store and pick up natural alternatives.

Sure, they will of course cost more than the typical products most people buy, but it’s definitely worth the extra investment. Plus, some of these chemicals shouldn’t be used at all. For example, I remember when growing up as a child my mother constantly would use air freshener in the house.

Just like most people, she didn’t realize the potential damage these chemicals can cause to the lungs and other tissues in the body when used frequently. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that she eventually developed asthma (although to be fair, she did smoke for many years as well, which I’m sure was also a big factor).

The book “Autoimmune Epidemic” goes beyond household cleaners, but I wanted to focus on this topic because this is a big area that most people can control. But the book spoke about other ways we’re commonly exposed to toxins. It even briefly spoke about the dangers of the toxins present in vaccines, which obviously is a very controversial topic and not something I really want to get into right now.

The overall point I want to make is that there are many things in our environment that we don’t think of as being toxic. And some of these “toxins” might take years to cause the development of an autoimmune condition, although some people might never develop any condition from exposure to these toxins.

Whenever I talk about lifestyle factors, environmental toxins, and other factors that are under our control, someone usually brings up genetics, and how we can’t control any genetic tendencies we may have. This may be true (although some research studies don’t support this), but it really does us no good to worry about the things we can’t control, while on the other hand we should pay attention to those things that we can control, as over time it can make a profound difference with regards to our health.

And although I have discussed the impact of environmental toxins on autoimmune thyroid disorders, such toxins may also lead to the development of other types of thyroid conditions as well. So whether you have an autoimmune thyroid disorder, or a less severe hypothyroid or hyperthyroid condition, you really do need to try to minimize your exposure to environmental toxins.


 

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