The thyroid is hailed as “the master gland” of our complex endocrine system. The thyroid produces several hormones that transport
energy into every cell of the body. The thyroid gland also acts as the boss of our metabolism, which is
why symptoms of hypothyroidism include weight gain and fatigue — as well
as constipation, depression, low body temperature, sleep disturbances,
difficulty concentrating, edema (fluid retention), hair loss,
infertility, joint aches and light sensitivity.
Low fats diets have had a detrimental impact on the thyroid and overall hormonal health. Why?
Let’s look at why we need fat in the first place:
- Fats help us absorb vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E,
and K are fat-soluble vitamins (these vitamins are also low in individuals with thyroid issues). Healthy fats help the
intestine absorb these vitamins.
- Fats make hormones. The
primary starting block hormones are build on is cholesterol. The body creates cholesterol
and then uses it to make hormones including testosterone, estrogen,
progesterone and cortisol. When we starve our bodies of cholesterol, (by cholesterol, we mean the
healthy fats/real food from which cholesterol is made), our bodies
lack fuel to make the building blocks. As a result, our
hormone levels, including thyroid hormone T4, begin to plummet.
- Fats build our brain. Fat provides the structural
components not only of cell membranes in the brain, but also of myelin,
the fatty insulating sheath that surrounds each nerve fiber, enabling it
to carry messages faster.
- Fats create healthy bowels. Healthy fats help move food through the intestines – lack of fats creates constipation which is common in poor thyroid health.
- Essential for Digestion. Healthy fats and proteins are essential in maintaining a healthy digestive system which is key to thyroid health.
- Fats provide energy. Calorically dense healthy fats are the most efficient source of food energy, helping us feel satisfied after meals, preventing snacking.
- Fat provides healthier skin. One of the more obvious signs of fatty acid deficiency is dry, flaky skin.
As you can see, our body, hormones and the thyroid need fats...it’s non-negotiable.
The Great Fat-Free, Low-Fat Scam
When most individuals think of "diet food", fat-free or low-fat yogurt is usually at the top of their list.
Our example, Yoplait, is 99% fat free, however it contains a whopping 26g of sugar.
4g of sugar is equal to 1 teaspoon, so your 99% fat free yogurt contains almost 7 teaspoons of sugar.
That is nearly as much sugar as a can of Coke! (1 can of Coke contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar)
Why so much sugar?
When fat is removed from food it creates a poor texture, dry and tasteless, kind of like cardboard. So what do the food makers do?
They add lots of sugar to give it taste.
They add artificial emulsifiers like modified corn starch and gelatin as thickeners and for consistency.
They add dangerous preservatives to make it last longer.
The Low-Fat Diet Myth
The conventional low-fat diet was based on very weak scientific evidence, which has since been thoroughly disproven. The public health campaign was to essentially get people off of saturated
fat or try to get them onto trans fats like hydrogenated vegetable oils and margarine.
We’ve since learned that the link between trans fats and heart
disease is the strongest link we have of any fat to heart disease link. We were
told butter is evil and margarine is good, and it turned out to be
the opposite. Trans fats are very cheap for industry to make and give food a
reasonably good texture and taste. The problem is our body does not
process them effectively and they are making us sick.
So what should we eat? What can we do?
1. Stop buying low fat. Always look for the full fat, unaltered version of your favorite products, and exercise portion control. It will taste better and be much more nutritious.
2. Eat healthy fats. Choose high quality healthy of fats such as coconut oil and coconut milk/cream, raw nuts and seeds, flax seed, olives and olive oil, avocado, full-fat organic dairy, grass-fed meats, and wild fish (like salmon).
3. Avoid hydrogenated vegetable oils like canola oil, soybean oil, palm oil and margarine. Always read the ingredients list.
Testing At Home
Although lab testing is
the best way to get an accurate sense of how well (or poorly) your
thyroid is functioning, you can do a simple at-home test to get started.
Keep a glass basal thermometer beside your bed. (A regular thermometer
cannot assess minute temperature shifts.) When you wake up in the
morning, at roughly the same time and before moving at all, tuck the
thermometer snugly in your armpit and keep it in place for 10 minutes.
Remain as still as possible. Remove, take a reading, and record the
results. Follow this procedure for three days. If your average
temperature is below 97.8 degrees F, you may have an underactive
thyroid. (Women should begin testing on the second day of menstruation
because mid-cycle, there is a natural rise in temperature with
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism (Graves' Disease)
• heart palpitations
• increased perspiration
• thinning of your skin
• fine brittle hair
• muscular weakness especially involving the upper arms and thighs
• shaky hands
• panic disorder
• racing heart
• more frequent bowel movements
• weight loss despite a good appetite
• lighter flow, less frequent menstrual periods
• hair loss
• weight gain for no good reason
Eating right for thyroid healthAvoid:
- Goitrogens: foods that interfere with thyroid function- raw cruciferous vegetables (raw broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi,
rutabaga and turnips. Try steaming them instead)
- Unfermented soy
- Artificial sweeteners
- Gluten (gluten is a potential goitrogen and can also
trigger autoimmune responses (including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) in
people who are sensitive. Gluten is found in wheat, rye and barley,
along with most processed foods).
- Foods rich in zinc, iron and copper (such as spinach, turnip greens and swiss chard)
- Strawberries and peaches
- Sea vegetables* (such as dulse, nori)
- Selenium rich foods (such as shrimp,tuna, cod, shitake mushrooms and brazil nuts)
- Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil
- Coconut oil
*It should be noted, however, that too much iodine can actually trigger
thyroid problems and worsen symptoms, so it’s important to have a
Try a natural home remedy to support your thyroid.
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Sources: thyroiddietcoach.com, http://experiencelife.com