What We Know About Kelly Clarkson's Thyroid Issue

Jared Siskin/Getty Images for Warner Music Group
Kelly Clarkson attends the Warner Music Group Pre-Grammy Party in association with V Magazine on Jan. 25, 2018 in New York City.

After a recent noticeable weight loss, Kelly Clarkson opened up about the health issues that she'd been struggling with and how she overcame them on Friday's (June 8) Today show. Clarkson, 36, said she was able to work her way through an unspecified autoimmune disease and a thyroid issue in part by adhering to the diet laid out in the book The Plant Paradox by cardiac surgeon Steven R. Gundy, losing the weight without medication, but by rethinking what she eats and how she cooks it. 

While Clarkson has not specified what thyroid issue she was suffering from, according to the Mayo Clinic, hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, is a fairly common condition in which a person's thyroid gland doesn't produce enough of certain key hormones. The condition more commonly strikes women by upsetting the balance of chemical reactions in the body, causing health problems including obesity, joint pain and heart disease. The clinic says the symptoms tend to develop slowly over many years, often beginning with weight gain or fatigue.

Clarkson told Hoda Kotb on the Today show that her autoimmune disease began in 2006 and that after reading the book, she realized, "I know the industry loves the weight gone, but I mean, for me, it wasn't really the weight. For me it was like, I'm not on my medicine anymore. My bloodwork came back, and I haven't been on my medicine since like February."

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck, just below the Adam's apple, that produces two hormones that are critical to your health, affecting all aspects of your metabolism, according to the Mayo Clinic, from maintaining the rate at which your body uses fats and carbohydrates to controlling your body temperature and influencing your heart rate. "When your thyroid doesn't produce enough hormones, the balance of chemical reactions in your body can be upset," according to the clinic. "There can be a number of causes, including autoimmune disease, treatment for hyperthyroidism, radiation therapy, thyroid surgery and certain medications." Treatments can include synthetic hormones to change thyroid levels or alternative medicines, including prescription-only natural extracts.

Other symptoms include: increased sensitivity to cold, puffy face, hoarseness, muscle weakness, pain in the joints, elevated blood cholesterol level and depression. A spokesperson for Clarkson had not returned requests for additional information on the singer's condition at press time. 

According to Plant Paradox publisher HarperCollins, "gluten is just one variety of a common, and highly toxic, plant-based protein called lectin. Lectins are found not only in grains like wheat but also in the 'gluten-free' foods most of us commonly regard as healthy, including many fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and conventional dairy products. These proteins, which are found in the seeds, grains, skins, rinds, and leaves of plants, are designed by nature to protect them from predators (including humans). Once ingested, they incite a kind of chemical warfare in our bodies, causing inflammatory reactions that can lead to weight gain and serious health conditions." 

Among the "simple hacks" that the 2017 book proposes to avoid lectins are: peeling and de-seeding your veggies, buying ripe fruits and vegetables in season, and swapping brown rice for white because of the lectin-filled hard outer coatings on whole grains and seeds. According to E! Online, some experts and doctors have dismissed Gundy's claims as another fad diet with no scientific evidence to back it up, while  the medical community has mixed opinions about the effect eliminating some foods has on autoimmune diseases.