When managing Hashimoto’s or any autoimmune disease, one goal is to avoid triggers that cause flare ups. Although avoiding dietary triggers — such as gluten, grains, dairy, GMOs, lectins, etc. — is foundational, did you know environmental triggers can cause flare ups too?
For example, one of the most common and most overlooked autoimmune triggers is bisphenol-A (BPA). BPA is found in all plastics, including water bottles, plastic coffee lids, the lining of cans, plastic utensils, and even in the ink on store receipts. Although it is impossible to completely avoid plastics, it is critical for you to reduce your exposure to plastics and BPA as much as possible if you have Hashimoto’s.
Plastic coffee lids and drink bottles some of worst offenders for BPA exposure
One of the worst forms of BPA exposure is from plastic products exposed to heat or acidic chemicals — making plastic coffee lids and drink bottles primary offenders. As coffee or tea passes through a plastic coffee lid, both the heat and the acidity leach very high levels of BPA into your drink. Also, small amounts of BPA insulate the coating of paper cups. If you have Hashimoto’s or autoimmunity, simply avoid using the lid and, even better, brew your own coffee or tea and drink from glass or ceramic cups.
It’s also important to avoid plastic bottles, especially if they are heated or contain an acidic beverage such as soda or fruit juice. You should absolutely never drink an acidic beverage from a plastic bottle as you will be drinking high amounts of BPA.
Avoid daily exposures to BPA
The key issue with BPA and autoimmunity is to eliminate daily sources of exposure. For example, if you drink coffee every morning through a plastic lid and drink water or other drinks from plastic bottles every day you can dramatically reduce your exposure to BPA by forgoing the coffee lid and drinking from glass bottles.
The links between BPA exposure and autoimmunity
I recently published a scientific paper in the journal Autoimmune Disease reviewing every major immune pathway activated by BPA exposure and its links to autoimmunity. This is the first published paper that connects all the dots between BPA plastic products, its immune stimulating properties, and its potential to promote autoimmunity. I am currently researching specific environmental and dietary protein triggers for autoimmunity.
You can access the paper at the this link:
Plastic products disrupt thyroid and hormone function
BPA is also a known thyroid and estrogen endocrine (hormone) disruptor. (1) Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that bind to hormone receptors and impair hormone production, hormone receptor signaling, and gene expression. Researchers found that even trivial amounts of BPA exposure — lower than what’s found in infant blood samples — can impact both thyroid hormone production and receptor site responses. (2) A 2011 survey of more than 1,500 adults and teens found an association between urinary phthalate (another compound found in plastics) and BPA concentrations and altered thyroid hormone levels. (3)
If you are looking for lifestyle choices that could improve thyroid function, reducing your exposure to plastics is an important step.
(1) Rochester JR. Bisphenol A and human health: a review of the literature. Reprod
Toxicol. 2013 Dec;42:132-55.
(2) Gentilcore D, Porreca I, Rizzo F, Ganbaatar E, Carchia E, Mallardo M, De
Felice M, Ambrosino C. Bisphenol A interferes with thyroid specific gene
expression. Toxicology. 2013 Feb 8;304:21-31.
(3) Meeker JD, Ferguson KK. Relationship between urinary phthalate and bisphenol A
concentrations and serum thyroid measures in U.S. adults and adolescents from the
National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2007-2008. Environ
Health Perspect. 2011 Oct;119(10):1396-402.