Our thyroid is part of our endocrine system. The endocrine system is responsible for producing the hormones in the body that carry out important bodily functions. The thyroid regulates everything from our mood, our weight, our body temperature, metabolism, and even digestion. It is essential to health in the human body and constantly changing and adapting to the environment we impose upon it. “It acts as a modulator but is also very susceptible to our actions and as a result, it can become out of balance quickly.”*
It’s estimated the 30 million people suffer from thyroid issues like hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid, and hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid. Hypothyroidism is most common, usually occurring in women causing weight gain, depression, anxiety, slow metabolism, digestive disorders, joint pain, headaches and more. “It often leads to autoimmune disease disorders known as Hashimoto’s and Graves disease due to the way the thyroid affects all major parts of the body.”*
The reasons for these thyroid problems can be hard to pinpoint as the thyroid is very sensitive to changes in the body and these changes can quickly cause an imbalance. We do know that these things have a direct impact on thyroid imbalance: a poor diet, too much or too little exercise, consistent stress, trauma, a food allergy, lack of rest, metabolic disorders, other hormone disorders, medication and birth control pills, and so many other things.
One of the main nutrient needed by thyroid is iodine; although, too much iodine will cause hypothyroidism. Assuming taking a supplement will supply you with necessary iodine, is not a good solution. Fish contain iodine; however, they are not a healthy source. Fish have high amounts of mercury and other pollutants making them an unsafe food. We can go directly to the source where fish get there iodine: blue green algae. Blue green algae are excellent sources of iodine and omega’s. In conjunction with a well-balanced diet a person would be able to get proper amounts of iodine. Another good source of iodine is unrefined pink sea salt “from the earth and also contains other alkaline minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and sodium your metabolism needs to function at its best. Too little quality sodium and too much refined sodium can lead to blood pressure problems, metabolic disorders, and also thyroid disorders. Skip iodized (highly refined) processed salts and use real salt from the earth instead.”*
B vitamins are essential to optimal health assisting in metabolism, energy, digestion, mood health and thyroid health. B vitamins are found abundantly in plant foods, with one exception. Vitamin B12 is produced by bacteria found in dirt and soil. In our germ-obsessed society we are not exposed those bacteria and the vitamin B12; therefore, we need to supplement. Find a quality B12 supplement, preferably a liquid form that can be absorbed quickly and efficiently. You can find some here.
The essential vitamin is produced by our bodies when exposed to sunlight on bare skin. The problem is that most people don’t spend enough time outdoors or live in a part of the world where the sun does not offer enough exposure to allow for proper Vitamin D production. Supplementation is important for most people and especially those suffering from a thyroid condition. “Vitamin D acts as a hormone in the body; it plays a part in your mood, digestive, bone, blood, heart, and thyroid health. A shortage of vitamin D can lead to bone loss, digestion problems, depression or just general sadness, and fatigue.”* Fortified foods do not offer the best source of Vitamin D as most are fortified with D2 and the best source is Vitamin D3. Be sure to choose a D3 supplement that is plant-based (some are made with sheep lanolin). Here is a quality Vitamin D3 supplement.
This nutrient is great for skin and hair, but also boosts health promoting benefits like boosts the immune system, promotes prostate health, increases fertility, boosts metabolism and protects the thyroid. “It’s primarily found and stored in the thyroid gland where it’s used to assist with the enzymatic breakdown of the thyroid hormones so they can be used by their body.”* This nutrient is super easy to obtain with just one brazil nut a day, which contains 100% of your daily needs! The great part about these nuts is that they not only give you tons of selenium, but they have been shown to lower cholesterol better than the leading prescription drug AND they contain lots of fiber and healthy fats to protect the thyroid.
A well-balanced diet filled with good nutrition is essential to thyroid health. Greens offer an excellent source of protein protecting thyroid health. Adding more greens to your diet is one of the most important things you can do to promote overall health.
FOODS TO AVOID
“Excess caffeine, processed food, added and refined sugar, alcohol, and unhealthy fats can all cause problems with the thyroid and prevent optimal absorption of thyroid hormones in the body.” There is a lot of controversy surrounding soy and thyroid health. Dr Greger explains it best here, but soy is a health food. Soy and cruciferous vegetables contain goitrogens. Goitrogens have been shown to prevent the use of thyroid hormones in the body; however, studies have shown that these foods do not seem to have these effects on the thyroid in moderate amounts and those who obtain enough iodine in their diets.
OTHER PROBLEM SOURCES
Have you heard of endocrine disruptors? These are chemical compounds found it products in your environment that are causing insane amounts of damage to our bodies. ”The disruptions occur because such chemicals mimic hormones in your body, including the female sex hormone estrogen, the male sex hormone androgen, and thyroid hormones. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals may block hormonal signals in your body or interfere with the way the hormones or receptors are made or controlled.”** Endocrine disruptors have been linked to ADHD, Hormone issues, Cancer and more. This is not a comprehensive list and I encourage you to do more research on this subject. Personal care products contain large amounts of chemicals and some of those potentially problematic are phthalates, parabens, triclosan (found in toothpaste) and more. Tap water contains large amounts of arsenic, atrazine, and perchlorate which are known endocrine disruptors. Most canned foods are lined with the chemical BPA along with many plastic and paper products. BPA is an endocrine disruptor and carcinogen. Non-stick cookware can also contain BPA and other known endocrine disruptors PFOA and PFAS; look for non-stick cookware free of these toxins. Please investigate this topic further as it is not a commonly known hazard, but avoiding these chemicals is essential to optimal health.
Our thyroid is a very finicky little bugger and needs our help to maintain optimal health. When we strive to eat well, exercise regularly, and avoid unnecessary exposure to toxins we can maintain a body full of health and not have to worry about any one organ, system, or body part in particular. Instead, we can focus on living a happy, healthy life.
Peace, Love, Plants
Jeanmare and Cristy are creators and contributors of the Living Simply Nourished Blog. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee!), find a cozy spot, scroll around, read some stories, find some inspiration, and enjoy!
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