First and foremost, what is your thyroid and why do we care about it? Well, your thyroid is a small but mighty, butterfly-shaped gland found at the base of your neck. It releases hormones that impact almost every part of your body, from your brain to your heart and almost everything in between! In fact, your thyroid hormones are responsible for controlling your body’s metabolism which simply put, controls how your body’s cells use food for energy. So as you can imagine, when this isn’t functioning correctly, nothing is!
Issues can come up where you’re producing too many thyroid hormones, referred to as hyperthyroidism, or more commonly where there just isn’t enough hypothyroidism. While both definitely cause for concern, hypothyroidism tends to be more common so that’s what we’ll be addressing below. If you are struggling with this you may feel tired, sluggish, cold, depressed, crampy, constipated and the list goes on. You may also struggle to lose weight, or notice you keep gaining weight no matter what you eat. Or maybe the once-reliable menstrual cycle that you saw once every 28 days, is suddenly all over the place. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to your naturopath/health care provider so they can test you and come up with a treatment plan catered to you. With that being said, there are some foods that can offer a much-needed boost to your poor overworked, and underappreciated thyroid, whether you’ve been clinically diagnosed or are simply looking to optimize your thyroid health!
Eggs are rich in both selenium and iodine, two nutrients that are incredibly important for our thyroid health. Selenium is not only responsible for converting the inactive thyroid hormone (T4) into the active one (T3) but it works double duty as a powerful antioxidant. This means that it can help protect your thyroid from free radical damage which will ultimately affect its function. Iodine on the other hand is a key ingredient in actually making thyroid hormones. Just make sure you don’t skip out on the yolk, that’s where you’re going to find the majority of these powerful nutrients!
Seaweed is also an incredibly rich source of iodine, which as we just discussed is essential for thyroid hormone production. Because we can’t store this valuable nutrient in our bodies, we must consume it regularly in our diets. We often find our sushi wrapped in it but other than that, most of us don’t go out of our way to consume this nutritious snack. Other options include dulse flakes, which are delicious sprinkled in soups or salads, and wakame or kombu which can be made into a delicious seaweed salad or even thrown into your smoothies. You can also find roasted seaweed snacks at most local grocery stores, so give it a try!
- Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are the perfect snacks for your thyroid. They are chock full of selenium, which as we looked at earlier, is critical in activating those precious thyroid hormones. In fact, just one Brazil nut can provide your daily selenium needs for the day. On that note, however, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. You can absolutely get too much selenium which can cause a host of other issues. Not to mention nuts, albeit nutritious, are very calorie-dense and high in fat so stick to one or two brazil nuts or a small handful of macadamia nuts or sunflower seeds for example. One final note on nuts, walnuts may actually interfere with thyroid hormone absorption, so it’s probably best to skip those!
Berries are incredibly rich in antioxidants, not to mention delicious. They can help protect your thyroid from further damage and eliminate any free radicals, which according to some research may be higher in individuals with hypothyroidism. Look for wild blueberries, wild strawberries or goji berries for a particularly strong dose of antioxidants.
We may have saved the best for last with seafood. Fish contains high levels of both iodine and omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3s are beneficial as they decrease inflammation that can potentially contribute to hypothyroidism, particularly when it is caused by an autoimmune condition (called Hashimoto’s). Shellfish and in particular oysters are rich in selenium just like some of the other foods we’ve looked at. They are also very high in zinc which is not only necessary for thyroid hormone production but also tends to be low in individuals with hypothyroidism. Pretty much any variety of seafood you choose will pose some benefit to your thyroid!
These delicious foods are incredibly nourishing to our thyroid gland, and whether you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism or not can be incredibly supportive. Not to mention they are packed full of nutrients the rest of your body will thank you for as well!
The food we put in our bodies on a regular basis plays such a massive role in our overall health. This is why Dr. Jodi Larry includes it as one of ‘The 5 Pillars’ for living well.
To learn more about Naturopathic Medicine, and start your journey to health, please contact Dr. Jodi Larry, ND to book your appointment and get started. Email: [email protected]
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By Kristin Nixon