Along with the new year, January rings in Thyroid Awareness Month. It also happens to be the month that I received the news that I had thyroid cancer eight years ago. January brought lifelong changes for me, all of which I am grateful. You can read some of the details of my healing journey in my interview with Barefoot Vegan Magazine, Jan/Feb 2016 issue on page 50; subscribe for free and get the link to the article at www.barefootvegan.com.
I’m thankful that I listened to my inner voice and searched for ways for my body to heal itself. I’m even more grateful that I have been able to encourage and help so many others who have been faced with health challenges and life threating diagnoses. The body is amazing and when we give it what it needs it can heal. However, my goal is to help you prevent being faced with devastating health news like mine. That’s why I have accepted my mission of educating and sharing what I’ve found to be the healthiest ways to stay well and vibrant.
I’ve compiled a list of 10 guidelines that will help keep your thyroid healthy:
Eat foods rich in selenium. Brazil nuts are the best source and have the highest amounts of selenium found in foods. Three brazil nuts per day provide an adequate amount of selenium. If possible soak brazil nuts overnight to break down the enzyme inhibitors, making them easier to digest and absorb.
Eat foods rich in iodine. Low iodine levels not only adversely affect the thyroid, chronically low iodine levels are linked to many common cancers. Sea vegetables supply a rich source of iodine. Seaweed such as kelp and dulse can be used as seasoning in place of salt, sprinkled on soups and salads. Make wraps rising seaweeds such as nori. Use wakeme or other seaweeds the same as you use bay leaves —they add lots of flavor and iodine. Kelp supplements are also an option.
Avoid bromine, often present in bread as potassium bromate, a dough conditioner. It’s also found in plastics, soft drinks, and pesticides most commonly used on strawberries. Bromine displaces iodine resulting in iodine deficiency. The best way to avoid bromine is to buy organic as often as possible, consume only organic strawberries; wash produce; avoid soft drinks; use glass containers for storing food; and replace plastic-cups and plates with glass.
If you have hypothyroidism or autoimmune thyroid problems such as Hashimotos, avoid gluten. With these conditions gluten can trigger thyroid antibody production causing digestive issues and hormonal imbalances.
Avoid soy protein isolate; the best forms of soy are fermented such as tempeh and miso. Soy protein isolate can disrupt thyroid function.
Get regular exercise. Aerobic exercise help with circulating the needed thyroid hormones. Exercise like yoga also help reduce stress which has negative effects on the thyroid.
Avoid highly processed foods. Steel cut oats for example are much better that processed instant oats. Go for natural ingredients and minimally processed foods.
Improve your gut health. Regularly eat rich sources of probiotics such coconut or almond based yogurts, coconut kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut. Omega-3 fatty acids also help improve gut health and reduce inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids found in raw walnuts, chia, flax and hemp seeds can increase thyroid hormone uptake.
If you have thyroid problems such as hypothyroidism, you may have been advised to avoid most cruciferous vegetables because they can reduce thyroid function. However, a better approach is to make sure you pair these foods with iodine rich foods to counteract that effect. Cruciferous vegetables are extremely important overall health and should be consumed.
Take a good quality whole food multivitamin which includes iodine, zinc, iron, and B vitamins including B12 as methylcobalamin.
Dana James, MS, CNS, CDN, What you Should Eat to Improve Thyroid Health, MindBodyGreen.com, August 21, 2003.
Joseph Mercola, MD, Bromines: Avoid This if You Want to Keep Your Thyroid Healthy, http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/09/05/another-poison-hiding-in-your-environment.aspx September 5, 2009.
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