Believe it or not, your gut health plays a critical role in thyroid function. This small gland is located in the front of your neck, converting iodine into thyroid hormones. Your thyroid makes two hormones: T3 and T4. These hormones regulate digestion, increase metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, and even support brain function. Read more about the thyroid gland.
Hypothyroidism occurs when your thyroid hormones are too low. This is the most common hormonal imbalance seen in women in the United States. It results in fatigue, weight gain, brain fog, dry skin, cold sensitivity, irregular periods, neck discomfort, thin, brittle hair, and muscle aches.
When your microbiome is unbalanced, bad bacteria can leak out of your intestines into the body → resulting in an inflammatory response. A prolonged and heightened inflammatory state causes the body to attack its own tissues. This is called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and it is the number one cause of low thyroid in America. This widespread and long-lasting inflammation also stimulates the adrenal glands to produce the stress hormone cortisol. Over time, too much cortisol can suppress thyroid function → less thyroid hormones are produced and used appropriately by the body. Stuck in a hypothyroid rut? Here’s what you can eat to improve thyroid function:
Nuts are a great source of selenium, which helps the thyroid to function properly. And, people who consume higher amounts of selenium are less likely to develop thyroid problems, reducing the risk of long-term damage to the thyroid gland.
The omega-3 fatty acids found in wild-caught fish (like salmon, cod and haddock) are known to decrease inflammation, a common cause of thyroid dysfunction. Fish is also a great source of dietary iodine, which is essential for making thyroid hormones.
Berries are tiny superfoods packed with antioxidants. People with hypothyroidism have higher levels of harmful free radicals, and antioxidants help to fight off their negative effects
Chicken and Beef
Your thyroid also needs enough zinc to work properly. A diet too little in zinc can lead to hypothyroidism. Meats provide a hefty dose of zinc while keeping you filled up with protein.
Milk and Yogurt
Much of the iodine in the average American diet comes from dairy products. With just one cup of low fat milk, you’ll consume a third of your daily iodine needs. Yogurt is another great option as it contains healthy probiotics, protein and a healthy dose of Vitamin D. Remember – if you’re on thyroid medication, take on an empty stomach. Drinking milk simultaneously with thyroid supplementation may inhibit effectiveness of your medication.
What foods are the worst?
I’m guessing you already know this one, but try to stay away from fast foods. Fast food restaurants are not required to use iodized salt in their foods. So if you’re thinking about upping your iodine intake with this salty cuisine, think again. You’ll end up consuming too much sodium, which will set you up for high blood pressure and heart disease.
Although hypothyroidism is a disorder that arrises from a multitude of factors – genetics, environment toxins, autoimmune dysregulation – your diet is one factor that you have complete control over! Add some of these foods to keep your thyroid in tip-top shape.