Unexplained weight gain particularly around the middle…. thinning hair and even hair loss, exhausted all the time and feeling sluggish… foggy thinking… few bowel movements…brittle nails…puffy face… excessive menstrual bleeding….and/or cold all the time?
My darling, if you are experiencing many of these symptoms, you may have hypothyroidism, or low thyroid hormone.
It is your birthright to experience wellness and I am here to share delicious recipes to help you support your endocrine system so you can feel your best and have energy to make magic happen in your life!
Below, I shared my delicious Red Lentil Soup recipe, providing your beautiful body-temple with thyroid supporting nutrients. You can go scroll down straight to the recipe- but, if you’re like me and want to know the nitty gritty details of hormonal health, please continue reading.
This is when your body does not make enough of the thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) which causes your pituitary gland to make more TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), showing up as high TSH on your thyroid test. When T4 (thyroxine, the storage thyroid hormone) and T3 (triiodothyronine, the active thyroid hormone) are low in the blood, the pituitary gland will signal the TSH hormone to tell your body to make more T4 and T3. Yet, if T4 and T3 continue to remain low due to issues like a goiter or Hashimoto’s disease, your thyroid will work harder, overproducing TSH and potentially causing enlargement of the thyroid, along with many of the physical symptoms I listed above.
Women are more likely to develop thyroid issues then men, and the reasons are many including:
Your thyroid needs iodine, selenium, copper, zinc, and iron as the main micronutrients for thyroid health.
The USDA recommends 150 micrograms of daily iodine. Iodine was added to table salt in the form of potassium iodine in 1924 to prevent iodine deficiency. If your diet lacks home cooking and contains many processed meals as well as restaurant meals, the salt in your foods may not contain iodine. Unfortunately, sea salt, a popular choice amongst many healthy foodies, (including myself!) has small amounts of iodine. However, table salt is stripped of many nutrients during the heating and processing method, and salts like sea salt and Himalayan salt preserve more trace minerals.
There are ways to get iodine in the diet besides salt. This mineral is found in high quantities in seaweeds such as dulse, hijiki, kelp, kombu, and wakame. I love to sprinkle dulse flakes and kelp on top of my salads. It provides a saltier flavor so I use less dressing. Other sources are wild caught cod and tuna, eggs, lima beans, and prunes.
If your hypothyroidism stems from Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune thyroid disorder where the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid, or another autoimmune system disorder, adding additional iodine in your diet may potentially worsen the autoimmune attack.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Hashimoto’s disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States.” Symptoms include goiter, a swelling and enlargement in the front of the neck at your throat from inflammation, and if untreated, may cause chronic damage. Hashimoto’s initially causes an overproduction of thyroid hormones and eventually leads to an underproduction of thyroid hormones.
Foods high in iodine are to be eaten with caution when Hashimoto’s is present, as excess iodine has been shown to worsen symptoms.
Over-exposure to halogen related elements such as bromine and fluorine, can compete with the iodine receptor sites, potentially causing reduced iodine absorption.
A good filtered water system can reduce the amount of fluoride in drinking water, as well as avoiding breads that contain bromine in the form of “potassium bromate,” which is added as a dough conditioner in the flour to help strengthen the dough. Fortunately, many bread companies are now removing the use of potassium bromate, which acts as an endocrine disruptor. Reducing halogen intake is especially important for those with hypothyroidism, as the bromine and flouride can displace iodine, leading to an iodine deficiency.
Also, foods that are goitrogenic can interfere with the cells uptake of iodine. Goitrogenic foods include the cruciferous family: kale, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, etc., as well as unfermented soy, and millet. Not all thyroid disorders stem from low iodine, but people with hypothyroidism prompted by an iodine deficiency will need to be careful of how many of these foods they ingest.
I’m not saying completely stop eating cruciferous vegetables; they contain many essential benefits including cancer fighting properties as well as liver supporting substances. They contain glucosinolate, a sulfur containing compound which is metabolized into isethionates, and studies show this as a potential cancer preventer by its ability to eliminate carcinogens from the body.
