You may have thought that feeling fatigued, anxious and mentally foggy was just a part of the daily struggle, but turns out it may all relate back to the health of your thyroid. As one of the most important glands in your body, your thyroid helps to maintain metabolism, energy production and cellular repair—three processes that affect every single organ in your body. The bottom line, your thyroid is kind of a big deal.
And because it’s responsible for doing so much, don’t you want to do everything you can to keep your thyroid running full steam ahead? "In addition to factors, like family history and environment, the foods you eat can play a role in thyroid function," explains Amar Parikh, MD, an internal medicine provider with GMG's Gwinnett Internal Medicine Associates. Keep in mind that diet is especially important for those with thyroid conditions—roughly 1 in 20 Americans—like hypothyroidism; however, getting thyroid-boosting nutrients is always a win.
Here are 7 foods that help your thyroid:
- Leafy Greens. Whether you consider yourself a spinach lover or a kale fanatic, "all of these leafy greens are rich in magnesium, which helps your thyroid to produce more of the T4 hormone," says Dr. Parikh.
- Nuts. The benefit that nuts provide is two-fold. "Not only do they offer ample iron, they also serve as a great source of selenium, which helps your body to activate thyroid hormones," adds Dr. Parikh. Stick to Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds and cashews for the biggest boost of selenium.
- Seafood. While you may enjoy eating seafood for its protein and omega-3 fatty acids, did you know it also provides iodine? "As one nutritional building blocks of the thyroid hormone, iodine can be found in fish, shellfish and seaweed," notes Dr. Parikh.
- Dairy Products. If you’d rather steer clear of seafood, you can still enjoy ample iodine in many dairy products; namely plain, low-fat and Greek yogurt varieties, as well as low-fat milk.
- Lean Protein. It’s hard to go wrong with beef and chicken, right? Not only are these meats delicious, but they can help to supply your body with zinc, a key nutrient that supports immune health, wound healing and thyroid hormone production.
- Eggs. "If you’re looking for an inexpensive, versatile source of protein, vitamin B2 and selenium, iodine and zinc, then look no further than eggs," says Dr. Parikh. With a hearty amount of thyroid-loving nutrients found in the yolk, eggs are basically the complete package.
- Fresh Fruits. There’s no shortage of health benefits that fresh fruits offer. However, when it comes to the health of your thyroid, you want to focus on those that offer the most B vitamins. A few that top the list include citrus fruits, bananas and avocados.
It’s time for some thyroid truth. Despite it being the energy and metabolism hub for your whole body, your thyroid doesn’t get much credit or attention for all that it does.That’s why eating a diet rich in nutrients for your thyroid is important, but that’s just the first step. The next step is to work with your primary care provider, the health expert that knows you best, so you can understand your complete thyroid-health picture. "Furthermore, don't overlook subtle symptoms like fatigue, cold intolerance, weight gain and hair loss, that could indicate hypothyroidism, or anxiety, heart palpitations, heat intolerance or weight loss, as these could be signs of hyperthyroidism," emphasizes Dr. Parikh.