The thyroid is an amazing and powerful organ that plays a critical role in making sure the body is functioning properly. One of its tasks is to release hormones that control your metabolism, or the number of calories you burn on a daily basis. This makes the thyroid an important organ to consider with changes in weight, loss or gain.
To promote healthy thyroid function, there are a few key nutrients to include or omit in your diet.
Thyroid hormone is directly made from this key nutrient. In fact, iodine is used only in the thyroid gland, and no where else in the body. Worldwide, iodine deficiency is the main cause of a dysfunctional thyroid, but in America, iodized salt has helped make iodine deficiencies less common. Adequate iodine is particularly important in pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Beyond using a quality iodized sea salt, fish, dairy, and grains are other sources of iodine. Sea vegetables are also a good source. As a salt alternative, try putting some powdered kelp in a salt shaker and shaking that on your food for flavor instead. Iodine should only be supplemented in these forms. Too much iodine (as encouraged all over the internet these days!) will harm thyroid function. This is a strong case of just because a little is good, more is definitely not better!
Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid, or building block of protein. Along with iodine, tyrosine is needed to make thyroid hormone. Because of interactions with certain medications, tyrosine supplements are not recommended unless instructed by your doctor. Instead, be sure to include tyrosine containing protein foods such as chicken, turkey, fish, egg whites, cooked mustard greens, and cottage cheese in your diet regularly.
Selenium is found at its highest concentration in the thyroid as it is a necessary part of enzymes that promote proper thyroid function. Luckily, it’s easy to get your daily dose of selenium by eating one brazil nut a day—have one along side any other supplements you might be taking. Other foods like tuna, crab, and lobster also provide selenium.
Gluten and Casein
If you have Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune thyroid condition, you definitely want to eliminate gluten and casein (a protein found in milk) from your diet and take measures to heal your gut.
This is because a leaky gut combined with eating these foods allows for portions of them to enter the bloodstream, when they normally wouldn’t be able to. Once in the bloodstream, the immune system attacks the components of gluten and casein, but since they appear similar to thyroid tissue, it gets attacked too, ultimately resulting in an underactive thyroid (hypothyroid).
In addition to eating a healthy, well rounded diet, you may want to consider taking a high quality multivitamin that includes iodine, selenium, zinc, vitamin D, and B vitamins, all of which play a role in healthy thyroid function.
Learn more about the labs you need to evaluate your thyroid, and the 'functional' ranges that are more ideal for many of us in this article.