Issue 47, June 2012
Welcome to Issue 47 of our Newsletter
Welcome to the first of several Eat on Purpose issues that will focus on hormones. While we have incredibly small amounts of hormone in our body overall, these little molecules are unbelievably powerful. As part of our in-depth work together, many of my clients find out they have undiagnosed thyroid deficiency. And unfortunately most thyroid hormone prescriptions do not fully address the issue. The gap can cause low energy, an inability to lose weight, and a general sluggishness about life that keeps us from savoring our days to the fullest! If you know – or suspect – you have thyroid issues, please consider joining us for my summer feature webinar about myths and truths surrounding The Mighty Thyroid.
I also work with many women who struggle with the early signs of other hormone imbalance issues. This month I want to tell you about an often-neglected but critical nutrient for human wellness: iodine. Many are shocked to find out that iodine deficiency can be at the root of their challenges with breast fibroids. A simple solution for a frustrating – or even painful – symptom? Please keep reading to see if it might help you too. Inflamed tissue is an important early warning sign from your body.
Blackberries are slowly coming in down here on Blackberry Ridge in North Carolina. Early in the morning, I love the lush, dew-laden sweet air as I walk down the valley road. Make time this summer for what brings you joy.
Eat on purpose. Live on purpose. Choose to be well!
Breast Fibroids – Relief at Last!
Over the years, I’ve met dozens and dozens of female clients who have struggled with them: cystic breasts. Lumpy, thick tissue with nodules that are sensitive or even painful, breast fibroids are benign in principle. But they can also be an early warning that your hormone-sensitive tissues need some help.
Let me introduce you to iodine. I have seen first-hand how daily iodine supplementation can completely get rid of or improve greatly cystic breasts after only a few months (and ovarian and uterine cysts as well). Iodine helps to reduce sensitivity to estrogen in these vulnerable tissues. Clinical research in both animals and humans has clearly demonstrated this reduction in estrogen stimulation when cellular iodine is increased. And it is difficulty in balancing and/or metabolizing estrogen that is often at the root of our epidemic of breast cancer. Typically only discussed in reference to the thyroid gland, iodine is actually a mineral required by every tissue in the body. Second to the thyroid, other tissues laden with steroid hormone receptors are the ones in most need of iodine. Namely the breasts, ovaries, uterus, and prostate.
Data shows that at least 15% of the US adult female population is truly deficient in iodine (that is, about 1 in 7 women). We don’t, however, hear much about iodine insufficiency in the health media. Unfortunately, our national RDA for iodine was set to be only enough to prevent cretinism and goiter (outright overgrowth – or hypertrophy – of the thyroid gland as it swells in size to try to make thyroid hormone). Iodine is required to make all types of thyroid hormone, so a deficiency will absolutely limit thyroid hormone production. In prior issues, I have shared how the resulting hypothyroidism can cause a wide array of metabolic issues, especially low energy, depression, inability to lose weight, and often feeling cold despite no anemia. (If you are interested in learning more about the often undiagnosed epidemic of subclinical hypothyroidism and why a typical prescription is not bringing you relief, please join us for the upcoming Thyroid Wellness webinar on July 23rd). Research shows the amount of iodine needed for optimal breast tissue is 20-40x the amount needed to control goiter.
While our needs are high, we unfortunately are getting less and less iodine from our foods. Due to rampant soil quality depletion caused by aggressive commercial farming, this is true of almost all essential minerals in the modern diet. Today, you have to eat 4 or 5 stalks of broccoli to get the same mineral nutrition you would have received in one stalk in the 1950s. That is exponentially changing reduction in our foods’ nutrition! While vitamins and antioxidants are put into vegetables and fruits by the sun, minerals must come from the soil. Thus, even healthy food choices are giving us less and less iodine as time passes.
There is also a false assumption that we get all the iodine we need from processed (iodized) salt. While this salt may provide enough to prevent goiter, you would have to consume absurd amounts of salt to get the iodine needed to replete all your cells. Dr. Kimberly Pryor explains it well, “Iodized salt contains 74 ug of iodine per gram of salt. Typically, we need a bare minimum of 5 mg of iodine a day to replete all cells. This would take 68 grams of salt. To reach the amount of iodine ingested by a typical Japanese woman, you would need to consume 168 grams of salt.” Obviously iodized salt cannot be our dominant source of iodine! (And unrefined seasalt is a much better choice regardless because it provides us with many other critical trace minerals.)
I believe most of us either need to make sea vegetables (aka seaweed) a regular (near daily!) part of our diet, or we need to consider a daily iodine supplement. I have written before about the benefits (and surprisingly good flavor) of seaweed. No, I’m not talking about the stuff that washes up on the wrack line at the Cape! If you have ever had sushi “rolls”, then you have experienced nori seaweed which is quite light in flavor. I personally enjoy using “kelp sprinkles” seasoning in most dishes I make; it has only a light salty flavor and can be easily stirred in. Crispy seaweed snacks are also becoming quite popular. You may also enjoy this month’s recipe for a refreshing seaweed salad. If you just cannot stand the flavor, kelp is also available in tablets or capsules.
But for women struggling with active fibroids, I find that a daily iodine supplement is needed. I often recommend Iodoral, a mix of iodine and potassium iodide (various tissues in the body use different forms). While our unique needs vary, I find that almost of my clients can benefit from a small (12.5mg) daily dose of Iodoral. Clinical research also demonstrates that iodine helps body-wide tissues to detoxify (slowly and gently) from heavy metals such as mercury and lead and increases urinary excretion (though it may take 1 or 2 months before this begins to happen, as cellular repletion may take some time).
