Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hypothyroidism - a possible source of many unexplained symptoms

Do you suffer from constant headaches?  Recurrent infections?  Cold extremities?  Dry skin (especially on your hands and feet)?  Constipation?  Morning fatigue?  Swelling (particularly around the eyes)?

If you experience one or more of these symptoms then you may have a thyroid disorder, likely hypothyroidism.  Underactive thyroid function is on the rise and here are some possible reasons for it:
  • presence of BPA in plastics
  • PCB's (Polychlorinated Biphenyls)
  • nitrogen fertilizers
  • Triclosan - an antibacgerial/antifungal agent in soups, toothpastes, deodorant and cleansers
  • lead and mercury toxicity
  • nutritional deficiencies - iodine, B12, zinc, iron, selenium
  • medications - birth control pills, beta blockers
  • smoking
  • fluoride 
  • stress
What should you do if you are concerned about your thyroid gland?  Go to your naturopathic doctor or family doctor and have your thyroid hormones tested.  Specifically have your TSH, free T3 and free T4 tested.   It is important to review your results with a qualified practitioner because even if your levels are slightly out of optimal range, then symptoms can appear.  Conventionally, patients are often prescribed pharmaceuticals only when their thyroid levels are well out of the normal range and serious symptoms have already developed.  Correcting even slight hormone imbalances can make a huge difference early on and this is where natural therapies can be very beneficial. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Do You Know How Much Salt You Are Eating?

The recommended average intake of daily salt (or sodium) is 1500 mg, most Canadians have more than twice this amount in their diets.  A high salt diet leads to elevated blood pressure which contributes to heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. 
Some of the salt we take in is added during cooking or at the table after the food is prepared but most of the sodium consumption comes from processed foods (from fast food restaurants and packaged foods).  Here is a list of some foods and their sodium content:

Bacon -  2500 mg
Corned Beef - 1700 mg
2 slices of bread - around 400 mg
Cheddar cheese - 600 mg
Parmesan cheese - 1800mg
Canned corn - 250 mg
Saltine crackers - 1100mg
Lasagna - 500 mg
Peanut butter - 600 mg
Canned soup - 400 mg
Ketchup - 1000 mg

What do I suggest?
  • Buy as few packaged products as possible
  • Read labels and look for products that have less than 350 mg of sodium per serving
  • If the option is available, buy low salt/sodium products
  • Have you blood pressure checked regularly and if it's high, decrease the amounts of smoked meats and fishes, condiments such as ketchup, mustard and commercial salad dressings, avoid salted nuts, pretzels and potato chips and keep the cheeses to a minimum (cheddar, cottage, feta and parmesan)
  • On the other hand, increase your intake of potassium rich foods.  Low potassium levels can contribute to high blood pressure.  Potassium is found in the following foods - fruits (especially bananas, avocadoes and berries), vegetables (green leafy vegetables, squash, yams and eggplant are best), yogurt and beans