The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland located in the lower portion of the neck and is responsible for producing, storing, and releasing thyroid hormones into your bloodstream. These hormones are called T3 and T4, and they regulate energy use in the body on a cellular level, make proteins, and regulate the body’s sensitivity to other hormones released into the body.
Today we will discuss various diets for maintaining the health the thyroid gland, which may be of interest to those who are genetically predisposed to getting one of the diseases that affect this gland. First, we will tell you the foods to eat (and those to avoid) for a healthy thyroid, then the diets for those already afflicted with one of the maladies that afflict the thyroid gland: hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), and goiters (enlarged thyroid gland).
This course on curing thyroid diseases will show you how to live healthy and happy while dealing with these issues.
Diet for a Healthy Thyroid
If you have a healthy thyroid gland and would like it to stay that way, or have been told you may be at a higher risk for thyroid issues, then these foods will have an effect on your thyroid health, both good and bad.
Good for Thyroid
This mineral, found in table salt, is essential in maintaining a healthy thyroid. The thyroid is the only gland in the body that absorbs iodine, using it to produce the T3 and T4 hormones. While iodine is quite prevalent in most diets, women of child-bearing age are most likely to be deficient of it. Besides salt, iodine is found naturally in sea vegetables, like seaweed. Too much iodine consumption may trigger thyroid issues, so make sure you know how much your body needs.
Used to produce and regulate T3, selenium can be found in various seafoods, such as tuna, snapper, shrimp, cod, and halibut, as well as button and shitake mushrooms.
- Iron, Copper, Zinc
Only needed in small amounts, these nutrients keep the thyroid gland working efficiently and keep the hormone levels up. Foods rich in these nutrients include spinach, mushrooms, calf’s liver, and Swiss chard.
- Omega-3 Fats
These essential fats are responsible for helping your cells accept the thyroid’s hormones and may be found in fish and fish oil. If fish isn’t quite to your liking, these fats may also be found in walnuts, olive oil, and flaxseed oil.
- Coconut Oil
The fatty acids found in this oil help your metabolism and promote weight loss. Most recipes calling for other types of oil can actually be made with coconut oil, which is not only great for your thyroid, but also your waistline!
Bad For Thyroid
This artificial sweetener, AKA Nutrasweet, which could be a catalyst for Grave’ disease, triggers inflammation of the thyroid. Many products that are labeled “sugar free” contain aspertame. Other sweeteners, especially natural sources like honey, could be a better option for you.
Potentially causing autoimmune responses to those sensitive to them, this substance is found in wheat, rye, and barley, as well as most processed foods. Luckily, gluten free foods are becoming more and more common.
- Non-Fermented Soy
Found in most soy products, non-fermented soy may lead to goiters, as well as a decrease in thyroid function. If you’re vegetarian or vegan and eat a lot of soy, talk to your doctor about other protein-rich options to replace meat.
In addition to these foods, those worried about possible thyroid issues may want to change their eating and lifestyle habits, in addition to the actual foods they consume. Here’s a list of some thyroid-positive changes you should consider.
- Detox/Reduce Toxicity
Cut out additives, preservative, artificial sweeteners, trans-fats, too much sodium, fluoride, etc. Detoxing once or twice a year by fasting or juicing will give your body a leg up on any potential thyroid issues. This article on detoxing will show you ten great foods to help cleanse your system.
- Cut Our the Stress
Stress affects the adrenal glands, and the adrenal glands, as part of the endocrine system, are connected to the thyroid. Meditation, therapy, breathing, positive thinking, or any other activity that cuts down on stress will cut down on your thyroid dangers. Our course on yoga for stress will show you how to stretch away the stress.
- Work on Your Gut
The digestive track affects the thyroid and vice versa. Dealing with any issues in this part of the body will have positive effects on the thyroid – that means more exercise and eating better. Also, remember to talk to your doctor before starting any weight loss plan. Certain diets could actually do more harm than good if you have thyroid issues.
