Just as certain foods can provoke thyroid problems, certain foods can provide thyroid support. Paleo is actually a prefect lifestyle for supporting the thyroid because it removes the inflammatory foods that can create a cycle of stress on the digestive system, which is where many experts believe is the starting point for an immune breakdown. Up to 90% of all thyroid problems are autoimmune in nature but conventional medicine does not test for thyroid anti-bodies because it does not change the current available treatment. When rebuilding health it is important to look at the whole body and nourish it from the inside out with the most nutrient dense foods on earth, which well formulated Paleo plans easily provide.
Your thyroid gland plays a big role: it produces and releases the hormones responsible for regulating your metabolism, body temperature, energy level and mood. In some cases, however, its function is disrupted and too much or too little of the hormones is generated. When this happens, you might end up constantly feeling tired and too hot or cold, and inexplicably losing or gaining weight.
When I was first diagnosed with thyroid problems I was doing everything wrong diet wise! I was eating low fat packaged food, loading up on tofu daily and drinking diet soda like it was going out of style. What I didn’t realize was that yo-yo dieting was killing my thyroid and only when I started to eat wild fish, grass fed beef, and lots of organic vegetables that I started to feel better.
The good news is you can manage the symptoms if they surface or stop the problem from occurring in the first place with the right food choices. Of course medication may be required as well but it is not the end of the story if you want to feel better. Do not hesitate to see an integrative physician while loading up on the following foods:
Top Healthy Foods for Hypothyroidism Support
Iodine Rich Foods
Iodine is key to ensuring proper thyroid function. But your body can’t produce this mineral on its own, so you need to consume enough iodine to keep your thyroid healthy.Goiter used to a be a common cause of thyroid dysfunction but in North America it has been overtaken by autoimmune thyroid disease so make sure to see a doctor to figure out which type you have.
If you already have goiter, a swelling of the neck resulting from enlargement of the thyroid gland that is not functioning properly, boosting your iodine intake can certainly help. In fact, did you know that when iodized salt was first introduced, it was a countermeasure for the growing number of goiter cases at the time?
Adding iodized sea salt to your food or as you prepare meals won’t suffice though. You still need to consume iodine-rich foods. Edible seaweed such as kelp is one of your best options, as one cup has 47,000 mcg of iodine. The seasoned version is perfect for snack time, although you can always add this to broths or soups and salads.
Cranberries are great too. Prepare a yummy smoothie from half a cup of cranberries and you instantly get 400 mcg of iodine.
Then you have eggs, wild-caught salmon and sardines, which are not just high in iodine but also help maintain thyroid hormone balance. Also on the to-eat list: cow’s milk, fennel, Jerusalem artichokes and raisins.
But while more iodine from food can help resolve certain thyroid problems. Be careful with iodine supplementation because it can make things worse for those with an autoimmune thyroid condition. That’s why it pays to consult your doctor first before you switch to an iodine-enriched diet to figure out if you have an Hashimoto’s or Graves disease (which tests to get here).
Foods High in Tyrosine
Tyrosine works in tandem with iodine to support thyroid function. No wonder having low levels of this amino acid is said to be among the culprits of hypothyroidism.
It’s easy to find tyrosine-rich foods. All high-protein sources contain plenty of tyrosine. Not all of them, however, are good for your thyroid. Peanuts, soybeans and wheat, for instance, may inhibit and inflame your thyroid.
So which foods are considered thyroid-safe? Go for bananas, avocados, pumpkin seeds, almonds, eggs, grass fed dairy products, chicken, turkey, beef and fish. The animal-based sources of the bunch also contain lots of selenium and Vitamin B12, both essential to thyroid health. Sardines and other types of oily cold-water fish get extra points because they’re rich in anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids, which help shrink goiters and reduce inflammation.
If you’re big on veggies, getting your fill of colorful leafy and crunchy vegetables will help manage thyroid issues by preventing damage brought about by free radicals. Most also contain high levels of sodium, potassium and other electrolytes, which facilitate the flow of fluid in tissues and glands.
In addition, Vitamin C foods such as berries, red peppers, broccoli and sweet potatoes can be key in enhancing thyroid function by lowering coritsol, a stress hormone that in excess can contribute to thyroid dysfunction.
Polyphenol-rich celery and leeks also help in protecting the gland. Riboflavin-rich mushrooms can assist in ensuring normal hormone production and selenium-rich tomatoes can help in hormone balancing.
Other excellent choices for thyroid are squash, cucumber, peas, green beans, asparagus, celery, carrots, eggplant and zucchini. Be aware of your tolerance of nightshade vegetables if you are have autoimmune thyroid issues.
Vitamin C can help with estrogen dominance which a common problem with women eating a standard American diet. Include cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower in your meal plans to support slimming progesterone production. Just don’t forget to boil or steam cruciferous in order to reduce the amount of goitrogens—compounds that interfere with thyroid hormone production—they contain.
As with vegetables, most fruits are packed with antioxidants that help keep the thyroid healthy. Your best bets include apples, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, which protect the thyroid gland thanks to their high polyphenol content. Cherries, grapes, kiwis and pineapples are packed with Vitamin C, which is helpful in improving thyroid function, while bananas are a great source of Vitamin B6, which is essential to optimum hormone production.
Mangoes, pomegranates, guavas, apricots and papayas can also do wonders for your thyroid. Dates and prunes are good options too, as long as you only eat them in small amounts to reduce the blood sugar impact.
Vegetables and fruits are not the only rich sources of micro-nutrients. Organ meats can even more, nutrient-dense making them a true superfood. Liver, in particular, is loaded with vitamins and minerals that support the thyroid gland. Among them are Vitamins A, B6 and B12, iron, zinc, copper, folate, phosphate and selenium.
Liver is also critical to the egg-free Paleo diet of those with autoimmune conditions (AIP), as it provides the nourishment that they would normally get from eggs. Sautéing it with onions is a common practice, but you can also incorporate liver in meatballs and hamburgers or use it to make pâté, if you’d like to disguise or tone down its flavor.
Your thyroid will benefit from herbs as well, as many of these help boost your metabolism. So when you can, use bayberry, black pepper, black cohosh, garlic, chilies, cinnamon, ginger, peppermint, rosemary and turmeric in the meals you whip up.
Basil is also recommended for its rich iodine content, parsley for its high levels of polyphenol, and cilantro which can support the body in reducing heavy metal residue that could put the thyroid at risk.
While olive oil is a thyroid-friendly source of fats, coconut oil wins favor because it naturally stimulates the thyroid glands and helps counter the symptoms of autoimmune thyroid conditions like Hashimoto’s. You can boost your daily intake by cooking with coconut oil more often and adding it to your tea. Grass fed ghee is also a great source of Vitamin A and D that promote thyroid and immune system health.
Dietary factors affect thyroid function both ways, so review your Paleo diet plan to make sure you’re not only eating a balanced meal but also supporting—not harming—your thyroid.
Wanting to get started on healing your thyroid, gut health and immune system?
Check out this great plan gluten free Thyroid plan here.
Other helpful Thyroid posts from Grass Fed Girl:
- 5 Things Your Doctor Won’t Tell You About Your Thyroid
- Top 10 Nutritional Tips to Support Underactive Thyroid Problems
- 10 Habits that Contributed to My Hypothyroidism
- 7 Things I Learned on my Thyroid Disease Journey
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