19 Mar How To Handle a Tricky Thyroid
Oh the list of contradictory articles! There are several different theories regarding a proper thyroid diet. Here’s my take:
It’s common to suffer from various thyroid diseases, such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, and risk factors only increase with genetics, age, environmental stress and lifestyle.
When your thyroid gland is out of whack, an imbalance of hormones T3 and T4 can cause debilitating effects on your metabolism and heart. Other processes, such as protein production, encounter hindrances that will affect energy level, metabolic rate, body temperature and weight fluctuations.
People who carry inflammatory, autoimmune diseases (conditions where the body’s antibodies attack its own immune system), such as Hashimoto’s, are likely to suffer from hypothyroidism. It can also occur from an iodine deficiency (rich sources are seafood or seaweed products) or a complication during pregnancy. Hypothyroidism happens when the body cannot produce enough thyroid hormones.
Symptoms include fatigue, chills, weight gain, constipation, muscle pain, depression, memory loss, high cholesterol levels, and sparse hair.
Hyperthyroidism occurs due to an overactive thyroid gland and an excess of hormones. People with Graves’ autoimmune disease or those who consume too much iodine from food and medication are more at risk. The appearance of a goiter (an enlarged thyroid gland at the base of the neck) is common.
Symptoms include fatigue, muscle pain, jitteriness, mood swings, increased heart rate, weight loss, anxiety, sweating, excess bowel movements and trouble sleeping.
Symptoms blow. So, it’s important to both follow a lifestyle that lowers your risk and to check in with your body regularly to catch any pesky indicators.
A healthy diet for both hyper and hypo conditions have many similarities, but the portions differ due to thyroid gland activity and symptoms.
“Eat This” for Hypothyroidism:
Cruciferous Vegetables: these babies are the greatest source of anti-cancer phytonutrients, and although some studies caution that eating green vegetables could inhibit iodine uptake, don’t let that stop you. Cruciferous veggies actually prevent thyroid cancer! Eat for good health—just don’t go too crazy. Sticking to 1-2 servings of cooked (not raw!) daily shouldn’t cause any harm, but if you happen to notice any poor side effects, cut back.
Oily Fish: salmon, sardines, mackerel, albacore chunk light tuna and halibut are all excellent choices, as they contain omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation and are generally low in mercury. Hypothyroidism often increases cholesterol levels, and fish supplies healthy fats to both lower LDL (our enemy) and raise HDL (our friend). Fish also contains selenium, a key mineral in the T4 and T3 synthesis.
Reishi Mushrooms: mushrooms are magical; in addition to boosting the immune system, they are high in selenium.
Seaweed: seaweed and sea vegetables are high in iodine to promote production of thyroxine. Adding chlorophyll to smoothies may also help eliminate harmful toxins and metals that could be impairing thyroid function. Spirulina, a microalgae, is also beneficial, as it offers a complete protein and vitamin source, omega 3’s, and detoxifier properties to cleanse your liver and gut.
Fruits & Vegetables: this should be rather obvious. Fresh fruits and vegetables have a low calorie density, meaning you can eat a greater volume for fewer calories than you would with processed or refined foods. Loaded with healthy vitamins and fiber, it’s easy to maintain your physique, regulate your bowels and keep your thyroid in top shape.
Ashwagandha: this herb helps lower cortisol and promotes healthy liver and thyroid function.
Maca: Loaded with vitamins, this “superfood” triggers the release of thyroid hormones and keeps the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in check. Beyond regulating hormones, it also acts as an excellent energy boosting, providing both physical endurance and mental strength.
Dairy: milk is a great source of calcium and iodine and is often fortified with vitamin D, a vitamin that is essential for thyroid function. Furthermore, Greek yogurt with strains of probiotics and gut-promoting bacteria reduce inflammation in the gut. Remember, autoimmune diseases originate in the gut!
