Who would have thought that a tiny butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck could be so powerful? Your thyroid is an endocrine gland that makes hormones that help regulate several activities in your body, including energy production and metabolism. Diseases of the thyroid are often to blame for weight management issues.
Approximately one in eight women will experience a thyroid disorder in her lifetime. While women are more susceptible, men are not out of the woods completely.
Wise lifestyle decisions, including healthy food choices, may help keep your thyroid functioning at its peak!
Natural Thyroid Support
Your thyroid depends on certain nutrients for proper functioning. Choosing foods that contain the following vitamins and minerals could help maintain the health of this tiny butterfly gland! If you're currently taking medications to help balance these hormones, please consult with your Endocrinologist before changing your diet.
Iodine – Iodine works as thyroid’s “food!" This mineral is required for the production of hormones. However, it’s important to not get too much or too little. The most nutritious sources of iodine are sea vegetables. Try dulse, nori, or kelp flakes in your next NutriBlast or atop a salad. Sushi anyone?
Zinc – Found in pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, oats, spinach and Swiss chard.
Iron – Found in spinach (remember to pair with citrus to enhance absorption!), lentils, sesame seeds, garbanzo beans, and turmeric.
Copper – Food sources include sesame seeds, cashews, sunflower seeds, barley, garbanzo beans, pumpkin seeds, and lentils.
• Vitamin A - Cooked sweet potato, spinach, carrots, kale, collard greens, cantaloupe
• Vitamin C - Oranges, broccoli, lemon, strawberries, kiwi, papaya, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers
• Vitamin E - Almonds, sunflower seeds, olive oil, asparagus, mustard greens, Swiss chard
• Selenium - Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, barley, brown rice, oats, broccoli
• Maintain blood sugar balance
• Support healthy gut bacteria with probiotics
• Boost your immune system
Disorders of the Thyroid
Working in conjunction with the pituitary gland and hypothalamus in the brain, your thyroid regulates the levels of thyroid hormones T4 and T3 circulating in your body. When the levels become out of whack, either too many or not enough, problems begin to arise. Your doctor can run tests to help determine if your thyroid is functioning properly.
Also known as underactive thyroid, this condition occurs when too few thyroid hormones are produced. The causes of hypothyroidism vary and symptoms may include:
• Weight gain
• Thinning hair
• Feeling cold
• Menstrual irregularity
• Fatigue and/or weakness
• Dry skin and brittle nails
• Difficulty focusing on tasks
When the thyroid gland overproduces T3 and T4, this is known as overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism. Some causes may include excessive iodine intake, viruses, autoimmune disorders or benign cancerous growths. Symptoms may include:
• Unexplained weight loss
• Increase in appetite
• Feeling restless, anxious, or nervous
• Menstrual irregularity
• Elevated blood pressure and/or heart rate
• Difficulty concentrating
What If I Already Have a Thyroid Disorder?
As with any personal medical condition, please see your primary healthcare provider and/or a Registered Dietitian before you make any changes to your diet or prescription medications. Some things you may wish to discuss with him/her are dietary choices, goitrogens found in foods, medication options, and possible supplements.
Goitrogens are substances that can interfere with proper thyroid function and interfere with iodine uptake. A couple foods that have the highest goitrogen concentration include cruciferous veggies and soy. Cooking may deactivate these substances in certain foods. It may be advised to reduce consumption of these foods.
For those with a healthy thyroid, leafy greens are perfectly safe and are filled with a myriad of nutritional benefits!
For those who are advised to limit foods containing goitrogens, substitutions for cruciferous vegetables include celery, beetroot, beetroot leaves, romaine lettuce, zucchini, cucumber, lemon, oranges and melon, to name a few.