The endocrine system:
The thyroid is a gland which forms part of the endocrine system, and if you have been diagnosed with a thyroid disorder you will most likely have been rereferred to an endocrinologist. The endocrine system also includes the adrenal glands, hypothalamus, pituitary gland, pineal gland, parathyroid glands, ovaries, testes and pancreas. These glands secrete various hormones directly into the bloodstream, which then head to specific cells to deliver and receive information and messages. Thyroid hormones are particularly important as they enter almost every cell in the body to check everything is working optimally, and that the body is carrying out vital functions like energy production, metabolism, temperature regulation, brain function and bone turnover.
What is an endocrine disruptor?
Unfortunately, the thyroid can come under attack by a group of hormone disrupting chemicals known as endocrine disruptors, which can cause hormonal imbalances and lead to performance issues. When these chemicals enter the body, they interfere with the production, transport, metabolism and excretion of thyroid hormones which can lead to inflammation, impairment and a host of symptoms including fatigue, weight loss/gain, brain fog, poor memory and concentration, mood imbalances and fertility issues.
Even though our awareness of endocrine disruptors has improved, and companies offer more transparency around the ingredients they use, our exposure to them is higher than ever. A quick look at the ingredients list on personal-care products like shampoos, conditioners, shower gels, perfumes and sun creams in your bathroom cabinet, or the cleaning products under your sink, may reveal a shocking amount of chemicals which can harm the thyroid. Some of the more notable toxic ingredients include:
Parabens – used as a preservative in personal care products like moisturisers, face cleansers, deodorants, shaving creams and toothpastes to extend their shelf-life.
Phthalates – used in shampoos, conditioners and body washes to help the scent linger for longer once it’s been washed off your body. Phthalates also reduce testosterone, lower sperm count and have been linked to poor thyroid function.
Bisphenol A (BPA) – is added to plastics to make them firmer and more durable and used in products like water bottles and food storage containers.
Glycol ethers – a group of solvents used in cleaning products, soaps and cosmetics.
PFAS – (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a large group of chemicals used in cleaning products.
Toluene – a toxic chemical found in nail polish and hair dyes which can also be toxic to the liver.
Endocrine disruptors are also found in tap water, processed foods, herbicides, fungicides, pesticides and food packaging as well as home furnishings and toys.
How to avoid hormone disruptors:
These silent chemicals are everywhere, but being more mindful of the products you apply to your skin and those you use to clean the house can make a huge difference to the health of your thyroid. Start by reading ingredient lists on product labels so you know exactly what’s in them, and where possible try and steer clear of products that contain parabens, fragrances, phthalates and other toxic ingredients that have most likely been created in a lab. Instead look for eco-friendly products that are fragrance, chemical and cruelty-free. You can even try making your own cleaning products with ingredients like lemon, bicarbonate soda and vinegar which are simple and effective.
A really good place to start is by replacing your bathroom cleaner bleach for lemons and baking soda. The citric acid found in lemons has mild bleaching properties, and their gorgeous aroma also helps everything smell fresh and clean. Baking Sodais also a powerhouse for your cleaning kit as the grains cut through grease and eliminate odors as well.
LEMON FRESH BATHROOM SCRUB:
¼ cup baking soda
Sprinkle baking soda in the base of the bath or sink. Use the cut side of the lemon half as your scrubbing device. Gently squeeze the lemon to release the juice while scrubbing. The combination of lemon and baking soda helps cut through stubborn grime that has built up. Finally, rinse with water.
It’s also a good idea to clean surfaces with a damp microfibre cloth instead of traditional cleaning sprays. This method is just as effective and will safely remove particles of endocrine disrupting chemicals that have accumulated in household dust.
Try and minimise or avoid plastics as much as you can. Replace plastic water bottles for glass or stainless-steel, place leftovers in glass containers, mason jars or my personal favourite, elephant boxes, and replace clingfilm or aluminium foil for reusable beeswax wraps or vegan soy wax wraps.
If you are living with a thyroid disorder, removing hormone disrupting chemicals from your life could be a powerful step in the right direction and key to restoring your health.
If you are interested in exploring a more natural route to support your thyroid and would like more information about how nutritional therapy could benefit you, please get in touch. Nutritional and lifestyle interventions get to the root cause of your illness and address your symptoms head-on so you can improve your quality of life. I offer complimentary 20-minute exploratory phone calls so you can find out if it’s something that could help you on your healing journey. I help people reclaim their health and I’d love to help you too. Please feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org