What is thyroid health? This is a big question with many answers. Some may suggest that thyroid health is simply a thyroid gland that is functioning at 100%, meaning that there are no symptoms to identify that the thyroid gland is either under-active or over-active. Thyroid health can be define in medical terms as: "The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck, makes hormones that control the way your body uses energy. Your thyroid controls your metabolism, which is how your body turns food into energy, and also affects your heart, muscles, bones and cholesterol." The next question that might be asked: What does food have to do with thyroid health? Well, food is used for energy, and we need to assimilate and digest food appropriately for the body to use it as fuel. When the thyroid gland produces the right amount of hormones it will serve the body well. There are two hormones produced by the thyroid, which are thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).
The Thyroid hormone is vital to health. Food is one of the sources for health.
Our body requires wholesome foods, rather it is cooked, sautéed, fried, steamed, baked, or uncooked, it does what is needed. The body is a host for billions of cells, organs, water, blood, muscle, bones and tissues. “Organs are collections of tissues with a similar function. Humans have five vital organs that are essential for survival—the brain, heart, kidneys, liver, and lungs. Functionally related organs often cooperate to form whole organ systems. Organs are composed of parenchyma and stroma. Parenchyma is the main tissue which is unique for the specific organ, such as the myocardium, which is the main tissue of the heart. Stroma are sporadic tissues that include the nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues.”
Our internal organs operate as a unit, the heart pumps blood rich with Healthy cells to help carry nutrients through out the body. Therefore, cellular health is vital.
The endocrine system is also vital. The Thyroid gland is included in the endocrine system which is a hormone. The two most significant hormones as stated above, are the T3 and T4.
Your thyroid controls your metabolism, which means it influences digestion, appetite, and overall energy levels.
Your thyroid can produce too much hormone, which is known as hyperthyroidism, or too little, which is known as hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is more prevalent. To break down the importance of the choices in foods for thyroid health, please note the symptoms and listed foods for both Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism as the following:
I Hypothyroidism symptoms:
• Weight gain
• Increased blood cholesterol level
• Increased sensitivity to cold
• Dry skin
• Puffy face
• Muscle weakness, aches, tenderness, and stiffness
• Joint pain, stiffness, or swelling
• Irregular menstrual periods or amenorrhea
• Irregular menstrual periods or amenorrhoea
• Dry hair or hair loss
Nutritional Foods to eat for Hypothyroidism
• Antioxidant-rich foods: e.g. Blueberries, tomatoes, bell peppers, whole grains
• Foods containing selenium: e.g. sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts
• Foods containing tyrosine: e.g. meats, dairy, and legumes
Foods to avoid:
• Iodine-rich foods: e.g. iodized salt
• Cruciferous vegetables: e.g. broccoli, cabbage, spinach, kale, and brussel sprouts
• Caffeine, Alcohol
II Hyperthyroidism symptoms:
Symptoms are various and can mimic other medical conditions.
• Swollen thyroid gland
• Prominent eyes
• Increased metabolic rate, a condition termed as hyper metabolic state
• Irregular or rapid heartbeat
• Increased blood pressure
• Shaking hands
• Increased sweating
• Hot flashes
• Irritability and restlessness
• Increased bowel movement
• Weight loss
• Difficulty sleeping
• Brittle hair
• Hair loss
• Nausea and/or vomiting
• Irregular menstrual cycles or amenorrhea in women
• Breast development in men
Nutritional Foods to eat for Hyperthyroidism:
The mineral iodine plays a key role in making thyroid hormones. A low-iodine diet helps to reduce thyroid hormones. Add these foods to your daily diet:
• Non-iodize salt
• Coffee or tea (without milk or dairy- or soy-based creamers)
• egg whites
• fresh or canned fruit
• unsalted nuts and nut butters
• homemade bread or breads made without salt, dairy, and eggs
• popcorn with non-iodized salt
Foods to avoid:
Iodine-Seafood has the most iodine, so steer clear of fish, seaweed, prawns, crabs, lobster, sushi, algae, nori and kelp. Other foods high in iodine include milk and dairy, cheese, egg yolks, iodized salt and iodized water. Medications like cough syrups, medical contrast dyes and herbal or vitamin supplements may also contain iodine.
Gluten-Consider limiting gluten-containing foods like wheat, barley, brewer’s yeast, malt, rye and triticale.
Caffein-Replace caffeine with water, herbal teas or fruit and veggie smoothies to help with your hyperthyroidism symptoms.
Added sugars-Added sugars like cane sugar, dextrose and high fructose corn syrup add empty calories, spike blood sugar levels and are detrimental to your overall health, offering no nutritional benefit. These are found in foods like candy, cakes, cookies, pastries, doughnuts and dairy desserts such as ice cream, as well as sugary drinks like soda, sports drinks and juice.
Alcohol-Try to limit alcoholic beverages like wine, beer and spirits as much as possible. Alcohol can disrupt your energy levels and worsen sleep issues associated with hyperthyroidism.
Eating Right for Thyroid Health:
Remember the thyroid is a gland, and it produces two important hormones (T4) and (T3).
The (TSH) total stimulating hormone is a test required to rule out an overactive or underactive thyroid or thyroid disorder.
Hyperthyroidism is an overactive thyroid gland, and hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid gland. The thyroid is responsible for controlling the overall metabolism, and uses food for energy. Choosing wholesome foods will serve the body well.
*If you suspect that your thyroid gland is not at its' peak performance, check in with your PCP.
Here’s Health to you Naturally!
Dr. Brenda J. pratt, H.D., PhD
Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner
Certified Holistic Hygio~Physician