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Nourishing the thyroid

Understanding Thyroid Health ~ Part 2

Last article you hopefully gained a greater insight and understanding about how your thyroid works and its role in your health and wellbeing. Now it’s time to take a closer look at how you can nourish and care for your thyroid. This applies to prevention of thyroid conditions or if you have an existing or suspected thyroid condition.

Foods that nourish the thyroid:

  • Seaweed, saltwater fish are a good source of iodine that is the critical building block needed to make thyroid hormone.

  • Beef, fish, chicken, legumes, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, wild rice, sweet potatoes and spinach are all great sources of tyrosine, another essential nutrient to make thyroid hormone.

  • Brazil nuts, fish, beef, chicken, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, spinach, cashews and bananas are sources of selenium that is the nutrient essential for the conversion of T4 into T3 and may prevent or reverse autoimmune thyroid conditions.

  • Oysters, beef, chicken, hemp seeds, lentils, low fat yoghurt, oatmeal, shiitake mushrooms are high sources of zinc which is also helpful for T4 to T3 conversion (optimising thyroid balance) as well as regulating the production of stimulating hormones in the hypothalamus.

  • Beef, poultry, seafood, dark leafy greens, legumes, oats, molasses, dark chocolate, baked potatoes, spinach, dried apricots and spirulina are all rich sources of iron. Iron is needed to convert iodide to iodine as well as healthy conversion of T4 to T3.

  • Fatty fish, macadamia nuts, flaxseeds/oil and chia seeds are all wonderful sources of Omega 3-fatty acids, which are needed to maintain healthy cell integrity so free T3 can enter the cells of your body.

  • Sunlight, fatty fish, Portobello mushrooms are excellent sources of vitamin D3, which will help keep your immune function healthy and bring T3 into your cells.

  • Leafy greens, broccoli (cooked nutrients are more bioavailable), beets and red meat are brilliant sources of B vitamins which will help a healthy immune and nervous system.

  • Orange fruits and vegetables, liver, kale (cooked only) are high in Vitamin A essential for a healthy immune function and to bring T3 into your cells.

  • Pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds, spinach (cooked), avocado and dark chocolate are all delicious and high sources of magnesium help to lower stress response and keep healthy reverse T3 levels.

  • Guavas, kiwi fruit, organic strawberries, oranges, papaya, broccoli (cooked) and kale (cooked) are all excellent sources of Vitamin C, helpful for a healthy immune system and replenishing adrenals.

Note: Eating these foods will not affect your thyroid if you do take thyroid medication, a healthy fresh well-balanced diet is key. If you are concerned you can always check with your GP who has prescribed your medication.

Healing the gut to help the thyroid

If you experience food sensitivities and a lowered immune system (and/or autoimmune disease) it’s probably a good idea to do some gut healing. Below are some useful id

  • Avoid gluten, grains and legumes - they are inflammatory foods that can contribute to ‘leaky gut’. This condition can worsen from gluten consumption from a protein called zonulin, that causes the tight junctions of the cells in your intestine to open and remain open. Grains and legumes have the ability to feed unfriendly gut bacteria causing intestinal damage and leaky gut also. The most harmful varieties are genetically engineered produce as they contain more agglutinins (plants natural insecticide) which can trigger autoimmune diseases.

  • Avoid dairy - highly inflammatory especially conventionally farmed dairy as they can be disruptive for your endocrine system from bovine growth hormones.

  • Avoid nightshades - eggplants, capsicums, chilli, tomatoes, white potatoes as they are high in lectins that are similar to agglutinins harmful for autoimmune disease.

  • Avoid eggs, especially those with autoimmune conditions as they are highly inflammatory due to lysozyme protein that is also a natural defence mechanism.

  • Avoid caffeine - disrupts your circadian rhythm as well as taxing on the adrenal system that plays an important role in your thyroid health.

  • Avoid alcohol - Inflammatory for the liver and body. Liver plays an important role in your gut health as well as hormone metabolism. Alcohol also lowers the immune system.

  • Avoid package/processed foods as most are full of additives and preservatives are inflammatory for the gut.

  • Enjoy the following gut healing friendly foods: collagen powder, gelatin, bone broths, fermented foods, and foods that beneficial gut bacteria love such as apples, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, banana, beets, broccoli (cooked), fennel, paw paw, pineapple. And foods that lower inflammation such as turmeric, ginger and orange foods listed above.

  • Get on to a good health practitioner and take a course of probiotics. The practitioner will be able to identify what is the perfect variety for your current health status.

  • Tummy teas - Licorice Root, ginger, chamomile, peppermint, kombucha, lemon balm, fennel and marshmallow.

Lastly, the Adrenal-Thyroid connection

We all know stress and too much of it as well as unmanaged can be deteriorating for our health and wellbeing, including our thyroid health. The thyroid and adrenals operate very similarly (they are both endocrine glands). Stress response leads to a hyper-vigilant nervous system from high amounts of cortisol expressed from the adrenals has the ability to disrupt our circadian rhythm. This can make you feel ‘tired and wired’, resulting in poor sleep. Waking unrefreshed is a sign. Poor sleep unfortunately leads to inflammation from the release of inflammatory cytokines that are trying to protect you from infection. This is similar when you are starting to come down with a flu, you may feel tired and irritable. As a result of disrupted sleep and cortisol levels, our metabolism also becomes out of whack with often poor food choices to curb fatigue, such as sugar and caffeine or processed carbs. This whole cascade of events has a profound impact on the regulation and balance of the thyroid.

Ideas to manage stress:

  • Identify what is causing you stress and brainstorm strategies to reduce or make changes.

  • Exercise regularly, ideally gentle exercise, walking, yoga, gardening. If you suspect you have adrenal issues avoid high impact training until you feel on top of your health.

  • Stay hydrated

  • Practice sleep hygiene - research ways to improve your sleep

  • Breathing techniques - yoga is great for this!

  • Eat healthy

  • Connection - one on one, hugs and a chat over a cuppa this includes laughter too!

  • Nature - bush walks, in your garden, swimming helps us practice mindfulness

  • Do what you love! Explore your hobbies and interests and make time for these.

Herbal medicine is also incredibly beneficial but more targeted if you suspect or have a thyroid condition with the advice from a Herbalist or Naturopath.

I hope you have gained a great insight and awareness of what your thyroid does and how to care for it so it stays in balance doing the job it needs to effortlessly.

Take care of you, love and light ~ Jaunita, Your Family Naturopath


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