I was talking with a friend of mine last night who had read the last article on PUFA’s. She was trying to wrap her brain around what she could eat and was getting a bit sad every time I said no to something that was on her list. It made me realize that this article, instead of being another one with a list of things you can’t eat, should be the article where I start talking about all that you can eat.
Before starting, I think I need to throw out a reminder. All of the information I am giving you is about eating and supplementing for a healthy thyroid and for healthy hormone levels. Much of this information IS contradictory for certain of the popular diets people are on. Much of what I say today will go against Whole30, Paleo and Keto based diets. I am NOT saying those plans are wrong, this is just a different way to look at your nutrition to bring on a different result. I will say that with out a strong thyroid and hormone panel, most of your weight loss efforts will be harder, and many of those diets promote foods that are toxic to your thyroid. But, if you use these diets and they work for you and you are happy with them, then keep it up. Maybe you will just make one or two changes to make your thyroid happy that still fit in the parameters of your diet. Any dietary change you can make will be useful.
PUFA’s are vilified in most any diet, well the PUFA’s most people know of which are the nut, seed and vegetable oils. What many people miss are that peanut butter is also a PUFA, pumpkin seeds are too, nuts fall into this category as well. This is where the diet groups get squirrely but just wait. I promised that we put in foods that you once thought taboo and they will make you just as happy.
Lets dive into the foods you can eat that will make your thyroid happy.
DAIRY & EGGS
OMG, did someone say cheese. Yes, we did. Cheese and milk are very good for your thyroid. They work to give you the calcium you need and support your thyroid function. Stick to hard cheeses like cheddar and other block cheeses. I try to eat my cheese with some sort of sugar, so either dried fruit or some honey. It makes a terrifically yummy afternoon snack. Yogurt, though tasty and dairy based is NOT a good option. The lactic acid in the yogurt is bad for your liver. Plus, it is hard to find a good yogurt that doesn’t have any type of “gum” as a binder. The gums are really bad for you overall. So, I stay away from yogurt. I do sneak in cottage cheese. I am not actually sure if that is a good or bad food, but it hasn’t seem to halt my progress. I usually have a big bowl with about 1 cup or 1.5 cups of cottage cheese (around 35 grams of protein), 1 or 2 cups of cut ripe fruit and about a ½ a tablespoon of honey drizzled on top. Boy is that yummy and I get a ton of protein and fiber plus sugar to make my brain happy.
When it comes to the milk Raw milk is best, unpasteurized is next best and homogenized is the third best. Homogenized is mostly what you will find in the grocery stores and it is a better option than having no milk at all. I try to stick to an organic brand and find one with out any gums or binders. Whole milk or 2% is the best because it has more nutrients 1% is fine if you are watching your calories, don’t go below 1% because those products have zero amounts of the nutrients you need. I try to get 2-3 cups of 2% milk a day.
This is where some people may begin to be dubious. The truth of the matter is that you must feed your brain and your liver adequate amounts of sugar that it can readily use if you want to have a healthy thyroid function and quality hormone production. Much of what is on the standard American diet are starches that turn into glucose. Glucose is sugar that your body can not readily turn into fuel without the use of insulin. Most all the starches (bread, rice, potatoes, crackers, baked goods etc.) turn into glucose. Fructose and sucrose are sugars that your body can readily use as fuel, so if you stick to these types of sugar you do not get insulin spikes and your brain and liver have what they need to stay happy.
I’m gonna blow your mind……plain white table sugar is a blend of fructose and sucrose so plain white table sugar is okay to eat. The problem with sugar, where we get into trouble is when we add it to things like pastries and bread and the types of carbs that breakdown into glucose. Using white sugar in your coffee is okay, in fact more than okay its good for you. I am not saying you should start an IV drip line of pure white sugar but eating it throughout the day is not a bad thing. Honey is another sugar that is fine to eat. That is why I drizzle it on my cottage cheese and fruit, or dip my cheese in it for my afternoon snack. And, if you use these types of super sweet sugars in regulated amounts during the day, you won’t have as many cravings for the bad stuff (that tastes so good).
One myth about sugar and food in general is that you want to deplete your livers stores of glycogen before your body will start to burn fat for fuel. That is WRONG. You actually want your livers store of glycogen to be topped off at all times so that it works efficiently and can do what it needs to do. When your liver is happy and working efficiently it helps keep a healthy balance. A happy liver = a happy thyroid.
Ray Peat suggests drinking orange juice which is fructose sugar as a quick way to get your liver happy. I drink 8 oz. in the morning and at least one other time during the day. If I am super hungry at night I drink some before bed. I find sleeping easier after I drink some OJ. Also, if I wake up in the middle of the night from a nightmare or some other disturbance I go and drink some OJ, or eat a tsp of honey. That soothes my brain and feeds my liver and makes it much easier to get back to sleep. Fruit is another way to get good sugar for your body to groove with. You want to eat fruit that is ripe. Under ripe fruits cause digestion issues which produce gas which can be toxic. So, stick with really ripe fruits. There are some other fruit restrictions but in general if you stick with really ripe fruits you will be okay. Oh, and no grapefruits. Grapefruits are bad for your thyroid so they are completely off the table. And if you want apples or bananas cooking them makes them more friendly for your thyroid. I cook them with a little sugar and cinnamon and they are super tasty. They make a good evening snack before bedtime.
