Dr Amy Myers was in Australia for the 6th BioCeuticals Symposium which was held in Melbourne (April 27th-30th, 2018).
This year's Symposium had a strong focus on personalised medicine, titled Restoring the Balance: Strategies for managing immune-mediated function, and hosted five world-leading experts presenting on a range of topics related to this field – a fast growing field given the challenges we face in today's society with immune disorders brought on by stress, poor diet and toxicity.
Two-times New York times Best Selling Author and Integrative health expert, Dr Amy Myers specialises in auto-immune disease, focusing specifically on thyroid and the symptoms we thought were acceptable, which put strain on our daily lives.
Question: How important is an understanding of our thyroid and its function?
Dr Amy Myers: The first thing to understand about thyroid conditions (which includes Hashimoto's) is that they are a disease of the immune system. At the 6th BioCeuticals Research Symposium I talk about the potential underlying causes of thyroid conditions and how people with an autoimmune disease, actually have an immune system problem where somewhere along the way the immune system went rogue and began attacking its own tissues.
The thyroid gland produces hormones which influence and regulate the activity of all cells and tissues in the body. Thyroid hormone production is regulated by a feedback loop between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and the thyroid gland. These hormones regulate body and brain growth and development, body temperature, energy levels and metabolic functions.
Thyroid dysfunction is one of the most improperly treated and undiagnosed health conditions. Your thyroid is critical to every single cell in your body as every single cell has a receptor for thyroid hormone.
Question: What are the causes of an under-active thyroid?
Dr Amy Myers: One of the biggest causes for thyroid dysfunction these days is low iodine. Or the fact that relative proportionately to the amount of toxins we're being bombarded with every day, the halides or halogens on the periodic table, iodine is right next to fluoride, chloride, and bromide and these are ubiquitous in our environment these days. We are brominating all of the baked products that we eat. There's bromine in flame retardants, in all of our furniture, in our mattresses. There's chlorine and fluoride in water we are drinking and in our food supply, so we're getting less iodine in our diet these days.
We are also being bombarded with much higher amounts of these other halides which displace iodine in the body. The highest concentration of iodine in the body is in the thyroid and we need iodine in order to make our thyroid hormone. One of the biggest reasons in addition to our highly processed diets is that we're eating a lot of gluten and we have leaky guts. There's more infections that we're realising through molecular mimicry can stimulate the immune system in the thyroid gland and then, of course, our very stressful lives that we're living.
Question: Can you explain the symptoms associated with an over or under active thyroid?
Dr Amy Myers: Signs of an Underactive Thyroid:
1. Fatigue after sleeping 8 to 10 hours a night or needing to take a nap daily
2. Weight gain or the inability to lose weight
3. Mood issues such as mood swings, anxiety, or depression
4. Hormone imbalances such as PMS, irregular periods, infertility, and low sex drive
5. Muscle pain, joint pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, or tendonitis
6. Cold hands and feet, feeling cold when others are not, or having a body temperature consistently below 98.5
7. Dry or cracking skin, brittle nails and excessive hair loss
9. Mind issues such as brain fog, poor concentration, or poor memory
10. Neck swelling, snoring, or hoarse voice
Signs of an overactive thyroid (Hyperthyroidism):
Hot flushes, sweating
Unintentional weight loss
Frequent stools, loose stool or diarrhea
Difficulty sleeping and insomnia
Anxiety, irritability, or constant fatigue
Elevated heart rate
Changes in menstrual cycles
Thick red skin on shins or feet
Question: Why do most of us just accept these symptoms?
Dr Amy Myers: This information isn't new, but it takes a long time for it to make its way through the conventional medicine community and down to patients. Dr. Fasano (a Harvard researcher and physician) has been talking about the impact of gluten and leaky gut for over a decade and it's only just now getting talked about. Those in the functional medicine community have been talking about this, sharing it at conferences, and practicing medicine based on it for years.
However, there isn't a lot of cross-over between functional and conventional medicine and a lot of shifts in the medical field are driven by pharmaceutical companies (via their grant money or introducing and pushing new products) and research and those two areas aren't doing a lot with leaky gut or the leaky gut and thyroid connection right now.
Question: How does a poor diet and stress affect our thyroid?
Dr Amy Myers: To get all of the nutrients needed to produce healthy levels of thyroid hormones and convert inactive thyroid hormone to its active state you need to eat plenty of the four essential nutrients for thyroid health – iodine, selenium, zinc, and iron. Each of them play a vital role in producing and regulating thyroid hormones. Also include plenty of nutrient-dense foods that support overall health, including grass-fed, pasture-raised, and wild-caught proteins, vegetables, healthy fats, and fruits.
It's also important to remove inflammatory, toxic, and processed foods. These raise inflammation, wreak havoc on your gut and put you at risk for long-term health issues. Ditching toxic foods such as sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and junk foods is one of the best things you can do for your health. Eliminate gluten, dairy, soy, and corn because they are all highly inflammatory.
During the healing process, I also advise patients to cut out grains, legumes, nightshade vegetables, eggs, nuts, and seeds. After you've restored thyroid function and eliminated your symptoms, these can be added back in one at a time to determine which ones you tolerate well and can be added back into your diet.
Question: Are you able to tell us about your book, The Thyroid Connection?
Dr Amy Myers: In my book The Thyroid Connection, I explain how to get your life back if you are overweight, feeling tired and brain-fogged and are suffering from insomnia, anxiety and hormonal imbalances.
Having struggled with my own thyroid dysfunction, I know how achievable recovery and wellbeing are and how to help people get there for themselves.
My book includes a 28-day program which along with advice on diet, gut healing, exercise, stress relief and more, is a road map back to a healthy, happy life.
Question: Does The Thyroid Connection teach us how to heal our thyroid?
Dr Amy Myers: The Meyers Way, outlined in my book, is based on functional medicine which looks at how all the body's systems interact and seeks to get them all functioning optimally. The Myers Way four pillars include:
Heal your gut. As 80% of your immune system is in your gut, this is the gateway to your health. Remove toxic foods, such as sugar and caffeine, and inflammatory foods, like dairy, gluten, and grains, which disrupt our digestive system.
Introducing restorative ingredients and supplements, such as quality proteins, healthy fats, and probiotics, to repair the gut.
Identifying environmental toxins n everyday products like shampoo, soap, cosmetics, detergent, and other household products.
Healing autoimmune-related infections while relieving the mental, emotional, and physical stress that exacerbate the immune system's response to external toxins.
Interview by Brooke Hunter