Top 5 Foods for Thyroid Health

5 foods for thyroid health

Pick the right foods for thyroid health

The thyroid provides a convenient organ to blame for all our misfortunes. Weight gain? Sluggish? Can’t get out of bed in the morning? “Your thyroid is slow,” many practitioners will respond.

Very often, we drain our thyroid with a modern lifestyle and modern diet. Take a look at some of the many thyroid-abusing factors we face each day: 

  • Emotional stress
  • Consumption of soy
  • Refined carbs
  • Over-exercising
  • Too much estrogen (my book explains all about this)
  • Chemicals in body care products
  • Too little sleep
  • Extreme diets, such as very low carb diets and vegan diets
  • Vegetable oils (canola oil, corn oil, safflower oil, etc. as well as grapeseed oil)

To support the thyroid function in order to boost metabolism, we have to eliminate these thyroid-abusers and fuel up with the right building blocks. Here are 5 top foods for thyroid health:

1. Liver for thyroid health

In my book, properly sourced liver provides the most significant thyroid-boosting properties in a whole food source due to one vital nutrient: vitamin A. As a matter of fact, liver offers the highest concentration of vitamin A in nature.

foods for thyroid healthVitamin A plays a key role in nursing a sluggish thyroid back into health. In one study, groups of obese and non-obese women supplemented with 25,000 IU of vitamin A per day. After four months, both groups showed and increase of circulating thyroid hormone and a decrease in TSH, indicating improved thyroid function (1). 25,000 IU sounds like a lot of vitamin A per day, but in early traditional cultures across the globe, people consumed upward of 50,000 per day (read more)!

Most importantly, the vitamin A from liver (and all other animal sources) is the bio-available form vitamin A, which means the body can utilize it. The vitamin A from plant sources such as beta-carotene, in contrast, must first be converted to retinoid form to be useful in the body (read more). The extremely poor conversion rate of carotene-to-retinoid is made insignificant if we have a slow thyroid, so it is imperative to get true vitamin A from animal sources.

I do not recommend long-term vitamin A supplementation, since synthetic vitamin A carries a higher risk of toxicity since it is not well-utilized by the body. Opt to get true vitamin A from foods (here is a list of more true vitamin A foods).

One important caveat: make sure you source liver from small, organic/biodynamic farms – good choices are pastured beef liver and pastured chicken liver. The liver filters toxins, but it doesn’t store toxins. However, the livers of conventionally-raised feedlot animals will contain toxins because they are overburdened

The Weston Price Foundation recommends 2 to 3 3oz. servings of liver per week. If you don’t like the taste of sauteéd liver or pate, try my DIY Liver Pills or take 2-6 of these desiccated liver capsules each day.

2. Coconut oil for thyroid health

small coconutCoconut oil is about 2/3 medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), fatty acids that are directly absorbed into the bloodstream in the small intestine and used for energy. These MCTs have been shown to increase increase energy expenditure, which is another term for boosting metabolism (2, 3, 4).

Since increased thyroid function is essentially synonymous with increase metabolism, we can draw the conclusion that coconut oil is profoundly healing for the thyroid.

For a bit of anecdotal evidence of the benefits of coconut oil for thyroid, farmers in the 1940’s tried to fatten their animals with coconut oil only to find that it made the animals lean and energetic! Later, it was discovered that corn and soy feed accomplished the goal. It had an antithyroid effect on the animals, allowing the pigs to fatten quickly while eating less. Conclusion: if you want stable weight and a happy thyroid, ditch the soy and favor the coconut!

3. Eggs for thyroid health

Eggs live up to their title of The Perfect Food, especially when it comes to balancing hormones through diet. They provide a concentrated source of thyroid-supporting building blocks like protein, cholesterol, B vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins, and minerals.

