Your doctor may not have mentioned it, but your diet is the most important thing when it comes to a healthy functioning thyroid (stress and genetics come a close second). If you want a healthy thyroid, and the faster metabolism that comes with it, then it’s time to make sure you’re eating the right foods…
First and foremost, if you are crash dieting, it’s time to stop!
It’s an easy trap to fall into – if you have an underactive thyroid (hypothyroid) or Hashimoto’s disease you’ve probably noticed that your metabolism is slower, and it’s easier to gain weight. By restricting food intake, that weight gain will slow down, right?
Crash dieting (eating less calories per day than your body requires, in an attempt to lose large amounts of weight in a short period of time) does nothing long-term other than further slow your metabolism.
Whether you choose a meal replacement plan with shakes instead of meals, or you choose to skip meals entirely, by restricting your calorie intake you will also be restricting your nutrient intake and thereby starving your thyroid of the nutrients it needs to function. Even worse, if you managed to lose some weight during the crash diet then you’ll find it all piles back on when you start eating again.
Eating a diet rich in naturally wholesome fruits, vegetables, organic lean meats, oily fish, nuts, seeds, and healthy oils such as olive oil and coconut oil will definitely be better for you and your thyroid than any crash diet.
OK, now that’s out of the way, here are 4 foods to eat that work to boost your thyroid function without increasing your thyroid medication:
1. Brazil nuts
Eating just three brazil nuts a day will provide you with more than your recommended daily intake of selenium.
Selenium is required for the conversion of the inactive thyroid hormone (T4) into the active form (T3). Inactive T4 is not used by the cells of your body – it’s the active T3 that is needed. If you’re not converting T4 to T3, your cells are not going to receive the thyroid hormones they require, and your metabolism will slow down. Getting enough selenium is especially important if you’re taking thyroid medications such as Levothyroxine, as they only contain the inactive T4.
Chop those brazil nuts up and sprinkle them over some live yoghurt, or eat them whole as a snack (but perhaps don’t choose the chocolate coated ones!). However you choose to eat them – enjoy them and know they’re doing you good!
An egg-cellent (sorry!) source of selenium, but that’s not all… Eggs also provide an array of B vitamins including B12 which will help to improve your energy levels, and they provide the amino acid tyrosine which is essential for thyroid function.
Whether you prefer your eggs scrambled, boiled, poached or baked, make sure you’re having one every day. And always eat both the yolk and the white – it’s a myth that the egg yolk will increase cholesterol levels, and not eating the yolk would be nothing more than a waste of nutrients!
The manufacture of thyroid hormones requires substantial amounts of iodine. And the best source of iodine is the sea. Eating fish at least twice a week provides the thyroid with the iodine it requires to function.
Fish is also rich in omega 3, an anti-inflammatory fat that many of us need more of. If you’ve got Hashimoto’s disease, this is especially important as research is showing anti-inflammatory foods can improve auto-immune diseases.
If you’re in the “fish is too fishy” group, it’s time to learn to love fish. Find a recipe that you can stomach and start eating fish twice a week – there are some great suggestions here.
4. Sea Vegetables
If you really can’t bring yourself to enjoy fish, then sea vegetables (otherwise known as seaweed!) are your next best choice for iodine.
From nori wraps on sushi, crushed seaweed that you can sprinkle over your salad or soups (sometimes called Furikake), and even noodles made from kelp, there are many forms of sea vegetables that you can find in your health food store. Larger supermarkets are also stocking many varieties of seaweed, so be sure to look next time you go shopping!