One of the more common autoimmune disorders is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, a condition where the body attacks the thyroid by producing antibodies against it. This results in low thyroid function, or hypothyroidism. Eating Paleo was extremely therapeutic and healing for my own Hashimoto’s by helping me to reduce inflammation in my body and enhancing my digestive function. While most Paleo foods can be beneficial in this process, here are my top seven recommendations for foods that benefit overall thyroid health and why I think they’re so amazing.
Rich in vitamin D and omega 3’s. Salmon is also the mother of all anti-inflammatory fish, and it’s an essential part of any autoimmune dietary protocol. It’s also rich in B12 (a deficiency can contribute to autoimmune disorders, nervous system problems, and overall susceptibility to activation of inherent genetic disorders) and selenium, an antioxidant that is crucial for thyroid hormone production.
Rich in selenium. Speaking of selenium, sunflower seeds are a potent source of this antioxidant which helps to prevent cells from damage that can take place during autoimmune attacks. Selenium deficiencies are associated with autoimmune thyroid disorders, but are also common in people with intestinal malabsorption (also known as leaky gut) problems like those with IBS, Crohn’s, celiac disease, or SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). Unfortunately, it’s common to find thyroid sufferers who also have one or more of these intestinal conditions because of the full-body nature of autoimmunity. Eating a diet rich in selenium can have a protective effect on the gut barrier, which in turn can improve overall health. Other foods rich in selenium include Brazil nuts, shrimp, and tuna, but all grassfed and pasture-raised meats, wild caught fish, and nuts and seeds will have varying levels of selenium in them.
Rich in iodine needed for thyroid hormone production. Note that simply supplementing with iodine instead of getting dietary sources can actually perpetuate autoimmune reactions with Hashimoto’s. Iodine is essential for proper thyroid function, but is also important for breast, skin, and liver health.
Rich in magnesium, which is necessary for conversion of thyroid hormone from inactive form to active (a.k.a. usable) form. Magnesium deficiency is more common than we think. In the quest for mineral health, everyone focuses on calcium, but magnesium is equally important.
Rich in copper, which is an essential trace mineral, your thyroid needs copper to help stimulate the thyroid to produce hormones, but also has a major role in controlling the level of thyroid hormone that is present in the blood. Copper is a stabilizing factor for the thyroid, and too often people eat diets rich in zinc, but don’t eat enough copper. These two minerals require each other for balance and for thyroid health.
An absorbable form of iron. Iron is necessary for thyroid hormone production, as well as total energy levels. Most people associate dietary iron with red meat, which contains heme iron, a more absorbable form. However, the benefits of non-heme iron, or plant-based iron, is that it is more easily regulated within the body and provides more stability and mineral balance. Spinach also contains magnesium, copper, and zinc, making it a superfood for thyroid hormone production.
Rich in zinc, an essential mineral for thyroid hormone production and copper balance, zinc isn’t just for boosting immunity to avoid colds. Zinc is essential for thyroid hormone conversion. It also allows the body to properly utilize thyroid hormone replacement.