Healthy Thyroid Diet: 4 Recommendations From A Nutritional Therapist

thyroid diet plan

 

In past pieces I discussed Autoimmune Thyroid disease, and how your immune system is attacking your thyroid gland. Many people believe that medication is the only answer, and many more suffer in silence because they are told by their physician that their thyroid is functioning normally. Autoimmune thyroid is not black and white. It is one of the more difficult autoimmune conditions to get under control and feel good. However, there ARE changes you can make to heal leaky gut, and support the health of your thyroid. You can make changes to help slow down and in some cases stop the attack on your thyroid. With that said, you have to be willing to make big nutritional changes.

Culturally, we are accustomed to eating for comfort and we are very much attached to processed foods and grains as primary fuel for our body. However these foods keep us on the blood sugar roller coaster and also do not provide the nutrients we need to make the precursors for proper hormone formation, and to keep the body in a non-inflamed state.

Processed foods contribute to what is known as “leaky-gut” or permeable gut. What this means is that large proteins (undigested food) pass through open junctions in the small intestines and cause inflammation in the body, the root of modern disease. Some proteins like gluten are often mistaken as thyroid tissue. Chains of amino acids in gluten share the same molecular structure as thyroid tissue. So when gluten is consumed, the immune system recognizes it as a foreign invader, and attacks the thyroid tissue as well. It can take several months for the immune system to bounce back and stop attacking the thyroid. Therefore, I recommend that individuals with hashimoto’s avoid all gluten, including small amounts or occasional gluten. There may be other foods that can cause the same reaction, in some individuals. Avoiding processed foods is a huge step you can take in the right direction. 

 

leaky gut syndrome

 

 

The best way to try and stop the attack is to get to the root cause and heal it. This is where it is not all black and white. Some people may have increased cortisol from stress, affecting hormone balance. There may also be an excess of xenoestrogens (known as estrogen dominance) which also affects the thyroid, others have toxins in their body. There are many different ways the thyroid can be affected. In a previous piece I discussed the importance of finding a Doctor who will run a full-thyroid panel, which will help give a more clear answer on the etiology of how the thyroid is being affected. However, healing the gut, and getting the body to digest foods properly is HUGE in terms of halting an autoimmune attack on the thyroid. We want to fully digest our foods so that these proteins are not escaping through the lining in the gut, and attacking our immune system. 70-80% of our immunities are found in the gut. We want to keep our immune system strong (remember, autoimmune diseases are an attack on the immune system of the body, meaning the body is seeing itself as an invader and attacking). We also want to support our adrenal health through lifestyle changes and possible adrenal support supplements, as chronic stress affects our hormone formation and balance.

Below am going to suggest some dietary changes, lifestyle changes, and supplement recommendation that I support my clients with as a Nutritional Therapist. The thyroid is a very complicated endocrine organ. It is important to work in collaboration with your Doctor when making lifestyle changes. I never recommend stopping medications. I am not a Doctor. Rather, I recommend supporting the health of your thyroid through dietary and lifestyle changes, thus healing the root cause while working with your Doctor to adjust medications. With that said, I feel it is also important to be your own advocate, and research, research, research. Don’t put your Doctor on a pedestal. Work as a team. This is YOUR body.

 

Thyroid Dietary Recommendations:

  • Follow a gut-healing dietary protocol. There are a couple different ones out there. The two that I most recommend are the GAPS protocol and the AIP (Autoimmune Protocol). Both involve removing from the diet all grains (including corn), dairy, soy, nuts, seeds, eggs, legumes, and nightshades. Both involve slowly reintroducing foods with larger proteins. The GAPS protocol involves some raw dairy. However, with autoimmune thyroid I recommend avoiding all dairy. Dairy proteins are large and tend to not digest easily therefore passing through the gut. It may sound like a restricted diet when you compare it to what you are accustomed to. However, there are many many amazing cookbooks and blog recipes out there, and it is very do-able.  Some of the restrictions beyond gluten, dairy, and soy may be reintroduced after a period of time to see how your body reacts to each particular food. The key is to increase your healthy fat intake and get your body to start digesting good fats. Stick to eating well cooked meats and vegetables with stable saturated fats. Don’t be afraid of getting these fats in your diet. Fats are healthy for hormone formation and necessary for so many functions in the body.