What I am suggesting is to eat these cruciferous foods in moderation (if your thyroid is low in iodine), and cook them to decrease the goitrogenic effect. When eaten raw, these cruciferous foods have a powerful effect on reducing excess estrogen in a healthy way, which is a major benefit for women with Estrogen Dominance, a common hormonal imbalance in our modern day society. Also, fermenting these foods like cabbage in sauerkraut influences the molecular structure, potentially reducing the goitrogenic effects.
Hashimoto’s and Cruciferous Vegetables:
Low Iodine is not an issue with most cases of hypothyroidism coming from Hashimoto’s disease, so many women with Hashimoto’s can eat cruciferous vegetables as a benefit to their thyroid health. It is best to check with your doctor first and do some lab testing for a full thyroid panel to know where your hormone levels are currently at.
Don’t have hypothyroidism or symptoms of low thyroid? Incorporate cruciferous vegetables daily, as they support the liver, are beneficial for healthy skin, and balance sex hormones.
It’s possible for some cases, that T4 is not being properly converted to T3 (the active thyroid hormone), which may be caused by things like chronic stress and dietary deficiencies. Snack on 1-3 Brazil Nuts to get your daily dose of selenium, which helps with the conversion of T4 to active T3.
Also, according to Harvard Physician Dr. Sara Gottfried, new guidelines for optimal TSH ranges were updated in 2002 and 2003 by the American Association for Clinical Chemistry and the American Association for Clinical Endocrinologists. It is possible that some doctors are still referencing ranges that have now been outdated.
If you are experiencing low thyroid symptoms but cannot find answers in your test results, I suggest to support your body daily with thyroid supporting foods like my Red Lentil Soup recipe, as well as lifestyle changes to improve stress, self love, and healthy eating habits. There may be another underlying hormonal imbalance impacting the thyroid as cortisol, thyroid, and the sex hormones are all interrelated. As always, if you need assistance, I am here to support you as your coach and am willing to do a free hormonal health assessment with you.
This soup is a great lunch option and it can be your alternative to eating a sandwich from a restaurant that may have endocrine disruptors in the bread. The lentils are high in protein and fiber, making this a long lasting meal for blood sugar balance. I love pairing this soup with a side salad to get my greens in at lunch time.
As stated earlier, copper, zinc, and iron are some minerals needed for the thyroid to function properly. Lentils are an amazing thyroid supporting food because they contain adequate levels of these minerals.
You could sprinkle dulse seaweed flakes on top to add iodine to this meal.
The carrots contain Vitamin A, a vitamin necessary to help convert thyroid hormones properly from cholesterol.
I would love to hear from you how this soup turned out in your kitchen! Feel free to comment below.
Blessings to Radiant Hormone Health from My Kitchen to Yours!
Shannon, Marylin, M. Fertility, Cycles, and Nutrition: Self Care for Improved Cycles and Fertility… Naturally! Cincinatti, OH: The Couple to Couple League International, Inc. 1990.
Gottfried, Sara. The Hormone Cure. New York: Scribner. 2013.
Masterjohn, Christopher. “Bearers of the Cross: Crucifers in the Context of Traditional Diets and Modern Science.” February, 2013. http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/abcs-of-nutrition/vegetarianism-and-plant-foods/bearers-of-the-cross-crucifers-in-the-context-of-traditional-diets-and-modern-science/
Mercola. “Bromines: Avoid This if You Want to Keep Your Your Thyroid Healthy.” September,2009. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/09/05/another-poison-hiding-in-your-environment.aspx
1 ¼ cups red lentil, dry and pre-soak
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1 ½ cups yellow onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
½ cup carrots, chopped
2 teaspoons salt (add 3 if preferred)
1 Tablespoon cumin
½ teaspoon chili flakes
¼ teaspoon black pepper
4 cups vegetable stock, reduced sodium
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
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