January is #ThyroidAwarenessMonth! 

 If you want your body to burn fat and have lots of energy, then the number one gland in your body you need to be working optimally is your thyroid gland.  Your thyroid makes and releases a hormone called Thyroid Hormone. And thyroid hormone is the accelerator pedal for your metabolism.

The more of it you have, the faster your metabolic rate and the more fat you burn. The less you have of it, the slower your metabolic rate and the harder it is to burn fat.

Thyroid hormone is made from specific nutrients so by supplying your body with ample amounts of these nutrients you can boost your own production naturally.  There are foods that can improve thyroid function and hormone production.   And there are some foods the have a negative impact on your thyroid function.

Here is a list of foods to eat and foods to avoid for Thyroid Function:

The 15 best foods for your thyroid:

  • Sea vegetables like kelp (seaweed) because they contain iodine which is critical for making thyroid hormone.
  • Brazil nuts because they are rich in selenium which activates your thyroid hormone
  • Cod liver oil is a naturally rich source of vitamin D which is an essential nutrient for healthy thyroid function
  • Proper free-range eggs because when the hens are out in the grass, they get sun on them and eat a much broader range of food like grass, works, dirt etc. This means the eggs have a greater range of nutrients in them too like vitamin D, vitamin B12, omega 3’s and minerals. An easy to find brand of proper free-range eggs is Sunny Queen. You can find them at Woolworths and Coles.
  • Pasture fed beef because it contains the amino acid tyrosine which is what you make thyroid hormone from as well as vitamin B12, and all the minerals, like zinc and selenium, from the soil that comes through the grass the cow eats. You want 100% pasture fed beef because that means the cow lives its life in the paddock like it should eating all sorts of plants not in a feed lot being just fed only grains.
  • Sesame seeds because they contain copper and zinc which are both essential for optimal thyroid function and hormone production. You need to make sure the seeds are broken open otherwise they will pass straight through you. So, grind them before you eat them or use tahini.
  • Pumpkin seeds because they are an excellent source of zinc which helps your cells activate your thyroid hormones.
  • Spinach because it is rich in minerals like magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc which are all essential for optimal thyroid hormone production.
  • Prawns and scallops because they have omega 3 oils and vitamin B12 but mostly they are a rich source of iodine if you don’t like the taste of seaweed.
  • Cashews because they are loaded with copper, magnesium, and zinc. Important minerals if you want your thyroid to boost a sluggish thyroid.
  • Fermented foods like coconut kefir (kefir is like yogurt probiotic), coconut yogurt, sauerkraut.  While you might not be aware of it many thyroid problems stem from poor gut health because the bad gut bacteria levels are too high. Consuming fermented foods is an easy and delicious way to boost your good gut bug numbers.

7 foods to avoid for your thyroid:

  • Wheat/Gluten containing foods (bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, biscuits, crackers, pastries, cakes, muffins that are made from wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt flour) have been implicated as an underlying cause of thyroid dysfunction. Both over-active and under-active thyroid conditions. Wheat/gluten containing foods contain a protein called gluten (it’s this protein that gives gluten containing flours their ‘glue-iness’) which in genetically susceptible people triggers inflammation and immune system dysfunction (autoimmune disease).
  • Soybean products (soy milk, tofu, soy cheese, soy yogurt, soy protein) naturally contain anti-thyroid compounds that can slow thyroid hormone production if you eat too much of them or you’re genetically susceptible. The other issue with many soy products is that they are heavily processed and refined and so contain sugar and other unhealthy additives.
  • Too much raw broccoli/kale/cabbage can slow your thyroid hormone output. Now you do have to eat a lot to cause yourself a problem but with the rise of the ‘Green Smoothie’ people are now able to eat larger amounts of these vegetables. So, a handful is okay but not a whole bunch in your smoothie.
  • Processed food is terrible for your thyroid. It lacks any of the nutrients your thyroid needs to function optimally and often contains foods that can damage your thyroid like wheat, gluten, soy, and sugar. Processed foods cause inflammation in your body after you eat them, and inflammation suppresses thyroid hormone production and activation.
  • Refined vegetable oils (any oils that aren’t cold pressed like margarine, vegetable shortening and cooking oils) cause lots of inflammation in your body because they contain high levels of oxidized (rancid) omega 6 oil. Refined vegetable oils are especially harmful for your thyroid when consumed with or is an ingredient in gluten and soy product like breads, pastries, biscuits, crackers, and sauces.
  • Tap water while safe to drink can really interfere with your thyroid because of the chemicals used to make it safe to drink and protect your teeth. Tap water contains chlorine and fluoride and because these two chemicals are in the same family as iodine, they compete with it for absorption. So, if you eat foods that contain iodine to boost your thyroid function and then drink tap water, you’re taking one step forward and then two steps back.
  • Sugar, refined sugar that is not fruit, is one of the worst foods for thyroid health. Not only does it cause inflammation in your body by stimulating overproduction of insulin, but it also triggers the release of the stress hormone cortisol. When you eat refined sugar or sugary products it spikes your blood sugars. Your pancreas then dumps a massive amount of insulin into your bloodstream to quickly remove the overload of sugar. This then causes your blood sugar levels to plummet which then causes your adrenal glands to release cortisol to get your blood sugars back up to a normal level. The problem with this is cortisol is a signal to your brain that food might be scarce and so it triggers the famine response… slow thyroid hormone production, slow thyroid hormone activation, lower metabolic rate, and store body fat.

xox, Dr. G