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Foods that help nourish and regulate the thyroid

I love food. Not only is it delicious, but science is proving every day just how many healing vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other substances the good Lord designed into fruits and veges.

The book, Alternative Healthcare, published by Thunder Bay Press, states that

"Nutritional deficiencies (for example, zinc, vitamin A, selenium and iron) and a toxic overload are thought to be the main factors involved in the onset of hypothyroidism." (emphasis added)

I've been researching nutrition's relationship to thyroid disorders since January 1997. I'm lucky enough to have a library card at Bastyr University, one of the best naturopathic schools in the nation, and I've been able to read all kinds of books on nutrition and healing. For what its worth, here are some foods that I believe have benefited my thyroid function. own.

Foods Beneficial to the Thyroid

One of my favorite books is Prescription for Dietary Wellness: Using Foods to Heal by Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C. and James F. Balch, M.D., which includes an extensive table of recommendations for "Live Juice and Herbal Therapy" for dozens of diseases. The Balches recommend the following for treatment of hypothyroidism:

Hypothryoidism

Essential nutrients are in bold
Vegetable Juice
Alfalfa
All leafy greens

Beet tops
Carrots
Celery
Green peppers
Parsley
Seaweeds
Sprouts
Watercress
Fruit Juice
Apples
Apricots
Cranberry
Grapefruit
Grapes
Pineapple
Herbs
Alfalfa
Bayberry
Black cohosh
Ginko biloba
Golden seal
Kelp
Licorice
Primrose oil
Rose hips
Rosemary
Avoid
All processed and refined foods
Antihistamines
Chlorine
Faucet water (they recommend steam distilled water)
Fluoride
Iodine
Sulfa drugs
Considerations and Precautions
Consume the following in moderation because they may suppress the thyroid function: Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, kale, mustard greens, spinach, peaches and pears.
Do not take golden seal for long periods, and avoid entirely if abdominal pain is present.
A deficiency of essential fatty acids causes an imbalance in the thyroid function.

The Balches also include recommendations for the treatment of hyperthyroidism, as follows:

Hyperthryoidism

Essential nutrients are in bold
Vegetable Juice
Alfalfa
Beet tops
Broccoli
Cabbage
Carrots
Celery
Green peppers
Kale
Mustard greens
Parsley
Spinach
Turnips
Watercress
Fruit Juice
Apricots
Apples
Cranberry
Grapefruit
Peaches
Pears
Pineapple
Herbs
Barberry
Black cohosh
Golden seal
Skullcap
White oak bark
Avoid
All dairy products
All processed and refined foods
All stimulants (coffee, nicotine)
Antihistamines
Chlorine
Faucet water (they recommend steam distilled water)
Fluoride
Iodine
Salt
Soft drinks
Sulfa drugs
Considerations and Precautions
See section on (Cabbage Family) vegetables and consume these foods often
Do not take golden seal for long periods and avoid entirely if abdominal pain develops.
Eating two servings daily of the following foods may help in reducing thyroid hormones: Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, kale, mustard greens, spinach, peaches and pears.

There is much more to this wonderful book than just this chart. I highly recommend both Prescription for Dietary Wellness: Using Foods to Heal by Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C. and James F. Balch, M.D. and the companion book, Prescription for Nutritional Healing which covers supplements and alternative therapies.

Lots of raw fruits and veges.

I switched to a diet of primarily raw fruits and veges (with a small amount of cooked vege or fish for dinner) and had immediate benefit. Within 4 weeks my chloresterol went from 260 to 200, my indigestion (and the need for Pepsid AC-type products) completely disappeared, my energy level improved, my blood sugar problems disappeared, my headaches vanished and my arthritis noticeably improved. I lost 5 pounds and lost my cravings for chocolate and sweets. Four years later, I'm still feeling good and am down 10 pounds from my former weight. And my complexion glows with the look of good health (a big improvement over the shallow, puffy look I had before!)

It takes some discipline to stick to this diet but the food is delicious, especially in the summer when there's lots of fresh fruit around. When I am tempted to eat something that I know will make me sick, it helps to think of how terrible I used to feel compared to how I feel now. I've also had the sad example of watching my diabetic grandmother and other family members "treat" themselves right into the grave by constantly eating food that destroyed their health. It isn't worth it.

Almost everything that is sold in the grocery store is loaded with chemicals and/or pasteurized to destroy the natural enzymes and healing properties of the food. I hope some of you reading this will be curious enough to change your diet for just 30 days, to see if it works for you. Wouldn't it be worth changing your diet if it really eliminated your headaches, reduced your pain, gave you more energy, etc.?

Enzyme Essentials If you want to explore the idea further, I recommend the Enzyme Essentials website, which has a lot of information on the power of enzymes. Other good sites are Health and Beyond and Hallelujah Acres , a nondenominational Christian ministry that teaches that a simple, natural diet is God's plan for health.

Before you start loading up on the veges, it is important to point out that raw foods in the cabbage family (and some other vegetables) are known to suppress thyroid hormone production. This includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, spinach, turnips, soybeans, peaches and pears. People with hypothyroidism should avoid these foods or eat them only in moderation, but those who are hyperthyroid may find that eating these foods helps suppress their symptoms.

