20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease.* Worldwide, prevalence is high in many countries, including approximately 850,000 in Australia. Most individuals have hypothyroid, including Hashimoto’s autoimmune disease, which is the focus of this blog post. Hypothyroid means your thyroid gland is underactive (as opposed to the less common hyperthyroid, an overactive gland).
Women are disproportionately affected with 5 to 8 times the risk of men, and overall 1 in every 8 women has a thyroid condition of some kind. That means many of us who have a thyroid condition don’t yet know it.
What is your thyroid?
The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland in the front of the neck, responsible for making hormones that act on almost every cell in your body.
The thyroid gland has vast influence on:
- Metabolism and weight
- Brain development
- Breathing, body temperature and skin
- Heart health and cholesterol levels
With a shocking 60% of people with thyroid issues unaware of their condition, knowing the symptoms of underactive thyroid is important.
- Unexplained weight gain
- Fatigue and muscle aches
- Cold sensitivity, thinning hair and dry skin
- Depression, impaired memory and concentration
- Infertility, low libido and irregular menstrual cycles
Weight loss with thyroid issues
For those with thyroid conditions, weight management is an extra challenge. It is common for weight loss to be slower, or be prone to plateaus despite working hard to eat well and exercise. Frustrating! But weight loss is still possible, even with a sluggish thyroid. Try to think of it as “work smarter, not harder.” There are specific techniques to help break through a weight loss plateau for those with thyroid conditions.
Nutrition therapy for thyroid conditions
There are many effective medical treatments for thyroid conditions yet seeking out integrative therapies may offer additional benefit. In terms of diet and nutrition, there are some general guidelines to follow. Try eating small, frequent meals that combine a balance of protein, plants and carbohydrates. Be sure to drink water throughout the day.
Limit consumption of goitrogen foods. These include unfermented soy foods like tofu, and raw cruciferous vegetables. Check out our article on these foods.
Cruciferous veggies are healthy and have nutrients to support the body’s natural detoxification processes and provide cancer-fighting compounds. Choose to consume them lightly steamed, roasted, grilled or baked. Limit or avoid juicing raw cruciferous vegetables.
Cruciferous veggies include: kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, radish, bok choy, collard greens, mustard greens, arugula (rocket), watercress and Brussels sprouts.
Include minerals that may be lacking in soil or in the diet, like selenium and iodine.
Selenium-rich foods include Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, fish, shellfish, mushrooms, onions, whole grains (wheat germ, brown rice, barley, oats), eggs, poultry and beef.
Iodine-rich foods include seaweed, fish, fortified salt and dairy products.
*If you have a hypothyroid condition, including Hashimoto’s autoimmune disease, then consider signing up for our next 60-Day Guided Reboot for Thyroid. This program will help you learn how to properly nourish and protect your thyroid, lose weight (if you have weight to lose), support a healthy immune system and jumpstart a healthy lifestyle. Register today.