The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland located near the base of your neck. Although weighing only approximately 30 grams, it has a profound impact on your health, as it releases hormones that influence every organ and cell in the body.
According to The Australian Thyroid Foundation (2017) thyroid disorders affect ten times more women than men and in particular, hypothyroidism becomes more common as women age.
Hypothyroidism is a condition where optimal thyroid function is compromised due to a decrease in thyroid hormone production and secretion. Resulting symptoms are wide and varied which include:
- Poor memory
- Muscle pain
- Hair loss
- Dry skin and hair
- Sensitivity to cold temperatures
- Unexplained weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- and much more!
Being low in certain nutrients can contribute to these symptoms and the development of hypothyroidism. Here are four key nutrients and their food sources to include in your whole food diet for optimal thyroid and overall health:
Iodine is a mineral that is essential for the formation and production of thyroid hormones. The Australian Thyroid Foundation (2017) reports that iodine-deficiency has re-emerged in Australia, contributing to an increase in thyroid disorders.
Food sources include seaweed, oysters, salmon and iodised salt.
Tyrosine is an amino acid also required for the formation of thyroid hormones.
Food sources include meat, fish, tofu, almonds, avocados, bananas, pumpkin seeds and oats.
Selenium is a trace mineral which the thyroid requires to convert thyroid hormones into their active form. It is an antioxidant that helps to protect the thyroid from free radical damage.
Food sources include Brazil nuts (sourced from outside of Australia and New Zealand due to a lack of selenium in the soil of these countries), canned tuna, salmon and eggs.
Zinc is another trace mineral that helps to regulate and stabilise thyroid hormones.
Food sources include oysters, beef, lamb, turkey, cashew nuts, lentils, chickpeas and pumpkin seeds.
There are many other vitamins and minerals which contribute to the healthy function of your thyroid. Eating a wholefoods diet, rich in variety helps to provide your body with the necessary nutrients. Some nutrients taken in excess can become toxic and may damage, rather than support your thyroid therefore before taking supplements it is important to discuss your health with a naturopath or nutritionist.
Gruner, T 2010, ‘Thyroid Abnormalities’ in Sarris, J & Wardle, J (eds.) Clinical Naturopathy, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, Sydney, pp.325-343
Hechtman, L 2012, Clinical Naturopathic Medicine, Churchill Livingstone, Elsevier Australia, Chatswood, NSW
Kouris, A 2012, Food Source of Nutrients, A ready reckoner of macronutrients, micronutrients and phytonutrients, Elsevier Australia
The Australian Thyroid Foundation 2017, viewed 16th September 2017, https://www.thyroidfoundation.org.au/