Fluoride: Cavities & Hypothyroidism

Fluoride is most effective when applied topically to the surface of the teeth. Therefore, it seems unnecessary for over 3/4 of U.S. tap water to contain the chemical for consumption. Fluoride was introduced in the 1940’s as a tap water additive because it helps kill cavity-causing bacteria on people’s teeth. However, none of our body’s biological processes require fluoride to function. Fluoride is not a nutrient, it is a chemical. Check the fluoride-containing toothpaste labels – it contains a warning to contact poison control if a pea-sized amount, or more, is swallowed.

Dental fluorosis, a sign of excess fluoride exposure, shows up on teeth as white or brown stains on the enamel and is a permanent condition. Some studies showed that 30-40% of children and adolescents have this condition.

The Center for Disease Control also warn mothers of babies and toddlers about using fluoridated tap water in infant formula as there “may be an increased chance for mild dental fluorosis.”

There’s concern for adults as well; fluoride may increase underactive thyroid disorder, also known as hypothyroidism.

Recent studies have suggested a link between fluoridation and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A multitude of studies, both in humans and animals, show fluoride impairs learning and memory as well as IQ scores.

Adults excrete about 60% of fluoride through their kidneys, whereas adolescents clear about 45%. For teenagers, findings from a study at Mount Sinai suggest that fluoride can be detrimental to kidney and liver function.

Fluoride’s potential negative effects include kidney and liver damage, thyroid dysfunction, bone (and tooth) disease, impaired protein metabolism, and may cause brain (and pineal gland) damage.

Look below at the chart; you’ll notice that the rates of cavities have decreased for all countries – including those that didn’t fluoridate their water. 

water-fluoridation-cavities
Chart from Newsweek

The rates of cavities in the population have declined since fluoride was added to the water post-World War II, but what could explain this drop for countries that didn’t fluoridate theirs? Well, a variety of factors could be at play since the mid-1940s, including: access to dentists and regular dental care, better education about dental health, toothbrush and dental care technology. If Austria and northern European countries are seeing a decline in dental caries without fluoridation, is it worth the potential risks to our health to have fluoride in ours? Only you can decide.

What’s the Safe Level of Fluoride then?

Right off the bat, it’s important to know that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies fluoride as a drug when it is used to prevent or ameliorate disease. All other water treatment chemicals are added to improve water quality or safety, but fluoride is the only chemical added to water as a medical treatment (though, as you’ll see below, the FDA calls fluoride an ‘additive’). Whether you asked for it or not, whether you need it or not, you’re being medically treated every time you drink tap water (or bottled water with fluoride).

Here’s a bit of interesting information: the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services puts the recommended fluoride level (‘healthy limit’) at 0.7 ppm (Parts Per Million) whereas the EPA drinking water “maximum contaminant level” (MCL) is 4.0 mg/L (which further down the page is said to be equivalent to ppm). It’s in rather recent times that the ‘healthy limit’ was lowered to 0.7ppm from between 0.7 and 1.2 mg/L (again, mg/L being equivalent to ppm).

Even though there’s a ‘legal limit’ to set for fluoride, the water you drink, especially from the tap, may contain 5x more than what is healthy.  It’s tempting to think that fluoride is regulated by the FDA and therefore has undergone the same testing that medicines do; however, it is isn’t regulated by the FDA and hasn’t been rigorously tested, because it is considered an ‘additive’ and not a medication. Consider also that most fluoridation chemicals added to tap water are by-products of chemical manufacturing (such as aluminum) and from the phosphate fertilizer industry. This is ‘industrial grade’ and not ‘pharmaceutical grade’ fluoride being allowed into tap water.

Bottom line: do your research and determine how much exposure to fluoride you are comfortable with; make decisions on your water filter treatment accordingly.

Hint: reverse osmosis is one of the best ways to filter fluoride (and other chemicals) out of your drinking water – find out more in Is Your Water Safe?

We’re Toast

…well not quite in trouble, but recently the feeling of burnout has been trailing behind us, like a blazing fire following a gasoline leak. The steady, hazardous drip came from an embedded, almost subconscious thought: “I love my work, I don’t need a vacation.” While the former is true, the latter part of that statement is definitely false. It wasn’t until recently that we realized our last vacation was 13 months ago. With little more than an occasional half-day off in over a year, the reason behind our exhaustion came into focus. Without sustained and intentional time off, we were burning the candle at both ends; everything was becoming too much effort and yet we pushed forward anyway.

Perhaps you’ve felt it too, the sneaky symptoms of burnout include:

— Falling asleep quickly only to wake up in the middle of the night

— Less healthy, natural color in face

— Relying on quick-energy food options to get through the day

— A tired-but-wired feeling, never being able to fully relax

— Lack of a desire to connect with friends

— Feeling like you’ve been “run over by a truck”

— No energy, tired all the time, fatigued

— Waking up exhausted, not well-rested

The common responses of “busy,” “tired”, and “stressed” when asked how you’re doing is the zeitgeist of our current time. It’s the consequence of our sleep-deprived, 5-hour energy lives. For productivity, it’s pump-or-pill-yourself-up, and at the end of the day we ‘wine’ down and scroll through or watch screens.

You may feel like you can handle the frantic pace and multitasking of life for awhile – maybe you claim to thrive when life is too busy. However, eventually, everyone pays the piper. The stress we don’t even know we’re under starts to accumulate and we, our minds and our bodies, are unable to cope with it.