I believe the only reliable way to test for iodine level is using a urinary excretion test. Typically, the protocol calls for a person to take a larger (~50mg) dose of iodine and then measure excretion levels over 12 hours. If the body does not need all of what you took, it will excrete it in your urine. Lower excretion levels indicate higher uptake – and a higher iodine deficiency. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find a physician able to offer such a test. With Iodoral, I recommend starting with the low 12.5mg dose and trying it daily for a month and then experimenting with higher amounts. If hyperthyroid symptoms develop (feeling flushed/hot, agitation, anxiety, increased heartrate or racing heart), simply stop taking it for a day or two and then resume with the lower level.
Caffeine consumption can also be a driver for breast toxicity in some people, as it creates an imbalance in cellular detoxification. Dietary caffeine (e.g. coffee, black tea, chocolate) reduction or elimination can help greatly – as the ongoing iodine support helps the body to detoxify more effectively. The same phenomenon is also caused by cigarette smoking and eating charred meats, so pay attention to whether these exposures might be making life harder for your breast cells.
Lastly, some women struggle with estrogen imbalance (and subsequent dysfunction) in cells due to insufficient progesterone. You may easily have this tested (for menstruating women, be sure to do so on Day 21 or 22 of your menstrual cycle as this is when your progesterone should be at its highest level). I believe you want to be in the upper half of the reference range, given the ongoing daily exposure we have to estrogen-mimicking chemicals. Over-the-counter progesterone cream can help if you are on the low end (just be sure to start low and slow with dosing and check your levels again in two months).
Make sure your entire body (not just your thyroid!) gets what it needs – especially from iodine. Your breast, prostate, and other hormonal tissues will benefit long term!
Iodine Detox Reaction?
Hi Tracy -
I’ve started taking Iodoral daily and have noticed that for the past week I have some new symptoms. My energy is a bit low and my skin is breaking out. I also am a bit congested, even though my allergy season has definitely passed. So I’m starting to add more iodine in my supplements. I know you mentioned I might experience some detox, but is this what you meant? What do you think?
Good for you for paying attention to your body! Indeed, iodine often triggers immediate detoxification in our body of other chemicals such as chlorine, fluorine and bromine. If you remember your high-school biology, you recall that iodine is in a specific family of chemicals called halogens. In our modern society, while we don’t get much iodine today, we are bombarded with other halogens. Fluoride is in our toothpaste and some water sources. Free chlorine is ubiquitous in municipal water sources (especially community pools) and household cleaners (which we can still absorb through our skin). And bromine is the most popular dough conditioner used in commercial flours for baked goods (in pretty much every muffin, cookie, croissant, or bagel you might buy). You can reduce your overall exposure to these three chemicals, but our bodies usually still need help to be free of them. When you take iodine (or increase your intake via food like seaweed), you may experience some short-term detox of these halogens (which is quite therapeutic) while iodine is replacing these chemicals in your cellular receptors. My experience is that the symptoms usually pass within two weeks. Hang in there! If you need extra support with the inflammation caused by the detox, consider taking 2 Meriva curcumin capsules twice a day.
Simple, Sumptuous Seaweed Salad
A delicious side dish to a light, summer meal; try it with shrimp, scallops, or fish.
- 1 package (~1.5 to 2 oz) dried arame seaweed (or other variety)
- 6-7 cups thinly sliced raw vegetables (e.g. cabbage, carrots, red peppers, scallions, celery)
- 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/8 cup soy sauce or Bragg’s aminos
- 4 tablespoons sesame seeds or sunflower seeds
- Seasalt and ground pepper to taste (both optional)
Cut into thin strips (if seaweed is in a sheet; arame will already be shredded in texture), and place in a large mixing bowl. Add tepid water to fully cover and allow to soak for 15 minutes. Drain water and squeeze dry. In separate bowl, combine the vinegar, soy cause, and both oils and whisk well. Pour the dressing over the seaweed and toss. Mix in other vegetables well with your hands; blend and squeeze for 60 seconds to massage and soften the vegetables. Stir in seeds. Allow to marinate in refrigerator at least one hour before serving. Remix and taste for seasonings; add seasalt and/or pepper if desired.
Flavors will be best after a day of storage.
Staying on the Leading Edge
As you know, learning more and more about our biochemistry and the true root cause of illness and disease is my passion! This past weekend, I spent an intense and invigorating four days down in Atlanta (with two colleagues, Andrea and Diana) at a training conference on advanced, diagnostic medical testing. Unfortunately, many physicians have trouble getting access to some of these more comprehensive panels from national – as opposed to regional – laboratories (tests that well measure such elements as food sensitivity, organic acid biomarkers, amino acid absorption and balance, neurotransmitter metabolites, adrenalstress hormone profiles, and cellular toxicity). It’s important to me to offer these tools as part of my practice, so clients can get the data they need to be empowered to own their wellness.
What Inspires Me, Issue 47
“I believe a famous doctor at some point said, ‘Death begins in the colon.’ Well, we clinically know this is indeed true. Fortunately, all healing essentially begins in the colon too. So you don’t really have to look much further than your belly button to find both the root cause of your struggles and also a step-by-step journey to true wellness. Our body will tell us what we need to know about healing it – if we will merely listen.”
- Dr. Anon