Subclinical hypothyroidism is rampant in many nations due to high stress levels and inadequate diets. As people become fatigued and overweight, they tend to turn to fad diets, “cleanses” and other extreme measures, often not even aware that it’s their thyroid that is causing the problem. As you will read below, these extreme measures may do more harm than good in the long run, and can become especially damaging to your thyroid and liver. Instead of taking the unhealthy route, try these 3 essential thyroid diet principles to help your body naturally achieve its best thyroid function.
Keep Your Blood Sugar Stable
Blood sugar balance is essential, but keeping blood sugar stable is harder than it sounds. Most people only worry about the dangers of high blood sugar because this can cause diabetes, but low blood sugar can be just as harmful. This is because your brain absolutely must maintain a constant blood sugar supply for it to function. If you don’t have enough sugar in your brain, then your body goes into survival mode to preserve brain function and a backup process called gluconeogenesis takes over. When you are in gluconeogenesis, healthy muscle tissue breaks down to release amino acids. These acids are then converted in the liver to glucose that your brain can use.
This might not be so bad, but we must over-produce stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline to push this process. These stress hormones have the unfortunate side effect of blocking the liver’s process that converts thyroid hormones into T3, the active form that your body needs. Worse, neither you nor your doctor are likely to discover that you are lacking in this active thyroid form because the most common thyroid tests only check for the precursor thyroid hormones and not active T3 levels. The result is that you have all the symptoms of an underactive thyroid, including hair loss, weight gain, fatigue, cold sensitivity and depression, but you don’t know why you feel bad.
Take in Adequate Micronutrients
Your thyroid needs sufficient micronutrients to produce the hormones you need. If you don’t have these essential elements, your body will be forced to make the unpleasant choice of using those elements for other vital processes or producing these hormones. If you don’t produce enough, your metabolism, body temperature regulation, growth and development will suffer. Supplements can help, but the best way to get these nutrients is with a healthy diet. Here are some of the most important nutrients you need for your thyroid and the foods that can boost your intake:
Selenium: Brazil nuts, grass-fed beef, halibut, turkey and chicken. Brazil nuts have the highest benefit, containing 544 micrograms in just 6 to 8 nuts. That’s more than 100% of your daily need. This is just a small handful of nuts and can be part of your daily eating habits.
Iodine: dried seaweed, yogurt, turkey breast, navy beans and eggs. Dried seaweed is the best source, providing 4500 micrograms in just 1/4 ounce, again, more than 100% of your daily need.
Zinc: oysters, beef, wheat germ, spinach and pumpkin seeds. Oysters are the best source, giving you 33 mg of zinc in just 6 oysters. That’s 220% of your daily need.
B vitamins (all of them): B1-whole grain and leafy greens; B2-chicken, fish and leafy greens; B3-chicken, fish and legumes; folic acid-leafy greens, liver and legumes; B12-chicken, fish and eggs; biotin-salmon, pork and avocado; Pantothenic acid-yogurt, avocado and legumes.
Antioxidants: Goji berries (both delicious and extremely high in antioxidants), dark chocolate, pecans and artichokes.
You will notice that many of these important nutrients are present in meat and fish. This is just one of the reasons that vegans can have as much trouble keeping up their thyroid health as low-carb dieters, which leads to our next important principle.
Support the Detoxification Process (Without Pushing It)
You need a very balanced diet to support the detoxification process. Simply trying to do a detox while continuously adding new stressors will not get you the results you want. Any diet on the extreme edge of the spectrum is unhealthy and can throw your liver and thyroid out of balance. Low Carb diets promote hypothyroidism by denying your body glycogen, which is the storage form of glucose. Glycogen is needed to produce glucuronic acid, which detoxifies thyroid suppressive hormones such as estrogen. On the other extreme, purely vegan diets deny our thyroids the 70 to 100 grams of high quality protein our thyroid needs to function at its best. A thyroid-healthy diet will contain all the nutrients that you need in the right proportions to avoid taxing your system. This gives your liver and thyroid a more gentle and effective way to recover, while allowing you to detoxify thyroid suppressing hormones naturally.
The method listed above may feel slower and take more effort than a quick detox or fad diet, but it’s actually much more effective in the long run. When coupled with alcohol moderation, smoking cessation and daily physical activity, the long-term results will be a healthier, happier you.