An underactive thyroid, also known as hypothyroidism, is the most common condition of the thyroid, affecting 3.7% of American adults. Underactive thyroid occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones in the thyroid.
The thyroid is a small gland at the base of the neck that makes metabolism-affecting hormones, among other processes. When these hormones are under-produced, other functions of the body slow down.
Some symptoms of hypothyroidism include weight gain, depression, fatigue, sensitivity to cold, thinning hair, dry skin, difficulty sleeping and concentrating, joint pain, muscle weakness, constipation, and high cholesterol. While anyone can develop hypothyroidism, women over 60 are at a higher risk. People who have a family history may also be at risk, as well as those with an autoimmune disease or those who have had thyroid surgery.
In addition to traditional treatments for hypothyroidism, lifestyle changes can be made in order to increase health. Some important nutrients for thyroid health are iodine and selenium, so it is always good to incorporate foods high in these nutrients into your body. Here are ten essential foods for an underactive thyroid.
1. Dulse Seaweed
Iodine is important to keep in the diet with an underactive thyroid. Sea vegetables contain a large amount of iodine. Dulse seaweed, in particular, is known to offer a consistent and high iodine concentration. This seaweed has additional health benefits such as potassium and protein.
2. Leafy Green Vegetables
All of the dark leafy green vegetables are great for hypothyroidism. This includes spinach, collard greens, kale, swiss chard, and turnip greens. These vegetables are also a rich source of B vitamins, which are necessary for the creation of hormones. Additionally, they have iron, Vitamins A, C and D, antioxidants, and magnesium. Leafy green vegetables are great for overall health. These leafy greens can be added to a salad and are best eaten raw.
Fish is also a great iodine source. It also has the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids which help to keep the heart healthy. The fish with the most iodine are deep sea fish like haddock and cod. Fish should be cooked through, but not overcooked, as it may lose some of its nutrients if cooked for too long.
Turkey is a rich source of selenium. In addition to this, it contains iron and amino acids that are essential to health.
5. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has been used to heal the body for many years. It contains essential fatty acids that are needed to maintain proper metabolic function. Essential fatty acids are easily brought together by the body and benefit thyroid function, the production of thyroid hormones, and help to regulate the metabolism. Add a tablespoon of coconut oil to your coffee to give it a sweet flavor, or use it in cooking in place of olive oil.
Most nuts are healthy and a great source of healthy fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Almonds, however, also provide a great source of additional nutrients that the thyroid needs. Almonds contain a high quality iron, zinc, and selenium in addition to their protein and B vitamins.
Beans contain high levels of zinc and iron. Beans also have high quality proteins, vitamin B and vitamin C.
8. Liver and Kidney Meat
Organ meats are a great source of high quality protein. While some people would not consider adding organ meat to their diet, certain types such as beef liver, provide a lot of iron, selenium, and zinc. These are nutrient-dense meats source of vitamins and minerals.
Eggs are the best dairy source for iodine. They contain almost 16% of the RDV. Other great sources of dairy include milks, cheese, and yogurts.
Iodine works with tyrosine to make thyroxine, which is found in avocado. This is beneficial to thyroid function. Avocado is a great substitute for mayo, as it gives sandwiches some depth without the unhealthy fats.
Eating a healthy diet is important to overall health, but it is especially important to people who are at a high risk for weight gain. Healing the body from the inside out with a diet that helps thyroid function can be a great way to naturally add to medicinal treatments.