What is good for the thyroid?
I’m interested 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’m interested 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 Email your questions for Dr Libby to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
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.