When it comes to nourishing your body and managing your thyroid health, it’s important to understand the thyroid-goitrogen link.
Before I was officially diagnosed with Graves’ Disease, the very first thing the doctor noticed was that I had an enlarged thyroid (aka a goitre).
It was something I didn’t even notice myself until she pointed it out. But once she did, I couldn’t see anything else.
It’s the thing that led to lab work, an ultrasound – and ultimately my diagnosis.
At the time, I didn’t pay much attention to this category of food that was slowly affecting my thyroid gland. I totally missed the thyroid-goitrogen link.
WHAT ARE GOITROGENS
Goitrogens are a compound that’s found in many of the fruits and veggies we eat.
These chemicals are essentially a natural way for some plants to defend themselves against fungus and predators. But they can also make it harder for our thyroid to produce hormones.
That’s why it’s important to understand the thyroid-goitrogen link so you can decide whether or not to limit them in your own eating style.
HOW THEY AFFECT YOUR THYROID
The link between goitrogens and thyroid function was initially made in 1928 after scientists noticed fresh cabbage-eating rabbits had developed an enlarged thyroid.
Goitrogens affect the thyroid by:
- Preventing iodine from entering the thyroid. And your body needs iodine to produce thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).
- These foods also disrupt the conversion of T4 (the inactive thyroid storage hormone) into the active thyroid hormone T3.
If you’re dealing with thyroid disease, eating large amounts of these vegetables raw could have a negative impact on how well your thyroid functions.
COMMON GOITROGENIC FOODS
The most common goitrogenic foods are cruciferous vegetables. But there are some fruits, nuts, and grains that are also categorized as goitrogenic.
Bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, spinach and turnips.
FRUITS + STARCHY PLANTS
Cassava, corn, lima beans, millet, peaches, peanuts, pears, pine nuts, strawberries and sweet potatoes.
Tofu, tempeh, edamame and soy milk.
HOW TO MINIMIZE THE EFFECTS
Goitrogenic foods are rich in vitamins and minerals – something we could all use more of.
Here’s what you can do to minimize the negative effects:
- Don’t eat them raw: Steaming, cooking or fermenting can reduce the levels of goitrogens. If you’re someone who loves fresh spinach, cauliflower or kale in your smoothies, try blanching them first.
- Manage your iodine and selenium intake: Getting enough iodine and selenium can help reduce the effects of goitrogens.
- Switch things up: Eating a variety of foods will help reduce the amount of goitrogens you consume and make sure you get a healthy diversity of vitamins and minerals.
If you have a hypothyroidism, an enlarged thyroid gland or thyroid nodules – you may want to consider cutting back on the amount of goitrogenic foods you eat overall.
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the thyroid-goitrogen link
July 8, 2021