What is good for the thy­roid?

Kapi-Mana News - - YOUR HEALTH -

I’minter­ested in the role nu­tri­tion plays in the health of the thy­roid gland. What is good for the thy­roid and what isn’t? I have thy­roid con­di­tions in our fam­ily, so I’minter­ested in di­etary fac­tors. Thanks Diana.

Hi Diana. The main func­tion of the thy­roid hor­mones is to con­vert the calo­ries in food into use­able en­ergy for the body. If thy­roid hor­mone lev­els drop below nor­mal lev­els, me­tab­o­lism in­side cells slows down and en­ergy lev­els drop. If thy­roid hor­mone lev­els be­come too high, me­tab­o­lism and all body pro­cesses speed up. The thy­roid gland re­quires nu­mer­ous nu­tri­ents to pro­duce thy­roid hor­mones:


This is mostly avail­able in the diet in foods such as seafood, sea­weed and good qual­ity salt. With many peo­ple now avoid­ing ta­ble salt (hav­ing rock salt or sea

Ask Dr Libby

Email your ques­tions for Dr Libby to ask.dr­libby@fair­fax­me­dia.co.nz. Please note, only a se­lec­tion of ques­tions can be an­swered. salt in­stead), and soils in New Zealand be­ing de­fi­cient in iodine, we are see­ing a re-emer­gence of iodine de­fi­ciency and even goitre (en­large­ment of the thy­roid gland) in New Zealand school­child­ren.


A trace el­e­ment that is es­sen­tial for the body in small amounts, selenium is a com­po­nent of the en­zyme that con­verts the in­ac­tive thy­roid hor­mone to the ac­tive form. Selenium too, is not present in New Zealand soils and if a nu­tri­ent isn’t in the soil, it can­not be in the food. Selenium is found in Brazil nuts.

Be­sides iodine and selenium, thy­roid func­tion can also be af­fected by a num­ber of nu­tri­ents, in­clud­ing iron, zinc, cop­per, and vi­ta­min A. De­fi­cien­cies in any of these nu­tri­ents have been shown to in­crease the risk of hy­pothy­roidism.

Sub­stances that sup­press thy­roid func­tion through in­ter­fer­ing with iodine up­take are known as goitre­gens. Soy is a com­monly con­sumed goitre­genic food. Cook­ing or fer­ment­ing these foods de­stroys most of their goitre­genic qual­i­ties. I find my­self overeat­ing when I get stressed at work, do you have any tips to pre­vent this? Thanks, Adele.

Hi Adele. For a host of rea­sons, peo­ple can find them­selves look­ing for feel good fac­tors in food.

If you find your­self gaz­ing into the pantry or fridge think­ing to your­self I want some­thing but I don’t know what that some­thing is – you are of­ten search­ing for soul food not phys­i­cal food, par­tic­u­larly if you ate a main meal not long be­fore your quest! Many peo­ple link food to com­fort, not a form of nour­ish­ment and they can no longer iden­tify other sources where they can ob­tain this feel­ing of com­fort they are af­ter.

When you to pause to think about it, food can­not com­fort you. It can­not hug you or thank you for your ef­forts. Many peo­ple cre­ated a story a long time ago that food is com­fort and this can hold them in a pat­tern of un­re­source­ful eat­ing.

Mind­ful­ness is cru­cial when eat­ing.

Of course there will be times when you eat food that has lit­tle nour­ish­ment in it, but if you find your­self look­ing for ‘‘soul food’’ at the of­fice at a par­tic­u­lar time ask your­self the ques­tion, what do I re­ally want and is this re­ally about food?

The main func­tion of the thy­roid hor­mones is to con­vert the calo­ries in food into use­able en­ergy for the body.

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