Autoimmune thyroid disorders include both Hashimoto’s and Graves’ diseases — conditions that cause the body’s immune system to attack the thyroid gland.
These illnesses occur 8 to 10 times more frequently in women than in men.
Women have higher iodine requirements than men. The major reason is that women have more glandular tissue than men, particularly breast tissue.
When girls’ breasts enlarge during puberty, their iodine requirements markedly increase because iodine helps to maintain the normal architecture of breast tissue.
When iodine is deficient, problems such as fibrocystic breast disease and breast cancer can develop.
It’s impossible to induce autoimmune thyroid illness in animal studies without two factors present: iodine deficiency and a goitrogen, which is any substance that causes a swelling of the thyroid gland (which is known as a goiter).
Iodine deficiency also disrupts the architecture of the thyroid gland, which can lead to autoimmune thyroid illness. My experience has been clear: Autoimmune thyroid illness is caused by low iodine.
Blood tests for thyroid antibodies can confirm this diagnosis. The two most common antibodies are thyroid peroxidase (TPO) and thyroglobulin (Tg).
I screen every patient because autoimmune thyroid disorders are so common. The medical literature states the incidence is about 1-3 percent. But I believe those numbers are too low.
I estimate the incidence of autoimmune thyroid illness is more like 10-20 percent of the population, based on my own experience and conversations with hundreds of healthcare professionals about their experiences.
The reason the medical literature reports such low numbers is that most doctors don’t check their patients for thyroid antibodies. If you don’t check for something, you won’t see it.
Autoimmune thyroid disorders require dietary changes. I have found that gluten- and dairy-free diets are very helpful for lowering the inflammation in the body, which helps overcome autoimmune thyroid disease.
In addition, the use of unrefined salt — at least a teaspoon per day — is invaluable for treating autoimmune thyroid disorders.
Lastly, supplements such as vitamin C, iodine, and magnesium can help patients overcome this type of illness.
My daughters, Hailey and Jessica, were diagnosed with autoimmune thyroid illness at age 12. After following a holistic protocol, they are no longer symptomatic, nor do they test for it.
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