Ah, the thyroid…the gland we all blame for our slower metabolism and unexplained weight gain. The problem that seems to creep up on women as they approach menopause. The hormonal condition that stumps a lot of us. Good news…you can eat to beat hypothyroidism once you understand what’s going on!
The Importance of Your Thyroid
As we all know, the thyroid does play a role in metabolism. When things slow down, we gain weight. But, the thyroid isn’t the only player in the weight gain game.
Many women also get blood sugar issues, too, alongside hypothyroidism. And, don’t forget stress – one of the best ways to beat hypothyroidism is to manage that stress!
This is because your thyroid works alongside your adrenals, in what is known as the HPTA axis. Or, the hypothalamus – pituitary – thyroid – adrenal axis! Crazy right?
The thyroid helps regulate body temperature, your menstrual cycle (yep!), cellular growth and repair, muscle strength, heart rate, and mood to some degree.
Because your body is so interconnected! Right?
Causes of Hypothyroidism
Figuring out that it’s an underactive thyroid behind your symptoms can be tough. First, many medical doctors don’t test the right things when it comes to your thyroid. Second, thyroid symptoms overlap with many other health concerns so it can get lost in all that muddle.
But, a few things to consider:
Your thyroid health is affected by stress and sleep. Your diet plays a bit of an important role in how well your thyroid works. And specific mineral deficiencies can lead to hypothyroidism.
Beat Hypothyroidism with Sleep and Stress Management
Let’s dig more into that HPTA axis, shall we?
When cortisol is high, your thyroid hormones get released on a much smaller scale. This slows metabolism (because you don’t need to be digesting food and stored fat when you’re up against a saber-tooth tiger).
In fact, it’s a very delicate balance between thyroid and cortisol, which can impact blood sugar and lead to cravings and insulin resistance too.
So, to beat hypothyroidism and that bulge that can come with it, it’s really awesome to practice some daily stress management!
Things like…regular exercise, yoga, and meditation do wonders to beat hypothyroidism.
What to Eat to Beat Hypothyroidism
The most common cause of hypothyroidism is actually an autoimmune disease. And this is generally caused by chronic low-grade inflammation that has gone on unchecked for a long time.
This means that if you want to beat hypothyroidism with food, you’re going to have to lay off that pro-inflammatory stuff!
Start by ditching the Big 3: Dairy, Sugar and Gluten-Containing Grains. Cutting out these 3 foods can make massive improvements in your health. And, believe me, you can still enjoy delicious, amazing meals without any of them! (I’ve been without the Big 3 now for over 4 years and I LOVE to eat!)
For women with hypothyroidism, it’s best to minimize foods that have goitrogens. This includes soy, edamame, cabbage, kale, broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes, peaches, millet and peanuts. However, if you steam or cook these foods, you “kill off” some of the goitrogens and can handle them a bit more.
Good news for sweet potato lovers like me!
Include These Foods Daily
Essentially you want to eat a lot of antioxidant- and anti-inflammatory-rich foods to beat hypothyroidism. Plus, foods that naturally contain iodine and selenium (like eggs, seaweed, Brazil nuts) are great to help boost nutritional power to the thyroid.
Make sure to get a good quantity of healthy animal protein, too, like salmon, chicken, lamb or shrimp. Always look for ethically and naturally raised animal products to avoid chemicals and toxins that irritate the liver and thyroid.
Include anti-inflammatory foods like extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, ground flaxseeds, walnuts and macadamia nuts, too. Gluten-free whole grains in moderation are okay as well. Berries, bananas, citrus fruits and apples help to nourish the thyroid and keep your hormones balanced.
Elsevier (Aug 2011): The impact of yoga upon female patients suffering from hypothyroidism
Thyroid (Journal, July 2010): Environmental Exposures and Autoimmune Thyroid Disease
Very Well Health: 14 Tips for Living Well with Thyroid Disease
NHS: Underactive Thyroid(info page)
Healthline: Hypothyroidism – Stress and Your Thyroid
Women’s Health: Thyroid Disease
Healthline: Hypothyroid Diet