Contrary to the belief of mainstream (or, as I say, mislead) nutrition, the yolks – not whites – are the most nutritious part of the egg. Take a look at the nutrition highlights of eggs:

  •  Iodine – everyone knows that the thyroid gland requires iodine to create thyroid hormones. But did you know that eating 2-3 eggs per day can fulfill 20-30% of your daily iodine requirement?
  • Selenium – both the egg yolk and the white provides an excellent source of selenium. This mineral supports the conversion of thyroid hormone T4 into the useable form of T3.
  • Fat-soluble vitamins – the egg yolk contains all of the fat-soluble vitamins in the egg. These vitamins A, D, E, and K all support thyroid.
  • B Vitamins – B vitamins support blood sugar balance and energy levels. Egg yolks are particularly high in choline, which supports the detox pathways and hormone balance.
  • Cholesterol – although demonized by scientists with poor research habits, the beneficial qualities of dietary cholesterol is slowly garnering attention. Dietary cholesterol from pasture-raised egg yolks only does a body good. Dietary cholesterol supports the synthesis of balanced sex hormones, therefore aiding thyroid. I’ve already extensively discussed and de-mythed cholesterol here.

4. Unrefined Salt for thyroid health

It seems to good to be true… salt makes food delicious AND it is good for us? Indeed! An important distinction, however, is the difference between unrefined salt such as himalayan salt and processed, bleached table salt.

These are just a few of the ways unrefined salt boosts thyroid:

  • It reduces circulating cortisol and adrenaline. These stress hormones are anti-thyroid so reducing them supports thyroid expression.
  • It supports overall adrenal function. We can’t fix thyroid without helping our adrenal glands… adrenals and thyroid are joined at the hip.
  • It supports the synthesis of proper stomach acid so we can digest our food
  • It provides a unique profile of trace minerals
  • Read more in my post, 12 Reasons Why Salt is Good for You

Salt your food freely and to taste (if you have kidney disease or hypertension, it is a good idea to consult with a medical practitioner before increasing salt intake.). Again, favor unrefined options like  real salt.

5. Cod Liver Oil for thyroid health

Cod liver oil, a historically sacred food, offers the unique balance of vitamin A and vitamin D, both in highly bio-available forms. Everyone from babies to pregnant mothers to the elderly can benefit by taking a top quality cod liver product daily. Those with compromised thyroids benefit from the hormone-balancing fat-soluble vitamins.

As a bonus, this super-supplement has been heralded for curing acne and preventing the common cold. I can personally attest to the latter: ever since I started taking a daily dose, my immune system is supercharged! I rarely get colds anymore, and if I do, they last for just a day or two.

Fermented cod liver oil is the most pristine and effective form of cod liver oil, and it can be purchased here. I suggest the Cinnamon Tingle flavor (trust me, it is the most palatable). Although fermented cod liver is the top choice, the cod liver oil capsules may be acceptable.

The Thyroid Sessions to improve thyroid health naturally

Are you trying to address hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Grave’s disease or Hashimoto’s disease naturally? I’m right there with you – I’m working to fit together the pieces of my health issues, and one of those pieces is hypothyroidism. One of the most helpful resources for me has been The Thyroid Sessions, which is a digital program with interviews and documents from the leading experts in natural thyroid health. It answers questions like:

  • What thyroid supplements are helpful, and which are harmful?
  • What’s the deal with iodine supplementation?
  • How can I maximize my thyroid function for fertility?
  • How do I deal with autoimmune thyroid disease?
  • What is the best diet for thyroid health?

And so, so much more. I highly recommend checking out The Thyroid Sessions program here to learn more.

Do you use any of these foods for thyroid health? 

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Comments

  1. Michaela says

    Hi, Lauren!

    I take CLO daily, but haven’t started taking desiccated liver. Do you know what the difference is between CLO and desiccated liver? My understanding is they are both high in Vit A. Shouldn’t CLO offer the same, or similar, benefits as liver?

