Using Real Food To Heal the Thyroid

Using Real Food To Heal the Thyroid post image

Undiagnosed thyroid issues are very common and there is a lot of misinformation out there — in the public sector as well as the medical community. This article will enlighten you to symptoms, what tests to have, and what you can do to improve things via diet and lifestyle.

What Does the Thyroid Do?

The tiny thyroid gland is located in front of the neck. I  like how Christa refers to the thyroid as both “the furnace and the thermostat of the body”. Its main job is to regulate temperature and metabolism — — it controls how the body makes and uses energy and controls how sensitive the body is to other hormones — so the thyroid must be considered when looking at any health problems, especially digestive problems.

Thyroid controls the quality of our sleep, our weight, our mood and our energy levels — that’s a lot of power! Every cell in the body depends on thyroid hormone because energy production is dependent on these hormones.

The thyroid gland makes T4 by taking iodine from food and combines it with the amino acid l-tyrosine to make T4 and T3.  These hormones are released into the bloodstream and transported throughout the body to control metabolism and energy production.

Signs and Symptoms of Hypothyroid — Underactive thyroid

Symptoms include, depression, exhaustion, constipation, cold hands and feet, cold intolerance, thinning hair and soft nails, puffy eyes, memory loss, and poor concentration.

Autoimmune thyroid (Hashimoto’s or Graves) would also include thinning of the outside of eyebrows and sleep disorders.

Signs and Symptoms of Overactive Thyroid

Symptoms include, diarrhea, rapid weight loss, anxiety, high heart rate, high blood pressure, and eye sensitivity.

Digestive System and Thyroid

Good digestion is the key to good health and is the basis for thyroid health. This is the root cause of thyroid problems. People with leaky gut, dysbiosis, allergies, pathogenic pathogens like yeast or candida may develop thyroid issues if these digestive problems are not addressed.

The adrenal glands are also intertwined with thyroid and must be checked. Immune health, as well as the health of the liver and its ability to detoxify also play a part in thyroid disease.

Tests for Thyroid

Testing temperature and pulse (based on the work of Ray Peat — I might add that Broda Barnes wrote the book Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness and pioneered using basal body temperature as a way to accurately measure how the thyroid is working). You should test your temperature and pulse 5 times a day:

  • First thing in the morning and last thing at night and 20 minutes after each meal.
  • Waking temperature will be lower. I like it to be over 97.6 — during the day the temperature should be around 98.6.
  • The pulse should be around 75 or 80

If your temperature is below 97.6 it does indicate a thyroid problem. When you take your temperature first thing in the morning, be sure to have the thermometer in an easy to reach spot so you don’t have to move around. You can use a cheap digital oral thermometer sold in any pharmacy.

Blood Tests

Typical blood tests include TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone), free T3 (the active hormone), free T4 (the storage hormone), reverse T3 (can predict if thyroid is working well) and autoimmune marker TPO (Thyroid Peroxidase).

Typically if TSH is high (out of range) conventional doctors will put a patient on synthetic hormone which is just T4. If there is an autoimmune process that is going on, this will barely manage the condition and it will continue to stress the thyroid.

T3 is the active hormone and most important. If this is low, you are not making cellular energy (ATP) and will be very tired.

Another important test to have is a saliva test for cortisol for the adrenals.

Food to Avoid to Heal the Thyroid

There are specific foods that must be avoided if you have a thyroid problem of any kind. First off, you must avoid all genetically modified foods — you must figure out where they are coming from in your diet and get them out — and especially avoid gluten and soy.

What ‘s so Bad About Gluten?

There are many negative things about gluten that I have already written about here, here and here.

  • Gluten is very acidic
  • Gluten is scientifically engineered and hybridized
  • Gluten is devoid of nutrients
  • Gluten is pro-inflammatory
  • Gliadin (in gluten) may trigger the thyroid to attack itself (and cause autoimmunity)
  • Amylopectin (in gluten) — is a super starch that disrupts metabolism

What’s So Bad About Soy?

Soy blocks uptake of iodine which is an essential mineral for thyroid health. As much as 60% of the iodine in the body is found in the thyroid gland — so iodine is very important to the thyroid. However, small amounts of fermented soy may be fine — as tamari, miso and tempeh.

What are Goitrogens?

Goitrogens are chemical that block iodine uptake. Goitrogens can block thyroid hormone production. Those with Hashimoto’s or Graves should cook the following vegetables before consuming them to inactivate the goitrogen (I suggest you also do not eat too much of these even if cooked because cooking does not inactivate all the goitrogen).

Goitrogenic vegetables are: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, watercress, brussel sprouts, and peanuts. This is why raw green juices should also be avoided in thyroid disease.

Thyroid Friendly Foods

  • Iodine rich foods (Iodine necessary for thyroid hormone production): Seaweed, kelp, kelp flakes, onions, artichokes, pineapple
  •  Selenium rich foods (also may need to take a supplement): Selenium maintains thyroid hormone production.high quality pasture raised eggs (preferably soy free), wild shellfish, cremini mushrooms, garlic, sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts
  • Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Fermented fish oil
  • Leafy greens
  • Chia seeds
  • Raw saturated fats from coconut oil
  • Foods that are quickly converted to energy — these foods help regulate thyroid function such as coconut oil and coconut spread or coconut butter
  • Foods high in copper and iron to improve blood: cashews, oysters, clams, grassfed beef, organ meats
  • Other healing foods: raw milk, bone broth and gelatin help hormones recover from adrenal fatigue
  • Thyroid Power Drink: 2 Tbsp grassfed gelatin, cup of broth, celtic sea salt and coconut oil

Lifestyle Adjustments

Get some good quality sleep!

