Thyroid Health depends on many factors. Thyroid problems can manifest in symptoms of depression, hair loss, dry skin, fatigue, weight issues, muscular pain, brain fog, high blood pressure and many more. If you suspect a thyroid issue make sure your lab work ordered through your doctors offices will not only evaluate TSH but also T3 and T4, important indicators for Thyroid health. A food sensitivity panel might be ordered as well, as some foods are inflammatory and irritating for the thyroid.
“Achieving Thyroid health is an orchestrated effort between thyroid-focused lab work, managing stress, avoiding environmental toxins and the foods we are eating.”
On October 1, I was invited by Medical Creations Integrative Medicine in Atlanta, founded by Dr. Dana Neascu, as a key note speaker on Nutrition. It was a pleasure to be there and this article recaptures the session.
1 – Rotate your food
Eating the same food over and over can cause food sensitivities. Add as many varieties as you can and rotate. If in doubt, get a food sensitivity panel (IgG) and never eliminate and cut out entire food groups without special supervision. You might deplete yourself of much needed nutrients. Often, only allergies are chcked which can be helpful, but these tests usually don’t detect food sensitivities. Contrary to a food allergy (that produces immediate symptoms), a food sensitivity can go undetected for decades, causing unspecified symptoms which often are not connected to an underlying food sensitivity.
2 – Apply clean eating techniques
Eat fresh and natural foods as much as you can and aim for home preparation/cooking as often as possible. Avoid pre-cooked, store bought food or eat in great moderation, as they contain sugar, food additives, preservatives, fillers and chemicals detrimental to (thyroid) health. Eat organic if possible, as chemicals from fertilizers can disrupt hormonal balance. Here is a list of foods to by conventional or organic: >> Foods to buy organic
3 – Food triggers
Some foods are known to have inflammatory properties, producing or adding to thyroid symptoms. Here are the major players for inflammation:
3.1 – Goitrogens: Excessive consumption of cruciferous vegetables (Kale, Swiss Chard, Broccoli, Arugula, Bok Choi, Cauliflower, Cabbage) have been known to deplete iodine content. However, they hey have many health benefits and a moderate (1 cup / day) intake should be no problem. Aim for cooked or fermented as they will break down the iodine blocking content.
3.2 – Gluten: is a highly reactive sticky protein in grains and might be cut from the meal plan for Thyroid issues. Non-Celiac gluten sensitivity is one of the key triggers in for Thyroid Disorders. Read more about which grains are safe: >> How to “gluten free” your meal plan
3.3 – Almonds: Another troublesome food for people with Thyroid issues, aim for other nuts such as cashew, brazil nuts (see note below on brazil nuts) hazelnuts, walnuts and others.
3.4 – Dairy: The proteins casein and whey in cow’s and goat’s milk are to blame for inflammatory processes affecting Thyroid health. Fermented dairy such as yoghurt or kefir are better, but depending on the individual and how prevalent food sensitivities are, also might be avoided. Alternatives to dairy are Almond milk, Hemp milk and rice milk. You can also make your own, I make cashew nut milk within minutes.
3.4 – Avoid Soy: if you still want to include soy, aim for fermented soy products such as natto, tempeh, miso and soy sauce in small amounts.
3.5 – Cooking/Meal prep for thyroid health: Culinary medicine techniques are tremendously helpful for a balanced meal plan. Combining foods for positive food synergies, safe cooking techniques, food preparation methods to eliminating food toxins or dedicated recipe creation are important parts of a healthy life style. As a Culinary coach, I am trained in applying these techniques, call me to find out more 770.778.3535. Also check out recipes: >> Healthy recipes don’t have to be boring
4 – Additional foods for Thyroid Health
4.1 – Iodine: Kelp salt, Blackstrap molasses, Seaweed, Navy beans and Cranberries
4.2 – Selenium is required for the body to convert T3 into T4. But don’t eat more then 1 nut/day, excessive selenium intake can cause selenium toxicity. Other selenium foods are: Seafood and meat are high in selenium, but there are also some vegan choices: Brazil nuts Shiitake/white button mushrooms, Lima/pinto beans, Chia seeds, Brown rice, Seeds (sunflower, sesame, and flax), Broccoli, Cabbage, Spinach
4.3 – Vitamin B12 and Iron (key for T4 and T3 conversion): Eggs, Beef, Lamb, Shellfish, Pumpkin Seeds, Beans, Chicken liver, Kaniwa. Foods high in Vitamin B12 also help with depression and anxiety, which often are a symptom of thyroid problems.
4.4 – Vitamin D: Get moderate sun exposure, between 10 – 15 minutes per day without sun screen (make sure not to burn, of course, balance is key). Sun absorbed through the skin produces Vitamin D, essential for Thyroid Health. Combine with a brisk walk or outside activity for an added health bonus. Increase your Vitamin D intake through food with salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna eggs and mushrooms, especially during winter months when sunlight is limited.
“Never cut entire food groups without talking to a doctor. Food modifications without professional assistance can be dangerous as it can deplete the body of much needed nutrients. Everyone is different and what works for one, might now be a strategy for someone else. The same goes for diets, detoxes and other trends.”