Hypothyroidism and the Foods that Help Heal.

So it’s been a couple of weeks since we’ve talked about the thyroid. You can catch up on what it is and what happens when things go wrong, in previous posts.

Although what you eat may not actually reverse hypothyroidism, getting the nutrients you need can certainly help.

I’m going to start with off with what you shouldn’t eat … gluten. I know “There she goes again with gluten”. Here’s the thing. If you don’t have health issues, gluten isn’t the enemy. Refined carbohydrates which usually contained white sugar, flour (gluten) and preservatives are not good for anybody. Does that mean you can never have another regular muffin, sandwich or cookie? Of course not. However, eaten consistently over a period of time in larger quantities they can actually increase your likelihood of developing leaky gut syndrome. “What the heck is that????” you might ask. Leaky gut is increased intestinal permeability where the tight junctions between the cells lining the small intestine become disrupted. When that happens, it results in lack of absorption of nutrients into the body and can result in deficiencies. When the body doesn’t get enough nutrients, it can become sick.

So what are you supposed to eat if you don’t eat bread and pasta and potatoes? There are so many options! Quinoa (but not couscous), amaranth, buckwheat (no, it’s not wheat based … no idea why they call it buckwheat), gluten-free oats, brown or wild rice, brown rice or lentil (my favourite) pasta are all good “grain alternatives”. There’s meat, poultry, fish, eggs, fruit, vegetables, beans and legumes. Sometimes we just have to think outside the box a bit. Trust me, you won’t go hungry and you will learn to enjoy food once you get rid of your sugar and salt habit which is in most refined carbohydrates.

There is a caveat however. When following a gluten-free lifestyle (note I did not say diet), it means eating naturally gluten free. There are gluten-free alternatives all over the place. Most of them contain too much sugar or other ingredients that can be just as bad … and in some cases worse … than eating gluten. Stay away from packaged foods as much as possible and you’re safe.

If you had seen the way I ate 5 years ago you would cringe. Packaged convenience foods, TONS of white carbs, fast food, sugar, sugar, sugar. I was so unhealthy, fat, lethargic and unhappy. My health coach told me I needed to reduce my circumference. He told me to stay off gluten for 2 weeks. So I did. And within those two weeks I started to feel better. The brain fog started to lift. I started to get some energy back. After 4 weeks I started to feel like “me” again and the longer I stayed off gluten (and it definitely was NOT easy), the better I felt. So I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt. I totally understand if you don’t buy into this, but what do you have to lose? Two weeks. No gluten. See how you feel.

So what are the important nutrients for thyroid health?

Copper – the imbalance of copper to zinc can result in hypothyroidism. It is also critical for eliminating free radicals. The best sources of copper are:

  • calf’s liver
  • grass-fed beef
  • poultry
  • eggs
  • nuts
  • seeds

Zinc – the other side to the copper coin. Also very important for men’s health and immune function. The best sources of zinc are:

  • calf’s liver
  • crimini mushrooms
  • spinach
  • grass-fed beef

Selenium – protects the thyroid from free radicals, which are molecules with odd or unpaired electrons that damage your DNA and accelerate aging. Sources of selenium are:=

  • crimini mushrooms
  • cod
  • shiitake mushrooms
  • shrimp
  • sardines
  • salmon
  • eggs

Vitamin A – critical to thyroid health. You can find Vitamin A in the following:

  • carrots
  • spinach
  • kale
  • parsley
  • bell peppers
  • romaine lettuce

Brassica vegetables are good for estrogen metabolism which is critical, but when eaten raw may decrease thyroid function. Fortunately, cooking them lessens their impact. My recommendation is to eat cooked brassica veggies in moderation. I know, “What are brassica vegetables Sandy?” They are:

  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • brussels sprouts
  • cabbage
  • kale

A word of caution about mercury (and I’m not talking about the one who keeps going into retrograde every few months and messing everything up). Mercury has been known to disrupt thyroid function. My recommendation is to eat low-mercury fish such as herring, sardines and cod and limit tuna consumption. And if you have mercury fillings (unfortunately I still have a few) I would recommend that you have them replaced by a dentist who knows how to properly remove and dispose of the mercury.

So now you know what is great, and no so great, to eat if you’re having an issue with hypothyroidism … even if it’s subclinical and not recognized by your doctor.

Next week we’ll talk about the supplements you can take if a change in diet doesn’t help.

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