At our last raw food coaching class, we were able to Skype with the director of the Health 101 Institute and Disease Avoidance Specialist, Don Bennett. For a half hour Don Bennett talked to us about the importance of Iodine and Iodide in our diets. As some of you may know, Iodine is important for the thyroid. In the early 1900’s a lack of Iodine in the American diet lead to a rise in goiters. To fix the situation, Iodine was added to table salt and health officials stressed the importance of iodine to the public. As a result, goiters became almost non-existent. However, the problem of iodine deficiency has not been fixed.
Iodine is used for so much more than goiter prevention. The thyroid needs sufficient iodine to balance hormones which prevents both hyper- and hypo- thyroidism. It is also required for a normal basal metabolic rate. A slower rate results in overweight. Don Bennett says:
“Enough iodine is also required for proper brain development, to fight infections, to protect from and to deal with cancer, for healthy skin, and to prevent fibrocystic breast disease and mental impairment as we age. After the thyroid, the other glands, organs, and systems with high iodine uptake are the breasts, ovaries, cervix, blood, lymph, bones, stomach mucosa, salivary glands, adrenals, prostate, colon, thymus gland, lungs, bladder, kidney, certain areas of the brain, and the skin.”
In even simpler words, the entire body depends upon sufficient iodine intake. Doctors are now using iodine in the treatment of children with Down Syndrome and Autism with positive results. Also, there may be a connection between Parkinson’s disease and iodine because Parkinson’s is associated with a certain section of the brain where iodine concentrates. And Iodine also helps support the human body’s natural cancer fighting mechanisms, called apoptosis.
In our class we discussed why the Western world has such high levels of iodine insufficiencies. Our soils are no longer iodine rich. This could be from overpopulation and overuse of the soil, or it could be another reason. Either way, our plants aren’t as enriched with iodine as they once were. We come into contact everyday with elements that interfere with the proper utilization of iodine, like chlorine, fluoride, and bromine – a chemical element used as a flame retardant, gasoline additive, pesticide, vegetable oil additive and as a swimming pool disinfectant. Bromine is also used to reduce pollution from coal-fired power plants. And it’s in most products that contain flour, like bread.
There’s a long list of symptoms which suggest an iodine deficiency, including fatigue, brain fog, cold hands and feet, sore joints, sub-clinical depression, weight gain, difficulty becoming pregnant, dry skin, muscle weakness, constipation, and other symptoms associated with hormone imbalances. These symptoms are so common, yet it seems no one associates them with iodine. The information was hard to hear. However, the issue of iodine should no longer be avoided.
But before you jump into a do-it-yourself iodine fix, Don Bennett says that you shouldn’t do this on your own. Because there are so many supplements out there, so many misunderstandings about iodine and so much false information, it is best to talk to an iodine literate health professional. You can start by being more conscious of the importance of iodine and don’t believe everything you hear in society. There are ways to heal an iodine insufficiency. That’s the beauty of the body, its ability to heal.
More information on iodine can be found on Don Bennett’s website at http://health101.org/art_iodine.htm
Article by Heather Debel, Ramapo College Intern to Karen Ranzi, M.A.