World Thyroid Day: May 25
1 (also thyroid gland) a large ductless gland in the neck which secretes hormones regulating growth and development through the rate of metabolism. [ as modifier ] : thyroid function. thyroid hormones.
It’s a small gland with big responsibilities, yet the thyroid—a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck—often suffers due to excess stress and nutrient-deficient food, with almost 500,000 Australians dealing with long-term thyroid disorders(1).
Diagnosis can either be hyperthyroidism (too much) or hypothyroidism (too little) hormone production, leading to symptoms including, but not limited to, exhaustion, constipation, depression, hair loss and, in women, heavy menstruation.
While relatively rare, thyroid cancer can also develop, with 3,435 Australians expected to be diagnosed in 2020(2).
It’s a disorder that manifests due to a variety of factors—many preventable—says naturopath, nutritionist and Lifestream wholefoods ambassador Janella Purcell.
“Our thyroids have been really affected in recent times thanks to lack of iodine and selenium in the soil, nutrient-deficient, highly processed foods, manmade chemicals and stress,” she says.
“The thyroid gland is located below the larynx in our throat and secretes hormones to regulate many metabolic processes, including growth and energy expenditure. When it is not functioning properly, our overall health sufferers—but there are steps we can take to help foster healthy, balanced thyroid function.”
For those who suffer from a thyroid condition, there are some simple healthy habits that can be adopted, says Janella, under the supervision of a health professional.
Janella’s Top Tips for Thyroid Health
1. TOP UP WITH SELENIUM
The main food sources of selenium in Australia are meat, poultry and game products; cereal products, fish and seafood(3). However soil concentration of selenium varies widely and affects levels in plant food. Australian soils are known to be selenium deficient, therefore our food is often lacking this essential trace element. Selenium is necessary for antioxidant protection and optimum immune and thyroid metabolism. I recommend Lifestream Natural Selenium, a wholefood source, cultured from selenium rich yeast that is 100% organically bound. High selenium yeast has emerged in recent times as the preferred option for selenium supplementation because it is natural and contains a wide range or organically bound selenium-rich proteins.
According to a 2014 Australian Health Survey, 3% of males and 6% of females aged two years and over did not meet their requirements for selenium intake. Amongst those 71 years and over, approximately one in 10 had inadequate selenium intakes (12% of males and 10% of females)(4).
It’s important to note that selenium may be toxic in high doses. Adults should take no more than 150mcg of selenium supplementation daily. Check with your health practitioner if you’re unsure.
2. SUPPLEMENT WITH A WHOLEFOOD IODINE SOURCE
Iodine is an essential nutrient required for the production of thyroid hormones, which is important for normal growth and development—especially the brain. Add Lifestream Bioactive Spirulina
, sea veggies, Himalayan salt, cranberries, organic yoghurt, navy beans, potatoes and strawberries to your daily diet under the guidance of a health professional if on thyroid medication.
3. DRINK LOTS OF CLEAN, ALKALINE WATER DAILY
Water helps your metabolism function more efficiently, and can help reduce your appetite, reduce water retention and bloating, improve your digestion and elimination, and combat constipation. If the taste of plain water doesn’t appeal, add a squeeze of cleansing, Vitamin C-rich lemon.
4. CHOOSE ORGANIC, FERMENTED SOY OVER PROCESSED SOY
Limit overconsumption of soy, especially processed and high-phytoestrogen forms of soy, like shakes, powders, soy milk and bars. Soy both acts as a goitrogen, and inhibits thyroid hormone absorption. You can either eliminate soy altogether, or limit it to organic fermented forms, like tempeh, in small quantities and not as a primary protein replacement. Non-organic soy is likely to be grown from genetically modified seed and sprayed with pesticides.
5. LIMITED GOITROGEN FOODS (particularly for hyperthyroidism)
These are naturally occurring substances in certain foods that can cause the thyroid gland to enlarge, which is called a goiter. Goitrogenic foods can also function like an antithyroid drug and actually slow down the thyroid and make it underactive (hypothyroidism). If you are hypothyroid, you don’t need to avoid goitrogenic foods entirely. The enzymes involved in the formation of goitrogenic materials in plants can be at least partially destroyed by heat, allowing you to enjoy these foods in moderation if they are steamed or cooked. These are broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kohl rabi, turnip, kale and soy.
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