Boost Your Metabolism: 7 Foods to Nourish and Support the Thyroid
The thyroid regulates your body temperature, your metabolism and is a major part of the endocrine system, regulating hormones too. Those are not the only things your thyroid does, but we'll focus on those things today.
When your body does not produce or convert enough thyroid hormones, you will end up having hypothyroidism. Women are 5-8 times more likely to develop a thyroid condition than men, and that condition is more likely to be hypothyroidism. So that is the most prevalent thyroid problem, and that is we'll focus on in this post. About 60 million have thyroid conditions with about 60% unaware of the condition.
1 in 8 women will develop a thyroid condition in her lifetime. All these stats come from the American Thyroid Association.
For those that are unaware, they are probably complaining of low energy, weight gain, lethargy, muscle weakness, dry skin and hair, puffy face, sensitivity to cold, irritability, slow heart rate, low libido, and constipation. And many times, the very worst of the symptoms: depression.
There is also Hashimoto's, which is the autoimmune version of hypothyroidism. That condition is a disease more likely to develop later in life.
This all sounds like stuff that could possibly hold you up in life. Keep you performing at low levels and just barely getting by. Surviving instead of thriving kind of situation. It seems like it would be a block to living a full, beautiful life. It seems like this kind of condition would hold us back, keep us away from the abundant life we seek to live.
No, thank you. We are here to experience all that we can, to serve and to be our highest and brightest. We will now learn how to prevent and nutritionally heal from hypothyroidism.
So we will work on stimulating the thyroid, on keeping it healthy and supported. But first, we need to learn a little bit about how the thyroid works.
How the Thyroid Does Its Thang:
First off, the thyroid is a gland that makes and secretes hormones. These hormones are responsible for the metabolism of all the cells of the body. Plus, as all hormones interact with other hormones, the whole hormone balance of your body is affected by the thyroid.
It starts with the hypothalamus, which is a part of your brain. The hypothalamus is prompted by the body to start the whole process by creating a hormone called TRH (TSH releasing hormone) and then this communicates to the pituitary gland (also in your brain) to create TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone), which in turn stimulates the thyroid to make T4 and T3, hormones made using iodine (which absorbed by the thyroid) and also an amino acid called tyrosine. When enough T3 and T4 have been produced, the pituitary gland stops making TSH.
THEN T4 gets converted into T3, which is the active hormone that goes around regulating the heat and energy use and metabolism of all the cells of your body.
Got it? Nice. So we'll need the nutrients from our food to keep the thyroid in tip-top shape.
So let's name a few nutrients that might be needed to stimulate (and nourish) the thyroid and why they are needed to prevent an underperforming thyroid.
A Few Nutrients to Prevent Hypothyroidism and Support the Thyroid:
Thyroid hormones are made from iodine and the amino acid tyrosine. Too much iodine can inhibit hormone synthesis so it is not recommended to supplement. Table salt is packed with iodine so this may actually be prohibiting hormone synthesis. Also table salt is full of fillers and too much chemical processing, all of which may be hurting the body, and the overabundance of iodine in iodized salt can cause overdose of iodine. You only need 150 mcg.
Along with zinc and copper, this mineral antioxidant is a cofactor for the conversion of T4 to T3. Also brown rice, salmon, eggs, garlic, barley and pork loin.
Zinc is necessary for conversion of T4 to T3. It is a cofactor for the enzyme that converts the preliminary T4 to the active T3 in the thyroid.
Works with zinc and selenium. Nuts are the place to go for this nutrient. Outside of that family: split peas, buckwheat, sunflower oil, barley, coconut, garlic, millet, molasses.
- B vitamins:
Necessary not only for energy production and metabolism, but B vitamins are necessary for many functions of the body, especially thyroid synthesis (B2, B3, B6 ). It’s always a good idea to supplement a B-complex during times of stress.
- Vitamin E:
Together with Vitamin A, zinc, and iodine, this vitamin helps to manufacture the thyroid hormone. A deficiency reduces the amount of thyroid hormones produced.
- Vitamin A:
Works with E, zinc and iodine for hormone production. Antioxidants have been shown to improve thyroid function.
Before we move on, here are some foods that are goitrogens. As in, these foods can help to generate a goiter. Goitrogens disrupt the intake of iodine by the thyroid so they mess up thyroid hormone production:
- Any vegetable in the brassica family: cabbage, broccoli, greens, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, kale, radishes, rutabagas, spinach
- Pine nuts
And now, without further ado:
7 Foods to Boost Metabolism + Nourish & Support the Thyroid
These foods are specifically to prevent and relieve someone from hypothyroidism. People suffering from hyperthyroidism will have quite the opposite instruction.
Kelp, nori, dulse, hijiki, etc. You can cook with these or even season with them. I found kelp flakes that we used instead of salt in the right dishes for a while. Was wonderful for seasoning fish, soups and salads. Nice and salty, a lovely taste.
Seaweeds and actually anything from the sea, including fish and shellfish is wonderful for your iodine intake.
2. Brazil nuts:
These are the big bad nuts you might have thrown away instead of eating because, let's face it, they are not the best in the mixed nuts bunch. But now you will know what a crime that is because they are so high selenium that just one nut can offer your whole day's worth of selenium.
As a bonus, they also have a great amount of copper! So next time you're into those delicious mixed nuts, skip the peanuts (goitrogenic) and go for the Brazil nuts instead.
3. Sunflower seeds:
Awesome for replacing goitrogenic pine nuts. Sunflower seeds not only have copper, they have an awesome amount of vitamin E. They also have B6 so we're covering a lot of bases with this food.
I can't write a healthy food list without including avocados, ever. They also have a great amount of vitamin E, plus a good amount of copper. AND vitamin A to boot! (Plus, a fabulous amount of fiber for digestion which always helps everything).
5. Pumpkin seeds:
Zinc AND copper, plus Omega-3 fatty acids in the form of ALA, wonderful for the brain and reducing inflammation.
Salmon not only provides Bs like B12, biotin and choline but it can also provide you with the recommended daily intake of iodine too. And omega-3 fatty acids in the form of DHA, which can be the ultimate product of the fatty acid chain and is directly related to brain health and cognitive functions.
Oh and it has a nice amount of copper and zinc! Plus vitamin D which is just awesome for everything really (but especially awesome for the immune system).
Vitamin A galore plus a B vitamin in the form of biotin. Also just an amazing abundance of minerals and vitamins that it offers as a sweet root vegetable.
If after eating these foods you need further nutrient support, get educated about careful and natural supplementation for an under-active thyroid.
Comment below if you know some other foods that could support the thyroid (the list could go on)... or if you are going through a thyroid issue, and you know what has been helping and what wasn't.
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