This is a really important update to the video I put out on Tuesday about millet. There are millets on the market that can wreck your thyroid gland and others that are harmless. It’s important to know the difference.
If you watched Tuesday’s Chris Masterjohn Lite video on the harmful effects of millet on the thyroid gland, then you need to watch today’s video, because I have an important update for you.
Hi. I’m Dr. Chris Masterjohn of chrismasterjohnphd.com, and you’re watching Chris Masterjohn Lite, where the name of the game is, “Details? Shmeetails. Just tell me what works!” and today I have some important details for you because they really provide important insights into how this millet thing works.
Last time I told you about the epidemics of goitre in the 1980s in the Sudan that were clearly traced to millet. What I didn’t offer enough clarity on was the specific type of millet. If different types of
millet were just different varieties of the same plant, then it probably wouldn’t be a big deal. But millet is just a generic name for small-seeded grasses. And taxonomically, one millet may not have anything more in common with another millet than that they both belong to the grass family. Pearl millet, the most common millet in the world, is what was being consumed at 30 to 70% of the diet during those epidemics of goitre. There’s another type of millet called fonio millet that has been shown to be goitrogenic, but it’s not a very important crop. In the United States, as well as in a handful of other countries, there’s a millet called proso millet. And in the United States, proso millet is mainly cultivated as birdseed, but it’s also sold as a health food. In fact on the Whole Foods Market blog, they promoted the millet in their bulk foods on the basis that it’s not just for birds. Proso millet has never been shown to be goitrogenic. It hasn’t been shown to not be goitrogenic. And the reason that no one has ever looked into the goitrogenic effects of proso millet is because there’s never been any epidemics of goiter traceable to people who were consuming most of their calories as proso millet. But I know that neither you nor I are going to consume most of our calories as proso millet either. So the real question is, if you’re consuming proso millet as a moderate portion of your diet does it cause any harm? I see no reason to believe that the answer is yes. And I see no reason to restrict proso millet more than you would restrict any other seed or grain in your diet. So I called several companies to try to find out what type of millet was in the foods that are labeled millet.
Bob’s Red Mill told me that they use proso millet. Arrowhead Mills told me that they use proso millet. Udi’s gluten-free told me that the millet in their millet chia bread is pearl millet. Wah wah Wah wah.
Here’s what I would do. If you’re gonna consume millet, find out what type of millet it is. If there’s any doubt, call the company and ask. If it’s proso millet, I wouldn’t worry about it. But if it’s pearl millet, I would strictly moderate it. I don’t know exactly how much pearl millet you need to consume before you start hurting your thyroid gland. I’m sure you can probably tolerate 5%, 10% of your diet. But I wouldn’t risk it because there’s a lot of foods in the world to eat, and there really is no other food that has been so clearly shown to harm the thyroid gland in humans as pearl millet. So if you’re gonna consume pearl millet, I would definitely consume it less than once per day. The problem is there’s no really good way to know whether it’s hurting your thyroid gland. Because all of the standard hormone-based blood markers that we look at to assess thyroid health, such as TSH, or T4 or T3, which are all different hormones related to the thyroid gland, they’re not changed in people who have millet-induced goiter.
The only thing that’s changed is that there’s structural damage to the thyroid gland, and it’s so enlarged that you can see it in the person’s neck. And if you’re only causing a little bit of that damage, the only way to see it is for your doctor to order special tests that image your thyroid gland. So the bottom line is proso millet, fine; pearl millet, no good. Now Hayley and Ale both commented on the last video on Facebook, that their vets told them that their pet birds shouldn’t be eating most of their diet as millet. The millet in bird seed is proso millet. And apparently veterinarians are saying that if birds overeat proso millet they get fatty liver disease, heart disease and their lifespan is greatly reduced. I’m not a vet. I can’t verify that and I can’t speak to that. But I can say that this gets back to a basic principle of diet.
And that is diversification. Diversification isn’t just for your financial portfolio. It’s also for your diet. And the reason is that there are harmful substances mixed into every food along with all the good things. And although we do have to pay attention to certain foods being much more harmful than others, like pearl millet, we also have to keep in mind that if we mostly eat one food or if we only eat three or four different types of food, the more restrictions that we place on our diet and the less diversity we have, the more likely we are to, number one: have nutrient deficiencies because we’re not eating other foods that may supply missing nutrients, and the more likely we are to get accumulation of toxic substances because whatever bad thing there is about that food we are concentrating it and overloading ourselves with it in our diet.
So proso millet I think is fine as part of a diverse diet. There’s probably some quantity of pearl millet that you can tolerate, but for me I’m not gonna take the risk. All right, I hope you found this useful.
Signing off, this is Chris Masterjohn of chrismasterjohnphd.com. You’ve been watching Chris Masterjohn Lite, and I will see you in the next video.