Nutrition For Thyroid Health – How You Can Do Your Part
If you are reading this article, I am assuming you have read my first blog concerning thyroid hormone imbalance symptoms or you have been diagnosed with thyroid disease. If neither of these apply to you, but you are FEMALE and/or you have family history of thyroid issues you should continue reading. Learning about what foods you should incorporate can be helpful for prevention or to help a family member or friend you may know with this disease. I want to clarify that nutrition for thyroid health needs to be used in conjunction with medication if you have already been diagnosed. Nutrition is NOT a cure.
As I mentioned in my previous thyroid blog, I personally have 3 predispositions for hypothyroidism, one of them being that I have celiac disease. While conducting research for this article, I have discovered that those with celiac disease or insensitivity to gluten are much more likely to develop hashimoto hypothyroidism. (1)
My interest in nutrition came about in 2008 when I was diagnosed with celiac and since then, I had to make huge lifestyle changes. At the beginning, I really did not see the positive side of having to change my diet. I felt like I would be missing out on so much “good” food. My definition of “good” however, was very inaccurate because I really lacked the education to know what good food really was.
Before 2008, I was eating food high in fat, high in sugar, high in processed carbohydrates and high in artificial ingredients. Little did I know that my early diagnosis was a blessing, because continuing down that path would have most likely led me to a different place than I am now.
Today I enjoy “delicious” food that is healthy based on knowledge. I encourage you ladies to really consider making dietary changes because healthy eating is one of the best preventative measures you can take and is totally in your control. For instance, even if you do not have gluten allergies, research also shows that people WITHOUT gluten allergies or sensitivities can really benefit from a gluten free diet because the connection between hashimoto hypothyroidism and gluten may be at a molecular level and it is the INTAKE of gluten alone that has the consequences.
Essential Nutrients Required By Our Thyroid
- Iodine – Is the nutrient utilized by our thyroid to make hormones T3 and T4.
- Selenium – Is used by the body to “activate” the use of T3 and T4 hormones.
- Zinc- Is also used by the body to “activate” the use of T3 and T4 hormones.
Recommended Nutrition for Thyroid Health
Research shows that protein may help with weight maintenance, feeling satiated and speeding up your metabolism. It is of course highly recommended that you chose high quality protein. (2)
- Sources of Iodine
If you have been diagnosed with low iodine or you want to prevent iodine deficiency you can easily get your iodine from natural sources: ionized table salt or/and food rich in iodine.
In fact, research has shown that TOO MUCH iodine can damage your thyroid gland. And there is no benefit if taking too much of it. (3) Seaweed is VERY high in iodine so it is important to not eat too much of it.
Foods high in Iodine:
- Fish (especially white fish)
- Milk and dairy products from cow’s milk
- Nuts and seeds
- Fruits and vegetables
- Sources of Selenium
Besides selenium being necessary for the body to “activate” the thyroid hormones, it is an antioxidant and therefore very important to help protect the body.
Again, like iodine, an excess of this can be harmful for the body and supplements should be avoided. I base this comment on a study which made these conclusions: (4)
- Toxic concentrations of selenium in a liquid dietary supplement resulted in a widespread outbreak.
- A misformulated liquid dietary supplement resulted in 201 cases of selenium poisoning, but the actual number of affected persons was likely greater.
Foods High in Selenium
- Brazil nuts
Extensive Evidence Regarding The Benefits of Selenium
I want to emphasize that there are many studies published that really have shown repetitively, that selenium, in appropriate doses is a very important nutrient for hypothyroidism, hoshimoto and postpartum thyroidistic.
There have been both animal studies and human studies that have shown promise for the positive effects that selenium repletion has on women’s thyroid help.(5)
Another study has demonstrated that:(6)
- Pregnant women given selenium significantly decreases the percentage of postpartum thyroiditis and definitive hypothyroidism.
- In patients with Hashimoto’s disease and pregnant women testing positive with the postpartum thyroidistic antibody, selenium supplementation decreases anti-thyroid antibody levels and improves the ultrasound structure of the thyroid gland.
- Sources of Zinc
Add zinc rich foods in your diet, if you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism.
Foods High in Zinc
- Low Carbohydrate Diet
Evidence shows that a dietary plan based on the reduction of carbohydrates, and NOT the reduction in calories, lead to a decrease in weight, fat mass, and a significant drop antibodies related to hashimoto disease. (7)
- Gluten Free or Celiac Diet
Has been shown to decrease the symptoms of hashimoto hypothyroidism in both patients who have celiac disease or insensitivity to gluten and to those that do not. It appears it is the INTAKE of gluten in and of itself is what inhibits the proper functioning of the thyroid gland.
These studies are leading medical practitioners to encourage gluten free diets to patients with Hashimoto. No thyroid diseases have a cure but improvement of symptoms through diet can lead to decreasing or discontinuing medications and/or improve quality of life.
Foods to Avoid
Apart from the obvious foods to avoid such as processed foods and sugar, a nutrient called goitrogen, interferes with the function of the thyroid gland if consumed in excess. This has been know for many years.
There are 3 types of goitrogens which are all found naturally in food. Only if consumed in EXCESS can they cause any negative consequences to your thyroid: They are:
Foods that contain goitrogen are: (8)
- soy foods
- cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, spinach, etc.
- starchy vegetables.
- some nuts and seeds
Everything Is Toxic
I will continue to repeat this in all my blogs because it always rings true. My motto is: MODERATION and BALANCE. And I found the most relevant statement that confirms my motto in a very well sourced journal. It said: “Historically, we have learned that everything is toxic; it is only the dose that separates the toxic from the non-toxic.” (9)
Too much of anything is not healthy, even water! On the opposite end, elimination of food groups can lead to other issues such as developing nutrient deficiencies and/or food intolerance. Learning how to stick to an overall healthy and well-balanced diet the MAJORITY of the time, while allowing yourself to live and enjoy the “not so recommended” foods every once in a while is FINE In fact, this is healthy. It will also allow you to not feel like you are on a diet and will minimize binging.
Another article I read stated that too much cruciferous vegetables like kale, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, may have the effect of depleting the thyroid of getting enough iodine. But eliminating these vegetable will deprive you of benefits such as dietary fiber, and anti-inflammatory, cancer-fighting antioxidant. The article concludes that there should not be a list of vegetables to avoid, but rather learn quantity and quality (how to cook) of the your vegetable intake to get the most out of the nutrients. (10)
Remember we discussed in a previous post that flavonoids are high in antioxidants and are considered really important for overall hormone health? Do you now think that after reading this article where I mention that flavonoids may interfere with the thyroid gland function, there is controversy to these two pieces of information? I can assure you this is absolutely not the case. Flavonoids are required for over all health JUST NOT in excess!
So remember ladies find moderation and balance.
I look forward to your feedback and comments below:)