Again, remember, when I am suggesting sugar it is not sugar as found in processed food. Just because honey is good for you that doesn’t mean that a honey bun is good for you.
This area is a bit limited but luckily it is limited to some tasty stuff. Eat all the coconut oil and butter you want. Yup, butter. Cook with it, it makes everything taste better. Coconut oil you can use to cook with and just eat raw to increase your fats. If you are looking to lose weight, ingesting a tablespoon of coconut oil a day can help. You want the Expeller Pressed Non-certified organic coconut oil. For your butter you want as fresh and non-processed as you can get. This is it, these are your oils and fats to cook with. Olive oil can be used sparingly no more than 1 tblsp a day as it does contain about 10% PUFA’s.
People have also asked about Avocado oil. Avocados are good for you and should be eaten, the oil I am not sure about since it has to be processed. My gut would be not to use it, but I will do more research.
All your vegetables should be very well cooked, basically mushy. And if you can you should drink the water that they were cooked in because this is where all the nutrients are.
- Peas/Beans should be eaten sparingly as they cause digestion issues and are hard on the thyroid.
- Root vegetables should be over cooked and eaten with a good fat like butter or coconut oil to aid in the digestion of the starches
- Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Broccoli and Kale are all thyroid toxic. If you eat them at all they should be very well cooked and eat them sparingly
- Sweet summer corn is okay if cooked well
- Summer squash is also okay if cooked really well.
The best way to get your vegetables and the nutrients from them is to make a green broth. Basically, throw whatever veggies you want in a stock pot with water and salt. Boil for 30 minutes and then strain out the veggies and keep the broth. Drink 2 oz a day of the green broth and you will get all your nutrients.
The BEST veggie and the one you should incorporate into your daily diet is fresh raw carrots. They are the BOMB. (I personally hate carrots but have been choking them down daily because the benefits are so awesome). Carrots are anti-fungal and anti-bacterial so they clean out your digestive tract which is AWESOME. They also are anti-estrogenic so that helps out with your estrogen dominance. You should eat 1 whole raw carrot a day or the equivalent in baby carrots. Just do it.
MEAT and SEAFOOD
If you are getting in your dairy products then you shouldn’t have a problem with protein. Cutting your meat protein down to 1 or 2 meals a day will help your digestion and absorption. Stick to 4 – 6 oz. portions per meal and always use the highest quality, organic meat that you can afford. Most normal meat sold at regular grocery stores is full of antibiotics and other chemicals so you will be eating more than you bargained for.
If you dig seafood then stick to shellfish, prawns, mussels, clams and oysters. Most people try to eat regular fish and think that the above are full of crap from being lower down on the food chain. But most fish today are polluted with mercury and other heavy metals so staying clear of them will be doing your body a favor.
Liver is also really good for you and should be eaten at least once a week. As organic a source as you can find. But here’s the thing. I HATE liver, so I don’t do this. If you like liver then have at it. It is super good for you. I will just have to be deficient. Blame my mother for forcing us to eat liver.
One thing that is super great and easy to do is to make a bone broth. Yes, that bone broth trend does have something to it. You get the amino acids from the protein plus the gelatin from the bones. The gelatin is soothing to your intestines and the broth helps keep the right proportion of amino acids. Here is a simple recipe:
1 chicken (or some other cut of meat bone-in – you can use ox tails also as they are super rich in gelatin), 1 onion (cut up but I add all of it even the skins), a head of garlic (again I take the skin off the cloves and smash them a little bit but I put everything back in the pot), I also add veggies…usually 2 heads of collards that way I get some of the veggie medicine. I also have been playing around with a head of ginger. I peel it, chop it and then add it all back in. Plus, a lot of salt. Let all of this boil in a stainless steel pot for 3 hours or until the meat falls off the bone. Strain the solids from the liquids and let the liquids cool.
I reserve the white meat from the chicken and either add it back to the broth for chicken soup or use it for dinner.
Once the broth has cooled completely in the refrigerator you skim off the fat from the top. Chicken fat has a ton of PUFA’s because of what the chickens eat so you want to get rid of that. You will be left with a jelly like substance of broth. Once you re-heat it it will turn into a liquid. I eat/drink 1 or 2 cups a day depending on how much I made.
Is Your Mind Blown?
That is a lot of information and by now you may be thoroughly confused. This will get you started on changing things and adding foods that will help your thyroid. Just start trying to take out PUFA’s and add these foods. In the next article I will post my menu and explain the hows and whys of it. That will help you see how to make this list of foods into an easy to follow nutrition plan. I will also talk about my blood tests and how much these changes have helped increase my thyroid level.
If you need help or have questions please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.