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The health of your thyroid is greatly influenced by your eating pattern.
Understanding the key nutrients is especially important when your thyroid is underactive.
In this video we’ll look at science-based food recommendations for those with hypothyroidism.
TITLE: The Best Diet for Hypothyroidism – Nutrients
Firstly it’s important to clarify that food on its own cannot cure a diagnosed case of hypothyroidism.
Hormone replacement therapy with prescription medication, such as Levothyroxine or desiccated thyroid, is necessary to restore thyroid function in virtually all cases.
If you have underlying nutrient deficiencies or food intolerance that remains untreated, thyroid medication becomes a bandaid that doesn’t help protect the thyroid gland itself.
There are 3 main nutrients involved in thyroid health that you should be aware of.
(‘Iodine’ should appear next to me)
The first is iodoine, which our thyroid gland requires in order to produce thyroid hormones. For that reason, a deficiency in iodine can lead to an underactive thyroid.
A lack of iodine is rarely the cause of hypothyroidism in developed countries. Nevertheless, including iodine-rich foods in your diet is a good idea to be safe.
Navy beans, potatoes, eggs, cow’s milk and iodised salt are great food sources of iodine, although levels often depend on iodine content in the soil. Seafood is also iodine-rich.
Note that if you have Hashimoto’s disease (strong majority of all hypothyroidism cases) then speak with your doctor before increasing iodine intake. In rare circumstances an increase in iodine can actually irritate the thyroid, especially if you have swelling.
The next nutrient is selenium, an essential mineral that helps the body to recycle iodine.
In fact, the thyroid has the highest selenium content per gram of tissue of all our organs.
SNIPPET “The thyroid is the organ with the highest selenium content per gram of tissue.”
It’s thought that low selenium levels contribute to hypothyroidism through alternate mechanisms related to iodine.
For this reason it’s fundamental to eat a diet that contains many selenium-rich foods, such as eggs, legumes, brazil nuts, tuna and sardines, beef and chicken.
Lastly I want to talk about zinc. This is an essential mineral required to regulate a hormone that stimulates thyroid hormone production – TSH.
STUDY – (screenshot can show the images too if it fits)
In fact, the metabolism of zinc and thyroid hormones are closely interlinked, which is why a deficiency can lead to hair loss (known medically as alopecia).
Studies show that zinc deficiency is very uncommon in the developed world. But hypothyroidism can result in acquired zinc deficiency.
It’s still recommended to eat a variety of zinc-rich foods such as oysters and shellfish, beef and chicken, legumes, nuts and seeds, and milk and yoghurt.
There you have it, iodine, selenium and zinc are the main nutrients to be aware of. Make sure you regularly eat foods rich in these nutrients top optimise your thyroid health and help restore function.
You are more at risk of a deficiency in one or more of these nutrients if you are vegetarian or vegan, which is when I would talk to your doctor about supplementation.
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Dietitian: Joe Leech (MSc Nutrition)