I’ve noticed a common concern among my patients, especially those who are overweight. They often believe that their thyroid is the singular issue contributing to their weight problems. But, as we delve deeper into our health and wellness journey this year, I want to stress the importance of looking at the ‘whole picture.’


Sure, the thyroid is what we often refer to as the ‘sentinel gland,’ and it does play a crucial role in our metabolism and overall wellbeing. However, the human body is a complex system, and it’s not made up of just the thyroid. There are so many interconnected parts and systems that contribute to our health.


One of the most overlooked aspects that significantly impact our health is our environment. We live in a world where we’re constantly exposed to various elements – from the food we consume, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and even the everyday items we use. Each of these can affect our wellbeing in ways we may not even realize.


In the light of this, I will be sharing insights and information on the environmental factors that could be contributing to weight gain and health issues. We’ll be exploring the exposure to pollutants and endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), and how they affect our bodies. These, referred to as obesogens, can disrupt hormonal signals, leading to various health issues, including weight gain.


It’s essential to understand the bigger picture of health and wellness. It’s not just about focusing on one aspect, like the thyroid, but understanding how all the different components, including our environment, contribute to our overall health.

Did you know, in Australia, the prevalence of obesity and its associated health issues are of growing concern, impacting a substantial number of its citizens. Research indicates that an alarming two-thirds of adults, which translates to 67% of the population, grapple with being overweight or obese. These conditions are not just statistical; they are intricately linked to numerous chronic diseases such as cancers, heart-related disorders, type 2 diabetes (T2D), and dementia.


Even though the reasons for weight gain are varied, there’s an increasing recognition of the environmental aspects contributing to the worldwide rise in obesity rates. One such element is the growing exposure to pollutants and endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). These compounds, referred to as obesogens, have a propensity for disrupting hormonal signals, pushing the body towards processes like the formation of fat cells and fat accumulation. This disruption can upset an individual’s metabolic balance, essentially resetting their metabolic ‘set-point’ to a higher weight bracket.


Obesogens can be found in a wide range of common items, from the food we eat to the drinks we consume and even the household products we use. More worryingly, exposure to these obesogens is often relentless and continuous. While some EDCs/obesogens may break down relatively swiftly, many tend to build up within the body over time, escalating the risk of weight-related health problems.


Eliminating EDCs is vital for overweight or obese individuals coexisting with chronic conditions. This is best achieved by supporting the body’s three phases of detoxification with carefully chosen herbal medicines and nutrients.


Phase One: Transformation. In this phase, fat-soluble toxins like obesogens are changed into intermediate metabolites, many of which are more harmful and reactive than their original form. Antioxidants such as lipoic acid, zinc, vitamin C, and those found in rosemary, milk thistle, and schisandra help counteract reactive oxygen species (ROS) to prevent free radical damage.


Phase Two: Conjugation. Enzymes attach water-soluble substances to intermediate metabolites, increasing their water solubility and preparing them for removal. Nutrients acting as conjugates or co-factors in these pathways, such as trimethylglycine (TMG), methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), taurine, cysteine, glutamine, magnesium, and B group vitamins found in greens like barley grass and spirulina, are vital for facilitating and upregulating phase II functions. For example, broccoli sprouts boost the expression of the phase II enzyme glutathione s-transferase (GST), promoting the conjugation of glutathione with foreign compounds.


Phase Three: Transportation and Elimination. Toxins are transported from bodily organs into bile or urine for removal. Supporting organs of elimination with specific nutrients and herbs is vital. For instance, Cleavers assist in purifying the blood and lymph, enhancing waste removal via the kidneys. Globe artichoke and taurine stimulate bile flow, while calcium-d-glucarate reduces elevated levels of the enzyme beta-glucuronidase in the intestine, preventing the release of toxins back into circulation.


By addressing these three phases of detoxification, individuals can effectively purge their bodies of obesogens and support overall health and well-being.


While all these supplements, some you may be familiar with and others you may feel compelled to look up immediately, I urge you to pause and reflect. Discuss these options with your practitioner because some of what we’ve discussed may not be applicable to you, and indeed, could prove harmful. Each individual’s medical history varies and may require a customised approach. So, it’s of utmost importance that you consult with your doctor before heading to the nearest health food store and stocking up on these supplements.


Moreover, if you find yourself consuming copious amounts of supplements and spending a considerable amount of money on them, they essentially become your ‘medication’. I firmly believe that supplements should be used for a short period of time, only when necessary, as you address other underlying root causes that can heal your body. Ultimately, the goal is to use FOOD as MEDICINE and obtain all your micronutrients from your diet, not from an additional tablet or capsule.


Remember, what’s most important is your overall health and well-being, and that can be best achieved with a balanced, nutrient-rich diet and the guidance of your trusted healthcare provider.