Hypothyroidism is the result of an under-active thyroid that is not producing enough of the thyroid hormone. You can tell that you likely have an under-active thyroid if you have some of these symptoms: fatigue, joint and muscle pain, weight gain, brittle hair and nails, slow heart rate, depression, hair loss, sensitivity to cold, and constipation. The thyroid is super important in the body for growth, maturation, metabolism, brain development, bone maintenance, and more; so, it’s no piece to fool around with.
Hypothyroidism was much more prevalent in the pre-1900’s, but it’s still a condition that occurs today. Goiter had become such a prominent occurrence that, in 1924, the government decided to simply add iodine (an essential mineral for the thyroid to function) into table salt. A goiter is a large lump in the neck (where the thyroid gland is located) which grows as a result of a lack of hypothyroidism.
Iodine is something our bodies need, but that we do not produce on our own. There are 7 essential nutrients, one of which is ‘minerals’; and 12 essential minerals, one of which is ‘iodine’. These nutrients can only be gathered from outside the body, necessitating our need to explore our world for these properties to prolong our life.
1. Wild-caught Salmon (iodine-rich)
Due to the minerals which are present in seawater, iodine is a mineral which is very prevalent in certain types of seafood – which is why people with an iodine allergy should avoid seafood as a whole, and women who are pregnant are advised not to eat seafood for the duration in pregnancy. Salmon happens to be very rich in iodine by nature, and helps to maintain the balance of your thyroid.
Salmon is delicious, though real salmon can be hard to find. Real salmon should be pink, and you should be able to see marbling on the meat, like you would with a good steak. If you don’t it’s been dyed pink and is likely not wild-caught salmon. Make sure your salmon is authentic: It’s a delicacy for many, and great for your body in many ways, and it can put a new spin on the usual fish-and-chips meal.
2. Sardines (iodine-rich)
Sardines are another fish which are particularly well known for being very rich in iodine by nature – and, if you’ve ever seen the ocean during a sardine run, you’ll appreciate the sheer beauty of it: Thousands upon thousands of silvery fish in the ocean, and the hundreds of boats that show up to the scene to net them. You can find sardines in many forms, and the first one that pops to mind for some people is the type of sardines you get in a can versus freshly caught sardines.
There’s nothing wrong with picking canned sardines – sometimes this is more accessible than freshly caught, they can be stored for a long time, and you can usually find canned sardines in brine or oil – which you pick generally depends on what meal you’re planning to make with it. Check out some internet cooking websites and cooking shows for recipe ideas.
3. Fennel (iodine-rich)
Fennel is scientifically known as Foeniculum vulgare, and is actually part of the carrot family – yes, that’s why fennel growing can easily be mistaken for carrot tops rising up out of the ground, at least until you notice that the leaves don’t quite taste right. (And who is going to taste carrot leaves in their garden to find this out? You should know that you might have fennel in your garden if you have a spot that almost looks like carrots but has never sprouted a carrot since you’ve lived there.)
Fennel is usually used in foods, and it’s traditional for fennel to be used in the preparation of chicken or added to the recipe of a good roast. Fennel also goes extremely well with fish, and can also be added to sauces. Oh, did we mention that fennel is also high in iodine and happens to be good for you?
4. Jerusalem Artichokes (iodine-rich)
Jerusalem Artichokes are scientifically known as Helianthus tuberosus, and the common name might confuse you as to what it is if you’ve never seen one, ate one or heard of one before you’ve read this. Jerusalem Artichokes are technically not artichokes at all – they’re actually a species of sunflower instead, and they don’t come from Jerusalem, to begin with, which is where the confusion might come from:
They’re native to North America. Would you have guessed that? It’s been long used as a traditional remedy for diabetes, and it’s other uses include the use of its bulb as a root vegetable – in which case it’s considered to be a healthy option. It can be used as one would use a potato – and even used when you’re making a salad. Like potatoes, they can also be eaten as a remedy to help settle the stomach in the case of an upset stomach.
5. Cranberries (iodine-rich)
One cup of cranberries can provide you with plenty of nutrients, including the vitally important iodine – about 400mg of it to that one cup, which is about the same that you would find in supplements over the counter. Cranberries are a great way to get your daily five, and you can use them in everything from marinades to sauces to roasts – what on earth is a traditional Thanksgiving dinner without the cranberries?
