The thyroid is the master gland of the body. It makes two hormones, one called thyroid hormone and the other called calcitonin. Thyroid hormone regulates the metabolism and plays a role in all physiological functions. Calcitonin helps to regulate calcium levels in the body and helps to build bones.

One of the main reasons the thyroid slows down is due to a lack of iodine and selenium. Without iodine, functional hormones cannot be made. The best sources of “natural” iodine are sea vegetables. Iodine is also found in fast foods, processed foods, and table salt, but it’s important to avoid these foods since not only are they not nutritious, but an excess of iodine can also have a negative effect on the thyroid.

There are two components present in some types of food that can negatively affect the thyroid. These are isoflavones, which are found in soy foods, and thiocyanates, which are found in cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables are also high in goitrogens, which are substances that suppress the thyroid gland by interfering with iodine metabolism. These foods don’t need to be removed from the diet as they are very healthy but they should be cooked or lightly cooked.

Hypothyroidism, which is an underactive thyroid, is the most common problem of the thyroid gland. Common symptoms include fatigue, cold hands and feet, depression, weight gain, pain joints, puffy face, and more. If the thyroid is left untreated, it can lead to more serious problems such as obesity, infertility, goiter, and heart diseases. There are many different reasons for low thyroid function.

To help your thyroid, you need a proper intake of iodine, and you need a healthy and varied diet that include foods that are rich in B vitamins, vitamin E, selenium, copper, zinc, and omega-3s. Avoid fast food, processed food, and table salt. Focus on nourishing your body with whole, nutrient-dense foods, and make sure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. A high quality multivitamin would also help.

5 Foods to Eat:

1)   Sea vegetables (hijiki, wakame, arame, dulse, nori, kelp, and kombu)

Why? They are one of the best sources of iodine.

2)   Fish and seafood (wild salmon, halibut, cod, albacore tuna, sardines)

Why? They are a good source of iodine, selenium, and omega-3s.

3)   Pastured eggs

Why? They are a good source of vitamin A, iodine, and selenium.

4)   Nuts and seeds (Brazil nuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, flax and chia seeds)

Why? They are a good source of selenium, essential fatty acids, vitamin E, and zinc.

5)   Coconut (coconut oil, coconut butter, and coconut meat)

Why? Coconut stimulates metabolism and naturally supports the thyroid.

3 Foods to Avoid:

1)   Nonfermented soy products (tofu, soy milk, soy “meat”, and soy protein isolate)

Why? Contain goitrogrens.

2)   RAW cruciferous vegetables (Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, and cabbage)

Why? Contain goitrogrens. You can, however, eat them cooked or steamed.

3)   Gluten (wheat, barley, and rye)