I am often asked, "What can I do naturally to increase the function of my thyroid?" An under active thyroid system is a common health problem, causing symptoms such as low energy, weight gain, hair loss and depression. The good news is there is plenty you can do naturally.
1 in 10 women, over the age of 50, suffers from this condition so you may want to forward this blog post to any friend in your life who matches the symptoms. More than 10 million American people suffer from at least one health problem that has direct connection to thyroid issues. A thyroid dysfunction can prove to be dangerous if not treated.
The thyroid hormone is produced by hypothalamus, pituitary glands and the thyroid gland which is situated just below the larynx. The thyroid gland is a key component of the endocrine system and its basic function to convert iodine from your dietary intake into thyroid hormones. These hormones are essential in regulating your metabolism and even a small variation in the amount that is produced can have a dramatic effect on the body. A low thyroid, also referred as hypothyroidism, is due to the low production of the thyroid hormones.
Symptoms of Low Thyroid Levels :
Low thyroid levels are caused when the thyroid glands produce less hormone than is require to keep the body in balance. This is also referred as an 'under-active' thyroid. Both men and women can suffer from low thyroid levels. There are many symptoms of hypothyroidism. Some of them include:
* Weakness and fatigue
* Immune system problems
* Dry skin
* Poor memory or dementia
* Cold hands and feet
* Heavy menstrual periods in women
These are the initial symptoms of low thyroid levels that people often tend to ignore. Hypothyroidism is primarily caused by incorrect eating habits so, if you are experiencing one or more of the above symptoms consulting your primary health practitioner.
Low Thyroid Diet :
People dealing with a low thyroid function, will need to follow a thyroid enhancing diet. Foods for low thyroid includes the following:
Protein Rich Foods: Food rich in protein proves very useful when it comes to control weight and thyroid levels. The main reason behind this is that most of the glands are made of protein, so food that is rich in protein must be constitute part of the daily diet.
Foods That Contain Essential Fatty Acids: Essential fatty acids help the body to maintain its hormonal system. Vegetables, especially green and leafy vegetables, as well as almonds, walnuts, lean meat/fish, egg whites and fish oil should be a part of the daily diet.
Iodine Rich Foods: More than 2/3 of the body iodine is secreted in the thyroid gland. Hence iodine deficiency is the most basic reason behind an under active thyroid glands. Food products like sea salt, most fresh fish such as cod and haddock, seaweeds such as kelp and eggs are rich in iodine.
Selenium Rich Foods: Selenium is a great antioxidant with a high amount of essential anti-aging and cancer enzymes. A balanced intake of selenium is important for a healthy immune system. Selenium is present in non-gluttonous grains such as rice, Brazil nuts, walnuts, onions, garlic, soybeans, eggs, chicken, beef, cod and turkey. There are chances of side effects of selenium, if it exceeds 400mg in the body.
Nutrient Dense Foods: Food products that contain vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B6 and vitamin C, are very essential to maintain good hormonal levels. Whole food such as squash, carrots, spinach, egg yolks, figs, broccoli, bok choy etc. are rich sources of these vitamins.
Goitrogens and Thyroid Function:
Goitrogens are naturally-occurring substances that can interfere with function of the thyroid gland in some people. The name Goitogen comes from the term "goiter," which means an enlargement of the thyroid gland. If the thyroid gland is having difficulty making thyroid hormone, it may enlarge as a way of trying to compensate for this inadequate hormone production. "Goitrogens" can interfere with thyroid hormone production.
Foods that contain goitrogens: There are two general categories of foods that have been associated with disrupted thyroid hormone production in humans: soybean-related foods and cruciferous vegetables. In addition, there are a few other foods not included in these categories - such as peaches, strawberries and millet - that also contain goitrogens.
Included in the category of soybean-related foods are soybeans themselves as well as soy extracts, and foods made from soy, including tofu and tempeh. While soy foods share many common ingredients, it is the isoflavones in soy that have been associated with decreased thyroid hormone output. Isoflavones are naturally-occurring substances that belong to the flavonoid family of nutrients. Flavonoids, found in virtually all plants, are pigments that give plants their amazing array of colors. Most research studies in the health sciences have focused on the beneficial properties of flavonoids, and these naturally-occurring phytonutrients have repeatedly been shown to be highly health-supportive.
The link between isoflavones and decreased thyroid function is, in fact, one of the few areas in which flavonoid intake has called into question as problematic. Isoflavones like genistein appear to reduce thyroid hormone output by blocking activity of an enzyme called thyroid peroxidase. This enzyme is responsible for adding iodine onto the thyroid hormones. (Thyroid hormones must typically have three or four iodine atoms added on to their structure in order to function properly.)
A second category of foods associated with disrupted thyroid hormone production is the cruciferous food family. Foods belonging to this family are called "crucifers," and include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, mustard, rutabagas, kohlrabi, and turnips. Isothiocyanates are the category of substances in crucifers that have been associated with decreased thyroid function. Like the isoflavones, isothiocyanates appear to reduce thyroid function by blocking thyroid peroxidase, and also by disrupting messages that are sent across the membranes of thyroid cells. Cruciferous vegetables include, Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale, Kohlrabi, Mustard, Rutabaga and Turnips.
If you do not have a thyroid issue, there is no evidence to suggest that goitrogenic foods will negatively impact your health. In fact there is much evidence to show that cruciferous vegetables are associated with decreased risk of diseases. Considering the benefits, a moderate amount of cruciferous vegetables can be included in the thyroid diet once the hormone level is balanced. Cooking cruciferous vegetables can inactivate the goitrogenic compounds as the isothiocyanates appear to be heat-sensitive.