It seems that more and more people I know have a thyroid disorder, first my mum, then a good friend, and another… so, I thought I’d look into what it’s all about and what they can eat to help themselves. According to the British Thyroid Foundation about one in 20 people has some kind of thyroid disorder, which may be temporary or permanent.
Your thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, just in front of your windpipe (trachea).
It is incredibly important as it produces hormones which play vital roles in regulating: the rate at which your cells produce energy, heart and digestive function, muscle control, brain development and bone maintenance.
Your thyroid also contributes to the way your body absorbs micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals), and gets rid of toxic substances.
Overactive and Underactive thyroid
An overactive thyroid, also known as hyperthyroidism or thyrotoxicosis, is where your thyroid gland produces too much of the thyroid hormones.
An overactive thyroid can affect anyone, but it's about 10 times more common in women than men, and typically happens between 20 and 40 years of age.
Common signs of an overreactive thyroid are nervousness, anxiety and irritability, mood swings, difficulty sleeping, persistent tiredness and weakness, sensitivity to heat, swelling in your neck from an enlarged thyroid gland (goitre), an irregular and/or unusually fast heart rate (palpitations), twitching or trembling and weight loss.
An underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) is where your thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones.
Common signs of an underactive thyroid are tiredness, weight gain, sensitivity to cold, dry hair and skin, muscle aches and feeling depressed.
Hypothyroidism is the most common.
So how do you make sure your thyroid is healthy?
There are 2 micronutrients for thyroid health that are sanctioned by the EU Food Safety Authority (EFSA). These are iodine and selenium, both of which work together to contribute to the production of thyroid hormones and normal thyroid function.
Iodine is a trace mineral and an essential part of thyroid hormones. Iodine is a crucial micronutrient for thyroid hormone synthesis and the only source is dietary.
Crab meat is very versatile and can be made into crab cakes, served as the fish component of surf and turf, with pasta, be potted with butter and much more.
A 120g portion will give you 341% of your recommended daily amount (RDA) for selenium and 175% for iodine.
For those of you who are adventurous cooks, I used to go to restaurant where they served choux pastry (used for profiteroles), stuffed with crabmeat and topped with hollandaise sauce for a starter. It was delicious.
Everyone’s favourite cod is a great choice to get your dose of iodine and selenium, with a 200g (medium) portion of cod fried in a coating, (think batter or fishfingers) 😊 giving you 236% and 84% of your RDA respectively.
With those 3 ingredients a fish pie would be a fabulous way to please the whole family and top up your thyroid protecting nutrients, plus a whole lot more. There’s a lot in this luxury version so you could leave out the salmon and prawns if you wanted to.
Chicken is pretty good for selenium. The thighs are a fab choice for casseroles or curries and have a more selenium than chicken breasts. If you are really not a fan of thighs, then breasts are still a good choice.
200g of chicken thighs in a casserole will give you 56% of your RDA for selenium and 200g of chicken breast grilled will give you 33% of your RDA.
There’s not that much iodine in meat. Beef is your best choice with beef shin (used to make really slow cooked casseroles like a beef bourguignon) coming in tops. As its not really that readily available your best choice is:
We now know that both Iodine and selenium will help to keep your thyroid functionating normally and contribute to thyroid hormone production.
I’ve just given you a small sample of some of the foods available with the highest amount of both. To find more simply search for selenium or iodine and before clicking on the image, look above it and click on the green box that says Ingredient results or Recipe results.
To find out more about the foods listed just click on the name of the ingredient above.
The easiest way to ensure you’re getting enough selenium or iodine and all of the essential nutrients, in your diet, is to keep a food diary. It’s really easy with our Free for Life account. Want to give it a try, just click below?
I'm our communications and marketing person, dealing with social media and copywriting. I also work with Matt and Ric overseeing the design and strategic management of the site.
I'm also the author of the Eva the Hungry Amoeba children's book series (only one so far). You can find it on Amazon.
My favourite foods, shepherds pie and smoked haddock!