Do you feel more tired or sluggish than usual? Are you gaining weight? Is your hair falling out? Is your heartbeat irregular? If you are experiencing these symptoms out of nowhere, chances are that your thyroid is the culprit. Health practitioners may try to diagnose you with something else, when you actually have a thyroid problem.
There are 20 million Americans living with a thyroid disorder. These disorders include hypo- and hyperthyroidism, Graves’ disease, and Hashimoto’s disease. Of those 20 million people, only about 30-40% are aware of their thyroid disorder. An undiagnosed thyroid condition can increase a person’s risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and infertility.
What Your Thyroid Does
While the thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland, the hormone it produces influences every cell, tissue, and organ in the body. The cells in the body depend on the thyroid hormone for metabolic regulation. The hypothalamus in the brain senses that cells need thyroid hormones. The pituitary gland receives that signal and produces thyroid-stimulating hormones (TSH). TSH goes to the thyroid, whereby the thyroid produces T4, which ultimately gets converted into T3. T3 goes to every cell in the body to regulate cell metabolism.
When your cells are getting T3 hormones, you can regulate body temperature, mood, have healthy sleep patterns, regulate bowel movements, and balance your hormones. By that notion, a healthy metabolism is due to a healthy thyroid. So you could say it is important to keep your thyroid healthy.
Nutrients For Thyroid Health
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
All of those nutrients are readily found in whole, plant-based foods. Instead of taking pills or medications, or eating an unhealthy diet, get these nutrients from the foods below to help heal your thyroid. Be sure that you consume these foods in moderation and not excess.
Sea vegetables are rich in iodine, which is one of the most important minerals for a healthy thyroid. The thyroid can get swollen without it. Sea vegetables include nori, kelp, kombu, and wakame. All of these sea vegetables contain protein, vitamin C, zinc, iodine, and vitamin B2.
Maca is a root vegetable that is a staple in Peruvian cuisine. It helps to provide vitality and energy, which is necessary for people with hypothyroidism. Maca helps to stimulate the pituitary gland and hypothalamus. If you have low energy or need more stamina, maca is the nutrient-rich vegetable that you need. Maca contains zinc, vitamin B2, magnesium, and vitamins A & D.
Selenium, which helps with the conversion of T4 to T3, is one of the most important minerals for a healthy thyroid, and Brazil nuts are replete with selenium. Fun fact: Brazil nuts are seeds of the Brazil nut tree. They’re not even nuts! Anyway, don’t eat too many of these in one day. In fact, you only need about 2 per day to maintain healthy selenium levels. Brazil nuts also contain protein, magnesium, vitamin B2, and zinc.
Don’t get your fiber from whole wheat bread or some cereal you saw on a commercial. You can get tons of fiber from fresh vegetables, berries, sprouts, and seeds. Fiber helps smooth out digestion and stabilize blood sugar levels. Since constipation is a common symptom of hypothyroidism, it is recommended to have about 3-5 servings of vegetables for enough fiber. Great sources of fiber include beans, Brussels sprouts, lentils, asparagus, grapefruit, oranges, broccoli, flaxseeds, cooked winter squash, cruciferous green vegetables (kale, chard, or dandelion greens).
These foods are rich in nutrients that your thyroid loves. Fermented foods also help to promote healthy digestion because they full of probiotics. Gut health is important for a healthy immune system, and Graves’ and Hashimoto’s are both autoimmune thyroid disorders. Keep your gut and immune system healthy by eating fermented vegetables, kombucha, kefir, and sauerkraut.