From weight gain or loss to fatigue, brain fog, depression, and dry skin, thyroid dysfunction drives a wide variety of symptoms, which affect more women than men. The root causes for thyroid dysfunction are hard to diagnose, making finding a complete cure to be challenging and resulting in medical treatment for life. Unsurprisingly, most experts agree that thyroidism is sadly underdiagnosed with many suffering symptoms without any realisation of what they have. Conventional medical tests don’t always identify thyroid dysfunction properly, and even when properly diagnosed, many patients haven’t found conventional medication to be effective at healing their thyroids or their immune systems (a lot of thyroid dysfunction cases are related with autoimmune disorders).
The thyroid is a small gland located in the neck that produces hormones essential for regulating the body’s metabolism. Thyroid disorders, such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and thyroid cancer, are more common in women than in men.
Thyroid Foods to Load up On
It is important for women to maintain a well-balanced diet that includes these thyroid-boosting foods in order to support overall thyroid health and reduce the risk of thyroid disorders. Fortunately, there are certain foods that can help support thyroid health in women:
Fish and Seafood
One of the best foods for thyroid health is fish and seafood, particularly salmon, tuna, and sardines, which are rich in iodine, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and selenium, all important nutrients to keep thyroid disorders at bay by decreasing inflammation. Iodine is a mineral that is essential for thyroid hormone production and optimal function.
We used to eat a diet rich in iodine that included sea vegetables, seafood, and iodized salt, but our modern-day diets are iodine deficient. Additionally, environmental toxins we are faced with on a daily basis serve to displace iodine from our bodies. Omega-3 fatty acids and selenium have anti-inflammatory properties that can significantly reduce the risk of thyroid disorders. So bake salmon, cod, sea bass, haddock, or perch for lunch or dinner to get a healthy dose of these important nutrients.
Seaweed, such as kelp, nori, and wakame, are naturally rich in iodine – a trace element needed for normal thyroid function. Eat seaweed with sushi or get packaged seaweed snacks to toss in your favourite salads.
Nuts and Seeds
Other thyroid-boosting foods include nuts and seeds, which are good sources of selenium, an important mineral that helps regulate thyroid hormones. Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, and hazelnuts are excellent sources of selenium, which helps support healthy thyroid function. Pack a small bag of assorted nuts to snack on throughout the day.
Additionally, fruits and vegetables like berries and leafy greens can also support thyroid health due to their high nutritional content.
Thyroid Foods to Avoid
Thyroid disorders like hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are more common in women than men, and certain foods can make these conditions worse. Harvard Health Publishing states that certain foods should be limited or avoided for women with thyroid disorders which include:
These foods contain phytoestrogens, which can interfere with the body’s ability to use thyroid hormones.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and brussels sprouts should be avoided as these vegetables contain goitrogens that may interfere with thyroid hormone production.
Gluten-Based Products, Fried Food and Sugar
Remember Kourtney Kardashian, the eldest Kardashian who caused a stir around the world by banning gluten in her house and disallowing her children from enjoying gluten-filled treats! Well, she was on to something as gluten is known to cause inflammation that can damage thyroid function. Fried foods and sugars add to inflammation in the body which is like poison for the thyroid to function well.
The Hypothyroidism Diet
Hypothyroidism is a common thyroid disorder where the body produces too little thyroid hormone and causes sluggishness, fatigue, weight gain, and depression in women. A special diet can play a significant role in treating its symptoms. The American Thyroid Association states, “Iodine-rich foods such as sea vegetables and iodized salt may be helpful, but not all individuals with hypothyroidism need iodine supplements.” They also recommend avoiding processed foods, simple carbohydrates, and excessive alcohol consumption. A study published in the Journal of Thyroid Research found that a gluten-free diet may also improve symptoms in those with hypothyroidism, particularly those with autoimmune thyroiditis.
Based on this the standard elimination diet which includes getting rid of toxic (alcohol, sugar, and processed) and inflammatory (gluten, dairy, eggs, and corn) foods is recommended for women faced with managing hypothyroidism. Additionally, removing grains and legumes for a few weeks has shown dramatic positive results for most people. Grains and legumes contain certain amino acids and proteins that can be extremely irritating to the gut if they are not soaked and cooked properly, exacerbating thyroid symptoms.
The Hyperthyroidism Diet
Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces excessive amounts of thyroid hormone leading to hyperactivity, weight loss, rapid or irregular heartbeat, breathlessness, night sweats, and anxiety. Interestingly, the hyperthyroidism diet suggests excluding certain foods (but not all) that are actually recommended for consumption by people experiencing hypothyroidism. These food groups to be avoided by people with hyperthyroidism, include iodine-rich foods, dairy, gluten, artificial flavourings and dyes, sugar, and processed foods.
The food groups people with hyperthyroidism should consume include whole foods (lean protein, green vegetables, fruits), green juices (such as kale, spinach, and spirulina), anti-inflammatory herbs (rosemary, basil, oregano), and bone broth.
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Thyroid disorders are a reality and with greater awareness, we can implement better food choices to support optimal thyroid health. The good news is that it is entirely possible to live a healthy and fulfilling life with hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism by maintaining a well-balanced diet and limiting toxic foods in order to support overall thyroid health. We recommend consulting with a healthcare professional or registered dietician to create an individualised dietary plan for anyone with a thyroid disorder.
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