Thyroid Health at Home: Get Rid of These Products to Help Your Thyroid
Mary Shomon | Nov 15, 2017
A number of different products found around your house and in the environment are known to interfere with your thyroid function. Let’s take a look at some of these toxins and where you will find them, so you can take an important step to start limiting your exposure.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
PCBs were banned almost 40 years ago but still contaminate water supplies around the United States. PCBs can lower your levels of thyroxine and cause thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels to increase.
You can reduce exposure to PCBs by avoiding bottom-feeding freshwater fish such as catfish and carp, and carefully washing fruits and vegetables. You should also replace older fluorescent lights that may contain PCBs.
Pesticides — especially organochlorine pesticides —found in foods are known to be able to change metabolism and thyroid function, and are associated with goiter.
Your best recourse is to avoid pesticides by choosing organic food — including produce, meat, and dairy products — whenever possible.
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are flame retardants found in electronics, furniture, carpets, and sprays. PBDEs are linked to a variety of health problems, including an increased risk of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
The Environmental Working Group recommends choosing PBDE-free products (their PBDE-free manufacturer list is helpful) and replacing mattresses, couches, and foam products made before 2005. (Note: This is especially important if they are crumbling or the foam is exposed.)
Bisphenol A (BPA)
Bisphenol A (BPA) — used in plastics, food can coatings, and dental sealants — decreases thyroid sensitivity and causes thyroid resistance. To avoid BPA, Safer Chemicals recommends that you avoid plastic and use glass or stainless steel instead. If you do use plastic products, such as water bottles or food containers, make sure they have a #4 recycling rating. Don’t cook or reheat with any plastic products. Also, avoid canned foods as can linings are a common source of BPA.
Thiocyanate is a chemical found in cigarettes and in some foods, such as cassava, cabbage, turnips, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. Thiocyanate can inhibit iodine uptake and has negative effects on Graves’ disease progression, and interferes with treatment of thyroid eye disease. To limit thiocyanate exposure, stop smoking cigarettes. And if you want to consume thiocyanate-rich foods, eat them in moderation and make sure you have adequate iodine intake.
Perchlorate is a byproduct of firework, rocket, and jet fuel production. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most of us have perchlorate in our systems. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that even low levels of perchlorate can slow the thyroid and increase the risk of autoimmune thyroid disease. To reduce perchlorate exposure, the EWG recommendsinstalling a reverse osmosis filter. Getting enough iodine can also help reduce the effect of dietary perchlorate.
Triclosan is an antibacterial chemical added to soaps, lotions, and toothpaste and a wide range of antibacterial products. Triclosan is an endocrine disruptor and can slow thyroid function. Products that include triclosan are labeled with this ingredient, so your best way to prevent exposure is to read labels carefully and choose products that do not include triclosan.
Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA)
PFOA is a chemical used for nonstick products, including Teflon, food wrappers, and a variety of other products. Studies show that higher concentrations of PFOA are linked to increased risk of a variety of thyroid conditions.
The Environmental Working Group cautions against using “nonstick” pans and recommends cast iron or stainless steel. Organic Authority, however, recommends several safe nonstick brands of cookware, including Green Pan, Mercola, Cuisinart Green Pan, and ScanPan.
Fluoride is controversial. Some studies show it as a risk factor for hypothyroidism, and that it can block the conversion of T4 to T3. If you want to avoid fluoride, you can drink fluoride-free bottled water (Hearty Soul has a list of brands) or use a reverse osmosis filter. (Activated carbon water filters like Brita or Pur don’t filter fluoride.) Also, choose toothpaste and mouthwashes free of fluoride. Tom’s of Maine and Dr. Sharp have a range of fluoride-free dental products.
Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs)
PFCs are found in everything from pizza boxes to stain-resistant carpets. PFCs have a negative effect on thyroid function.
To avoid PFC exposure, the Environmental Working Group recommends that you:
- Forgo stain-resistant treatment for carpets or furniture
- Avoid products with Scotchgard or Teflon
- Don’t make microwave popcorn, as the bags are often coated with PFCs
- Read labels and avoid personal care products with “PTFE” as an ingredient, or any ingredient that starts with “perfluoro.”