The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped organ located below the Adam’s apple in the neck. This gland contains thyroglobulin (a iodine-rich protein) and thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These two thyroid hormones are responsible for the regulation of your metabolism, and control the rate at which your body converts oxygen and calories into energy (Lef, 2015).
If you have more than 4 of the following symptoms, chances are high that your thyroid is not functioning well.
- Frequent cold hands & feet
- Fatigue and general sluggishness
- Unexplained weight gain
- Dry skin
- Pain, stiffness or swelling in joints
- Achy muscles and muscle weakness
- Heavy menstrual periods
- Elevated blood cholesterol level
- Puffy face
- Brittle hair and nails
Don’t accept your cold hands and feet (and any other symptoms). If left untreated, they can lead to obesity, joint pain, infertility, goiter (thyroid enlargement) and heart disease.
As the symptoms can mimic other diseases – and even be attributed to aging – many people do not realize how these might be connected to the thyroid function.
The symptoms may be mild at first, and only become increasingly severe after a number of years, which makes them hard to recognise in an early stage.
As is often the case, the right nutrition makes up a large part of the answer.
Let your food be your medicine – Hippocrates
6 NUTRIENTS TO BOOST YOUR THYROID
As with virtually every bodily function, your diet plays a role in the health of your thyroid. There are some specific nutrients on which your thyroid depends and it’s important to include them in your diet.
Your thyroid contains the only cells in your body that absorb iodine, which it uses to make the T3 and T4 hormones. Without sufficient iodine, your thyroid cannot produce adequate hormones to help your body function at an optimal level.
Nowadays, a significant part of our population gets insufficient iodine from their diets. Iodine deficiency is considered on a slow but steady rise.
Because iodized salt is heavily processed, some recommend to instead get iodine naturally from sea vegetables (seaweed), such as hijiki, wakame, arame, dulse, nori, and kombu.
But be careful: Too much iodine can actually trigger thyroid problems and worsen symptoms. It is important to create a healthy balance.
This mineral is critical for the proper functioning of your thyroid gland, and is used to produce and regulate the T3 hormone.
Selenium can be found in foods such as shrimp, snapper, tuna, cod, halibut, calf’s liver, button and shiitake mushrooms and Brazil nuts.
3. Zinc, Iron and Copper
These metals are needed in trace amounts for your healthy thyroid function. Low levels of zinc have been linked to low levels of TSH, whereas iron deficiency has been linked to decreased thyroid efficiency. Copper is also necessary for the production of thyroid hormones.
Foods such as calf’s liver, spinach, mushrooms, turnip greens and Swiss chard can help provide these metals in your diet.
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are essential fats, found in fish or fish oil. They play an important role in the thyroid function, and help your cells become sensitive to thyroid hormone.
5. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is made up of medium-chain fatty acids, which may help to increase metabolism and promote weight loss, along with providing other thyroid benefits. This is especially beneficial for those with hypothyroidism (slow thyroid).
6. Antioxidants and B Vitamins
The antioxidant vitamins A, C and E can help your body neutralize oxidative stress that may damage the thyroid. In addition, B vitamins help to manufacture thyroid hormone and play an important role in healthy thyroid function.
WHAT SHOULD YOU AVOID EATING FOR A HEALTHY THYROID?
There are certain foods that should be avoided to protect your thyroid function. These include:
– There is concern that the artificial sweetener aspartame, may trigger Graves’ disease and other autoimmune disorders in some people. The chemical may trigger an immune reaction that causes thyroid inflammation and thyroid autoantibody production.
– Soy is high in isoflavones, which are goitrogens, or foods that interfere with the function of your thyroid gland. Soy, including soybean oil, soy milk, soy burgers, tofu and other processed soy foods, may lead to decreased thyroid function. Fermented soy products, including miso, natto, tempeh and traditionally brewed soy sauce, are safe to eat, as the fermentation process reduces the goitrogenic activity of the isoflavones.
– Gluten is a potential goitrogen and can also trigger autoimmune responses (including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) in people who are sensitive. Gluten is found in wheat, rye and barley, along with most processed foods.
1. Thyroid.About.com “Thyroid Disease 101” June 19, 2006
2. MayoClinic.com Hypothyroidism Symptoms
3. American Thyroid Association “Hypothyroidism FAQ”
4. American Thyroid Association “Graves’ Disease”
5. American Thyroid Association “Hyperthyroidism FAQ”
6, WomentoWomen.com “The Simplest Way to Support Thyroid Health – Food!”
7. World’s Healthiest Foods “Selenium”
8. Thyroid.About.com “Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill”
9. Mercola.com “How to Help Your Thyroid With Virgin Coconut Oil”
10. Suite101.com “Thyroid Disease Triggers” March 21, 2006
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