Ask Keri: Are there specific foods I can add to my diet that promote thyroid health?
Keri Says: People are becoming more aware of the importance of thyroid health, and that’s a good thing. And like everything that affects your body, what you eat can make a huge difference.
First, a quick reminder: There are two main thyroid health issues many people struggle with. Hyperthyroidism is an overactive thyroid. But the vast majority of people have the opposite, hypothyroidism, which is an underactive thyroid. Underactive means the the small butterfly-shaped gland fails to produce enough thyroid hormones, which can slow down metabolism and make you feel tired and sluggish all the time.
Here’s where food comes in: Your thyroid needs specific nutrients to do its job properly, so if you eat the right foods, you’ll essentially be giving it fuel to rev up hormone production. (There are also some foods you might want to avoid to protect your thyroid…but that’s another complicated topic we’ll get into in another story soon!) Here are a few to start with.
The Best Foods for Thyroid Health
Yum, an excuse to enjoy delish, briny oysters. The tasty mollusks are one of the best dietary sources of zinc, and zinc helps your body produce the important thyroid hormone T3. They’re also high in selenium, another mineral involved in thyroid hormone synthesis.
Speaking of selenium, brazil nuts are loaded with it, and aren’t you bored of almonds at this point? One large study showed diets low in selenium were associated with an increased risk of thyroid disease.
Oysters get all the attention when it comes to zinc, but chances are you aren’t going to an oyster bar every single day (and if you are, I’m jealous!). Don’t worry, you’ll also find zinc in beef and chicken. I always suggest the grass-fed variety when choosing the former.
Sea veggies are rich in many minerals, especially iodine, which is essential for the production of thyroid hormones. Kelp is so rich in iodine, in fact, that it may be too much for people with hyperthyroidism, so consult your MD first if that’s your issue.
You may be surprised, but yogurt is also a great source of iodine. And since it’s also a probiotic superfood, you’ll be getting the gut health benefits, too. That’s important because many thyroid issues are caused by autoimmune disease, and healing your immune system is all about healing your gut.
Incredible, edible eggs contain a cocktail of thyroid-supporting nutrients, including selenium, zinc, iodine, vitamin D, and iron.
These little guys are also loaded with selenium, and I love them as a low-mercury seafood option. Try adding them to a cauliflower-crust pizza—delicioso.
Antioxidants are important for many reasons, and they may be good for your thyroid, too. One study found people with thyroid disease had higher levels of free radicals threatening their well-being. Berries are filled with free radical-battling powers.
No, I’m not going to tell you you can’t eat kale if you’re struggling with Hashimoto’s. While cruciferous veggies like kale, broccoli, and cabbage do contain goitrogens, compounds that can interfere with thyroid function, the evidence so far shows that’s not a problem unless you’re eating them raw, and even then it’s only an issue sometimes. If you’re worried at all, though, eat spinach! It’s just as good for you, is lower in goitrogens, and contains thyroid-supporting nutrients like iron and antioxidants.
(All Photos: Shutterstock)