Why do millions of Americans suffer from thyroid dysfunction without even knowing it?
Category: Hormonal Problems
Most people have a negative perception of hormones. They think of teenagers having fits of anger and menopausal women having hot flashes. But balanced hormones are essential for a healthy body. The word hormone is derived from the Greek word hormon, meaning “to urge on, excite, or stimulate.” And this is exactly what they do. Hormones initiate and regulate the functioning of our cells. Made in various organs, they’re carried all over the body through the bloodstream.
Unfortunately, when it comes to assessing and treating hormonal imbalances, the conventional medical approach to endocrine problems is not very refined. Gross deficiencies and excesses of hormones can be successfully identified and treated. But subtle or early stages of hormonal imbalance are rarely detected—and therefore are not treated. At this stage of scientific knowledge, measuring blood levels of hormones is the only conventionally accepted way to make assessments. But more often than not, however, there are problems in hormonal functioning long before we can detect any abnormalities in the blood.
The two classic examples of this are thyroid dysfunction and adrenal fatigue, both of which are extremely common and probably two of the commonest problems I see in my practice. They both present with fatigue and both can be helped by a functional approach. My experience has shown me that balancing these two systems makes a huge difference in most people’s health because all your hormones work together, so when one hormone is off, it can have a domino affect and cause imbalances of all the other hormones. Very often the problem is an imbalanced system rather than a deficiency of any hormones.
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Endocrine disruptors—they’re everywhere. And they mess with your hormones. They block or promote estrogen as well as other hormones, throwing off the balance. In some cases, they affect the levels of your hormones. In other cases, they affect the function of your hormones. If we encountered them only once in a while, there’d be little cause for concern, but because they’re so ubiquitous, most of us are receiving constant low-grade exposure, and that’s no good for hormonal health. And while it’s tough to completely purge all toxins from your life, you can significantly cut your exposure by making smarter choices.
Dr. Lipman: You say in your book that obesity is not from eating too many calories or expending too few. Can you explain?
Dr. Fung: Obesity is often considered a problem of excessive calories. This caloric obsession has been indoctrinated into all of us since we were children. Too many calories in, too few calories out, or some combination is what we believe leads to weight gain and obesity. If it were indeed true that excess calories leads to weight gain, then the solution is simple: Reduce calories eaten. This has formed the standard dietary advice of the last 50 years. And it has failed spectacularly. Obesity rates have skyrocketed upward despite continual exhortations to cut calories.
If you’re in a position in which you can plan and prepare for pregnancy, there’s so much you can do to optimize both your chances of getting pregnant and your own nutrients to nurture a healthy baby with ease. When it comes to fertility and pregnancy, there are a lot of things that feel out of our control but how you treat your own body and what you eat are in your control. Give yourself time to prepare and allow space in your life, both emotionally and physically.
Although Crisco appeared on American grocery store shelves as early as 1911, the popularity of hydrogenated vegetable oils, or trans fats, including margarine and shortening, soared between the 1950s and the 1980s, as the demonization of saturated fats consumed the medical establishment.
So often, patients drag themselves into my office complaining of multiple symptoms like thinning hair, brittle nails, erupting skin, poor sleep, exhaustion, constipation, sexual or menstrual dysfunction and weight gain. These are all clues that can suggest hormonal imbalance – several different types.
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