Foods for healthy thyroid function
By Louise Belle BHSc (Nut Med)
Your thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped organ that sits at the front of your neck. It is responsible for metabolism, growth and development. The foods you eat (and nutrients you consume) have a significant impact on the function of your thyroid gland and its ability to produce thyroid hormones. The following foods are beneficial for your thyroid:
Seaweed is a fantastic source of the mineral iodine. Iodine is essential for the production of thyroid hormones T3 and T4 – these hormones are actually made from iodine molecules! If you are not eating fish regularly, including seaweed such as kelp, nori or wakame in your diet will help to boost your levels. If you have an overactive thyroid it’s best to get your urinary iodine levels tested before increasing dietary iodine.
2. Brazil nuts
The mineral selenium is essential for healthy thyroid function. Selenium is depleted in Australian soils and it is only present in foods in very small amounts; as a result, many people are deficient in this important mineral. Brazil nuts are the richest food source of selenium, followed by chicken liver and fish.
Tyrosine is an amino acid (building block of protein) which is combined with iodine to make thyroid hormones. Adequate intake of tyrosine is vital for healthy thyroid hormone production. Chicken is a fantastic source of tyrosine, along with turkey, pork, fish, lamb and beef. Tyrosine can also be taken in supplement form.
Oysters are one of the best sources of the mineral zinc, containing more than 3mg of zinc per oyster. Zinc supports healthy thyroid hormones and a deficiency in this mineral may lead to an underactive thyroid gland. Other good sources of zinc include red meat, amaranth, lobster, turkey, pumpkin seeds and cashews.
5. Cod liver oil
Cod liver oil is the best dietary source of vitamin D with 1 tbsp containing about 1300 IU. Due to sun protection efforts and/or digestive issues, many people are deficient in this important vitamin. Vitamin D is vital for healthy immune function and deficiency is commonly found in those with autoimmune diseases. Sunshine and fish are other good sources of vitamin D.
6. Psyllium husk
Increasing fibre in your diet is beneficial for healthy thyroid function. This is because regular bowel motions promote the excretion of toxins and heavy metals from the body that may otherwise cause harm to the thyroid gland (and other organs). Psyllium husk, along with legumes, chia seeds, pears, beetroot, broccoli and other vegetables and fruit are great sources of fibre that you can include in your regular diet.