    I should probably explain that I simply can’t bring myself to eat liver! I know it’s healthy, but everyone has their line! LOL

    Thanks! =)

  2. says

    I have been signed up for the thyroid sessions and counting down the days! Thanks for sharing your list of Top foods for Thyroid Health.

  3. Diane says

    I was interested in the statement about a single serving of soy slowing down the thyroid. Does that go for soy sauce as well I wonder?

  4. monika says

    what do you consider to be over-exercising? this seems like a blanket item on the list…I think it is relative to how much people eat, what type of exercise, etc.

    also….how do you REALLY confirm thyroid issues? my blood work comes back fine, but I know that my body isn’t turning T4 into USABLE T3 hormone based on my other hormonal issues…No one is really willing to work with me on my thyroid health, because it appears that I am healthy…I’m at a loss. Any advice?

    Thanks!

    • says

      I will expand more on habits that harm thyroid health in a future post, and discuss the exercise in particular. As for thyroid tests, it is waaay to complex to discuss in a comment. Chris Kresser has some great articles about thyroid numbers on his site. Also, the upcoming seminar will really be helpful in that regard.

  5. says

    I enjoyed reading every bit of this list! I’ve been feeling tired all week from work and sleeplessness. I usually pump myself up by eating a lot of junk and I just feel much more tired. I can’t seem to have enough energy to push through finishing my usual daily walks. I’m definitely going to have myself checked, I thought I was only being lazy. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Becs says

    My question is about soy…my main consumption [of soy] is coming from Ezekiel bread, (sprouted) and then I like the braggs minerals (the actual name escapes me at the moment) in place of soy sauce. How detrimental is “good” soy to the thyroid? How important is it that soy is consumed in its fermented state? Do you recommend a diet free of soy altogether?

  7. Ellen says

    With some 70% of this country being force-fluoridated via their drinking water (in most beverages, foods, beers….), it’s no wonder that our thyroids are shutting down. Add in the bromine ( a known thyroid destroyer) in many commercial breads and Mountain Dew–probably more places) and the chlorine (another thyroid destroyer) added to municipal water supplies and you’ve got continual destruction of our thyroid glands. The insanity must stop FIRST; stop destroying this vital gland and then rebuild it with real non-GMO foods, whole nourishing foods, iodine and real pure water.

  8. Siobhan says

    Hi,
    I am wondering if you have any suggestions or insight into healing a gut after h.pylori/parasite infection? I have been gluten/dairy/grain free and using glutamine powder and probiotics daily. Yet, I still have bad digestion and acne. Any ideas?
    Many thanks.

  9. Carrie says

    Why do they recommend eating eggs for thyroid health if we are supposed to eliminate eggs on the autoimmune protocol for issues like Hashimoto’s?

  10. Amanda says

    Hi, Lauren!
    My daughter and I both do not have a thyroid. We both had surgery to remove it, mine a little more than half of mine 17 1/2 years ago, and hers all of it 8 years ago both due to the same non-hereditary thyroid cancer. Having dealt with having no thyroid for this long for both of us, we are tired of being tired.! Is there anything we can do to help our sluggishness, constant fatigue, weight gain and seemingly never being able to get enough sleep? Thank you for any input you may have.
    Sincerely,
    Amanda

  11. Mina says

    haha! Whatever. If you want to eat meat, do it, but don’t try to spread lies about veganism.

    I developed hypothyroidism, AND anemia, while eating meat. My thyroid functions BETTER now that I am vegan, and the anemia is under control, too.

    Another benefit—I’m almost 50 and don’t have to take cholesterol mecications, nor do I have issues with pre-diabetes or high blood pressure.

  12. Krystyne says

    I have been to many specialists and still no closer to improving my thyroid. Even had a doctor ask it’ll I was really taking my thyroid medication because they just don’t understand why no amount of adjusting meds is helping. I range from 28-55 when it should be .4-3. Anyone have issues with being off the charts like this with no consistency or reason as to it fluctuating so much?

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