As stress levels rise, healthy eating goes by the way side and nutritional status decreases, I frequently see issues with thyroid gland health in my Naturopath clinic. When you start to experience the muscle pain, poor energy, sluggish digestion, low moods and weight management struggles associated with an under-active thyroid, you will want to do anything in your power to reverse the condition.
If a lazy thyroid is weighing you or a loved one down, try these simple tips to nourish your thyroid, and help reverse the draining side effects.
Cook with coconut oil.
You’ve heard me advocate the humble coconut for some time now. I even boasted about the benefits on Today Tonight. One of the main reasons I love coconut oil, is due to its ability to nourish the thyroid gland and therefore support your energy levels. The body converts the oil straight into energy, bypassing the liver and therefore avoiding stress on the digestive organs.
Leave your weight worries in relation to the coconut oil use behind, as it has thermogenic properties which actually stimulate your metabolism. Coconut is also immune protective, so if you’re struggling with the auto-immune condition of Hashimotos Thyroiditis, it may also be beneficial for you.
Coconut oil is a stable oil to cook with (no dangerous trans-fat production), you can add into recipes such as smoothies, or if you don’t mind the taste, take straight off the spoon when you’re in need of a natural pick-me-up.
Add seaweeds into your day.
Seaweeds are a nourishing sea vegetable, naturally high in the mineral iodine. Iodine is crucial for thyroid health, as it is stored in the thyroid and is crucial for the production of thyroid hormone.
Unfortunately Australian soils are deficient in iodine, contributing to many common health conditions. These include hypothyroidism, low IQ, impaired growth, arrhythmias, congestive heart failure, low stomach acid, dry eyes, low energy and metabolic rate, ADHD in offspring of an iodine deficient mother, dry mouth, fibrocystic breast disease, dry skin and hair and poor nail growth. Iodine deficiency can also lead to breast, endometrial, ovarian, stomach, thyroid and uterine cancer. Woah, give me some seaweed now!
Iodine deficiency is further exacerbated by frequent exposure to bromide from pesticides (in conventionally farmed produce), plastics (including plastics computers and laptops are made from), breads and other baked goods, soft drinks, medications and fire retardants.
You will therefore likely benefit from the addition of seaweeds into your diet. Seaweed types to try include nori, wakame, arame, kelp and dulse. My favourite and to be honest, easiest way of adding seasweed into my day, is by sprinkling dulse flakes into bone broth, soups, salads, or over cooked meals. 1-2 tsp per day is a nourishing amount.
Say no to soy.
Soy is a type of food called a goitrogen. which compete with iodine uptake in the body. You now know how important the mineral iodine is for the thyroid. Lower iodine levels, lead to a sluggish thyroid gland and therefore less thyroid hormone available for body functions, such as brain development, maturation, regulating temperature, energy levels and metabolism.
Even after fermentation (into miso, natto, tempeh and tamari), soy products can still disrupt thyroid function.
Cook your cruciferous.
As healthy as they are for liver detoxification, particularly for Oestrogen dominance in the body, cruciferous vegetables are also a goitrogen. These vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, bok choy and watercress. Once cooked however, the goitrogen properties are no longer an issue. I recommend to lightly steam or stir-fry.
Fermenting cabbage on the other hand, actually increases the levels of goitrogens that it contains, however reduces the level of nitriles by half. Nitriles are a more toxic chemical found in cruciferous veg that impacts thyroid health. So if anything fermenting these vegetables (such as sauerkraut and kimchi), has a neutral, to slightly beneficial effect.
The most important thing to be aware of is that if your iodine intake is sufficient, having 1-2 tbsp sauerkraut with meals, along with 3-6 servings of other cooked cruciferous vegetables per week, the goitrogens will not affect your thyroid health. When iodine levels are deficient however, goitrogens will have an impact.
Go without gluten and sugar.
Gluten is a protein found in grains wheat, barley and rye. Oats are also contaminated with gluten as part of processing. The protein Gluten is very irritable on the gut, and therefore leads to higher inflammation production, blood sugar levels and therefore various hormone imbalance symptoms. I encourage you to read more on this hormone havocking substance here.
Every time your blood sugar and insulin levels are increased, this puts pressure on your vulnerable adrenal glands, which are integral for the health of the thyroid. Want more tips for supporting your adrenals? Read this one.
High sugar intake also contributes to damaging blood sugar imbalance issues that consequently lead to insulin resistance and weight gain in the body. I encourage my patients to avoid the use of sweeteners, but if desired, use natural options that have the least effect on blood sugar levels; such as whole fresh fruits (berries are my pick of the bunch).
Going sugar and gluten free will reduce inflammation levels in the body and therefore improve the way you both look and feel- less puffy, lowered pain, sharper brain function and increased energy.
Nourish your thyroid and feel the difference.
By starting with some simple diet and lifestyle changes, you can help support your thyroid gland and therefore promote your health and happiness status.
Read more about detection of thyroid issues here. If diet and lifestyle changes alone are not making a difference, I recommend you gain support from a Naturopath or Integrative GP for individualised nutritional and herbal medicine treatment.
Have you experienced issues with an under active thyroid? Comment below with what helped you!
Love, health & happiness,