Thyroid and Thyroid Control Foods
I would love to start this article with one of my favorite quotes!
“The thyroid is the sentinel gland for the environment”- Dr. Jeffrey Bland
It is a gland that is often involved in sensing the environment and so it’s very sensitive to environmental stimuli that can come from the foods we eat, toxins, and stress that can cause havoc with thyroid hormones
Before we dive into foods that boost thyroid health or thyroid control foods or lifestyle tools to help with thyroid reasons lets us understand the basics of thyroid! Ready?
The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland in the neck that is involved in the body. The happier our thyroid gland is the better our bodies perform. The thyroid gland is responsible for the various functions in our body that include; metabolism influencing body fat percentage, regulating blood pressure, immune function, energy levels, proper digestion, cognitive function, detoxification, and hormone health along with being highly beneficial for fertility in both men and women. In other words, when the thyroid isn’t happy, the body isn’t functioning properly.
The main ways the thyroid gland can malfunction or the main thyroid reasons are:
* Hypothyroidism: Refers to reduced functioning of the thyroid gland and low levels of thyroid hormones (T3 and T4). TSH levels are high since the Pituitary gland senses low T3 and T4 levels and increases TSH release to trigger the thyroid gland to produce and release more T3 and T4. Symptoms are weight gain due to low BMR, low heart rate, low blood pressure, low breathing rate, constipation, longer sleeping hours, lethargy, fatigue, lower body temperature, intolerant to cold, hair loss, dry skin, brain fog, and mood swings. One of the causes can be Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis where the immune system creates antibodies against thyroid cells.
* Hyperthyroidism: Refers to increased functioning of the thyroid gland along with / or high levels of thyroid hormones ( T3 and T4). TSH levels are low since the Pituitary gland senses high T3 and T4 levels and decreases TSH release to reduce the thyroid gland’s production and release of T3 and T4. Too much thyroid hormone produces causing symptoms like weight loss due to high metabolism, high heart rate, high blood pressure, high breathing rate, diarrhea, insomnia, brain fog, anxiety, tremor, bulging eyes, heart palpitations, and intolerant to heat The more common cause being Graves disease.
* Goiter: is a noncancerous abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland caused by severe iodine sufficiency; due to this the thyroid gland is unable to make the thyroid hormones. In the attempt to increase thyroid hormone production, TSH stimulates the thyroid gland to increase in size. Autoimmune conditions can lead to hypothyroidism and goiter. Thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulin is produced by the body that stimulates both increase in the size of the thyroid gland and increased production of thyroid hormones, this leads to goiter and hyperthyroidism. Other causes of goiter may include injury, infection in the thyroid gland, or genetic defects. Besides the visual enlargement of the gland, other symptoms include voice hoarseness, coughing, wheezing, and difficulty in breathing.
In this article we looking at low thyroid function because 90%-95% of thyroid dysfunction is low thyroid or hypothyroid. This is the most common topic or condition addressed by a thyroid nutritionist and a lifestyle coach that helps with thyroid management.
Major Thyroid Reasons
- Genetic factors
- Iodine deficiency
- Auto-immune thyroid inflammation
- Hormonal imbalances
- Viral infections
The main contributing factors of thyroid disorders in women are :
- Overuse of birth control pills
- these can deplete the body of crucial nutrients required for healthy thyroid function
- high estrogen dose can increase the activity of thyroxine-binding globulin (TBG) which decrease free thyroid hormone bio-availability
- Menstruation: Constant hormone fluctuation can predispose women to imbalances; especially estrogen dominance
- Pregnancy: may decrease a woman’s immune system and put a huge demand on the thyroid. When the system gets off track, antibodies can attack mother and child, contributing to autoimmune thyroid disease.
- Problems with other hormones eg; PCOS and high prolactin levels
- Stress: Chronic stress release cortisol and cortisol has the effect of slowing down thyroid function.
- Inflammation: Suppress the thyroid function
Let’s dive into the thyroid protocol!
