7 Key Takeaways from 35 Thyroid Experts
November 1st, 2016
Last week I hosted The Thyroid Connection Summit, featuring video interviews with 35 of the world’s top thyroid experts. It was an incredible event, and I was blown away by the life-changing information they shared and the amazing feedback we received from the nearly 70,000 people who tuned in around the world! If you weren’t able to watch it, or would like to own all 35 of the interviews to rewatch again at anytime, you can still purchase lifetime access to all of the talks.
In this week’s article I want to share the most important takeaways from the event, to provide you with a roadmap for your own thyroid journey. Here are the top 7 tips that were shared!
1. Proper Testing is Key
It is estimated that 60% of those with thyroid dysfunction don’t know they have it. That fact seems pretty hard to believe until you look at the way conventional medicine tests for it.
As I explain in my book, The Thyroid Connection, most conventional medicine doctors will test only your Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) if they suspect you have thyroid dysfunction, maybe a T4 (the storage form of thyroid hormone) if you’re lucky.
On day one of the summit, Dr. Ridha Arem, a fellow physician who tests for thyroid dysfunction the same way I do in my clinic, explained:
“Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), which is the standard thyroid test that most physicians use, unfortunately has a wide range of what is considered to be normal.
Even when TSH is within the normal range, each person has an individual dynamic of TSH levels, so many people have symptoms, even if their thyroid tests are normal.”
Furthermore, there are many factors involved in optimal thyroid function, so TSH and T4 levels alone don’t tell the whole story. To get a complete picture of a patient’s thyroid health and supplemental thyroid hormone needs, I order all of the thyroid tests below.
- Free T4
- Free T3
- Reverse T3
- Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies
- Thyroglobulin Antibodies
Even if your doctor does order a complete thyroid panel, they’re usually relying on “normal” reference ranges that are too broad and often inaccurate. It is very important to know that your thyroid levels can be “normal” and you can still have thyroid symptoms. That’s why I use optimal reference ranges when evaluating your thyroid labs. You can find all of these ranges in my book, The Thyroid Connection.
2. The Gut is the Gateway to Health
This is a phrase I say all the time, and with good reason! There is tons of emerging research about the role that the trillions of bacteria in your gut, known as your microbiome, play in all aspects of your health.
There is, in fact, a direct correlation between your microbiome and thyroid function, as Dr. Raphael Kellman explained in his interview:
“About 20% of the conversion from T4 (the storage form of thyroid hormone) to T3 (the active form) happens in the gut. In an unhealthy microbiome, you could lose that 20%. Plus, your nutrient absorption will diminish and many of the nutrients that play a very pivotal role in thyroid function will be low.”
Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to rebuild a healthy microbiome, including healing a leaky gut, restoring healthy levels of beneficial bacteria, and eliminating the overgrowth of bad bacteria, yeasts, and parasites, as I explain in my book.
3. Harness the Power of Food
Knowing how important gut health is for thyroid function, another primary focus in treating thyroid patients is optimizing your diet for thyroid health. This includes ditching toxic and inflammatory foods and adding in plenty of the nutrients needed for essential thyroid function.
As Taylor Morgan, a registered dietitian who was on staff in my clinic, shared in the summit:
“First and foremost, focus on gluten and dairy, the big two that thyroid patients will want to keep out long term.”
Gluten wreaks havoc on your gut, increases your inflammation, and can directly cause your immune system to attack your thyroid. Eliminating dairy goes hand-in-hand with getting off of gluten because it is so chemically similar to gluten.
I list all of the common inflammatory foods to eliminate while restoring thyroid function in my book, as well as the effect they have on your thyroid and immune system. I’ve also included a complete 28-day meal plan with thyroid supporting recipes.
4. Pay Attention to Your Toxin Exposure
The environmental toxins we are exposed to in our daily lives is a hot button topic right now, and there is a lot of frightening information out there. There is still much we don’t know about the impact all of these toxic chemicals have on our thyroid health, but research has shown a very clear link between the two.
In my practice, my book, and The Thyroid Connection Summit, I focus on empowering you with the knowledge to make informed decisions about your toxin exposure, rather than trying to live in a bubble. The two big components of this are debunking myths around the supposed safety of common chemicals, and then making small, targeted changes that have the biggest impact on your thyroid health.
