Thyroid gland nutrition: the best food for thyroid health
Symptoms associated with thyroid disease can affect your life in many ways.
Problems such as fatigue, weight loss or weight gain, heat intolerance, hair loss and many more can affect you, not only physically but also emotionally; can reduce your ability to enjoy everyday life. But don’t be discouraged, there are strategies you can use to feel better.
HOW TO IMPROVE THE FUNCTION OF THE THYROID GLAND WITH NUTRITION?
Much more research is needed to understand the exact impact of foods and nutrients on thyroid health, however, there is some scientific evidence that several types of foods affect the thyroid gland in both positive and negative ways. Although immune system dysfunction is at the root of thyroid problems, diet still plays an important role in its management.
First, limit food stress and stress in general. We all face stress in our lives; some days are more stressful for us than others. Stress can take a toll on our physical and mental health, so it’s definitely worth taking the time to practice how to manage it. Dealing with thyroid disease can not only add stress to your life, but stress hormones like cortisol can change your body’s thyroid hormone levels.
Food stress is caused by the food you eat, which causes inflammation, sensitivity or an allergic response, and spikes or rapid fluctuations in blood sugar. They may contain toxins or chemicals that can stimulate the immune response or contain high amounts of unhealthy fats.
NUTRITION TO A HEALTHIER THYROID GLAND
You can help eliminate food stress by making some strategic changes:
- Eliminate highly processed foods
Processed food is food that has gone through some stage in the processing industry before it reaches your table for consumption. It allows us to buy seasonal food throughout the year and without this process, the great variety of food products that we find in stores would not be available to us. This technique improves food safety in different ways, as high-temperature treatments destroy harmful bacteria; some additives prevent the growth of harmful fungi and bacteria, and packaging helps prevent improper food handling.
But excessively processed food can be a problem for a healthy diet, because certain processing methods can cause the loss of certain nutrients; some vitamins and minerals remain in the cooking water. The recommendation for improving eating habits is to base our diet mainly on fresh food, limiting the consumption of processed food as much as possible.
Processed food has no direct effect on thyroid function, but when it’s highly processed, it’s not healthy for anyone. Some heavily processed foods, such as processed meats, even contain certain ingredients that are considered carcinogenic. It is best to choose fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and minimally processed foods.
- Use as little table salt as possible
The body needs sodium to help regulate fluid levels, but there is more than enough dietary sodium in a natural diet without added salt. A diet high in sodium has been linked to high blood pressure and other health conditions.
About 75 percent of the salt in our diet comes from processed foods, which means we may not even be aware of the amount of salt we have. Salt is commonly used to preserve and flavor food and is the main source of sodium in our diet. A small amount of sodium is important for good health, as it helps maintain the correct volume of circulating blood and fluids in the body. However, most people consume far more sodium than they need.
The kidneys are the main regulators of sodium levels in the body. The adult body needs about 1-2g of salt per day to function, although most people consume more than that. Since many packaged foods already contain sodium, adding table salt to foods is unnecessary.
- Add good fats to your diet
Fats provide our body with a layer of protection, insulating our organs and maintaining a normal body temperature. They also help us digest fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K, which help keep our brains, hormones, tissues, hair, skin and nails healthy, and provide a structural component to many cell membranes.
Include more good fats in your diet, such as olive oil, avocados and healthy nuts, as they have anti-inflammatory properties that can help support the immune system. Salmon is also an excellent source of good fat.
- Limit sweets
Eating too much refined sugar can increase inflammation, and thyroid disease increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. To reduce this risk and reduce dietary stress, reduce or eliminate diet drinks and artificial sweeteners from your diet.
- Reduce your caffeine intake
Excessive caffeine consumption can cause unpleasant side effects. Caffeine also may not be a good choice for people taking certain medications. If you drink more than four cups of coffee a day, and have side effects such as headache, insomnia, irritability, frequent urination, tachycardia, you may need to immediately reduce your caffeine intake.
Caffeine is a powerful stimulant. This means that a high daily intake of coffee, tea, or caffeinated soft drinks can deplete your adrenal glands, raise your cortisol levels, and therefore worsen any blood sugar imbalances.
- Drink in moderation
There’s nothing wrong with the occasional drink for most people, but excessive alcohol use is stressful for the liver, immune system and blood sugar.
