What are the Root Causes of Hypothyroid?

“Doctor, why did I get hypothyroidism?”

The most common 2 answers you will get are, “It’s because of genes” and “It’s because of autoimmune disease and your body’s immune system is attacking the thyroid gland. It is called Hashimoto’s disease and in some cases Grave’s disease.”

Let’s look at both the answers. 

Genes

If genes were largely responsible for thyroid, then how come thyroid has become so much more rampant in the last 50 years, when humans have existed on earth for lakhs of years? How come genes changed in the last 50 years? 

Autoimmune Disease

Thyroid happened due to autoimmune disease, fine. But then why did autoimmune disease happen? Is it not worth knowing? Unless one gets to the root case of the problem, one can never find a solution. Unfortunately, not many are trying to find the root cause. 

The purpose of this article is to analyse the root causes of why thyroid happens. Identification of the problem is half battle won. Both the above reasons for hypothyroidism seem to suggest that nothing is in our control and we have not much control over the disease, which is not the case.

Thyroid is also called chronic disease for the same reason, that nothing much can be done about it and “Once a thyroid, always a thyroid.” “Disease will go away with the last breath”. Which is not completely true. 

There are 7 lifestyle related root causes why thyroid happens. And good news is that it’s Possible to work on these lifestyle causes and hence control our hypothyroidism. 

Root Cause 1: Nutritional Deficiency

You would have probably heard about the importance of iodine for proper functioning of the thyroid gland. Thyroid hormone is rich in iodine, and deficiency of iodine can cause both hypothyroidism and goiter (a swelling of the thyroid gland).

But not just iodine, there are other important nutrients which are often ignored but they play a big role in functioning of thyroid gland:

  • Iron, Zinc, Vit E, B2, B3, B6, C
      • Required for the synthesis of thyroid hormone
  • Selenium
      • Required to convert T4 into T3 
  • Vitamin D
    • Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to be associated with autoimmune diseases including Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis

People often associate diet with eating less. But diet is about eating more. Eating more of the right foods so that you get all the nutrients for proper functioning of your body.  

Root Cause 2: Excess Weight

People often acknowledge that hypothyroidism leads to weight gain but the reverse is also true. 

Obese population has a min 86% increased risk of subclinical hypothyroidism.

Why does obesity cause hypothyroidism?

  1. A metastudy on thyroid reports, “Obesity is a chronic low-grade inflammation process; thus the cytokines and other inflammatory markers produced by overloading adipose tissue, will be increased. These increased inflammatory cytokines. may inhibit the mRNA expression of symporter sodium/iodide, then influence iodide uptake activity of human thyroid cells”
  2. It further states, “Leptin, a factor produced by adipocytes, also plays a role in chronic inflammation may result in the morphological changes in thyroid”. [1]

Hypothyroidism and weight gain is a vicious cycle. If you want to overcome hypothyroidism and if you have excess weight, then this is the No.1 thing you need to do. 

Root cause 3: Gut Bacteria Imbalance

“All of us know what antibiotics are, but how many of us know about their counterpart called ‘probiotics’?  These are microorganisms like yeast or good bacteria that are known to enhance one’s health. They are usually found in supplements and foods like yogurt and buttermilk. It may seem strange to take in live bacteria as part of your food, but it is a normal practice and is very good for you.”  

Interesting Tit-bits

The human stomach contains trillions of good bacteria. Isn’t it amazing? This number is a minimum of 10 times more than the total number of cells in the body. 

The ratio of good bacteria to bad bacteria in your stomach is usually 85% : 15%. When you maintain this ratio, you’re in good health and can lose weight easily. Probiotics help in keeping the lining of intestines healthy and thus help with breaking down and absorption of food.

Probiotics are found in curd and buttermilk, though not in great numbers. However, since many of us don’t get enough probiotics in our daily diet, the proportion of good bacteria goes down and we often suffer from digestive disorders and lower immunity.

