Thyroid Health through Nutrition
January is the best month to make dietary changes for the good of your health. December events often allow for a bit more indulgence with foods and drinks and can take a toll on energy and mood. If you are not into a full Whole-30 or sugar-free January but want to make some simple improvements to your diet, here are some helpful tips to increase metabolism.
Iodine. The Standard American Diet (yes, Canadians too) includes more iodine through salt than needed for a healthy thyroid. However, when we try to eat more cleanly, it often involves cutting out salty foods overall. Less processed and more nutritious is important, but it can lead to an iodine deficiency which lowers thyroid hormone production (aka good energy, mood, weight…). Foods from the sea are the most iodine-dense options that also fit the healthy model of eating. Fish, seafood and sea vegetables or seaweed are excellent but think about buying a “Kelp shaker” that allows you to sprinkle kelp on salads, vegetable dishes and soup.
Selenium. This mineral is very important to make the most active form of thyroid hormone. It also helps to regulate immune function and is used in a number of biochemical processes in our bodies such as detoxification. Selenium content in food varies greatly, but Brazil nuts are highly packed and it only takes a couple of them to reach the daily selenium requirements. Other options are snapper, halibut, salmon, scallops, clams and oysters for the seafood lovers as well as Swiss chard and sunflower seeds.
Zinc. In order to make thyroid hormone, small amounts of zinc is needed. This mineral is also important for all cells to grow, especially the skin, and aids the immune system, testosterone production and insulin function. Did you know that sometimes a lack of the sense of taste can be due to zinc deficiency? One of the most nutritious ways to include high zinc foods in your diet is to eat pumpkin and sunflower seeds. The highest source of zinc is found in oysters, especially ones form the East Coast (5 times as much as those from the Pacific ocean!). Our nails will show signs of zinc deficiency - horizontal indents or lines, hang nails, white spots and poor growth can often correlate with low levels.
So go on - make a Swiss chard salad add a sprinkle of kelp and seeds and a side of grilled halibut for lunch!