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Chad and Ori got together again, this time to discuss boosting thyroid and eliminating stubborn fat. Please see the interview below.

Chad Waterbury and Ori HofmeklerChad Waterbury: Ori, thanks for coming back to talk with us. First, explain why the thyroid is so important for fat loss and overall health.

Ori Hofmekler:
My pleasure, Chad. The thyroid hormones regulate your body’s energy utilization, metabolic rate, body heat and they also regulate how sensitive your body is to other hormones. Hence, your thyroid hormones affect your capacity to produce energy, burn fat, and sustain a healthy metabolism.

CW: That explanation alone should make people realize just how crucial thyroid hormones are for fat loss. What happens when the thyroid isn’t working like it should?

Ori: Impairment in thyroid hormone production, such as seen in the case of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), leads to a sluggish metabolism, intolerance to cold, and a diminishing capacity to break fat storage for energy. The principle thyroid hormones are T4 (tyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine). T3, the active hormone, is 7-10 times more potent than T4, which is actually a pro-hormone.

CW: So the key hormone here is T3. We need to convert as much as possible from T4, right?

Ori: Yes. In a healthy body up to 80% of T4 is converted to T3 by peripheral organs such as the liver, kidney, and muscle.

CW: And this is why I always say that to burn stubborn fat you need to make sure your organs are working at their peak. So what causes hypothyroidism?

Ori: An underactive thyroid condition is mainly caused by thyroid suppressing chemicals.

CW: Give us some examples.

Ori: Those chemicals include: drugs, plasticizers, industrial iodides, petro-chemicals, antiseptics, selenium salts, and many thyroid inhibiting substances that are found in the foods we eat. Hypothyroidism is also a result of extreme low calorie restriction, inferior protein intake, and a deficiency or excess in iodine and selenium. One of the most typical factors of hypothyroidism is an impairment in the body’s capacity to convert T4 to T3. This impairment is largely caused by chronic calorie restriction and amino acid deficiencies.

CW: In the past when I suspected an imbalance of thyroid hormones with my clients, I sometimes put them on iodine and selenium supplements since those nutrients were purported to support thyroid health. But in many cases their symptoms got worse.

Ori: The thyroid is a highly evolutionary conserved organ which evolved to support the primordial shift of organisms from the sea – the iodine-rich habitat – to more iodine deficient grasslands and woodlands that were the early human habitats. What this means is that the human species evolved to do well on a moderate to low iodine diet. By effectively trapping and storing iodide ions from foods that contained little iodine, the human body has been capable of utilizing this mineral for hormonal production and optimal organ functions.

As is the case with most substances, either too little or too much can cause a problem. About 100 years ago, populations in certain world areas suffered from epidemics of underactive thyroid due to iodine and selenium deficiency in the soil. Since then, iodine and selenium supplementation became a mandatory method to prevent hypothyroidism.

The problem is that in the past 50 years supplementing with iodine and selenium has turned out to be utterly counter-effective.

CW: That’s definitely what I experienced with my clients. What was the problem?

Ori: The reason for your lack of results is due to an excess of iodine and selenium. Soil areas that were previously deficient in iodine and selenium are now plugged by an excess of these minerals due to the deposition of industrial waste and agricultural chemicals. So there’s actually too much iodine in our food and soil. Accumulating evidence indicate that excess iodine can increase the prevalence of autoimmune thyroid disease, hypothyroidism, and even thyroid cancer. And excess selenium has been linked to an underactive thyroid, shattered metabolism, obesity, and mental disorders.

CW: Wow, that’s a frightening list of disorders. So how can people determine if their thyroid needs help?

Ori: There are five symptoms of an underactive thyroid:

  1. Sensitivity to cold.
  2. A lower body temperature. Check your body temperature upon rising. If it’s below 97.5 degrees you may suffer from an underactive thyroid.
  3. Abnormally high TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) as determined by a blood test. A TSH value over 1.50 means that your thyroid isn’t functioning properly and as a consequence your body over pumps TSH to compensate. Many doctors mistakenly regard a TSH value of 2.50 as borderline high. But based on recent research, the true high limit of TSH is 1.50.
  4. Chronic fatigue.
  5. Difficulty losing weight and leaning down.

CW: That’s excellent information, Ori. What steps can people take to prevent hypothyroidism?

Ori: First, stay away from substances that suppress thyroid hormone activity.

CW: What are some examples of those substances?

Ori: Thyroid suppressing chemicals include: petrochemicals, PCBs, pesticides, industrial iodides, chemical detergents, parabens, chlorine-containing substances, cobalt, and cadmium paints.

In addition, you should avoid: chronic extreme caloric restrictions, high glycemic foods, chlorinated or fluorinated water, and thyroid suppressing (goitrogenic) foods.

CW: Tell us some foods that fall into that category.

Ori: Thyroid suppressing foods include: soy products, uncooked cruciferous vegetables, parsnips, cassava, millet, and Brazil nuts.

And certain drugs such as diuretics, iodide antiseptics, and histamines are thyroid suppressors.

CW: So what’s your position on supplementing the diet with iodine and selenium?

Ori: Iodine and selenium supplements suppress the thyroid. They should be avoided.

CW: Wow, that will come as a shock to many people. Tell us what supplements support the thyroid.
Ori: The most proven and effective thyroid supportive herb is commiphora mukul, the active ingredient in gugglesterone. Other thyroid supportive herbs are shilajit, milk thistle, and bacopa monavari.

I recommend that people supplement their diet with thyroid enhancing herbs to help counteract the effects of common thyroid inhibiting substances.

CW: Once again, Ori, thanks for your outstanding information.

Ori: You’re welcome, Chad.


About Ori Hofmekler — founder of Defense Nutrition and author of The Warrior Diet, is a nutritional and fitness expert. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

One Comment

  1. Avatar for Ori Hofmekler
    melissa lang-
    March 20, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Very interesting. I have been using the Thyrolyn for 6 weeks now with no improvement. I have also read that this should not be taken more than 3 consecutive months without a breat – could you comment on this please?
    I follow the Warrior Diet and have lost fat, but stubborn fat on my legs and buttocks just won’t budge. I am not over weight at all but he stubborn fat really is hard to get rid of. I am 5.6 tall and weigh 118 lbs. Like i said – not overweight but the stubborn fat is aggravating…