Before bed, heat up the body with a hot bath in magnesium oil or have a simple  foot bath with sea salt or magnesium oil or simply oil your feet with sesame or coconut oil and put socks on. This will help absorption of the oil. It also keeps your feet lovely and soft!

Another tip is to have a snack before bed to keep blood sugar balanced. A glass of raw milk is also a good snack before bed.

Another tip is to eat smaller meals of high quality real food throughout the day, with complex carbs like root vegetables, healthy fats and pastured raised animal products.

There are 2 Main Concepts to Help Make These Healing Changes

I — The Concept of Overcrowding

  • That is add the good foods and changes in and the bad stuff will fall away naturally
  • Write down 10 things that motivate or inspire you and start from there
  • Focus on what works for you

II — The Concept of Upgrading

  • Do one thing at a time that makes you feel better
  • Find replacements for foods you love

This was a very interesting topic, filled with a lot of complicated information.

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Leave a Comment

  • Linda October 21, 2013, 10:35 am

    By leafy greens, do you mean lettuce & other salad greens? Beet greens, etc?

  • Mary October 21, 2013, 11:56 am

    Great article and really hit home with me on a lot of areas. Thanks for sharing this..:-)

  • Heather October 21, 2013, 12:19 pm

    Thank you for the great article Jill!

    • Jill October 21, 2013, 12:42 pm

      @ Linda,
      Yes to salad greens and dark leafy greens to cook like beet greens and chard, etc.
      @Mary and @Heather, thanks for your comments!

  • Heather October 22, 2013, 7:22 pm

    Thankyou for this today. I have psoriatic arthritis which I have had under control for 3 years now but over the past few days have felt very off but not out of pain. I had been strict on my gluten free diet for the last week (where I hadn’t been recently) and feeling great but over the past few days had a little gluten. Reading the symptoms I am ticking a lot off. I am quite probably in thyroid distress. Thankyou for your wisdom.

    • Jill October 22, 2013, 8:33 pm

      Hi Heather,
      I’m glad it has helped you.

  • April @ The 21st Century Housewife October 28, 2013, 12:12 pm

    I found this really interesting. I honestly didn’t know very much about the thyroid, except that it was very important! Thankfully I am in very good health, but it’s great to know more about the symptoms and treatment for thyroid problems.

  • amber October 29, 2013, 12:28 pm

    Such an excellent post, Jill. I sent this to several important people in my life that suffer from thyroid issues. This post was reader favorite on AFW last week!!!


  • Jennifer at Purposeful Nutrition October 30, 2013, 5:29 pm

    Great article. Would love if you would share this at Healing with Food Friday at

  • sharon October 30, 2013, 10:32 pm

    Hit the nail on the head with much of this,

    Another goitrogen: soy: such as tofu.

    My comments as a trained naturopath and a NON functioning thyroid are these:

    Where there is ANY Low or Hypothyroid conditions, heed the goitrogen comment. What these goitrogens also do is block the T4 conversion in the blood to the active form of the hormone T3.

    I cannot agree that digestion is a cause of all Thyroid conditions, but in the case of all autoimmunity, (including Graves and Hashimoto’s) it must be avoided, and may in fact be a cause.

    Low thryoid function however, can slow the digestion, as EVERYTHING slows down, even the heart. Constipation or a once a week bowel habit can be an indicator to check for underfunctioning thyroid condition. This alone can lead to leaky bowel, (as opposed to the other way round), in severe long term untreated cases eventually fatty liver and diabetes.

    Always check for the cause.

    High Adrenal stress puts a major constant pressure on the thyroid and can be the prime cause of underfunctioning thyroid in some people and lead to other thyroid conditions as well. In turn, Thyroid conditions put stress on the adrenal system.

    Good on you for getting th e word out there I went unchecked for 25 years. Wasted time I am now making up for.

  • Sue September 7, 2014, 7:57 pm

    I have 2 daughters that have thyroid issues, one Hashimotos, the other just low function. My family has a history of thyroid, grandfather, his mother died from a goiter, my aunt, but mother does not have problem, but has weight issues..

    I know I have thyroid issues, but I don’t test below normal. I am also on Warfarin due to artificial aortic valve, so have problems with vitamin K foods.

    I am also gluten sensative. As is my daughter with the Hasimotos and her daughter.
    Its almost impossible for me to decide how to eat. I’m 68 and in the last 10 years have packed on 40 lbs. Its all in my middle. I need advice. I’m sure some of the weight gain is stress.

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  • Shari October 26, 2014, 7:36 pm

    I’m not sure I understand why you do not recommend raw green drinks of the non goitergenic (sp?) greens. I have just started blending raw greens and fruit in the mornings and feel much better during the day.
    Thanks for your input.

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