Thyroid health is something that a large number of women struggle with and some men. Unfortunately, it is also something that can affect you and you may not even realize it.
Your thyroid is the master gland for your metabolism, hormones, heart, digestive function, brain development, muscle control and bone health. To say that it holds an important role in our overall health is quite the understatement.
While I am not going to go into details such as what your levels should read or what to look for in your labs to determine whether or not you have or are trending towards a thyroid condition, I am going to share some of the common symptoms that can be associated with thyroid issues:
- Muscular aches
- Unexplained Weight Gain
- Thinning or brittle hair
- Thinning of the outer third of your eyebrow
- Overall feeling of being cold – especially in hands and feet
- High Cholesterol
- Emotional swings – trend towards feeling depressed
- Dry skin – especially on your shins
What most people don’t realize is that another important aspect to thyroid health are your adrenals. Now, your adrenals sit on top of your kidneys and also are responsible for producing hormones such as cortisol (helps regulate metabolism and aids in stress response) and aldosterone (helps in blood pressure control). In our busy lives, we tend to overuse our adrenals on a regular basis which can result in a laundry list of health issue that can all of a sudden sneak up on us. To read more about cortisol and tips on how to manage it, click here.
Your thyroid is impacted by this when our adrenals become overused or exhausted and start to steal from your thyroid for back-up resources in order to continue producing necessary hormones for everyday life. The thyroid suffers so that the adrenals can still try to keep pumping out cortisol and adrenaline.
It is important for us to take a look at both our adrenals and thyroid in terms of our overall health, rather than just focus on one. However, for the sake of this post, I am going to focus on primarily the thyroid. If you are interested in learning ways to improve your natural cortisol output, check out the Cortisol Shift.
Although it is important to always be mindful of your thyroid, there are some times in a person’s life, especially a women’s life that thyroid health is really important to focus on:
- Planning a pregnancy (1 year to 6 months before starting to try)
- During pregnancy
- After pregnancy (this is one of the most overlooked times that can have an affect on long-term thyroid health)
- Menopause and Post-Menopause
- During high times of stress or trauma
What may come as a relief is that there are nutrients we can focus on adding in to our daily lives that can help nourish our adrenals. A lot of these nutrients can be found in food and I’m not talking hard to find exotic foods. These are foods that are commonly found in your grocery store and may already be in your kitchen cupboards.
TOP THYROID SUPPORTING FOODS
- Raw or Dry Roasted Pumpkin Seeds: rich in zinc which helps improve immune function and halting inflammation in the intestinal lining.
- Walnuts: rich in vitamin E (important antioxidant) and Omega 3 (anti-inflammatory and gut healing)
- Ground Flaxseed: help feed beneficial gut bacteria, act as a gentle bulk laxative and can help balance hormones by improving the elimination of harmful estrogens. Also known to help lower cholesterol, improve blood sugar and reduce inflammation. (1-2 tbsp ground flaxseed/day)
- Seaweed such as kelp, nori, dulse: source of iodine which is necessary for the production of thyroid hormones.
- Brazil Nuts: great source for selenium which protect the thyroid from oxidative stress. (just 2 per day)
- Turmeric: extremely anti-inflammatory and can help reset cortisol levels when elevated due to stress.
- Fresh Water Fish: healthy source of Omega 3’s that are anti-inflammatory.
- Coconut Oil: can help boost metabolism and energy levels which tend to slow down along with the thyroid. (1-2 tbsp a day used for cooking or in smoothies.)
FOODS TO AVOID
- Raw kale, broccoli and cauliflower: contain goitrogens that can negatively impact the thyroid. These foods are great to eat if they are steamed, roasted or sautéed.
- Night Shades: pepper, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant
- Sugar, artificial sweeteners
- For some people, avoiding or decreasing dairy intake or swapping to goat/sheep milk dairy products
- High caffeine consumption: this can add to the stress on the adrenals which downstream can impact your thyroid. Sticking to just one 8 oz of coffee/black tea per day and not consuming it on an empty stomach first thing can help.