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The role of fluoride has been a huge topic of controversy for quite some time. Today, I want to give you an overview of fluoride and how it can be connected to thyroid disease. No controversies, just research, and results! Afterward, I will give you some action steps to help manage your fluoride levels today.
What does fluoride do within your body?
First, we need to develop a good understanding of just how fluoride became popular and inserted itself into the public consciousness. So, fluoride is part of the matrix of bone, tendon and ligament growth – all of these thrive when fluoride is present.
This is most thought of in terms of dental health, and the growth and strength of our teeth. This has led us to believe that fluoride is good, and has even normalized fluoride’s presence in our lives.
The mainstream thought process involved has concerned dental health and dental enamel – even though the research on fluoride’s role on cavities has been a bit on the ambiguous side.
What we can understand is that topical fluoride can actually have a positive effect on reducing the risk of cavities and cavitation. Especially those gels that we might come across at the dentist – they do make a difference!
Key Insight: When it comes to the research, fluoride in our water and even fluoridated toothpaste (as they are used) are not as helpful when it comes to dental health and the reduction of cavities.
Last but not least, before we really dive into the role fluoride plays in our thyroid’s health, about the negative effects of fluoride. There actually has also been some more negative research which has shown the role fluoride plays in some stomach cancers (1). This is obviously something we need to seriously consider.
But, that will have to be another conversation – we are here today to talk about fluoride and your thyroid.
Fluoride and Your Thyroid
Let’s think about the way that our thyroid gland works. It starts by taking in iodine, which is concentrated and then made into a hormone, and then releases these active hormones throughout your body. When we start to think about root causes, we need to think about the kinds of things which can disrupt this cycle.
The two things which can be key disruptors are:
- Too little or too much iodine, and
- Things that block the thyroid’s uptake
Either of these can be a part of the cycle which triggers autoimmunity. Furthermore, things that slow down iodine uptake can slow down the thyroid independent of autoimmunity. Basically, this is what fluoride does!
Key Insight: The fact of the matter is that fluoride and lithium are two minerals which compete with iodine for uptake in your thyroid. They get in the way more then they can benefit your body, and can be nasty triggers for your health.
When you have above a certain amount of fluoride in your system, you will take that into your thyroid instead of iodine – all thanks to that element of competition.
Ultimately, this will make your thyroid less able to create those important hormones which are then sent throughout your body (2). When that growth is stunted, we know that we are in a dangerous place (3).
In fact, there have been treatments which utilize fluoride in order to slow down the thyroid – in cases of hyperthyroidism and Graves’ disease (4). This is not recommended without guidance, obviously, but it can be used in order to slow down the thyroid.
In Conclusion: For those of us who do not want to slow down our thyroid, which is most of us, fluoride can make things worse by slowing down the amount of iodine being sent to our thyroid.
Where do we get fluoride from?
Now that we know how dangerous fluoride can be for the performance of our thyroid, we need to consider where we might be getting it. As it happens, there are actually some pretty common places where we can get fluoride into our systems. It can be found in:
- Fluoridated water – plain and simple, it is best to avoid drinking straight from the tap and going with something like reverse osmosis treatment for your water.
- Dental treatments – you can skip the fluoride during dental treatments if you simply maintain good dental hygiene in your day-to-day life: brushing, picks, these are all good ideas to do every single day.
- Fluoridated toothpaste – while you might not absorb much fluoride simply by using toothpaste, it is not advisable that you eat your toothpaste. But, in the case of your thyroid, I would encourage avoiding it altogether. That’s because we want to avoid anything that might be slowing us down unnecessarily.
In Conclusion: All three of these are pretty common sources of fluoride, where we might be getting too much of it and not even noticing. We drink water every day, we brush our teeth every day (twice or three times, often) and we go to the dentist frequently. Combining all of those together, it’s easy to see how we might be getting too much of this dangerous mineral.
Less Likely Sources of Fluoride
There are even some sources of fluoride that you might not have expected. Here is where you also might be able to find fluoride in your day-to-day:
- Certain teas (mostly in black tea, a little in green tea and the least in white tea)
- Gelatin, cartilage, or bone tissue – this is especially concerning when we think about the recent popularity of bone broth. All of that bone tissue does have fluoride, and while it is not being talked about much, it can have a detrimental effect on your thyroid.
- Fluoridated bottled water – some bottled waters advertise having fluoride, and some do not, but bottled water is good to avoid altogether. It is way better to go with reverse osmosis and take with you a water bottle with its own carbon filter.
Key Insight: I cannot stress how important it is to ditch the bottled water, and to have your own carbon filter water bottle. Not only is it better for the environment, but it can prevent fluoride (and sometimes even lead) from getting into your system. In the long term, it is also more cost-effective.
Action Steps To Avoid Fluoride
Luckily, there are definitely some things we can do to avoid the potentially damaging effects of fluoride on your thyroid. Here is what we need to focus on:
- If you are managing your thyroid, avoid denser sources of fluoride.
- For dental purposes, you can do better without fluoride as well. There are a whole bunch of fluoride-free toothpaste on the market, so I suggest that you seek those out in your local drug store.
If you are trying to address other things in your life, we need to consider alternatives that can steer us away from denser sources of fluoride (as I previously mentioned). One of these is white tea, which has a small enough amount that it is okay.
Another would be for those who are trying to avoid autoimmune gastritis and want to help their gut flora. In my personal experience, the effects of resistant starch in your diet (5) can have just as beneficial an effect as bone broth on your gut – often even better!
Understand Your Body
If you are at all feeling like fluoride has had a negative effect on your thyroid, consider taking the thyroid quiz (6) today to clear up some of that confusion. This way, you can get a better idea of where you stand on your thyroid health and the next steps you might need to take to get your health back where it needs to be.
Dr. Alan Glen Christianson (Dr. C) is a Naturopathic Endocrinologist and the author of The NY Times bestselling Adrenal Reset Diet.
Dr. C’s gift for figuring out what really works has helped hundreds of thousands of people reverse thyroid disease, lose weight, and regain energy. Learn more about the surprising story that started his quest.