 

Here are my book suggestions for getting started:

The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body, by Sarah Ballantyne, PhD

Gut and Psychology Syndrome, by Natasha Campbell-McBride

The Autoimmune-Paleo Cookbook: An Allergen Free Approach to Managing Chronic Illness, by Mickey Trescott, NTP

Practical Paleo, by Diane Sanfilippo (Autoimmune Chapter)

 

I also recommend:

  • Drink bone broth daily.
  • Include fermented foods daily such as raw sauerkraut and kombucha tea.
  • Chew food thoroughly (enzymes in saliva help to pre-digest foods).
  • Drink 1/2 body weight in ounces of water each day-sip throughout the day. Consider adding lemon to your water to support cleansing the liver.

 

Lifestyle Recommendations:

  • Keep exercise at light to moderate (walking, yoga, stretching, tai chi) while the body is healing. Over stressing the body may feel really good, but also causes an increase is cortisol output, which put extra stress on the adrenals and thyroid.
  • Try to get enough sleep for your body. I don’t like to recommend a certain number of hours. We are all different. Some people feel their best at 6 hours, others need 8. The key is to to turn off all stimulating activities and electronics in the evening (at least an hour before bed). Keep these screens and devices out of the room you will be sleeping in. Try to go to bed earlier if you can, as sleep in the early part of the night is restorative.
  • Find new activities that bring you joy and passion, but do not jeopardize the health of your body. I highly recommend yoga and meditation. I love to go fishing 🙂

 

Tyroid Supplement Recommendations:

There are also specific minerals that support the thyroid, and supplement recommendation for healing the intestines. However, many of these recommendations are dependent upon the persons bio-individual needs. I recommend working with a Nutritional Therapist to get on a protocol that meets your needs!

Here are a couple recommendations I make to most of my clients who are struggle with autoimmune thyroid and need gut healing:

Selenium and Zinc (minerals that support thyroid health)

Fermented Cod Liver Oil (contains Vit A and D)

L-Glutamine (rebuilds the mucous layer of the small intestines to help seal the gut, helps with sugar cravings)

Digestive Enzymes (helps to breakdown proteins, fats, and sugars more thoroughly, so less large proteins can pass through the gut). I highly recommend Digest Gold by Enzymedica, taken with every meal.

Probiotics (good bacteria to help with digestion). I recommend Prescript Assist brand probiotics.

*I am not affiliated or paid for any of the above brand selections.

Get a free nutritional therapy consultation

 

My hope is that this information will open your eyes to some important changes that you can make now to help support your thyroid health. If you are interested in a free phone consultation to see how I can support your healing, contact me!

 

About Kathryn:

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Kathryn Kos is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP)  through The Nutritional Therapy Association, and a Certified Lactation Educator/Counselor through The University of San Diego. Her undergraduate degree is in Movement Science from Westfield State College. Her Master’s degree is in Rehabilitation Counseling from Springfield College. She specialize in healing digestion, balancing blood sugar, balancing hormones, and autoimmune conditions. 

 

 

 

* Please note: This is a personal blog.  All data and information provided on this site is for informational/educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitution for professional medical advice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Avoid Peanuts

Peanut in a shell and cleared

 

I’ve had a couple recent clients mention that they eat a lot of peanut butter. They wanted to know if there is a reason to switch out of it if they were not allergic. There are many reasons why advocates of the paleo/primal/realfood lifestyle avoid peanuts, and I will try to cover all of them. Many people think that peanuts are nuts, however, they are actually legumes! What is a legume? legumes are seeds within a pod such as beans, chick peas, and beans.

 

What is the difference between a nut and a legume?

