The thyroid is the main control center for our hormones. It regulates our mood, metabolism, fats, carbohydrates and cholesterol levels. It also plays a large role in the brain’s development, our body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and most of all – our energy levels as a whole.
Brief Overview of Thyroid Issues
Our thyroid gland is a 2-inch butterfly-shaped organ located at the front of the neck. It’s a small gland but a major one that affects nearly every organ in our body. It can have a profound effect on blood calcium levels, the heart and nervous system and can also have an effect on the menstrual cycle.
When a thyroid isn’t functioning properly, it can present the following conditions:
Hypothyroidism –when the thyroid is underactive. Symptoms can include fatigue, depression, digestive issues such as constipation and far more serious health concerns.
Hyperthyroidism – when the thyroid is overactive and it produces too much of the hormone thyroxine. This can accelerate your body’s metabolism significantly causing sudden weight loss, a rapid or irregular heartbeat, sweating, nervousness and irritability.
Other common conditions that are variations of these include Hashimoto’s disease, Graves’ disease, Goiter Disease and Thyroid Nodules.
Foods high in Omega-3 Fatty acids support the thyroid – especially if you have hypothyroidism. Unmanaged hypothyroidism can increase the risk of heart disease because of high levels of low-density lipoprotein or “bad” cholesterol. Omega 3-fatty acid decreases this risk and supports the gland’s function.
Fish like wild salmon, trout, tuna, or sardines make an excellent source of Omega-3. Fish is also a viable source of selenium – a nutrient which is most concentrated in the thyroid that helps with decreasing inflammation.
Nuts are another great source of selenium. Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts and hazelnuts in particular, help to promote a healthy thyroid function. A small handful is all it takes to get your daily nutrients.
A high fiber diet helps to keep blood sugar better balanced. Some types of fiber are food for the helpful bacteria that live in your gut, too.
Good gluten-free sources of fiber include:
- Green veggies
- Berries (especially blackberries)
- Oats (ensure they are steel-cut)
- Chia Seeds
- Corn (non-GMO)
- Any variety of beans
Fresh fruits and vegetables are always a good option for nutrient-rich foods that contain antioxidants that work to protect the thyroid.
However, if you have hyperthyroidism, it’s important to limit your intake of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli or cabbage to roughly five ounces a day as it can block the thyroid’s ability to absorb iodine – essential for normal thyroid function.
If on the other hand you’re deficient in iodine, seaweed has a high concentration of iodine and promotes the production of thyroid hormones.
Packaged seaweed dried or otherwise used for sushi, soups and salads offer nutritional benefits like fiber, calcium and various vitamins! Just be sure to talk to your doctor to ensure you’re getting the proper iodine intake as supplements can also contain iodine.
Finally, Hashimoto’s disease, one of the most common causes of hypothyroidism, is benefited by an increased intake of Vitamin D. Fortified milk, or soy milk has said to be helpful in promoting thyroid health because of its significant amounts of calcium, protein and iodine.
Other foods that include Vitamin D are again fatty fish, beef liver, cheese and egg yolks.
It’s completely possible to direct the health of your thyroid through your food choices. Head on over to our cooking light recipes page for some inspiration!
This article is for informational purposes only, and is not meant to offer medical advice