They also pair extremely well with sweet things – they are berries after all – and a cranberry reduction goes well with most types of cakes and even some savory things. Cranberries can also be dried and eaten as an on-the-go snack – but remember that cranberries are also a well-known diuretic, so avoid them if you know you won’t have time for a few bathroom breaks after eating the cranberries. (And never underestimate the diuretic effect, either! Just trust us.)
6. Basil (iodine-rich)
Okay, so if you know someone who is actually called basil, then there might be some confusion and/or panic when the family member closest to you asks you to pass the scissors. But all terrible puns about names and eponymous herbs aside, basil is a herb known for its peppery, rich flavor. It’s also known as St. Joseph’s Wort (not to be confused with St. John’s, which is something entirely different!), and in Greek it literally translates to the “royal plant”.
Its use in food is traditional, and some would say it’s even an essential part of some dishes. A traditional spaghetti can always do with a few fresh basil leaves put on-to the sauce to release their flavor, and basil leaves can even be tossed into a salad as-is – just remember to wash them before you do. They come in several varieties, including dark opal basil – which you should be able to identify by its purple tinge on the leaves.
7. Seaweed (iodine-rich)
Seaweed is another food that happens to be extremely rich in iodine to support your thyroid gland, and it’s also known as a wonderful antioxidant in general that can help your body detox and get rid of inflammation that’s been causing you pain. That makes it an excellent addition to your diet – though many people have no idea what they would find seaweed in already or what to do with it when they buy it on its own.
First, seaweed is naturally found in sushi – that’s the green stuff that holds it all together, more often than not; you can also buy seaweed at most grocery stores, if you have trouble finding it just take a look in the health foods aisle. Seaweed is extremely good for you – and very high in the right vitamins and minerals, including iodine. For some, it’s an acquire taste – but its versatility could be enough to convince you.
8. Cinnamon (metabolism-boosting)
Cinnamon is one of the only spices that we know of that is actually the bark off a tree and not made from a seed or dried leaves; yes, that’s why cinnamon is so extremely dry – and has the effect that it does on the lungs and throat when you inhale it by accident. Most people associate the flavor and smell of cinnamon with their favorite dessert – for some people, it’s cinnamon sprinkled over a bowl of custard, and for others, it might be cinnamon that’s sprinkled over their pancakes.
It can also add a completely new flavor to many savory dishes, including spicy ones like curries. Cinnamon is one of the healthiest things you can consume – though not if you’re doing it to take the Cinnamon challenge. Remember what we told you earlier? Cinnamon is for adding spice and flavor to food – at no point should it be inhaled!
9. Ginger (metabolism-boosting)
Ginger is well known for being able to boost the metabolism – this aids hypothyroidism, but also many other conditions which include obesity. If you want to lose weight, increasing your metabolism will be one of your end-goals, and there are many good reasons (including this one!) why your healthy diet should include a fair helping of ginger. The plant itself is a root, and ginger can be freshly used and crushed, or it can be purchased as a powder – which is easier for some if they want to use ginger in their drinks, soups and foods.
Ginger should be used sparingly – even in ginger cookies and savory dishes – because it can be extremely overpowering, especially in the powdered form, and especially if your hand were to slip over the bowl. To keep ginger fresh, it should ideally remain sealed – tie the end of the root where you cut it off with some rice paper.
There are good fats and bad fats – and it’s one of the first things a dietitian will tell you during a consultation to work out a diet that’s better for health and for losing weight. Now, bad fats are generally the things that you already think of as typically fatty, greasy and bad: The fat that drips off of fried bacon and a cheeseburger? That’s bad fat. And you can almost feel it killing you when you’re eating a hugely greasy burger. Good fats are found in other things, and avocado is one of these things.
There are many uses for an avocado – including turning it into a guacamole, putting it into a salad, adding it to a pizza for the fresh element (usually after it emerges from the oven). When choosing an avo, the best ones are not too firm to the touch, and also not too soft – if they’re not ripe when you buy them, wrap them in newspaper and store them in a dark cupboard.