 

Nuts usually have one seed within a shell, legumes tend to have multiple seeds within a casing. The focus on this piece is peanuts which are legumes.

 

nuts

 

Some people in the paleo community eat small amounts of legumes, some avoid them all together. The reason why some (including myself) choose to avoid legumes is because they contain anti-nutrients (phytates and lectins) that help protect the plant from being eaten by bugs. These anti-nutrients can contribute to inflammation in the body, digestive issues, and leaky gut. You would want to avoid legumes if you have autoimmune conditions. However, when properly soaked and sprouted many of these anti-nutrients can be removed, making legumes easier on digestion. Some legumes are also high in complex carbohydrates which is not good for those struggling with balancing their blood sugar. However, they do contain fiber to slow the absorption of sugar in the system. So legumes are not the worse thing you can eat. They are not the best source of nutrients in terms of nutrient density, but in my opinion are better than many of the processed food options out there if properly prepared (soaked, sprouted).

 

Now onto peanuts…

 

Peanuts (in my opinion) might not be a good choice even if you are keeping some legumes in the diet.

 

According to Dr. Mercola:

  • Peanuts are high in omega-6 fats that distort the omega 3:6 ratio. High omega 6 consumption leads to inflammation in the body.
  • Peanuts are contaminated with a carcinogenic mold called aflatoxin
  • Peanuts are one of the most pesticide-contaminated crop (unless organic)

 

My take:

In our culture we eat a very high omega 6 diet, and low omega 3. Many of us are not consuming grass-fed/pasture raised meats which have a better fatty acid profile (higher in omega 3). We also consume high omega 6 vegetable oils. Here is a piece I wrote about oils (which to avoid and why). Even when you try to avoid the “bad” oils at home, you still consume them when you go out to eat. Very few restaurants cook with healthy oils. So why eat even more omega 6 fatty acids by eating peanut butter regularly? Just something to think about.

Some experts link the mold on the shell of the peanuts to peanut allergies. Some deny the link all together. Regardless of the trigger for allergies, peanuts are still very high in aflatoxin, and that is another reason to avoid them.

 

According to the FDA:

“Aflatoxins produce acute necrosis, cirrhosis, and carcinoma of the liver in a number of animal species; no animal species is resistant to the acute toxic effects of aflatoxins; hence it is logical to assume that humans may be similarly affected. A wide variation in LD50 values has been obtained in animal species tested with single doses of aflatoxins. For most species, the LD50 value ranges from 0.5 to 10 mg/kg body weight. Animal species respond differently in their susceptibility to the chronic and acute toxicity of aflatoxins. The toxicity can be influenced by environmental factors, exposure level, and duration of exposure, age, health, and nutritional status of diet. Aflatoxin B1 is a very potent carcinogen in many species, including nonhuman primates, birds, fish, and rodents. In each species, the liver is the primary target organ of acute injury. Metabolism plays a major role in determining the toxicity of aflatoxin B1; studies show that this aflatoxion requires metabolic activation to exert its carcinogenic effect, and these effects can be modified by induction or inhibition of the mixed function oxidase system.”

 

According to Mark’s Daily Apple:

“Peanuts are high in aflatoxins. Aflatoxins are naturally occurring fungal toxins, or mycotoxins, produced by certain members of Aspergillus, a type of fungus found pretty much everywhere throughout the world. Aspergillus tends to colonize any monosaccharide and polysaccharide it comes across, as long as the conditions are right, but peanuts are particularly susceptible. Most crops are colonized after harvest and during storage, but since Aspergillus is found in the soil (among other places) and peanuts grow underground, peanut colonization often occurs well before harvest. The result is that peanuts are among the most contaminated crops, along with corn and cottonseed.”