Fresh fruit and vegetable juices.

One of the most important components of my new diet is fresh fruit and vege juice. Juicing is a way to get all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc. from pounds of produce a day, much more than you could eat. (For example, a pound of carrots makes 1 glass of carrot juice, rich in betacarotene, as much calcium as two glasses of milk, etc.) Of course, I still eat lots of whole fruits and veges to be sure I get all the fiber I need as well.

I bought a Juiceman Jr. juicer ($60 at Costco) which works fine. After a few months and more reading, I also invested in a Champion Juicer ($200 discounted price at my local health food store), because it is reputed to make more "complete" juice and extract all the available vitamins, minerals, enzymes, bioflavinoids and all the other goodness of the fruit.

Dr. Norman Walker, M.D., in his book, Fresh Vegetable and Fruit Juices, recommends the following juice combinations as being therapeutic for thyroid problems:

  1. 2 pints daily - carrot, celery, parsley and spinach juice with 1/4 tsp of powered kelp or dulce;
  2. 1 pint daily - carrot and spinach juice;
  3. 1 pint daily - straight carrot juice;
  4. 1 pint daily - carrot, beet and cucumber juice.

Dr. Walker recommends up to 5 pints of juice daily for optimum results, and states that a minimum of one pint of fresh, raw vegetable juice daily is required to make a noticeable difference in a person's health.

I love juicing. I faithfully drink 1 glass of fresh fruit juice in the morning and a large glass of carrot or carrot combination juice in the evening. When possible, I take a pint of vege juice to work in a thermos.

One of my favorite juices is a "soothing nightcap" made of the juice of 1 lb. of carrots, 1 organic apple (with skin), and 2 stalks of celery. It is delicious and is a great sleep aid.

Blueberries and strawberries

Several authors specifically recommend blueberries and strawberries to enhance the thyroid. Eating them makes me feel better, but maybe that's just because I love them!

Radishes

One of the books I read, "Encyclopedia of Healing Juices," by John Heinerman, swears that radishes are the most beneficial vegetable to regulate the thyroid. John Heimerman is a medical anthropologist who has researched the medicinal use of foods and herbs around the world. This is what he learned during a 1979 visit with "medical experts at the Soviety Academy of Sciences":

"Raphanin, the main sulphur component in radishes, is chiefly responsible for keeping the production of thyroxine and calcitonin (a peptide hormone) in normal balance. With enough raphanin circulating in the blood plasma through a steady diet of radishes or (a small amount of) radish juice, the thyroid won't under- or over-produce these two hormones."

I've never eaten many radishes, but I did want to give this a try. I added two fresh radishes to my diet daily for about a week, and felt terrible so I quit. This was the only alternative therapy I've tried which I felt actually made me worse. Radishes are not recommended by any of the other authors I've read, and given my experience, I am skeptical about the value of this therapy. However, I've included it here because you may have different results. For one thing, my thyroid is hypothyroid (underactive). It may be that radishes are more benefical for hyperthyroid (overactive thyroid) patients. If you try this, please let me know how it works for you.

Are you still skeptical about whether diet can really be that important to healing disease? I just found an article about how diet changes are making an amazing difference for some children with autism. Even though this is not about thyroid, it is so important that I want to add the link here, in case you or someone you know has a child with autism.

We Cured Our Son's Autism, by Karyn Seroussi


My Favorite Books
I read a lot, but these are the books I trust. If you're feeling lousy and are confused about food choices, these books will give you hope and new direction. If this web site has been helpful to you, you can help us by ordering a book now through Amazon. Here's wishing you good health!


Prescription for Nutritional Healing is a wonderful reference book, written by an MD and a certified nutritional consultant. The book suggests sound nutritional strategies for coping with more than 250 diseases, including hypothyroidism. You'll turn to this book again and again!


In the Complete Book of Juicing, Dr. Michael T. Murray (one of the world's leading authorities on natural medicines) reveals how fresh fruit and vegetable juices can help combat cancer, aging, arthritis, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, kidney stones, ulcers, and other health conditions. Over 150 easy recipes included.


I love the balanced approach presented by Annemarie Colbin in Food and Healing. She analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of a number of alternative diets, explains the remarkable healing qualities of specific foods, and describes how to tailor a diet approach that is right for you.


Fit for Life changed the way I think about food. If you're confused about what to eat, you'll appreciate the simple, natural advice in this book. This is the book I buy and give to friends who ask me the secret of my good health.


Living Well with Hypothyroidism is a great resource for those of us dealing with the condition. In her book Mary Shomon discusses symptoms, conventional treatments and alternative treatments, including new research on the value of adding T3 to the more traditional T4 hormone replacement. Very helpful!


Fresh Vegetable and Fruit Juices is the first and still the best book on why and how juicing restores health. The book was written by Dr. Norman Walker, who literally invented juicing and reportedly lived well past 100. This affordable little book contains very specific advice for treating hypothyroidism and many other conditions, and is available in most health food stores.

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