The affliction of having an underactive thyroid gland may come about from several factors. Some have it passed down in their genes, others may have had the misfortune of an improperly formed thyroid from birth. Those with hypothyroidism suffer from depression, fatigue, aches and pains, brittle hair and nails, and a slowed metabolism, resulting in weight gain.
Protein is the vehicle that takes the thyroid hormones to your body’s tissues, and as a result, helps to normalize thyroid function. Foods that are rich in protein include: nuts, quinoa, legumes, and hormone- and antibiotic-free animal products such as grass-fed meat, eggs, and fish.
- Fat and Cholesterol
These guys balance help to balance out the hormones in the body, especially thyroid hormones. Naturally fatty foods like olive oil, avocados, flaxseed, fish, nuts (and nut butters), cheeses, and coconut milk products are good for hypothyroidism. Remember that these “good fats” foods are the ones you should consume. Skip the potato chips!
Lack of nutrients may not be the direct cause of an underproducing thyroid, but it may exacerbate the problem. Foods rich in vitamins D, A, and B, as well as iron, selenium, omega-3, zinc, and copper are helpful. You can also take a multi-vitamin to help you get the nutrients you need.
- Cut the Gluten
For those with Hashimoto’s Disease, which attacks the thyroid gland, stay away from gluten.
Those with an overactive thyroid gland, or hyperthyroidism, may suffer from Grave’s disease, in which antibodies attack the thyroid, causing it to overproduce. These foods will help slow down your overactive thyroid.
A daily serving of these antioxidant-rich foods will help boost your immune system and help slow down your thyroid. Berries are easy to add to your diet – eat a handful for breakfast, sprinkle some on yogurt for lunch, and consider savory berry dishes for dinner.
- Cruciferous Vegetables
These veggies, from the Brassicaceae family, are goitrogens, which help to reduce the thyroid’s activity. Examples include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, cress, bok choy, kale, and other leafy green vegetables.
Containing vitamin D and Omega-3 fats, this upstream swimmer helps maintain thyroid health. Purchase fresh fish if possible, instead of frozen varieties.
- Turkey (Protein)
Because weight loss may accompany hyperthyroidism, you’ll want to stock up on your proteins in order to maintain a healthy weight and keep your muscle mass. If you’re a vegetarian, you can find protein in other sources, such as beans and nuts.
- Yogurt (Calcium)
Sometimes hyperthyroidism leads to the weakening of the bones, as well as osteoporosis. To combat that, eat three servings of dairy a day: yogurt, milk, cheese, etc.
Caused by complications from the previous two illnesses, or possibly nutritional deficiencies, goiters result in an enlarged thyroid gland, sometimes developing solid or liquid-filled cysts, lumps, and sometimes benign or malignant tumors. You want to avoid “goitrogenic” foods that decrease iodine absorption in the thyroid.
- Juice, Juice, Juice
Because goiters are caused by a buildup of iodine and other harmful chemicals, your doctor may recommend a juice fast to purge your system. Any combination of fruits and vegetables will make delicious and helpful home remedies. This course on detoxing with juice shows you some great recipes to cleanse deliciously.
Foods rich in iron are a goiter’s worst enemy. These foods will help you out: garlic, onions, strawberries, egg yolks, whole rice, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, oats, seafood, and guavas.
- Vitamin A
Leafy greens, carrots, cantaloupe, peaches, mangoes, green peas, and milk are just a few of the vitamin A-rich foods that will fight a goiter.
- Vitamin B
Meat, dairy, cereals and grains, beans, fatty fish, corn, okra, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and dates are all packed with vitamin B and will help reduce a goiter.
Hopefully your thyroid issues are non-existent and you simply want to stave off any future problems, or if you have any issues, they can be simply controlled with these healthy foods. Luckily, most of these thyroid helpers are quite delicious and may be prepared many different ways. If you do have thyroid issues, look at it as an opportunity to learn to cook some of these foods in new and exciting ways. Our course on the fundamentals of healthy cooking will show you tasty ways to cook some of these foods.