Did you know that certain foods may help improve the major symptoms of an underactive thyroid, and make you feel overall better? Here are all the best ingredients and recipes for hypothyroidism.
What is Hypothyroidism, and What Are the Main Symptoms of an Underactive Thyroid?
An underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) is a health condition that results in the body not making enough thyroid hormones (T3 and T4).
These hormones affect every cell and all the organs in your body in different ways. For example, they regulate the rate at which the body uses calories, hence affecting weight loss or weight gain (metabolic rate), they can slow down or speed up the heart rate, influence the speed at which food moves through the digestive tract, and even raise or lower body temperature.
In the case of an underactive thyroid, lower levels of these hormones results in:
- A tendency of gaining weight – or excessive difficulty in losing it;
- General tiredness;
- Hair loss;
- Being sensitive to cold;
- Muscle aches and weakness;
- Slow movements and thoughts;
This is why checking your thyroid hormone levels (FT4, FT3, and TSH) on a regular basis is particularly important for an overall better quality of life. And if you discover that your thyroid is not working as fast as it should, you are not alone.
Indeed, hypothyroidism is a rather common disease, affecting an estimated 0.5-5% of the US population. In addition, it is a condition that cannot generally be prevented. A couple of the main causes are lack of iodine or autoimmune thyroid disease (Hashimoto thyroiditis). Luckily, this disease can be generally treated by just taking daily hormone tablets to replace the hormones your thyroid is not making.
Read more Effects of Green Tea on the Thyroid
Other good news is that some foods and healthy habits can actually have a significant role in supporting an underactive thyroid. Let’s take a look at the best foods and recipes for a healthy thyroid.
The Best Foods for Hypothyroidism: How to support your thyroid health naturally
An overall healthy lifestyle, that incorporates both a diet centered on whole foods and an adequate amount of daily movement, is actually a great starting point for supporting your thyroid health (read this article to learn more about the role of mindset and willpower in managing your weight if you are suffering from an underactive thyroid).
However, there are also some specific foods that may help improve the major symptoms of hypothyroidism. On the other hand, some other foods may need to be limited (or even avoided) if you are suffering from these conditions. Let’s have a look at some of them, and then at some recipes for hypothyroidism.
The Best Foods for Your Thyroid
As stated previously, iodine deficiency is among the main leading causes of an underactive thyroid. This is why making sure to consume an adequate amount of iodine with your diet – at least 150 mcg each day – can tremendously help restore normal thyroid function.
Among iodine-rich foods are fish and seafood, roasted seaweed, eggs, dairy products (yogurt in particular), and iodized salt. If you cannot take in an adequate amount of iodine with your diet, an iodine tablet supplement could be a great alternative.
Foods rich in selenium
Selenium is another precious mineral that can help support healthy thyroid function. Examples of foods rich in this mineral are nuts such as Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, and hazelnuts.
Baked fish is also quite high in selenium, along with Omega-3 fatty acids. These are great for supporting healthy brain functioning, and improving mental health conditions, both of which might be worsened by an underactive thyroid.
As stated at the beginning, constipation and, more in general, slower digestion are common symptoms for people suffering from hypothyroidism. This is why eating a fiber-rich diet could be particularly helpful in treating these issues.
Indeed, fibers have the twofold role of increasing the weight and size of our stool while promoting greater gut biodiversity. Both of these aspects are of paramount importance for promoting regular bowel movements and overall quicker digestion.
Green-light then to fruits and veggies and, more in general, whole foods, including whole grains, beans, legumes, and nuts.
This is also why following a whole-food plant-based diet can actually be of great benefit for people suffering from a thyroid condition.
Foods rich in Zinc
Studies show that zinc can specifically benefit people with low levels of thyroid hormones. The list of foods rich in this mineral includes legumes, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, and fortified cereals.
Foods to limit with an underactive thyroid
Cruciferous veggies, and in particular bok choy and broccoli, contain goitrogens. These are compounds that, when consumed in large quantities, might affect thyroid function.
This doesn’t mean you have to cut out cruciferous veggies altogether, but just to be more mindful of the quantities you are consuming. And, if possible, prefer spinach and Brussel sprouts, as they are lower in these compounds.
There isn’t much evidence on the negative effect of the much-feared soy on subjects suffering from hypothyroidism.
Lowering our intake of processed foods and refined added sugar is always helpful if you are striving to have an overall healthy lifestyle. However, this tip might be particularly helpful if you are suffering from an under-active thyroid, and more specifically in boosting energy levels, improving weight management, and supporting mental sharpness.
The foods to limit are then fast foods, red meat, soda and other sugary beverages, packaged treats, and refined flour.
Recipes for Hypothyroidism
Let’s have a look at all the best recipes for hypothyroidism, all of which are based on the ingredients and foods listed above.
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