Weight, fatigue, and digestion issues can result from thyroid disorders. If your thyroid isn’t troubling you, though, you might not give it any thought. While medication is one way to address thyroid issues, you should also be aware of several lifestyle modifications that can benefit your thyroid, such as checking what you eat overall or changing your diet.
What Is the Thyroid—And What Does It Do?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that is a component of the endocrine system and is situated in the neck. In essence, it helps control metabolism and produces hormones. Several organ systems throughout the body depend on the thyroid to support their operations. These systems include the central nervous system and the autonomic nervous system; they also include the heart, bones, and gastrointestinal tract.
However, if your thyroid is not functioning properly, you may have some health issues. For instance, anxiety, an atypically fast heartbeat, and rapid weight loss can all be symptoms of hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid. On the other hand, constipation, weight gain, and excessive exhaustion can be brought on by hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid. Thyroid nodules (lumps on the gland), thyroiditis (swelling of the thyroid), goiter (enlargement of the thyroid), and thyroid cancer are other thyroid diseases. As a result, it’s critical to maintain optimal thyroid health.
How Healthy Eating Can Improve your Thyroid condition?
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that iodine is necessary for your thyroid to function correctly and generate enough thyroid hormone to meet your body’s demands. You run the danger of developing hypothyroidism or a goiter, which is the enlargement of the thyroid gland to make up for a deficiency in thyroid hormone. Since table salt is iodized, most Americans have no trouble receiving enough iodine. However, if you follow a vegan diet (more on that later) or are on a low-sodium diet (as many Americans are doing for heart health), you may need to increase your iodine intake from other sources.
Iodine content varies greatly among seaweed species, however many of them are rich in the mineral. The NIH reports that there are significant differences in the iodine content of various seaweed species. For instance, the iodine concentrations in commercially available seaweeds, whether whole or in sheet form, range from 16 mcg/g to 2,984 mcg/g (150 mcg is the recommended dietary requirement for an individual who is not pregnant or lactating).
Don’t start eating sushi every day of the week because seaweed can contain particularly high levels of iodine. Because it can cause or exacerbate hypothyroidism, too much iodine can be just as bad for your thyroid as too little. If you want to reap the enormous benefits of seaweed without going overboard, limit yourself to one fresh seaweed salad per week (along with sushi) and avoid seaweed supplements and teas.
Here are a few foods that can improve your thyroid condition, including:
You generally don’t need to worry about consuming too much iodine from any other meals, save from a few kelp salads. According to the NIH, dairy products, in instance, have an average of 85 mcg of iodine per cup.
Dairy products do not all have the same quantity of iodine. This is partially due to the fact that iodine supplements are fed to cattle and iodine-based cleansers are used during the milking process. The NIH reports that analysis of non-fat milk samples revealed a range of 38 to 159 mcg per cup. According to the NIH, plain, low-fat, or Greek yogurt is a rich source of iodine, accounting for around half of your daily dose.
2. Brazil Nuts
Selenium is another vitamin found in Brazil nuts that aid in the regulation of thyroid hormones, according to the NIH. For individuals suffering from thyroid-related conditions such as Hashimoto’s and Graves’ disease, selenium may help prevent long-term thyroid damage. A single kernel has 68–91 micrograms in it. Don’t overdo it because the daily maximum for selenium is 400 micrograms. “Garlic breath,” hair loss, discolored nails, and even heart failure can result from having too much selenium.
The NIH lists milk and milk products as some of the top sources of iodine. Conversely, iodine content is comparatively low in plant-based milk substitutes such soy and almond beverages. One cup of low-fat milk will provide you with roughly one-third of the iodine you need each day. Suggested reading: Drink a glass of milk that has been supplemented with vitamin D.
4. Chicken and Beef
Another important nutrient for your thyroid is zinc, which your body needs to produce thyroid hormone. A low zinc intake may cause hypothyroidism. But here’s the thing: Ilic said that since thyroid hormones aid in the absorption of zinc, developing hypothyroidism can also result in zinc deficiency. Additionally, you can suffer from severe alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that assaults hair follicles and causes them to fall out in clumps, as a side effect when that occurs.
The majority of people likely get adequate zinc currently, but you may be at risk for a deficiency if you have a poor diet or gastrointestinal issues that prevent you from absorbing zinc. According to the NIH, meats are a decent source: a 3-ounce portion of dark chicken meat has 2.4 milligrams, a 3-ounce portion of beef patty has 3 milligrams, and a 3-ounce plate of beef chuck roast has 7 milligrams.
Since seawater and soils contain iodine, fish are also a rich source of this nutrient. According to the NIH, a 3-ounce portion of baked cod has roughly 158 micrograms of iodine, which is sufficient to meet your daily needs if you are not pregnant or nursing. A 3-ounce meal of fish sticks contains 58 micrograms of iodine, which is a healthy quantity of iodine.
Seafood such as shrimp and lobster are generally rich providers of iodine. According to the NIH, just 3 ounces (about 4 or 5 pieces) of shrimp provides about 10% of your required intake. Added benefit: shellfish can be a rich source of zinc. According to the NIH, three ounces of Alaskan crab and lobster provide 6.5 and 3.4 milligrams of zinc, respectively.
According to the NIH, a big egg provides roughly 16% of your daily required iodine and 20% of your daily required selenium, making eggs a thyroid superfood. Eat the entire egg if your doctor hasn’t told you otherwise. The yolk contains a lot of iodine and selenium. To cook eggs over easy, use our tried-and-true method.
You need more than just iodine, selenium, and vitamin D in your optimal thyroid diet. It should come as no surprise that meals high in antioxidants—substances present in some foods that aid in the defense against cell damage—are also beneficial to thyroid health. Black raspberries have very little natural sugar, a high antioxidant content, and a high fiber content.
9. Cruciferous Vegetables
If you Google any cruciferous veggies (think: broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts), you may find a page that suggests they can cause thyroid issues. The details are a little less clear. It’s true that some vegetables contain substances called glucosinolates that, in high concentrations, may interfere with your body’s ability to produce thyroid hormones, but if you’re eating normal-sized portions, it’s unlikely that they would cause thyroid damage.
It is unlikely that eating regular serving amounts of raw broccoli, Chinese cabbage, bok choy, or broccoli rabe can harm your thyroid. On the other hand, consuming raw Russian/Siberian kale, some collard greens, and Brussels sprouts in excess (e.g., more than 1 kg/d for several months) can reduce the thyroid’s ability to absorb iodine and impact the production of thyroid hormone.
In short, cruciferous vegetables such as kale and cauliflower are critical for both a thyroid and a balanced diet.
Soy’s impact on thyroid function has been erratic. There are worries that soy may change the levels of thyroid hormones and have a detrimental effect on thyroid function.
Thyroid health is boosted by certain meals. For instance, iodine-rich foods like seaweed, Brazil nuts, seafood, and eggs support healthy thyroid function. Cruciferous veggies and berries can also help your thyroid. Fast food and processed foods should be avoided.
To find out more about supporting your thyroid, get in touch with a healthcare professional. You should always get their advice before taking any supplements. The FDA only slightly regulates dietary supplements, so they might or might not be good for you. Additionally, the effects can differ from person to person.
Follow for more such content and subscribe to our newsletter.