- Avoid overeating
Eating until you feel more than full, as we say until you feel like you “can’t breathe”, causes a spike in blood sugar. This is stress eating that can be avoided if you make meals more balanced in terms of calories and stop when you feel satisfied.
- Give your body a good night’s rest
The World Health Organization recommends a certain number of hours of rest determined by each person’s age. Adults need between 7 and 9 hours of good sleep. While we sleep, countless restorative processes take place in our body that strengthen the defense against disease, lower blood pressure and relax muscles and joints.
Sleep is a vital, often overlooked component of everyone’s overall health and well-being. Sleep is important because it allows the body to repair itself and prepare for the next day. Getting enough rest can prevent excessive weight gain, heart disease, and longer disease duration. When you sleep, your body starts producing thyroid, adrenal, and growth hormones. It draws energy for this production from your stored fat, burning it while you sleep.
- Eliminate toxins
Toxins are substances harmful to the body that we naturally eliminate through the liver, kidneys, lungs, lymphatic system and skin, but if toxins accumulate in the body, they will cause fatigue and lack of energy, headaches, digestive problems, overweight, bad mood, etc.
Toxins are also hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides, and they can trigger autoimmune and inflammatory reactions. Remove toxins from food, buy organic food without hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides.
- Try a thyroid-friendly diet
Because it produces hormones that affect the entire body, the thyroid gland is sensitive to what you eat. The more dietary stresses you put on yourself, the more likely you are to experience inflammation that can exacerbate your autoimmune reactions and interfere with thyroid function.
DIET FOR THE THYROID GLAND
Here are a few diets that can help you with thyroid problems.
A gluten-free diet for thyroid health
If you are on a gluten-free diet, you do not eat wheat, rye or barley. This food contains gluten, a type of protein. A gluten-free diet is the main treatment for celiac disease.
People follow a gluten-free diet for a variety of reasons:
Celiac disease. People with this condition cannot eat gluten, because it triggers an immune response that damages the gastrointestinal tract. This response causes inflammation in the small intestine and makes it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients from food. Symptoms include bloating, constipation and diarrhea.
Gluten sensitivity. People with gluten sensitivity do not have celiac disease. Eating gluten causes many of the same symptoms as celiac disease, without damaging the stomach.
Gluten intolerance. This describes people who have symptoms and may or may not have celiac disease. Symptoms include cramping, bloating, nausea and diarrhea.
If you have one of these conditions, a gluten-free diet will help manage your symptoms, but you should check with your doctor before making any dietary changes. Gluten is found in many foods and food products, but there are also many gluten-free foods, such as: fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, poultry, beans, nuts and seeds, and dairy products. Forbidden food is wheat, barley and rye.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that can cause poor absorption of nutrients vital to thyroid health, such as iodine and selenium, and reduce the body’s ability to absorb thyroid hormone replacement medications. Celiac disease is three times more common in people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease than in the general population.
A low-glycemic diet for the thyroid gland
The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly food can raise the level of sugar – glucose, in the blood.
Low GI foods slowly increase glucose in the body, while high GI foods increase blood glucose quickly. The GI scale ranges from 0 to 100. Pure glucose has the highest GI and is assigned a value of 100.
Eating low GI foods can help you achieve tighter control of your blood sugar, help you lose weight, because low GI foods have more fiber and make you feel fuller, which can help you eat fewer calories. Foods that can be included as part of a low GI diet are fish and shellfish, beef, chicken, pork, lamb, eggs, nuts, seeds, almonds, peanuts, olive oil, butter, avocado, and herbs and spices: such as garlic, basil, dill, salt and pepper.
The benefit of this diet is that it helps balance the spikes in blood sugar that food stress causes. Constantly high blood sugar can also be inflammatory, so lowering and balancing blood sugar reduces the overall stress on your hormones, including thyroid hormones.
A low-carb diet for better thyroid function
Carbohydrates include foods like rice, pasta, bread and potatoes. In addition, this method advocates prioritizing the consumption of carbohydrates with low glycemia, those whose glucose – sugar, is absorbed more slowly, and therefore there are no jumps in glucose or insulin in the body.
Examples of low GI foods are sweet potatoes and brown rice. Eating whole foods rich in fiber is also recommended in this method.
Examples include the Atkin diet and the ketogenic diet.
