Thyroid Health 101
Thyroid conditions are becoming increasingly more common, with approximately 20 million Americans suffering from a thyroid condition.
Why does this matter? What does your thyroid even do? Well according to Kelly Brogan MD, it is in control of your metabolism, and depending on what kind of thyroid condition you have, it dramatically affects your weight and many other things.
If your thyroid is under-active, meaning you have HYPOthyroidism, then your body’s processes are slow.
- Your metabolism is slow
- You gain weight more easily
- You’re often tired
- Have poor concentration
- A slow heart rate
- A slow digestive system
If your thyroid is overactive, and you have HYPERthyroidism, then your body’s processes are too fast.
- A fast metabolism
- Weight loss
- A fast heart rate
- A fast digestive system
Four nutrients that are extremely important for a healthy thyroid include:
Hearing this, it may seem like a good idea to automatically supplement with these nutrients. However, if these minerals are too high, they can cause problems. This is why it is important to consult an expert when dealing with thyroid conditions.
Foods to Avoid
- Pro-Inflammatory foods : if your condition is caused by inflammation (autoimmune diseases like Grave’s or Hashimoto’s), reducing inflammation can be very beneficial. Common pro-inflammatory foods include:
- Sugar: discuss with your dietitian how much sugar is recommended and how much are in your favorite foods
- Saturated fats: high fat meats and cheeses, processed foods
- Trans fats: watch for ingredients such as “partially hydrogenated” and “fractionated” in ingredient lists, that means there is trace amounts of trans fats! Common foods: frozen breakfast foods, pastries, donuts, etc
- Refined carbs: those “white” carbs: white rice, pasta, instant mashed potatoes…
- MSG: typically in soy sauce and Asian dishes, but can be found in salad dressings and deli meats
- Gluten: Wheat, rye, and barley. Hidden in many foods. Just because it is pro inflammatory, you may not need to be off all gluten
- Aspartame: (Equal)
- Alcohol: everything in moderation
Avoidance of these foods can vary depending on the individual, because everyone has different food sensitivities and is unique! It can also be dose related, so a good rule to follow is everything in moderation. A great way to find out what is causing inflammation in your body is by having a LEAP food sensitivity test done, which you can have done through LBS Nutrition LLC.
Cruciferous vegetables contain goitrogens, which can impair the thyroid’s ability to function. The following foods should not be consumed raw if you have a thyroid condition, and may need to be limited altogether:
- Brussels sprouts
Soy is another food that may decrease thyroid function if consumed in large quantities. Common foods with soy include: soy sauce, products using meat substitutes (check the label), miso, and edamame (soybeans). However, soy can also be a healthy addition to your meal plan. Again, discuss this with your doctor and dietitian.
Be wary of supplements if you are on thyroid medication. Always discuss your supplements with your doctor and dietitian. These can impact the effects of your medication:
- Calcium supplements
- Iron supplements
And of course, physical activity is very healthy for your thyroid. This may be hard, because fatigue is so common when you have a thyroid condition. Gradually, it will become easier to exercise, and your body will thank you for it. Start slowly and work your way up towards more high-intensity training. Don’t feel like you need to only do cardio! Strength training is great for your body, too.
Foods That Are Beneficial
Omega-3 fatty acids are great for hormone balance, and can be very helpful for inflammation and thyroid function. This includes…
- Wild caught fish (salmon especially)
- Nuts (especially walnuts)
- Flax seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Chia seeds
- Leafy green veggies
Seaweed is a natural source of iodine, which may help your thyroid if you have low iodine. If your iodine levels are too high, you should not consume seaweed.
Probiotic foods help support healthy stomach bacteria, which helps inflammation and general health. Foods like…
- Greek yogurt
Fruits and vegetables are important, because the antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals support a healthy and proper-functioning body. A body that is treated properly will work properly!
Coconut oil may also be great for your gut health, and inhibits the growth of harmful microorganisms, which can contribute to inflammation.
Other Things to Consider
It is common for individuals with thyroid conditions to have low vitamin D levels, and it is important for proper thyroid function. You should request that your doctor check your vitamin D levels.
Be sure to get enough sleep! This can contribute to stress, which is also not good for thyroid function. (of course!)
So What Do I Do!?
This can all seem complicated, and your thyroid is absolutely a complex system. Knowing what to do to stay healthy and balanced is not easy, so consulting an expert is the best way to go. An individualized nutrition plan is needed for individuals with thyroid conditions, because knowing the cause and type of your condition impacts the treatment. The Registered Dietitians at LBS Nutrition LLC can help you determine what food plan is right for you, supplements to take, and how to minimize the negative effects of your condition.