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Nutritional Support for a Healthy Weight & Thyroid

Supporting Your Thyroid  and a Healthy Weight Through Nutrition

by London nutritionist Sylvia Hensher

Hi again! In part 1 of this series on the thyroid we talked about what the thyroid is, how it might be affecting your weight, symptoms of an underactive thyroid and a simple test you can do at home to give you an indication, but no firm diagnosis, as to how well your thyroid is functioning.

In this 2nd part of the series, we’ll look at how you can support optimal thyroid functioning, and therefore optimal weight management, through nutrition.

Foods to help support optimal thyroid functioning

1. Iodine is required to manufacture the thyroid hormones. Without sufficient iodine, your thyroid cannot produce adequate thyroid hormones to help your body function on an optimal level. Seafoods, iodised salt and sea vegetables such as kelp, as well as foods grown in iodine rich soil, are rich sources of iodine. It should be noted, however, that too much iodine can actually trigger thyroid problems and worsen symptoms, so it’s important to have a healthy balance.

2.       Zinc is another essential mineral for optimising thyroid health.

3.      Selenium: This mineral is critical for the proper functioning of your thyroid gland, and is used to produce and regulate the active T3 hormone. Selenium can be found in foods such as shrimp, snapper, tuna, cod, halibut, calf’s liver, button and shitake mushrooms and Brazil nuts.

4.      Zinc, Iron and Copper are needed in trace amounts for your healthy thyroid function. Low levels of zinc have been linked to low levels of TSH, whereas iron deficiency has been linked to decreased thyroid efficiency. Copper is also necessary for the production of thyroid hormones. Seafood, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds can help provide these trace metals in your diet.

5.      B vitamins help to manufacture thyroid hormones and play an important role in healthy thyroid function. They are found in whole grains, pulses and green leafy vegetables.

Foods which can compromise optimal thyroid functioning

Goitrogens get their name from the term “goiter,” which means an enlargement of the thyroid gland. If the thyroid gland is having difficulty making thyroid hormone, it may enlarge as a way of trying to compensate for this inadequate hormone production. “Goitrogens,” like circumstances that cause goiter, cause difficulty for the thyroid in making its hormone.

Although research studies are limited in this area, cooking does appear to help inactivate the goitrogenic compounds found in food. Both isoflavones (found in soy foods) and isothiocyanates (found in cruciferous vegetables) appear to be heat-sensitive, and cooking appears to lower the availability of these substances.

Please remember that you do not need to avoid the foods below unless you have a confirmed underactive thyroid, as many have numerous important health benefits.

1. Soy: The principal goitrogens in soybeans are the estrogenic plant hormones known as isoflavones. The antinutrients known as saponins in soy may also be goitrogens. Cooking and processing methods, using heat, pressure, and alkaline solutions, will neither deactivate nor remove isoflavones or saponins.

2. Cruciferous vegetables: compounds called isothiocyanates found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts are goitrogens as well. While it’s true that large amounts could interfere with thyroid function, especially if eaten raw, they offer a myriad of other health benefits that make the benefits outweigh the risks for most people. If you know you have thyroid disease and want to be especially careful, steaming these vegetables reduces the goitrogenic effect.

3. Other foods: millet, peaches, peanuts, radishes, soybean and soy products, including tofu, spinach and strawberries

Do you think you might have an underactive thyroid that is stopping you from shedding those pounds, despite eating healthily and exercising regularly? Then please call us on 0845 050 2442 for speedy and expert advice.

Wishing you the best of health

London nutritionist Sylvia Hensher

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