Our thyroid function is dictated by a complex system of hormones, and our thyroid health can be influenced by our genes, environment and lifestyles — including what we eat. There are a few amazing nutrient-rich foods that can help to support our thyroid function, but before we get into what those thyroid-healthy superfoods might be, let’s take a look at what the thyroid gland does and how it can affect your health.
What is the function of the thyroid gland?
The thyroid gland is a tiny, butterfly-shaped gland found at the base of your neck. This powerful gland is a sort of control center, producing hormones that play major roles in many body processes, including:
The thyroid gland creates two main hormones — T4 (known as thyroxine) and T3 (known as triiodothyronine). This small but mighty gland works in tandem with the pituitary gland, which is found below your brain at the base of your skull.
If the pituitary gland ‘senses’ that you need more or less of a certain hormone, it will release a hormone called thyroid stimulating hormone (known as TSH), which then communicates with your thyroid gland to tell it which hormones to release. When your body is functioning correctly, these hormones are all balanced.
There are two main thyroid conditions that occur when these hormones are not balanced:
Hypothyroidism occurs when the body makes too little thyroid hormone. Although symptoms differ person to person, it’s generally marked by:
Hyperthyroidism occurs when the body makes too much thyroid hormone. It’s generally marked by:
feelings of irritability
Can nutrition actually help boost our thyroid health?
First, it’s important to remember that there is no one cure for thyroid issues, including nutrition. If you have a thyroid condition, an endocrinologist can help you better understand your condition. You will likely need medication, in addition to making certain lifestyle changes. This might include adopting healthier sleep habits, a stress management routine, exercising regularly — and, yes eating healthfully.
Superfoods are understood to be highly nutritious, bioactive foods that may help prevent disease and support health. Generally speaking, these foods contain powerful antioxidants, heart-healthy fatty acids, and fiber. Eating anti-inflammatory foods may have some impact on thyroid health. According to Lisa Richards, nutritionist, and author of The Candida Diet, eating foods that mitigate inflammation can help people with autoimmune diseases — such as Graves' or Hashimoto’s — feel better. Anti-inflammatory foods include things like:
Fatty fish- are another great source of iodine for our thyroids, but none of them can stand up to salmon's benefits. Inflammation can cause thyroid dysfunction, but the high level of omega-3 fatty acids in salmon can calm down that inflammation and keep our thyroids running smoothly.
Nuts- Brazil nuts make the cut because they are super high in selenium. This is important because the thyroid gland has the highest amount of selenium of any organ in the body. Depending on the climate the Brazil nuts come from, they also pack high concentrations of zinc, copper, and magnesium. Aim for just a few per day.
Blueberries- are widely touted as the world’s favorite superfood — and that’s because they’re delicious, easy to snack on, and packed full of antioxidants called polyphenols. For people trying to lose weight due to hypothyroidism, they’re also high in fiber and low on the glycemic index, meaning they’re lower in fructose.
Seeds- Pumpkin seeds are another superfood for thyroids. Eating an ounce of dried pumpkin seeds a day is a healthful way to meet your daily needs for zinc, which is a mineral needed for thyroid hormone production,” says Harris. You can also puree them or roast them for an easy snack.
Olive oil-is packed with monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA). These fatty acids along with keeping your heart healthy and blood sugar levels stable also help assist weight loss. It promotes the feeling of satiety, which prevents you from bingeing on other refined or trans-fat sources laden with empty calories.
Apples- sure are superfoods for the thyroid. This is because they’re chock full of pectins, which is a fiber that can support toxin removal in the body. These toxins, specifically metals, can interfere with thyroid function (specifically, mercury can decrease thyroid hormone levels). For a thyroid-friendly snack, eat an apple with its skin, which contains high amounts of pectin.
Eggs- Believe it or not, eggs are also considered a superfood, and they can be excellent for thyroid health — so be sure to add them or keep them in your breakfast rotation. Eggs contain both tryptophan and tyrosine, both of which support heart health and may be anti-cancer. Loaded with all the essential amino acids, they also contain omega-3 fatty acids, iodine, selenium, and antioxidants.
Dark chocolate- is an interesting superfood to integrate for those with thyroid conditions,” Richards says. “Cacao contains significant amounts of antioxidants, which work to prevent and treat the cellular damage caused by free radicals in the body as a result of toxins and stress.”
Richard says, “The gut plays a role in supporting a healthy thyroid and controlling inflammation. Consuming superfoods rich in gut health-promoting nutrients like antioxidants and fiber can help to mitigate thyroid conditions and symptoms.” Source: https://www.endocrineweb.com/lifestyle-diet/superfoods-thyroid-health
Did you know that? Supplementation of Probiotics showed beneficial effects on thyroid hormones and thyroid function in general. A literature research was performed to examine the interplay between gut microbiota and thyroid disorders that should be considered when treating patients suffering from thyroid diseases. Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32545596/
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