Your thyroid affects much of the way your body works. It controls your metabolism, your ability to break down fat, and the way your body looks and feels.
There are two conditions that can affect the way your thyroid works: hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Most people will have the latter, but there are many who do suffer from the former.
In most cases, medication can help to control the thyroid, but the medication doesn’t solve the problem. The medication is simply there to get your thyroid levels in check. Scientists don’t exactly know why our thyroids can start playing up and causing us health issues, but the diet has been known to help control the situation naturally. It can work with and without medication to improve the thyroid health.
So, it’s time to look at the dietary changes you will need to make so you can improve your overall thyroid health.
But What Does the Thyroid Do to Our Bodies?
As mentioned, there are two conditions that affect the thyroid.
Most people will suffer from hypothyroidism, which is when the thyroid stops working properly. It slows down, so it doesn’t quite give the body the right level of hormones to do all the daily functions. The metabolism slows down to counter this issue, so not as many calories are needed to fuel the whole system.
We end up feeling tired when we have an underactive thyroid. At first, it can feel like low iron levels—and doctors will usually check for low iron levels due to the overlapping symptoms. Weight gain is also likely, as we don’t realize that our thyroid levels are dropping. We’re not aware that our metabolism isn’t working efficiently.
Some people also suffer from constipation and may feel like their skin is dry. You may feel bloated and as if your whole body is giving up on you.
If you’re one of those people with an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), it’s normal to see the weight dropping off quickly. Your metabolism is working too fast, and you need to consume more calories throughout the day. Feeling tired is still normal because you are losing far too much weight and aren’t getting enough calories for your body to burn.
You can also find nutrient deficiencies common. Your body is getting rid of the food faster than you’re putting it in, so the body can’t absorb all the nutrients as quickly.
This is just a small overview of the thyroid issues that you can have. Now it’s time to look at how changes in the diet can help you.
Add More Cruciferous Vegetables to Your Diet
The first step to take is adding more cruciferous vegetables to your diet. Say what, now?
This is where research starts to contradict some of the advice—yes, already. You see, limited research (and I stress the word limited) has shown that cruciferous vegetables can limit the thyroid function. That’s not the case when putting into practice and when all the nutrients within cruciferous vegetables have been considered.
Cruciferous vegetables include cauliflower, broccoli, kale, and spinach. These are your dark green leafy vegetables that are highly recommended for boosting your metabolism. So, why do researchers say they’re not good for the thyroid?
It’s in the raw form that they have shown most damaging to the thyroid function. This is due to the creation of a goiter in the body, which suppresses function and can cause other health problems. But if you eat them cooked then you don’t get the same side effect. Instead, you get the nutrients.
But doesn’t cooking food destroy nutrients? Well, the answer isn’t a straight yes or no answer. It really depends on the way you decide to cook the food. Steaming or boiling the vegetables is going to be much better than other methods of cooking. They’re just not as good as eating raw.
Sea Vegetables Boost Iodine Levels
Your thyroid needs iodine to be able to produce the right levels of hormones. So, it makes sense that you want to eat foods that boost the iodine levels in the body.
The great news is that there are vegetables out there that will help with this. They’re not the type of vegetables that you will usually eat, but certainly worth adding to your grocery list: sea vegetables.
Yes, seaweed and nori have excellent properties for creating iodine in the body. You can also get them quiet easily now in grocery stores since they have become mainstream additions to food. If you’re really struggling, consider the Asian aisles of your grocery stores or go to your local Chinese or Japanese stores for a wide variety.
You can add nori and seaweed to any dish. They work extremely well with spinach and kale, meaning you can get both your sea and cruciferous vegetables in one sitting. Opt for them with some salmon or other oily fish to help further boost your overall health. Don’t forget to add some wakame to your miso or butternut squash soup for a bit of a saltier and healthier taste.
Keep the Gluten Off the Menu
While we’re focusing on the foods that you should eat to protect your thyroid health, we can’t forget about the food that is bad for the health. Gluten is one of those that you need to scrap right now out of your diet. Yes, that means all your favourite gluten foods.
It’s no secret that gluten is bad for us, and not just for our thyroids. There are people all over the world intolerant to the protein and plenty of others allergic to it. Scientists have found that it causes the body to create antibodies against it, so inflammation and bloating is extremely common. Of course, this affects the rest of the health, and the thyroid is forced to compensate.
Gluten is found in so many ingredients. It’s there in grains and even sausages, so can be difficult to avoid. But there are plenty of people who do it. The paleo diet is one of those that supports a gluten-free lifestyle.
