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Eating for a healthy thyroid

If you’re experiencing weight gain, intolerance to cold temperatures, or hair loss, it might be a sign your body is not making enough thyroid hormones. And, guess what ... you’re not alone. It’s estimated that nearly 13 million Americans are living with undiagnosed hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland cannot make enough of the thyroid hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). When the body doesn’t have enough T3 and T4, cell function slows, which can cause your heart and metabolic rates to decrease – and this might result in unwanted weight gain.

The job of the thyroid hormones are to travel throughout your body and aid in regulation of vital body functions such as your breathing, heart rate, metabolism, menstrual cycles, body temperature, blood pressure, and even your mood. Just about every cell in your body is affected by thyroid hormones. That’s why the correct levels and balance of T3 to T4 are so important. As these hormones become unbalanced, so does your body. A few warnings signs of low or unbalanced thyroid hormones are fatigue, diarrhea, low heart rate, difficulty concentrating, dry skin and hair, depression, infertility, and joint or muscle pain.

The following foods contain the essential building blocks that support production of thyroid hormones and therefore a healthier thyroid:

Salted Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts and hazelnuts are rich in selenium and help activate thyroid hormones for use in your body. However, Brazil nuts should be used sparingly, as a few servings a week go a long way. Pack a small bag of assorted nuts to snack on or add them to your salads. Fish is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and selenium, which help decrease inflammation. Bake salmon, cod, sea bass, sardines, tuna, haddock or perch for lunch or dinner to get a healthy dose of Omega-3s and selenium to support your thyroid function. Fresh eggs contain healthy amounts of both selenium and iodine. For the most health benefits, eat the whole egg. The egg white contains the protein and the yolk contains most of the other nutrients.Grass-fed beef and pasture-raised chicken are a great source of thyroid-hormone activating zinc, as are oysters and shellfish.Roasted seaweed is an iodine-rich food, and iodine is necessary for normal thyroid function and can be a great weapon against hypothyroidism. However, never take an iodine supplement without your practitioner’s guidance because incorrect supplementation can do more harm than good. Seaweed, such as kelp, nori and wakame are naturally rich in iodine. Eat seaweed with sushi or get packaged seaweed snacks to toss in salads or eat as snacks. On the “eat in moderation” list are foods high in goitrogens, such as soy-based foods, coffee, green tea, alcohol, cruciferous vegetables and fruits such as peaches, pears and strawberries. These foods should be consumed in moderation, because goitrogens have been shown to block thyroid hormone function.Most thyroid conditions require medication; however, eating to support your thyroid is a powerful way to live with more energy and a better metabolism. Having a diet based on vegetables, fruit and lean meats will also help prevent weight gain when you’re dealing with a thyroid condition.

Fran Sutherlin is a local registered dietitian, health coach, speaker and owner of Sustainable Nutrition, which has offices in Durango and Bayfield and offers virtual-coaching options. She can be reached at 444-2122 or fran@fransutherlin.com.

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