Brazil nuts: the body requires selenium to convert T4 to T3. Eat 2-4 Brazil nuts a day, and if you can’t stomach the taste, macadamia nuts or hazelnuts are just as beneficial.
Beans & Legumes: beans and legumes are great sources of fiber, which eases constipation and promotes smooth digestion. Also, their rich protein content banishes both fatigue and muscle soreness. Just don’t overdo it, as too much fiber can actually thwart thyroid benefits.
Vitamin B12: a deficiency is common with hypothyroidism. Eat lean sources of animal protein, such as fish, meats and liver, and legumes, such as lentils. If you think you need a bit extra, it wouldn’t hurt to take a vitamin B-complex or a multivitamin daily.
Seeds: chia, flax, hemp, sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds contain healthy fats and selenium to both reduce inflammation and stimulate hormones.
Lean Meat: lean pieces of animal fat are high in protein, iron and vitamin B12, among other nutrients. Protein is great for a sluggish metabolism and provides lasting energy to sustain you throughout the day. Don’t eat too much without adequate fiber, as protein can have a constipating effect.
Avocado: due to its high oleic fatty acid content, healthy fats that lower bad LDL cholesterol and promote good HDL levels, avocados reduce inflammation and protect the heart. Furthermore, it triggers serotonin, a key hormone to ward off depressive symptoms.
“Eat This” for Hyperthyroidism:
Cruciferous Vegetables: Same as with hypothyroid, these green vegetables are super important. However, they may cause excess gas, so if you find your bowels to get out of control, find a healthy balance that works for you.
Protein: lean animal protein, eggs, beans and nuts will both get rid of fatigue and muscle weakness and counteract weight loss. It also aids in some bowel “back-up,” as too much protein can lead to constipation. Eat the right amount that will ease bowel discomfort without cutting it off completely.
Dairy: hyperthyroidism can lead to osteoporosis if untreated. It’s important to consume milk fortified with vitamin D, low-fat cheese, and probiotic yogurts to strengthen your bones and heal your gut. Aim for 3-5 servings a day, and a daily probiotic supplement, such as culturelle, may be valuable.
Omega 3’s: the hormone serotonin balances mood swings and depression and can be found in foods high in omega 3 fatty acids. These include salmon, walnuts and chia/flax/hemp seeds. Other great sources of serotonin include bananas, oats and avocadoes. Pair with magnesium-dense foods, such as quinoa, nuts and seeds, for even better cortisol-lowering results.
Green Tea: the antioxidants found in green tea have both an anti-cancer and relaxing effect on the body. A few cups a day keeps your immune system elevated and body in optimal condition. However, stick to decaf, as caffeine may impair thyroid function.
“Not That” for Both:
Sugar: A sluggish metabolism does not mix well with sugary and refined carbohydrates. Keep your weight in check as possible by avoiding fattening and waist-expanding foods. Stick to clean, lean, whole foods instead.
Caffeine: a cup of coffee, when taken with thyroid medication, may decrease its effectiveness. Take your medication with water and wait about an hour before pouring a cup.
Gluten: gluten, found in wheat, barley, rye, among other grains, triggers the release of antibodies that will inhibit thyroid function and interfere with medication. See if you encounter symptoms with other food sensitivities, such as sugar, soy, and corn, as those may need to be monitored, as well.
Fatty & Processed Foods: fat can hinder absorption of thyroid medication. Avoid all fried foods and limit sources of saturated fat form cuts of meat, butter and unhealthy oils.
Alcohol: happy hours after work and the thyroid gland don’t mix well. Alcohol produces toxins that can interfere with the gland’s ability to produce hormones. Join in on the fun, but sip water instead. If you can’t resist (we are human), limit yourself to two or three drinks weekly and opt for ones with the both least amount of sugar and the fewest number of liquors.
Soy: tofu, milk, protein, fermented—all forms should be avoided, as soy has the same effect as gluten products.
Artificial sweeteners: these can cause inflammation in the body, which will only increase symptoms.