One in 20 people in the UK suffer from thyroid disorders, according to the British Thyroid Foundation. The most common thyroid condition is hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid. During October, the Menopause Woman page on Thyroid and Menopause received over 30,000 visits from our readers looking for information on under active thyroid or low thyroid.
To help you make food choices to improve your thyroid health see the Thyroid infographic below. The Thyroid Food Swap infographic walks you through some of the foods to avoid and replaces them with foods to strengthen thyroid function. It includes causes of low thyroid, common symptoms and the vital hormone connection that many women in the forties are not aware of. If you are looking to strengthen thyroid function, keep on reading.
Thyroid Food Swap
Is it my thyroid or the perimenopause?
Life events such as childbirth and menopause can influence the balance of female hormones which put women at a higher rate of thyroid disorders than men. Women in their forties tend to be more affected than their male counterparts and, in fact, many midlife cases of hypothyroidism can be due to oestrogen dominance. Numerous cases of hypothyroidism can go undetected and untreated, as many doctors and women may be unaware of the hormonal connection and thyroid function in perimenopause/menopause.
Dr Dzugan is always telling me that thyroid dysfunction or imbalance is commonplace in many of DzLogic’s patients and US research shows around 25 percent of women in or near perimenopause are diagnosed with this condition.
So, is there such a thing as a Thyroid Diet?
Whilst there isn’t such a thing as a ‘Thyroid Diet’, there are foods that can damage or strengthen the thyroid gland, together with general hormone production. The thyroid needs certain vitamins and minerals that are accessible in many foods. A healthy diet of real foods consisting of a plant-based, whole-food regime, provides active nutrients which help to protect the thyroid.
Why certain minerals and vitamins matter
When we are deficient in certain minerals and vitamins, such as vitamin C, B-complex, zinc, selenium, and iodine, the thyroid cannot function at optimal. This is when we see weight gain, become more subject to insulin resistance, and suffer from a myriad of other symptoms; foggy thinking, brittle nails, joint pain, allergies, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibrocystic breast disease (noncancerous changes in the breast tissue), hair loss, decreased sex drive, to name a few.
Without iodine the thyroid just doesn’t work!
The majority of people are deficient in iodine in fact, nearly 72 percent of the world’s population. We need trace amounts of iodine in all of our hormone receptors for our hormones to work correctly – good thyroid function is vital to hormone balance. Without iodine the thyroid just doesn’t work!
Using iodized salt isn’t sufficient to remedy this deficiency. The use of iodine that was once added to foods, greatly helped to reduce the incidence of goiter, or abnormally enlarged thyroid gland. Nevertheless, in the 1960s the use of iodine in bread was discontinued, largely because it was thought to be bad for you, and so replaced by bromium.
The problem with Bromium
Bromium is now found in such things as bread, vegetable oils, energy and fruit drinks and many other products. Bromium can actually dislodge iodine in a healthy thyroid, provoking it to dysfunction, going on to cause hypothyroidism. Today, processed and convenience foods present a significant problem because they are so deplete of important nutrients that help maintain a fully functioning and healthy thyroid and body. Continual consumption over the years of these ‘nutritionless foods’, will affect thyroid function and slow it down.
Keep away from these non-nutritional foods – eat real food!
The problem with fluoride
Another thing, fluoride in our waters and toothpaste block iodine binding. Drink filtered water and buy fluoride-free toothpaste! And apart from that, high fluoride levels have been linked to various negative health effects; impaired brain development which include lower IQ in children, weaker bones and more fractures, genetic damage and cell death, an increased tumor and cancer rate, and damaged sperm and increased infertility.
Thyroid friendly foods
Hormone friendly foods include organic, wild or free-range proteins, such as salmon, chicken, eggs, and beef. Other sources are raw nuts and seeds, and fresh fruit, along with pure, cold-pressed organic oils, including borage oil, olive oil, sesame oils. And importantly, organic green vegetable helps boost thyroid function.
What about soy?
Consuming organic soy foods such as fermented soy sauce, fermented soy yoghurts and miso, in small quantities, are also hormone friendly foods. However, you should avoid all regular soy foods that contain genistein, which ultimately decrease iodine absorption.