The Thyroid – Diet Connection

So many of us with celiac disease also have thyroid issues. I share this article by Valerie Breslow with you as it provides helpful guidelines for food choices – and most importantly, gluten-free foods are part of the equation for supporting your thyroid.

The Thyroid – Diet Connection
Given the fact that we live in a toxic world full of chemicals combined with our stress-ridden culture, it’s no wonder our thyroids are challenged to function normally. And it’s not uncommon as we age to become more susceptible to a low-functioning thyroid gland. Why does this matter? Because your thyroid is the master gland of your metabolism and it relies on the dietary intake of certain minerals to produce key thyroid hormones. The thyroid gland is actually a butterfly-shaped endocrine organ and is tucked in your neck just in front of the larynx. Since it’s so close to the surface of your body, and not usually covered by clothing, the thyroid gland is highly sensitive to environmental changes, oxygen levels in the air, and exposure to toxic chemicals. It is also dependent on elements in the foods you eat and controls all the key functions in your body, including your ability to gain or lose weight! Now that I have your attention…here are some key facts:
Because it’s difficult to avoid toxic chemical exposure in our world today, one of the best things you can do is choose to consume a whole foods diet containing foods rich in the minerals iodine and selenium as well as vitamins A & D. These are the key nutrients you’ll need to consume on a regular basis in order to keep your thyroid working properly. Where to get these healthful nutrients from food? Think about foods from the sea – sea salt, sea vegetables, fish and shellfish. Foods such as processed soy, pasteurized dairy, trans fats, wheat products and processed, refined foods can get in the way of your body’s ability to absorb thyroid-supporting iodine. The following article provides a general introduction on what foods are supportive to the thyroid and which ones can override normal thyroid function.

(sourced from Kevin Gianni’s Renegade Health blog):
Thyroid Friendly Foods
For a healthy thyroid gland, there are several critically important foods to include in your daily diet, and key among them is iodine.
Iodine is an essential element that helps the thyroid gland produce thyroid hormones. Three iodine molecules are needed to make T3 (triiodothyronine), and four for T4 (thyroxine), the active hormones produced by the thyroid gland. Without enough iodine, you won’t have a healthy thyroid gland. Seafood is naturally rich in iodine. Cod, sea bass, haddock, and perch are good sources. For vegetarians, kelp is the most common vegetable seafood and a rich source of iodine. Other seaweeds also contain iodine. Other vegetable sources include all plants grown in iodine-rich soil.
Selenium is another trace mineral necessary for healthy thyroid hormone function. Shellfish, like oysters, are rich in selenium. Vegetarian sources include sunflower and sesame seeds, Brazil nuts, mushrooms, garlic, onions, and kelp.
Vitamin A is needed for optimal hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis function, as it increases conversion from T4 to T3. Vitamin D is needed for thyroid hormone to affect cells activity and metabolism. Both Vitamins A and D are found in cod liver oil and other cold-water ocean fish oils. Vitamin A can be made in the body from carotinoids that are found in abundance in green leafy vegetables.
Foods that may help your thyroid gland:
• Avocados and avocado oil
• Virgin coconut oil
• Cold pressed virgin olive oil
• Unrefined sea salt or Himalayan salt
• Brazil nuts
• Sea vegetables (kelp, dulse, wakeme)
• Ocean fish and shellfish
Food Enemies of Your Thyroid
Many foods inhibit thyroid hormone function and some block absorption of the elements necessary for healthy thyroid hormone activity. Goitrogens are naturally occurring substances that interfere with the function of the thyroid gland. Goitrogens get their name from the term “goiter,” enlargement of the thyroid gland.
Cooking inactivates goitrogenic compounds in food. Isoflavones (in soy foods) and isothiocyanates (in cruciferous vegetables) are heat-sensitive and cooking lowers the activity of these compounds. As much as one third may be deactivated when broccoli is boiled.
Avoid these foods if you have low thyroid function:
• Soybeans and soy-related foods such as tofu and tempeh, or any of the other soy products on the market, even soy sauce.
• Cruciferous vegetables (Brassica family) such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, rutabagas, turnips, radishes, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard, kale, garden cress, bokchoy, and kohlrabi. These foods may be eaten in small amounts, but they should always be cooked. This is because, in their raw state, they contain an acid that blocks absorption of nutrients and inhibits thyroid hormones.
• Lima beans, millet, peaches, peanuts, pine nuts, radishes, spinach, strawberries, sweet potatoes, and tapioca.
• Refined sugar and processed foods containing sugar (maltose, dextrose, fructose, sucrose, and high fructose corn syrup).
• Dairy products, though some cheese and organic non-fat yogurt is acceptable.
• Wheat and wheat-containing products (pasta, muffins, gravy). And avoid commercial baked goods that may contain bromine.
If you’ve gained weight and cannot get it off, and have an underlying hypothyroid condition (low thyroid hormone levels), don’t under consume. Dropping your calorie intake too low, under 1,200 calories daily, will slow your metabolism down more, causing your body to hold on to fat and fluid, and make you tired so you can’t exercise.
Thyroid Friendly Dietary Guidelines
Though there is no specific diet that corrects hypothyroidism, there are guidelines that help your thyroid gland. A thyroid-friendly diet is much like a hypoglycemic diet – high in protein with a list of foods to avoid, which influence goiter formation (goitergens). It is also like an anti-autoimmune diet in that it is high in fish oils. Remember to eat healthy, whole, fresh, organic foods. Avoid processed foods, hormone-containing meats, dairy products, and transfats.
Key Aspects of the Thyroid Friendly Diet:
• Eat more protein and consume some type of protein with each meal.
• Keep the trans fats, fried foods, and unhealthy oils out of your kitchen and off your table.
• Consume complex carbohydrates like vegetables and gluten-free whole grains such as rice, buckwheat, amaranth and quinoa.
• Eat more fish, especially salmon, and take fish oil supplements. [wild only - skip the farmed fish because of the imbalance in key fatty acids.]
• Eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, but avoid those that are goitergenic.
• Eat small amounts of seaweed (kelp, wakeme, dulse) daily. [pick up the condiment 'Gomasio' which is found in the Asian section of the natural foods store - I like Eden Brand. It contains a balanced mixture of kelp, sea salt and sesame seeds]

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