Why am I Exhausted?

First things first. Get evaluated by a healthcare professional and lab work to rule out underlying conditions such as anemia, thyroid disease, depression, allergies, side effects of certain medications, insomnia, chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia.

Second, as with most things in life, this problem is a matter of balance between supply and demand. There are times when work gets hectic or short-term caregiving can cause exhaustion and there are other times when, despite our busy lives, we feel energized and ready to take on life. At a basic level, when our lives have more demands, we tend to feel tired. If this is short-term, we typically have energy in the bank to help us through. Common examples include pulling an all-nighter to tend to a sick child or a work project, or even running a half-marathon. The problem is when the demands don’t let up and others pile on. The scale then tips very unfavorably and we deplete our reserves, our emergency energy, and we become exhausted. It’s critical here to point out that there is a difference between being ‘tired’ (which can typically be remedied by a good night’s sleep) and ‘fatigue’ (which tends to be a longer-standing state not easily remedied by a massage or a day off).

Tools

Fatigue is a wonderful teacher. While she might initially make you slow down, it’s only to give you the opportunity to examine your life, learn more about yourself and what’s truly important to you. She certainly taught us a thing or two these past few weeks – namely getting back to the basics, examining our thoughts, and using the tools we have in our toolbox.

As one example, we will often use a life inventory tool as we work with clients to help bring awareness to certain areas of life in need of support. We explore your relationship with food and physical movement as well as your mind functioning and stress, self-care, and spirit.

We help you plug your energy drains and naturally increase your personal energy level so that you can meet the demands of the day.

Along with this is personalized support, mindset adjustments, setting boundaries, learning to delegate and stop people-pleasing, and building up natural energy stores with proper nutrition and lifestyle changes. Our goal is that your sense of wellbeing is good most of the time so that you have a higher quality of life. If this sounds like natural energy restoration you are looking for, schedule a complimentary call and we’ll get started.

Could it be your Thyroid?

thyroid

An estimated 27 million Americans suffer from thyroid disorders; roughly half go undiagnosed. Women are mainly affected. About half of those diagnosed have Hashimoto’s, an auto-immune condition.

Basic Thyroid Information

The thyroid, from the Greek word thyreos meaning “shield” is a small gland in front part of the neck just above the voice box.

Just because it’s tiny and weighs less than an ounce, does not mean it can’t pack a punch. This little gland is a force to be reckoned with as it can influence your other organs (and vice versa) and your overall health. The thyroid releases hormones that regulate metabolism help control the function of many of your body’s organs, including your heart, brain, liver, kidneys, reproductive system and skin.

What might amaze you is the variety of connections this little networking gland has with seemingly every part of the body. Do you have digestive issues, hair falling out, fatigue, constipation, or struggle to lose weight? Guess what, your thyroid might be the culprit.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism’s symptoms are often subtle and non-specific (mimicing symptoms associated with other conditions). Sometimes they are attributed to the aging process.

Those with milder forms of hypothyroidism may not have any signs or symptom, but they generally become more obvious as the condition deteriorates.  A slower metabolism, or inability to lose weight, is often a first complaint. Here are more:

Fatigue
Depression
Weight gain
Intolerance to Cold
Excessive sleepiness
Constipation

Dry, coarse or brittle hair
Muscle cramps
Increased cholesterol levels
Decreased mental focus and concentration
Joint or muscle aches/pain
Swelling of the legs

Morning headaches
Poor circulation
Cold hands and feet
Increased susceptibility to colds and illness
Slow wound healing
Facial swelling (edema)

Hair falls out easily
Chronic digestive issues
Excessive sleep required to function properly
Loss of outer 1/3 of eyebrows
Dry skin
Weakness

A Typical Presentation

Here’s a fairly typical example of what can happen with a client who has thyroid issues: (typically female) she will present during our initial consultation with quite a few symptoms of hypothyroidism but says “my doctor says my TSH is in the normal range.” That’s where we have take a pause and educate about how one problem with only testing TSH is that it is not telling the whole story of thyroid health. The second problem is that the lab range (often based off of sick people) for what is considered ‘normal’ is quite large; the functional range is much smaller. You may benefit from further testing, especially to rule out Hashimoto’s.

One Client’s Case

A 32-year-old female who was recently diagnosed with celiac disease has had gastro-intestinal issues for years. When ‘gluten-ed’, she suffers immobilizing joint pain making it nearly impossible to get out of bed. She works part-time and ‘muscles-through’ when feeling ill.

Her sleep is erratic, she hasn’t had a menstrual cycle in years, and she has debilitating fatigue at some times and tons of energy other times.

Guess what she was diagnosed with?

Based on her health history and symptoms, we suspected Hashimoto’s. Her doctor ran some lab tests and that’s what they found.

The client’s doctor has her on medication and she, with our work together, she is currently diligently avoiding aggravating foods as well as using addressing dietary deficiencies and lifestyle changes to ameliorate her immune system dysfunction.

Get educated on your thyroid and join about a dozen other smarties coming to tonight’s class.

Already have plans? Consider getting in touch with an Integrative & Functional Dietitian who examine your symptoms and, if necessary, suggest further testing. We will also help support you in dietary and lifestyle changes to support not only your thyroid but your overall health.