There’s a great example of this in Mike Adams’ talk about toxins in our water supply:
“The idea that we’re told today that fluoride is a “naturally occurring” mineral and therefore it should be added to the water supply is scientific quackery. There are many things that are naturally occurring in well water that are extremely toxic, including arsenic.
And, the fluoride that’s actually added to the water supply in most municipalities across America is not naturally occurring fluoride. Instead it’s fluoride that is usually purchased from Chinese chemical manufacturing facilities, that is also sold as a very powerful insecticide.”
In addition to being toxic, studies have shown that fluoride is an endocrine disruptor that affects thyroid function and other hormone production glands.
In his interview he went on to share lots of simple tips for minimizing your fluoride, chlorine, and mercury exposure. Most of them are changes that I have implemented in my own home, and I highly recommend giving his interview a listen.
5. Check for the Infection-Thyroid Connection
The link between viral and bacterial infections and thyroid dysfunction doesn’t get as much air time as many of more popular topics, such as diet and toxins, which is why I was so excited to cover it in the summit! The exploration of these topics can often be heavy on science jargon, so in my book and the summit I really focused on breaking it down in a way that everyone can understand.
I particularly enjoyed Dr. Darin Ingles’ interview about the connection between Lyme disease and thyroid dysfunction, since there is so much confusion around both of these issues. He had a great explanation on exactly how the two are related:
“We see really two different effects on the thyroid from Lyme. The first effect is it can directly attack the thyroid and cause problems as it infests the tissue. The bigger problem though, is that it can trigger an autoimmune event, and we know that the vast majority of people with thyroid problems end up with Hashimoto’s disease, which is an autoimmune thyroid problem. And although there can be many triggers for it, Lyme appears to be at least one of them.”
Other infections that have been linked to thyroid dysfunction include herpes, Epstein Barr (the mono virus), Yersinia enterocolitica, Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), Heliobacter pylori, toxoplasmosis, and Blastocystis hominis. If you have any of these viral or bacterial infections, supporting your immune system is a key step in preventing them from triggering thyroid dysfunction or causing a thyroid flare up.
6. Relieve Your Stress and Support Your Adrenals
Stress is one of my favorite topics to cover in relation to chronic illness, and it’s why I devoted all of day six of The Thyroid Connection Summit, and a whole chapter in The Thyroid Connection book, to explaining the huge role stress plays in thyroid function.
As many of you know, 2016 has been an extremely stressful year for me between writing my book, hosting the summit, and dealing with a toxic mold exposure, and I personally experienced a flare up in thyroid symptoms while dealing with it all. That’s because stress does a real number on thyroid dysfunction by slowing thyroid hormone production, reducing your ability to convert thyroid hormones to their active form, and increasing thyroid hormone resistance, yet it is often overlooked by conventional medicine doctors.
Dr. Jim Gordon, the founder of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine and a classically trained physician, brought up two key points on this very topic that I hope we will all take to heart:
“Physicians need to learn about the impact of stress on health and this needs to be central in their practice. Regardless of the condition a patient comes in with, you have to deal with the stress they have in their lives. We know epidemiologically, that stress is a major factor in 80% to 90% of all chronic illness.
The other thing that’s important to say to anybody who has any thyroid dysfunction is you have the capacity to do something about it. As great as your doctor may be, there’s also a role for every patient in doing something about their thyroid dysfunction.”
I just love that second point because it’s so empowering to know that you, as the patient, have the power to take control of your health through lifestyle changes, and stress relief is a big piece of the puzzle. In his interview, he shared many tips for daily stress relief and he even walked us through a guided meditation!
7. Listen to Your Body and Be Your Own Best Advocate
The last big takeaway from these amazing interviews was something that I heard throughout almost all of the talks, and that is that you know your body best.
During the summit thousands of people shared their own personal stories in the comments and I was so saddened by the number of stories from people whose doctors wouldn’t believe them, refused to run tests, or told them that they were fine. I know all too well from my own experience that conventional medicine often fails those of us with thyroid dysfunction, and it’s what drives my mission to not let it fail you too.
So if there’s one thing you learn from this event, I hope it’s that you CAN take back your health! It takes hard work and commitment to explore all of the environmental factors at play, but with enough knowledge and determination, you can take your health into your own hands!