Read more

 

My verdict:

There are alternative nut-butters such as almond butter or nut-free seed butter like sun butter (made with sunflower seeds), I use these for dipping fruit and carrots in rather than peanut butter. I also occasionally bake with them. Remember, nuts contain anti-nutrients (phytates and lectins) as well, which is why you want raw soaked/sprouted nuts and seeds to ease digestion. However, they are not heavy on the molds like peanuts. When our ancestors started consuming nuts/seeds, they knew how to prepare them properly to ease digestion. It was harder for them to forage and shell them, so they weren’t consuming massive amounts from the food industry like we are today. If you are switching to alternative nut/seed butters do so in moderation or consider making your own with soaked nuts. If you are one of those peanut butter lovers who just cannot give it up, I suggest cutting down on the amount you are consuming, or try converting to an alternative nut/seed butter. Now that I am more in tune with my body, I notice that I get very bloated after eating almonds and almond butter. However, sunbutter doesn’t bother me. Listen to the messages your body is sending you!

Get a free nutrional therapy consultation

About Kathryn:

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Kathryn Kos is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP)  through The Nutritional Therapy Association, and a Certified Lactation Educator/Counselor through The University of San Diego. Her undergraduate degree is in Movement Science from Westfield State College. Her Master’s degree is in Rehabilitation Counseling from Springfield College. Kathryn is a nutrition blogger over at Primal Bliss Nutrition, where she shares whole food recipes and articles pertaining to health and wellness. She specialize in healing digestion, balancing blood sugar, balancing hormones, autoimmune conditions, weight loss, and feeding infants and children.

“My own health struggles occurred through years of following mainstream western nutritional advice led me down this path. I was eating what I thought was a very healthy diet (following conventional medical advice). However, I was struggling with feeling good inside and out. I ended up being diagnosed with several Autoimmune Conditions. I was having horrible gall bladder attacks and living on antacids. My thyroid was enlarged, and I struggled with anxiety and insomnia. My endocrinologist wanted to wait until my thyroid stopped functioning, and put me on a medication. That was the only solution offered. Doctors wanted to put me on medications.

My philosophy is to find and heal the root cause of the problem, rather than fix the symptoms by taking a medication or removing an organ. Through my own intense research, I began my real food journey. My health changed drastically and my autoimmune markers went way down. I started to feel amazing and wanted to share my experience on a big level. I am so excited to share my knowledge with you!  I am dedicated to helping you realize what your bio-individual nutrition needs are, and giving you the tools to make positive changes in your life!”

-Kathryn Kos, NTP

Kathryn sees clients worldwide through phone, skype or google hangouts! She also sees clients locally in her Ballston Spa, NY office.

Contact Kathryn to schedule a free consultation:

(518) 260-9749

primalblissnutrition@gmail.com 

Grains are not a food group!

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There is a misconception out there that by eating “primal” or “paleo” you are on this diet that cuts out a “major food group”. First of all, primal eating is lifestyle…it is not a fad diet. Grains are not a food group! Eating primal does not mean eating “low carb.” It is not the same thing as Atkins. In fact, our bodies do need carbohydrates. We just don’t need the excessive amount we consume when we eat processed foods and grains. We need way less than we are accustomed too, and the amount we need varies based on our level of physical activity. So what exactly does primal/paleo/ancestral eating mean? It simply means eating real food. We are so far removed from what real food is in our culture that some of us have no idea where to start. Real food does not come in a box/package or have a label on it. It has not been chemically processed or altered.

Before eating this way I was eating what I *thought was a healthy diet.  Almost everyday I ate almond butter and honey sandwiches on 100% sprouted grain bread, pasta, beans, legumes…I avoided most animal products. I also did not feel good. I was having gallbladder attacks. I was anxious. My hair was falling out. I was diagnosed with autoimmune diseases. After a year of slowly converting to primal eating, my autoimmune “markers” are now very low, and I feel amazing!  My health has improved dramatically and I will never go back. I’ve discussed my autoimmune thyroid (which is related to grain and soy consumption) and plan to talk more on autoimmunity in subsequent posts. I’m feeling really good these days 🙂

Why do I avoid grains? On top of experiencing all I said above, I was having issues with unstable blood sugar. I was consuming most of my calories from “whole wheat” bread, and I thought I was eating healthy. However, I was having a ton of health issues that were snowballing and I was not in a good place. Something was wrong. When I cut gluten out I started to feel much better, but still dealt with blood sugar spikes and plummets, as well as hormonal issues. Now that I avoid grains, my blood sugar is stable and I feel at my best. It feels great to actually wake up every morning feeling healthy and strong. I no longer have brain fog. I feel happy. My hormones are balanced.

