Thyroid imbalance is everywhere. Countless women (and some men) come to work with me, seeking holistic help in healing their thyroid naturally. While each individual has a unique set of circumstances driving their bio-individual needs, addressing common root causes of thyroid imbalance ensures a smooth ride on the road to healing. There are many environmental factors and foods that disrupt the delicate balance of our hormones. More often than not in todays supermarkets we are buying food-like products, instead of whole-healing food. The shelves are packed with ingredients we can’t pronounce, or filled with cheap fillers that are deteriorating our health. Below are three foods to avoid for thriving thyroid (and hormone) health.
1. Processed Soy
Despite it being touted as a health food, much of the soy grown in America is largely a GMO crop processed with herbicides, fungicides and pesticides. It is grown cheap and used in almost all packaged foods as a “vegetable” oil, filler and preservative. Pick up any packaged food, there is a strong chance you will find soy (or a soy derivative: soybean oil, soy lecithin etc..) on the package.
Soy contains high amounts of unavoidable goitrogens, which suppress thyroid function by interfering with iodine utilization in the thyroid gland. Soy is also a highly estrogenic food, making it a poor choice if you are estrogen dominant or suffering from hormone imbalances.
Keep in mind that traditional soy consumed for centuries is almost a completely different product than the soy in today’s “soy dogs and soy milks”. The soy in traditionally made miso soup or in tamari sauce (wheat free soy sauce) is typically made from organic, aged soy beans, fermented and above all – consumed in moderation.
Soy directly affects the endocrine system and we are receiving a slow drip of it everywhere. If you have a hypothyroid, or other hormone imbalance it is important to evaluate the ingredients list in every food you consume, attempting to reduce soy and soy products from your diet.
2. Added Simple Sugars
Refined sugar, is very different from simple carbohydrate that occurs naturally in foods such as grains, beans, vegetables and fruit. Refined sugar lacks vitamins, minerals and fiber, and actually requires extra effort from the body to successfully digest it. In fact, the body must deplete its own store of minerals and enzymes to absorb sugar properly. If you recall, those with thyroid deficiencies are often mineral deficient as well (read more on that here). So instead of providing the body with nutrition, sugar metabolism places a great stress to the body.
Like soy, sugar is found in almost all processed foods from soup to nuts. Like it or not, the average person is consuming more than 140 pounds of added sugar per person/per year! Repeated exposure and stimulation from refined sugar causes excessive stimulation of hormones: insulin, cortisol and adrenalin – which stresses the adrenal glands. Over time, this can breakdown the overall communication system of the endocrine system, affecting sex hormone levels and overall body balance.
Regardless if you have an “allergy” to gluten, most all people have some type of sensitivity (even if they have no “gut” related symptoms). Gluten is extremely difficult to break down naturally and creates stress on your digestive process. Each time you consume gluten, your body works overtime to keep things in balance. Gluten often interferes with your digestion, making it difficult for you to properly eliminate toxins and absorb nutrients, prompting low level inflammation. Because of this, gluten can be in particularly troublesome for thyroid health because it is in our gut much of where our hormone synthesis and conversion takes place. There are strong studies directly linking autoimmune thyroid disease with gluten sensitivity and intolerance. I suggest if you have an autoimmune condition (or gluten allergy) that you are screened for both.
Gluten sensitivity symptoms can include inflammation in the joints, fatigue, skin irritations, odd rashes, adult acne, hormone imbalance – all without any “gut” symptoms.
Are Goitrogenic Foods Harming Your Thyroid?
This is a question that comes up every season in my Thyroid Makeover eCourse. But generally speaking goitrogenic foods are loaded with healthy sources of micronutrients much needed for healthy thyroid function. Once again, this is a question of bio-individual needs, but for most these are highly nutritious foods. It is also important to note that with the exception of high density goitrogens like those found in soy, simply heating these foods will reduce the goitrogenic properties. This is to me is yet another reason to avoid soy altogether. Read more about my thoughts on cruciferous veggies and goitrogenic foods HERE