Written by: Kelley Herring
If you had to guess the #1 most-prescribed drug in the US what would it be?
Most people might guess a diabetes drug. After all, when you include those who are undiagnosed, an estimated 37 million people are living with diabetes. Or perhaps you would guess something related to heart disease – the leading cause of death in the United States.
Both of these answers are incorrect…
It might surprise you to know that the most-prescribed drug in the United States is Synthroid – a drug that is primarily used to treat an underactive thyroid. Every month 21.5 million prescriptions for this drug are filled.
Thyroid conditions have truly become an epidemic. In fact, there is a good chance that you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms related to an over- or underactive thyroid gland.
In my last article for US Wellness Meats, I discussed the thyroid gland itself and how it affects your health. I also covered the most common dietary, lifestyle and environmental factors that can damage your thyroid.
Today’s article discusses healing your thyroid naturally and the basics of a thyroid diet.
A thyroid diet is very similar to an ancestral diet filled with grain-free, nutrient-dense foods that help to heal your endocrine system. Below, I outline three common diets – the Basic Thyroid Diet, the Elimination Diet and the AIP Diet – all of which have been show to benefit the thyroid and immune system.
Basic Thyroid Diet
On the basic thyroid diet, you are encouraged to avoid:
- Food Additives
- Starchy Vegetables
An elimination diet is similar to a thyroid diet, with a focus on eliminating foods that are especially triggering and/or inflammatory. On an elimination diet, you must avoid:
- Wheat / gluten
- Dairy / Lactose products
- Citrus fruits
- Food dyes
- MSG (Read labels carefully and know the alternate names for this exitotoxin)
- Aspartame, sucralose and saccharin
All of these foods must be strictly avoided for at least six weeks. After this time has passed, reintroduce one ‘culprit’ food into your diet to test for a reaction.
You must really “load up” on the food. If you have no reaction, try a different eliminated food the next day. If you do have a reaction, stop eating that food. Wait a full 24 hours before trying another food.
Autoimmune Protocol Diet (AIP)
The autoimmune protocol diet focuses on removing substances that may stimulate your immune system and replacing them with nutrient-dense foods that calm your immune system and help heal damaged organs, tissues, and cells.
The AIP diet is geared towards healing the intestinal mucosa, normalizing the immune system, and reducing the severity of autoimmune flare-ups.
On the AIP diet, you must avoid:
- Nightshade vegetables
- Legumes (including soy and peanuts)
- Cocoa / Chocolate
- Seed-Based Spices
- Fruit-Based Spices
- Dietary Gums (guar, xanthan, acacia, etc)
- Additives / Preservatives
- High Intensity Sweeteners (stevia, luo han guo)
For many people, regaining thyroid function and boosting energy levels can be as simple as choosing the right foods. By opting for an ancestral diet we naturally provide the body with the essential building blocks for healthy thyroid function. No matter which of the thyroid diets you choose, the following nutrient-dense foods should comprise the majority of your diet:
- Organic non-starchy vegetables and fruit
- Grass fed beef and bison, pastured poultry, organ meats, wild fish
- Bone broth
- Free range eggs (unless on Elimination or AIP)
- Nuts and seeds (unless on Elimination or AIP)
- Olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil
- Duck fat, grass-fed tallow and pastured lard
Consuming sufficient amounts of selenium and magnesium are also important for healthy thyroid function. It may be necessary to supplement with these to ensure adequate intake:
- Selenium deficiency makes the body more vulnerable to illness caused by biochemical, nutritional or infectious stressors. Adequate selenium supports the synthesis of thyroid hormone and metabolism and protects the thyroid from damage due to excessive iodine exposure.
- Magnesium is essential for converting inactive T4 thyroid hormone into its active T3 form. Without adequate magnesium, many of the enzymes responsible for making thyroid hormone do not function properly. Magnesium deficiency has been shown to cause goiter.
Have you followed a diet to heal your thyroid? If so what did you do and what were your results?
Ed Note: Kelley Herring is the co-founder of Wellness Bakeries, makers of grain-free, gluten-free, low-glycemic baking mixes for cakes, cookies, breads, pizza and much more.
- Zimmermann MB, Köhrle J. The impact of iron and selenium deficiencies on iodine and thyroid metabolism: biochemistry and relevance to public health. Thyroid. 2002;12(10):867-78.
- Hsu JM, Root AW, Duckett GE, Smith JC Jr, Yunice AA, Kepford G. The effect of magnesium depletion on thyroid function in rats. J Nutr. 1984 Aug;114(8):1510-7. PubMed PMID: 6747732.