Just watch out for the foods labeled gluten free. While they may not have the protein, it doesn’t mean they’re going to be great for your overall health. There is still plenty of sugar in them, which isn’t going to do your waistline or your overall health any good.
Cutting out all gluten has proven effective in thyroid friendly diets. While it may not completely overcome your condition, it can help to support your thyroid function.
Get More Selenium with Brazil Nuts
Your body needs more selenium when your thyroid levels are playing up. This nutrient helps to support the immune system and metabolism. Research shows that the element creates the enzymes that protect the thyroid gland when it is suffering. It’s a detoxing element to add to our bodies.
Selenium deficiency is a real thing and something that more people than we know suffer from. It’s a deficiency that isn’t regularly tested for because the symptoms of it link to so many other conditions. In fact, the symptoms are very like thyroid problems, which can often lead to a slight misdiagnosis.
The great news is that there are plenty of foods high in selenium, but we just don’t normally eat them. Brazil nuts are the best options out there, and not the chocolate covered kind! In their raw form, they offer support to the whole body and you only need a handful of them in a day to get your selenium intake.
Hazelnuts and walnuts are also high in selenium. You’ll need to eat a few more, but they’re worth adding to a small tub and taking them as your mid-morning snack.
The nuts are also full of healthy fats and fiber to keep the rest of the health supported. You’ll eat less during the day, keeping your calorie intake down to help with the weight loss efforts when your thyroid doesn’t act properly.
Drink More Full-Fat Cow’s Milk
If you’ve made a switch from cow’s milk to almond or coconut milk, it could be time to switch back. The most common form of hypothyroidism is linked to Hashimoto’s disease. Fortified milk has been proven to help prevent the onset of Hashimoto’s disease because of the levels of vitamin D.
Yes, it’s really the vitamin D that you want to get, but the cow’s milk also has good levels of iodine and calcium to help support the thyroid function and the rest of the body.
You don’t just need to drink milk. You can consume anything that uses the full-fat milk, including cheeses and yogurts, to help get the benefits.
That doesn’t mean you have only to drink cow’s milk. Just make sure you get a glass or two in your diet daily. You will find your health is much better than if you only drank the alternatives.
Beans Will Support Your Energy Levels
When your energy levels drop, you need to find food that will support them. The most commonly reached for foods include anything sugar or caffeine related. We know the real damage that they do to the body, though, right?
Sugar and caffeinated foods just lead to energy spikes. Soon after you get a dip in the energy levels, and you’re reaching for more of these foods again. In fact, you start to crave for these foods because they are addictive. On top of that, you’re causing other effects in your body that lead to poor health conditions.
What if you could give yourself sustained energy levels throughout the day? While we say protein and fiber filled foods are good, you want to focus on the beans. They are especially beneficial for those with hypothyroidism.
Beans don’t just have protein, but also minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and complex carbs that have all been linked to benefiting the overall health and energy levels. They’re also great for fighting off the side effect of constipation in underactive thyroid patients.
The best thing about beans is that there are so many varieties of them. You can opt for the likes of kidney beans, black beans, and even some baked beans (just watch how they’re made). Pop them in soups and stews or choose to eat them raw in salads. These beans are excellent in all forms and popular for so many worldly dishes.
Detoxify Your System with the Help of Apples
If you only eat one type of fruit a day, make sure you choose apples. They’re the best when it comes to unhealthy thyroid glands.
Whether underactive or overactive, the apples will help to detoxify your whole body. They remove the chemicals and the bad stuff and add in more nutrients and antioxidants. It’s the toxins that start to affect the health of your thyroid glands, so by detoxifying your system, you will offer some extra support.
Sure, your body detoxifies itself naturally, but every little help, right? The fiber in apples will also help to support that constipation side effect while you get the glandular levels sorted. And apples offer other excellent benefits for your overall health. You’re in a win-win situation!
Make sure you opt for whole apples. Eating them is better and try to avoid added sugar—apples really don’t need them! Apple juice is all sugar and will make your thyroid issue worse.
Change Your Diet for Better Thyroid Function
More of us have thyroid issues than we think. Hypothyroidism may be the most common, but some of us have overactive thyroids that cause dangerous side effects.
It’s time to offer your thyroid gland as much support as you can. Even if it’s currently healthy, you should work to keep it that way. It’s easy to do, too!
Make a few small changes to your diet. Cut out the gluten and start adding in some more iodine and selenium filled foods. Your thyroid will thank you, and you won’t need to deal with affected metabolisms, immune systems, and energy levels.