“Gut microbiota also influences the absorption of minerals that are important to the thyroid, including iodine, selenium, zinc, and iron. All of them are essential for thyroid function and there is a clear link between thyroid dysfunction and altered levels of these minerals.” [2]

Root Cause 4: Toxicity

Doctors talk about the fact that Hashimoto’s Disease happens because our body’s immune system starts attacking the thyroid gland. But why does it happen? Our body’s immune system has been designed to protect us, not destroy us. Then why does our rakshak (protector) become the bhakshak (destroyer)? 

Amongst other factors, the answer may lie in toxins. It happens in 2 steps: 

  • Thyroid gland needs iodine and selenium to produce thyroid hormones. Many environmental toxins are mistaken for iodine and selenium and accumulate in the thyroid gland. 
  • Then the body recruits antibodies to fight these toxins and in the process also attack the thyroid gland. 

Hope you see how many invisible toxins in our lives are causing this epidemic of thyroid. 

Four specific heavy metals are most damaging: aluminum, cadmium, lead, and mercury. These are found in our daily use items like plastic, deodorant, batteries, etc. It might not be feasible to let go of all such items, but by being conscious of it, we can reduce the damage. 

Also, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, commonly used for our agricultural produce are one of the most common sources of toxins. Even milk is laden with added hormones as most cows are given injections to increase yield of milk. While paying for organic food, we worry about higher prices. But consider the kind of price we pay in the long term by eating pesticides heavy food. 

Root Cause 5: Stress & Lack of Sleep

Stress and lack of sleep are two of the most underreported causes. No, I am not talking about some philosophical stuff here. Let’s talk science on how it worsens thyroid condition. 

Healthline reports, “The impact of stress on the thyroid occurs by slowing your body’s metabolism. This is another way that stress and weight gain are linked. When thyroid function slows during stress, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) hormone levels fall. Also, the conversion of T4 hormone to T3 may not occur, leading to higher levels of reverse T3.” 

Also, there is another culprit: a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol gets released when you are under stress or if you get less sleep. And too much cortisol can wreak havoc on your thyroid.

It does not allow the thyroid gland to produce enough thyroid hormone and worsens the condition. So, if you have thyroid, you have one more reason to reduce your stress levels and sleep well. 

Also, studies have found that both lack of sleep and oversleeping hampers the functioning of the thyroid gland. 7-8 hours of sleep is the optimal sleep time. [3]

Root Cause 6: Sedentary Lifestyle

Studies have shown that “Thyroid functions improve in hypothyroid patients doing regular physical exercise, as TSH levels decreased, and T3 and T4 increased in the regular exercise group.”[4]

Exercise also helps in boosting metabolism and in reducing weight. Both of which again helps in better functioning of the thyroid gland. 

Root Cause 7: Internal Inflammation

“I always thought inflammation meant a cut or a swollen tissue which is painful.  It is the body’s response to removing damaged cells or irritants before the healing process can begin. What is invisible inflammation?”, asked one of our clients Meera. 

“It is called internal inflammation, and is one of the major causes for obesity, diabetes, thyroid and other lifestyle diseases. It is neither painful nor visible, but it’s extremely deadly.  It is a fire that is kept hidden by the body‘s immune system as it combats food allergens, toxins, stress and bad food”, I explained to her.  

Even though this inflammation is harmful, we sadly don’t have any antiseptic that can cure it.  Internal inflammation occurs due to refined carbs, sugar, trans fats and many inflammatory Omega-6 fats, artificial sweeteners, gluten, dairy, chronic infection, stress, processed plant oils, hidden food allergies and sensitivities, etc. It can cause diseases ranging from common cold to obesity to even cancer!

Each individual is different and different factors would lead to inflammation. You must first locate all the symptoms of inflammation that you experience and then get rid of them. In fact, if you try the Possible Program, you will realize that it is thoughtfully created to help you realize what causes you to suffer from inflammation so that you can address the problem. 

Now, when you know the root causes of thyroid, it’s up to you to decide, whether you want to work on these root causes or just focus on managing symptoms with the help of additional hormonal medicines. 

At Possible, we work on attacking all these root causes and have helped thousands of thyroid patients manage and reverse hypothyroidism. We have a team of 50 nutritionists, doctors, who work day in and day out to make the world a healthier place. Using food as medicine. 

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