So what can be done to help boost an underactive thyroid?
First of all, cut out the processed food. OK, you say, but Gabriela, you would tell me to do that anyway.
Yes, you’re right. And your thyroid is one more great reason to do so…
But what else is there?
Last week, I gave a bunch of yoga teachers-in-training a talk about nutrition during pregnancy. Of course the question of soy came up and I had to admit that although some of my closest friends are soy-lovers, I personally consider it devil’s food.
Simply put: soy messes with your hormones.
Your thyroid is all about the hormones.
I’ll let you connect the dots.
If you have to have it, try and stick to the fermented kind like miso or tempeh.
Other foods that can inhibit a properly functioning thyroid include brassica vegetables like bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, collards, mustard greens, tatsoi and turnips. And other goitrogens: peanuts, millet, strawberries, pears, peaches, spinach, sweet potatoes.
The good news, however, is that cooking most of the vegetables above will lower their harmful effects.
Lastly, fluoride is a nasty little bastard that acts more or less like a poison on the thyroid. If you drink tap water or use a tabletop filter, chances are you’re ingesting way more fluoride than you think.
And I have to say this: caffeine has been said to act as a thyroid suppressant… So much for that morning java boost!
But what am I going to eat??? And how am I going to brush my teeth?
OK, OK, don’t have a cow!
Do I go through life without broccoli, kale or sweet potatoes? Not a chance! Moderation, dear Watson. Ask yourself: Is that food worth it? Do I really want it? Will it make me feel good? These are constructive questions to ask anyway, but keeping your thyroid in mind offers one more incentive.
If you’ve ever woken up the morning after a “good” / “healthy” meal and wondered why you feel like you’ve been hit by a fast-moving bus, maybe it’s time to check the ingredients of your dinner, as well as get a blood test to get your thyroid levels checked.
But rest assured, it’s not all bad news: micronutrients like selenium (found in Brazil nuts), magnesium (chocolate has the highest levels of magnesium of any food, but you can also try nuts, legumes, and cumin) and zinc (good sources are sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and chocolate; and for the omnivores, try oysters and lamb) are beneficial to the thyroid. Also, sea vegetables – and especially kelp -- provide iodine, which is necessary for proper thyroid function. And coconut oil is widely used to boost thyroid levels as well as metabolism.
As for my own thyroid? Since removing the PUFAs from my diet (you can read more about this in thyroid part 1), I have seen a remarkable boost in my energy levels and what I affectionately called my post pregnancy camel hump has massively decreased. What never ceases to amaze me is how quickly I feel the effects of every food decision – the good ones as well as the bad.
P.S. Of course there is one more thing you can do to help an underactive thyroid ... Exercise. But I'm sure you knew that already.