Until recently I had no idea just how important the thyroid was for health. During some recent routine medical tests I wondered why they checked it and also wondered “what if it wasn’t okay?”.
I soon discovered that low thyroid function is responsible not just for weight issues, but for many other symptoms from fatigue, to forgetfulness, hair loss, to dry skin. But its crucial role in regulating metabolism, that holy grail of health, was what interested me, since metabolism so often determines whether we have an issue with weight or not. Keeping the thyroid working well was very important to me!
I found we get problems with the thyroid for various reasons including food sensitivities – such as intolerance to gluten or soy, or other culprits like nightshade vegetables (e.g. tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants), shellfish or dairy – although finding out that these are the problems can be hard. Stress, crash diets and detox-diets can also negatively impact thyroid function. And sometimes we don’t know why we are having issues. That makes it hard because it is not clear how to fix it.
I also found there are some important ways that diet can help optimal thyroid function. And I presume getting these nutrients wrong can also hinder its function. So I set about making sure that I was eating the right sorts of food and getting the right nutrients for my thyroid!
Here is what I found:
Nutrients and foods to help the thyroid
The key nutrients supporting thyroid function are iodine, iron, magnesium, selenium, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and omega-3 and there are some great foods we can include to boost the intake of these key nutrients.
Iodised salt is the most common source of iodine but you can also try sea vegetables like kelp and nori seaweed. Thin sheets of nori seaweed can be purchased and made into sushi with some rice, tuna and salad. Or use fine shreds of seaweed in soups and stir-fries. Too much iodine can be harmful especially when intake of selenium is low.
Selenium can be found in brazil nuts, which also contain the magnesium and copper that we need. Just 2 or 3 brazil nuts per day gives a great boost and helps meet our needs. Try them with some almonds or sultanas and know that you’re raising nutrient levels to help your thyroid and metabolism with a healthy snack.
Eggs are a great combination of both iodine and selenium along with Omega-3. In fact free range eggs can contain more Omega-3 than salmon, which is necessary for good thyroid function along with many other functions of the body and brain. Free range eggs also have more vitamin A and vitamin B12 that are needed for optimal thyroid function. Enjoy free range eggs in so many different ways.
Sesame seeds are good for copper and iron with cashews the next best copper provider. Pumpkin seeds (pepitas) are good for copper, iron, zinc and magnesium from pumpkin seeds. Seeds can easily be added into home made muffins and cakes, biscuits or just added as snacks to nuts and dried fruit.
For your main course grass-fed beef gives vitamin B12, selenium and zinc, while spinach is great for vitamin A, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc, all crucial nutrients for the thyroid. Eat prawns for selenium, vitamin B12, copper, iodine, zinc and omega-3. They are great as a topping on a pizza or in clear soups!
If you are being treated for thyroid issues remember to discuss any changes in your diet with your doctor first.
Have you had issues with your thyroid? Please share in the comments below.
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References: 14 Foods that Boost your Thyroid by Tim Skwiat.