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Welcome back to another of my ‘7 Life Changing Tips’ series! This time, I’m so pleased to have the amazing Kellie Holland from Tonik Health share with us 7 Life Changing Tips to Take Care of Your Thyroid Gland. Kellie is a Naturopath, Clinical Nutritionist, business owner and reformed sugar addict… so she really knows her stuff!
It’s really no secret that iodine is essential for thyroid health. Let me tell you why; thyroid hormones such as thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) are named T4 and T3 due to the number of iodine molecules they possess. T4 possesses four iodine molecules and T3 possesses three. Without iodine your body simply cannot make these thyroid hormones and issues then follow.
Iodine deficiency is unfortunately very common, though we can increase our intake of it by consuming iodine rich foods such as seaweed, fortified dairy products and seafood.
Brassica vegetables such as kale, broccoli and cauliflower are delicious and nutritionally dense. A little known fact about these foods, however, is that unless they are cooked, they can have a negative effect on the thyroid gland. The brassica family are what known as ‘goitrogens’ which means they can suppress the function of the thyroid gland by blocking the uptake of iodine. Ensure you cook your brassica’s lightly before eating them to get the goodness out of them, without the negative thyroid impact.
Well, kind of. Brazil nuts in particular are high in selenium which is super important for the thyroid as it is needed to convert thyroid hormone T4 to T3 as the enzymes required for this conversion are actually dependant on selenium. It is also a potent antioxidant; protecting the gland from oxidative stress.
Of course brazil nuts aren’t the only source of selenium. Alfalfa, broccoli, butter, eggs, fish, garlic, onion, turnips and seafood are also fantastic sources, however throwing 5 or 6 raw, unsalted brazil nuts in your mouth is an easy way to increase your intake whilst providing your body with other minerals and healthy fats.
You don’t need to be an expert in nutrition to know that starving yourself is never a good idea. One of the many problems with crash diets and fasting regimes is that they are extremely bad for your thyroid. When you dramatically lower your calorie intake or deprive your body of sustenance for certain periods of time, you are in fact signalling to your body and indeed your thyroid that you are experiencing famine and it will do everything it can to help you survive. One of its survival mechanisms is for the thyroid to release a hormone call reverse T3 which acts to slow your metabolism. If you are starving to death in the middle of the desert, this may come in handy, however if you are trying to lose weight – not so much.
The key to health is to eat plenty of nutrient dense foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables, healthy, lean sources of protein, both animal and vegetable sources, drink plenty of water and lower your intake of refined sugars, junk food, sugary drinks and get plenty of rest!
There are nutritionists on both sides of the fence when it comes to soy consumption, but one thing that can all agree on is that it, like the brassicas, acts as a goitrogen and blocks the absorption of iodine. You may not consume a lot of soy, and that’s fine but for those of you who consume a lot of soy it may be worth going to your doctor and getting your iodine levels tested and supplementing if necessary. As mentioned earlier in the article, iodine is a crucial element in optimal thyroid health and something as small as an iodine deficiency can cause enormous problems for your thyroid.
Gluten may not be a problem for everyone but intolerances and allergies to it are on the rise. There is a lot of evidence to show that autoimmune thyroid disorders are linked with gluten intolerance. It is said that the protein portion of gluten is molecularly similar to that of the thyroid and when our body absorbs it into the blood stream our immune system signals for it to be destroyed. The body then mistakes the thyroid for this tagged protein and then attacks the thyroid.
Complete elimination of gluten from your diet is important if you have an autoimmune thyroid disorder such as Hashimotos or Graves’ disease.
Your excuse to eat strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and colourful vegetables until they’re coming out your nose! Anti-oxidants are well known to help lower the signs of ageing and fight degenerative disease but they’re also fantastic for your thyroid, especially if you have an autoimmune thyroid disorder.
The thyroid is very susceptible to oxidative stress and so protecting the integrity of the thyroid cells is vital. Consuming a rainbow of fruit and vegetables daily will ensure you are getting a lot of antioxidants as well as B vitamins which will help to protect your precious thyroid and ensure proper hormone balance.
Thanks Kellie for those amazing tips! To find out more about Kellie and for more information on Thyroid health, you can visit Kellie’s website.