For millions of Americans—about 27 million, half of which who don’t realize that they have a problem—their thyroid is either hyperactive or is not active enough. It’s hard to pin down, too, since many of the indicators of an unhealthy thyroid masquerade as other issues—even as chronic lack of sleep or the natural aging process.
For starters, however, it’s important to know just what the thyroid is and what it does. A butterfly-shaped gland located in your lower neck, the thyroid is instrumental in the body’s metabolic processes—specifically releasing two primary hormones called triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) which control your metabolism.
Those two hormones, T3 and T4, are powerhouses, too. They go through the bloodstream, helping your cells get energy from the foods you eat and setting your metabolism at the cellular level. Those same thyroid hormones are also the ones which help to regulate body temperature, blood calcium levels as well as growth and development, including infancy when they are instrumental in brain development.
There are some foods that can interfere with proper thyroid health, however. Those include common vegetable oils found in most conventional foods, such as corn, soybean, canola, sunflower, safflower and others, which are chemically altered in the processing methods. Consuming them can adversely alter your health at the cellular level and can lead to cardiovascular unhealth plus much more. These unhealthy oils are found routinely in processed foods—in everything from salad dressings and mayonnaise to fast food, crackers and conventional baked goods. In short, these are solvent-extracted oils and are among some of the worst things for your health, including your thyroid—so avoid them.
Along these same lines, the polyunsaturated fatty acids found in corn and soy beans—typically fed to livestock to fatten them up—are the chemical equivalent to vegetable oil. Corn and soybeans have an anti-thyroid effect which causes the animals to gain weight and, when consumed by humans, results in unhealthy thyroid effects and causes humans to gain weight as well.
Then there’s gluten, which is in more foods—including wheat, rye, barley and processed foods— and products than most people know. Gluten can trigger autoimmune responses, including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, in people who are sensitive to gluten.
Additionally, non-fermented soy—mentioned earlier—including soybean oil, soy milk, soy burgers, tofu and other processed soy foods can lead to decreased thyroid function. Fermented soy such as miso, natto and tempeh, however, are “safe foods” for the thyroid due to the fermentation process. Finally, aspartame can be hazardous to the thyroid, causing inflammation and thyroid autoantibody production, and can lead to Grave’s disease and other autoimmune problems.
On the other hand, the right foods can support a healthy thyroid, including foods rich in antioxidants, B vitamins, vitamin D, selenium, iron, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and other healthy fats. Some foods to enjoy include: blueberries, bell peppers, squash, tomatoes, sea veggies (seaweed), salmon, halibut, mackerel, cruciferous vegetables (in limited amounts only) and coconut oil.
Protect yourself from foods which act as thyroid thieves. Instead, feed your thyroid what it craves.