It used to be relatively unheard of, but today, thyroid disease is on the rise. The thyroid gland is sensitive to many factors in modern society, including chemicals, stress and low nutrient levels. The good news is, you can start supporting your thyroid today, simply by making good food choices. These are a few of my top foods to support thyroid health.
Many thyroid issues are partly due to, or exacerbated by, inflammation. Low-grade inflammation can affect any part of the body, but the thyroid can be particularly vulnerable. So to protect it, you want to consume as many anti-inflammatory foods as you can.
Enter: oily fish. They are a fantastic dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids, an anti-inflammatory nutrient. Consuming 3-4 serves of oily fish each week can boost your omega-3 intake.
Not a fan of fish, or eating plant-based? Plant-based omega-3s are poorly converted by the body, so you need to consume plenty of them to reap benefits. Go for chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds and walnuts.
When the thyroid isn’t coping, the last thing you want to do is cut out all carbohydrates. Low-carbohydrate diets can actually impair thyroid function, particularly for women. Instead, start including low GI high-fibre root vegetables as your carbohydrate of choice. These will give you a steady stream of energy without stressing out your thyroid.
Which root veg should you include? Start with sweet potato, beetroot and carrot. If you want to be more adventurous, try other options like celeriac, turnips, swedes and yams. Most root vegetables can be roasted, so you can prepare them in advance if you like to meal prep.
Almost every nut can play a role in supporting thyroid health. But the Brazil nut is king, thanks to its high selenium content.
The good news is that you only need 1-2 Brazil nuts to get your required selenium intake for the day. Selenium can be detrimental in high dosages, so try not to eat a whole bag of Brazil nuts in one go!
For those who know their thyroid nutrients, it’s no surprise to see seaweed on this list! Seaweed is one of the best dietary sources of iodine, an essential precursor to thyroid hormones.
However, it is important to be moderate with seaweed consumption. Small amounts consumed frequently is best. Excess iodine may actually suppress thyroid function, which is not what you want!
Eggs truly are mother nature’s multi-vitamin. But one reason to include eggs is their zinc content. Zinc is an essential nutrient for conversion of thyroid hormones into their active form, T3.
Eggs are easy to add into the everyday diet. You can scramble some up for breakfast, munch on a boiled egg as a snack, or cook a frittata for dinner. But make sure you’re eating the yolks as well as the whites – that’s where most of the nutrients are stored.
When it comes to antioxidant-packed foods, berries are one of your best bets. Their high fibre, low sugar and natural sweetness make them ideal for when you have a sweet tooth.
However, their greatest superpower is the high level of antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body from the damage caused by inflammation and oxidative stress. The thyroid is quite vulnerable to this sort of damage.
It can also become a dangerous cycle, as thyroid conditions can cause inflammation and oxidative stress as well, further damaging the thyroid. So antioxidants can act as a kind of shield for your thyroid.
These foods are just a starting point for a healthy, thyroid-supportive diet. It’s also important to avoid problematic foods and support all of your body’s natural processes. If you’d like a plan personalised to your needs, Dr. Rebecca Farthing (osteopath & naturopath) can sit down with you and get your plan of attack right for you.