List of Thyroid Control Foods
- Balance Blood sugar levels, CHOOSE THE RIGHT TYPE AND AMOUNT OF CARBOHYDRATES.
When it comes to thyroid health, moderation is often key in terms of carbohydrates. Too much or too little can be problematic. Carbohydrates should predominantly be complex and come from whole foods like whole grains, high fiber fruits, and vegetables. Crowd out processed flours, sugar, and packaged foods. Also, be mindful about the complex carb portion size, too much of a good carb can also increase the carb load and lead to high sugar levels. Additionally, some people find that a gluten-free diet can be supportive of thyroid health.
Complex whole grain list :
- Brown / red rice
- EAT A DIET RICH IN MINERALS.
The thyroid is dependent on iodine and selenium. Deficiency in one or both of these minerals can cause thyroid issues. Iodine is found in sea vegetables like nori, seaweed, kombu, wakame, and wild-caught fish. Selenium can be obtained through Brazil nuts, mushrooms, chia seeds, and organic red meat. other nutrients: Zinc, iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin D
- SUPPORT THE GUT WITH FERMENTED FOODS.
Fermented foods support gut health, and gut health supports thyroid health. Experiment with fermented carrots, cucumber, cabbage, cauliflower. Try adding a tablespoon or two of these to meals each day. Can also add KEFIR, a fermented beverage loaded with healthy bacteria that support gut health.
- LOAD UP ON FRESH VEGETABLES.
Vegetables are good for your health. But, it’s worth mentioning that cruciferous veggies are considered goitrogens, which are foods that can cause the thyroid to enlarge and sometimes malfunction. There is mixed evidence about this, but we can all agree that vegetables have tons of health benefits. When eaten properly, the good can outweigh the bad.
Eating an abundance of raw cruciferous vegetables can be dangerous for a person with thyroid issues. But, as long as a person’s iodine levels are adequate, he or she should be fine to eat these in moderation. For thyroid health, these nutritional powerhouses should be eaten cooked or fermented.
Cruciferous vegetables include bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, and kale.
- CROWD OUT GLUTEN AND DAIRY.
Gluten and dairy can sometimes cause inflammation, especially in processed and non-organic forms. Individuals with autoimmune conditions, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, are advised to avoid or eliminate gluten because it can initiate the production of thyroid antibodies.
These types of thyroid control foods can also be thyroid disruptors. The molecular structure of the proteins found in both gluten and dairy resembles the thyroid. This is called molecular mimicry. If your immune system is reacting to either of these, it may also attack the thyroid.
- CONSUME A MODERATE AMOUNT OF HEALTHY FAT.
A diet rich in healthy fat is good for the thyroid. Add healthy fats like olive, coconut, avocado, raw nuts, and seeds. Consume omega-3 fatty acids from wild-caught fish, walnuts, and flax seeds.
- AVOID THYROID DISRUPTORS IN THE ENVIRONMENT.
Many everyday products contain chemicals that can get into the bloodstream and disrupt the thyroid. These include things like chlorine, plastic containers, pesticides, and non-organic sunscreen. Plastic food and drink containers should be swapped out for glass.
- LIMIT FOODS WITH HEAVY METALS.
Heavy metals, like mercury, can contribute to the development of autoimmune conditions. Mercury lurks in a lot of places. But, one area that’s easy to spot and control is our seafood. Fish tends to be high in mercury. Ahi and albacore tuna, king mackerel, swordfish, and Gulf tilefish are some of the top offenders. These should be approached with caution, limited for special occasions, and consumed in moderation. The fish with the lowest mercury levels are salmon, cod, tilapia, and catfish.
Quick note: Improving Gut health is highly beneficial for optimal thyroid function. According to thyroid nutritionist, the dietary practices that can improve gut function are consuming fermented foods, crowding out all forms of sugar, increasing fiber intake, and crowding out gluten and sometimes dairy.