Autoimmune protocol diet for normal thyroid function
The Autoimmune Diet Protocol focuses on reducing inflammation and healing your immune system. It’s suitable for any type of autoimmune disease and involves removing certain foods for six to eight weeks, then slowly reintroducing them, to find out which foods you don’t like.
Elimination diet for the thyroid gland
Many people with sleep problems, joint pain, skin allergies or chronic headaches have been able to stop these symptoms by eliminating certain foods from their diet. The idea is to cut back on certain foods, see how the body reacts, and then reintroduce them one at a time. This plan must be followed for at least 21 days, as it is necessary to cleanse the body, and the reintroduction of this food is complex and may take five or six weeks.
Allowed foods include green leafy vegetables, fruits, brown rice, legumes, nuts and seeds, avocados, coconut and olive oils, green tea, cooked fish, turkey and organic chicken. During the elimination diet, you need to consume 2 to 4 liters of water per day.
Be aware of goitrogenic foods. Many plant foods that we consider healthy contain risky molecules that can disrupt hormonal and metabolic balance. Goitrogens are substances in plants that occur naturally and interfere with the normal functioning of the thyroid gland, and therefore can cause goiter, especially when proteins and iodine are deficient. Food that contains goitrogens (soy, millet, onions…).
If you have an underactive thyroid, you may want to consider reducing your intake of herbal goitrogens. Goitrogenic foods can slow down your thyroid gland and cause it to enlarge, known as a goiter. While you don’t have to avoid these foods completely, you should avoid eating large amounts of them raw on a regular basis, especially if you have hypothyroidism.
Cooking as well as steaming these foods helps reduce the level of goitrogenic properties. Some examples of the most goitrogenic foods include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, strawberries, peaches, and peanuts.
FIBROUS FOODS AND THE THYROID GLAND
Getting the right amount of fiber has been shown to have a number of health benefits. It helps you feel fuller for longer, which can slow down overeating and weight gain. The amount of fiber you should get from food depends on your age and gender.
Many people with thyroid disease struggle with constipation and excess weight. Fiber is important for digestion, heart health, healthy bowel movements and improves your feeling of fullness, so increase your fiber intake.
It is important to drink enough water. One of the most powerful things you can do to help your health is to make sure you drink enough water. Staying hydrated makes your metabolism work more efficiently, and it can also reduce your appetite, get rid of water retention and bloating, improve digestion, and fight constipation and fatigue. Intake of 1.8 liters of water per day can be used as an initial goal of primary preventive intervention.
FOOD RICH IN VITAMINS AND MINERALS FOR THE THYROID GLAND
Maintain a sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals. Nutritional deficiencies can worsen the symptoms of thyroid disease. Although they are not the cause of autoimmune thyroid disease, they are common in people with Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Before you decide to buy supplements, get yourself tested to find out what vitamin deficiencies your body has, because if the amounts are good, taking supplements can lead to toxicity, which can worsen thyroid symptoms and cause other health problems.
Vitamin A is an organic compound that plays an important role in the immune system and can prevent the enlargement of the thyroid gland. In addition, vitamin A can reduce the risk of autoimmune processes such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Foods rich in vitamin A:
- Oily fish like tuna, mackerel, salmon, trout
- sweet potato,
- chili pepper,
- apricot, peach, melon, papaya, mango, etc.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is also more common in people with autoimmune thyroid diseases, as well as in the elderly and people who follow a vegan diet. Because of its important role in red blood cell production and nerve function, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause fatigue, loss of energy and difficulty breathing in anemia, low red blood cell count, and numbness. Benefits of Vitamin B12: Helps the body make DNA, keeps red blood cells healthy and prevents anemia.
Food rich in vitamin B12:
- A fish,
- Dairy products,
Vitamin C is vital for a healthy thyroid and body. Long-term vitamin C deficiency can cause the thyroid gland to secrete an excessive amount of hormones. One of the biggest benefits of vitamin C is that we can easily get the recommended daily value through our diet.
Foods rich in vitamin C:
- red and green peppers,
- kale, broccoli, cauliflower,
- strawberries, grapefruit, pineapple, orange and lemon.
