As a part of the endocrine system, the thyroid gland is responsible for making essential hormones. Thyroid hormones are used throughout the body. They help your body utilize energy from your food (metabolism) and they help essential organs, including the heart, brain, and muscles, to work properly. Thyroid hormones also regulate body temperature and aid in the proper development of muscles and bones. When the thyroid gland is not producing enough thyroid hormone, this is when hypothyroidism happens.
Hypothyroidism affects approximately 4.6% of the US population, aged 12 years or older. When you suffer from hypothyroidism, every tissue, muscle, and organ in your body is affected. Without an ample amount of thyroid hormone, the various functions in the body begin to slow down, including your metabolism.
When the thyroid gland is not functioning properly, one can experience a plethora of unpleasant symptoms. Often, when an insufficient amount of thyroid hormone is produced, it may cause symptoms like cold intolerance, weight gain, debilitating fatigue, joint pain, constipation, mood swings, and an increased risk of cardiovascular problems, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. All of these symptoms can take a toll on your life.
Although medications are necessary to help manage and restore healthy thyroid levels, there are certain dietary and lifestyle changes that may help support your thyroid health. When you follow a thyroid-friendly diet, the intensity of your symptoms may decrease, allowing you to experience a more energized lifestyle. Also, changing one’s lifestyle and diet is much cheaper than relying on medications.
For those who suffer from thyroid problems, there is no special and fancy diet required. Eating a diet filled with nutritious foods help ensure that your body is receiving the nutrients it needs to improve your thyroid health and stimulate the production of thyroid hormones.
However, there are certain foods that should be avoided. The foods listed below can interfere with the conversion of T4 to T3, which negatively impacts the production of thyroid hormones and may cause inflammation of the thyroid gland.
- Soybeans: Soybeans contain phytoestrogens, which can inhibit the activation of an enzyme that is necessary for the production of thyroid hormones. Also, the isoflavones found in soy can increase the risk of hypothyroidism.However, one study found that although soy does not affect thyroid hormones, it can moderately raise thyroid-stimulating hormone levels. Hence, consuming too much soybean products can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb thyroid medications.
- Cruciferous Vegetables: Raw cruciferous vegetables contain large amounts of fiber, which can interfere with thyroid hormone production if there someone has an iodine deficiency. Examples of cruciferous vegetables include cabbage, broccoli, kale, bok choy, brussels sprouts, turnips, and cauliflower. These vegetables, in their raw state, can block the body’s ability to uptake and use iodine, which is necessary to produce thyroid hormones.If you are going to eat cruciferous vegetables, it is beneficial to cook them. This reduces the negative effects on thyroid function.
- Gluten: Gluten is a protein that is found in a variety of grains, including wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten can irritate the digestive tract and decrease the body’s ability to absorb and use thyroid medications. Gluten actually mimics the thyroid hormone and often leads to an autoimmune thyroid condition.Eliminating gluten and getting tested to see if you have celiac disease is recommended. Eating a gluten-free diet decreases systemic inflammation and may provide numerous thyroid benefits. If you choose to consume gluten products, opt to enjoy them several hours after taking your thyroid medication. This gives your body enough time to properly absorb and use synthetic thyroid hormones.
- Fatty Foods: Unhealthy fats have a cascading negative effect on the body, including the thyroid gland. Fat disrupts the body’s ability to absorb medications and can interfere with the thyroid gland’s ability to produce thyroid hormones.Fatty cuts of meat, butter, margarine, and mayonnaise consumption should be limited as well as the avoidance of fried foods.
- Processed Foods: Processed foods tend to have excess amounts of sodium. When an individual suffers from hypothyroidism, their risk of high blood pressure increases. Eating foods rich in sodium further increases the risk of hypertension.If you are going to eat processed foods, read the label, and look for low sodium options.
Having a healthy lifestyle, which includes thyroid friendly foods, will promote optimal wellness. It is important to be aware of the foods that can interfere with iodine uptake, medication absorption, and thyroid hormone production. In addition to avoiding the foods listed above, getting at least 30 minutes of exercise each day can also help with thyroid health. Daily exercise helps detoxify the body by flooding it with oxygen.
It is also ideal to get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night since the body produces most hormones during the sleep cycle. If one is not getting enough sleep, your body will not have an opportunity to produce these life-giving hormones.
Choose foods that are low in calories and high in nutrition as these will fill you up and keep you feeling fuller longer. Consume fresh fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains and low-fat proteins, like fish and poultry. To improve your thyroid gland’s health, enjoy selenium-rich foods, like Brazil nuts, and iodine-rich foods, like seaweed. Finally, drink plenty of water to help flush toxins from the body and reduce systemic inflammation.
Taking care of your thyroid begins with eating a healthy diet and following a healthy lifestyle. Avoid smoking, limit alcohol and caffeine consumption, get a good night’s sleep, and exercise regularly. As you make these healthy changes, you will begin to notice that your thyroid is functioning better. As your thyroid improves, you may even notice some weight loss and the reduction of hypothyroid symptoms.
Are you tired of always feeling sick and tired? Are you ready to learn how to nourish your thyroid and get back to feeling like your old self? If so, it is recommended you incorporate these suggestions into your day to day life.
Also, to improve your thyroid’s health, contact a doctor specializing in hypothyroidism treatment to work with you.