Vitamin D is essential for your body, as it is crucial for the health of your immune system. It’s made in your skin as a result of exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, and it’s also found in certain foods. However, many people do not have enough vitamin D, so low levels can lead to weakening of the bones and the development of osteoporosis. If you experience symptoms such as fatigue or muscle pain, or weakness and cramps, you may have low levels of vitamin D. To find out if you have too little or maybe even too much vitamin D, it is best to do a blood test.
Scientific studies have found that vitamin D deficiency may be linked to the development of autoimmune thyroid diseases and is more common in people with these conditions.
Benefits of vitamin D: regulates the immune system to fight bacteria and viruses, gives strength to your muscles, helps the body absorb calcium to keep bones healthy, reduces inflammation, can lower blood pressure, can reduce the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.
Foods rich in vitamin D
- Fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel and salmon
- Orange juice
According to the National Institutes of Health, most people meet at least some of their vitamin D needs through exposure to sunlight.
Vitamin E works closely with selenium, as both are important for the proper conversion of T4 into T3. Vitamin E supplementation improves the symptoms of hypothyroidism with its antioxidant effects.
Some foods rich in vitamin E:
- Rapeseed oil,
- Olive oil,
- Almonds and peanuts,
- Dairy products,
- Leafy green vegetables
- Fortified cereals.
SELENIUM FOR THE THYROID GLAND
Selenium is essential for thyroid health. The thyroid gland contains the highest amount of selenium in the body. Low levels of selenium are associated with an increased risk of hypothyroidism, goiter, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease.
Scientists have found some evidence that people with autoimmune thyroid disease who take selenium supplements can significantly reduce TPO and Tg antibodies after 12 months.
Benefits of Selenium: necessary for the production of thyroid hormones, helps prevent cell damage, strengthens the immune system, can reduce the risk of heart disease and the risk of cancer.
Foods rich in selenium:
- Brazil nuts,
- Calf liver,
- Seafood such as shrimp, tuna, and shellfish,
- Sunflower seeds,
- Meats like ground beef, beef steak and ham, and
IRON FOR THE THYROID GLAND
Ferritin is a protein that stores iron in your body and releases it when you need it. Your ferritin level must be appropriate in order for your cells to properly absorb and process thyroid hormone and iron. If they are insufficient, iron levels also decrease, which can result in fatigue and possibly anemia. Iron deficiency can also contribute to the development of hypothyroidism.
Benefits of iron: formation of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen throughout the body, necessary for the formation of myoglobin, which transports oxygen to the muscles and essential for the production of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).
Foods rich in iron:
- Red meat,
- Seafood such as shellfish, salmon and tuna,
- Dried beans,
- Dry fruit,
- Whole grains.
ZINC FOR THE THYROID GLAND
Zinc is one of the minerals needed for the production and processing of thyroid hormones, but it also has numerous roles in the body. Low zinc levels can be a trigger for hypothyroidism. Since your body has no way to store zinc, it’s important to get it every day.
Benefits of zinc: helps with thyroid hormone metabolism, strengthens the immune system and helps fight colds and infections, helps with wound healing.
Foods rich in zinc:
- Seafood such as clams, crabs and lobsters,
- Veal and pork liver,
- Red meat,
- Whole grains,
- Dairy products.
IODINE FOR THE THYROID GLAND
The body needs iodine to ensure that our thyroid gland and the hormones that regulate our metabolism work normally.
Iodine is crucial for the production of the thyroid hormone triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). Iodine deficiency can impair your thyroid function, because your body then does not have enough raw materials to produce the necessary thyroid hormone. At the same time, taking in too much iodine can also be problematic, contributing to goiter, enlarged thyroid, and potentially causing autoimmune thyroid disease to flare up and worsen.
PROBIOTICS AND THE THYROID GLAND
Probiotics are foods and supplements rich in the good kind of live bacteria that help you maintain a balance of gut bacteria. Probiotics can help improve your immune system, digestion, fight diarrhea and constipation, and fight infections.
With so many health benefits for thyroid patients, ensuring a diet rich in probiotics, or supplementing with them as needed, is a safe and healthy way to help your health.
It is always wise to be moderate when it comes to nutrition. Although there are certain foods, drinks, and supplements that you absolutely must avoid when taking thyroid medication, there is usually no reason to completely eliminate any particular food. Remember to always talk to your doctor first about any major dietary changes.
We recommend that you also read the following texts that can help you in the natural treatment of the thyroid gland.