This link and this link were helpful in understanding some of the blood sugar/gluten issues:

“The paleo diet is not Atkins, nor is it zero-carb. The best research I can find shows that modern hunter-gatherers get perhaps 1/3 of their calories from carbohydrate, and Paleolithic hunter-gatherers somewhat less. This means vegetables, including root starches like sweet potatoes: grains were not a meaningful part of the human diet until agriculture, of which the earliest evidence is only 12,000 years ago. (This is a tautology: agriculture defines the transition from Paleolithic to Neolithic.)”

My hope is that people will do their own research and keep an open mind. I am a mom of 2 young boys, and want to feed them real food. I deal with a ton of negativity and questioning from people, but I plow on because I know I am doing what is best for us. One thing I don’t do is “preach to the choir”. I don’t judge other people for their food choices, I don’t try to change what my family or friends eat.  If someone asks me or questions me I do my best to explain my choice without being pushy. Here is an article I found helpful when dealing with family/friends who question your choices. What I have learned through the years is to limit your arguing…keep answers short and sweet, change the subject.

It makes such a difference in your life when your body just feels right. I network with many different paleo/primal people and belong to several different groups where we all learn from each other. I learn new things everyday. I’m sure some of it will change, but the basics remain the same. I am passionate about sharing my knowledge, and I really have no other motives.

So what exactly do I eat?

I eat pastured meats. Pastured simply means that the animal is out eating its natural diet. So cows eat grass. Chickens eat bugs. Not only is the animal happier, but the health benefit of pastured meats are huge. The animal is not couped or caged all the time and fed genetically modified feed (soybeans, corn, wheat to name a few).  I buy from the local Farmer’s Market. Some farmers will give discounts, and there are cheaper cuts available that are just as nutrient rich as fancy cuts, some even more so. I take my kids to visit the farms and get to know the farmers. Organ meats are very inexpensive and are extremely nutrient dense. Farmers sell all different cuts of meat-heart, liver, tongue, soup bones, you name it! You can also purchase a ¼ cow, ½ cow or a whole cow if you have a deep freezer. Sometimes friends will “split a cow”. It is cost effective and the meat can get you through several months. I also eat applegate farms deli meats, and occasionally buy meats at Trader Joe’s.

This is helpful

I eat grass-fed dairy (I am a sucker for kerrygold cheese). Dairy can be an issue for many people. The protein casein is large in molecular structure and can be hard on the gut. I react to dairy. I make the choice to occasionally eat it and pay the price.

I eat wild caught fish and seafood. I was never a fish person in the past. I actually just started eating and enjoying sardines (I am amazed at how much I enjoy the taste of real food after cleansing my body of processed foods). My kids like salmon so I try to make it for them at least once a week.

I eat pastured eggs- chickens are not vegetarians. They are omnivores-they love bugs! Pastured eggs are not the same as “cage free” or “vegetarian fed” eggs. I had a hard time finding them, and now purchase them at the farmer’s market as well.

This is helpful in understanding eggs!

I eat a ton of vegetables/fruit daily (mostly vegetables): avocados, garlic, herbs, apples, berries, carrots, greens of all sorts, bananas, parsnips, turnips, kale, beets, brussel sprouts, broccoli, spinach, salad greens, cauliflower, oranges…it changes based on the season. I stick with “the dirty dozen” when it comes to buying organic.

I don’t fear fat at all. You shouldn’t either.

I cook with coconut oil, ghee (OMGhee is my favorite) grass-fed butter (kerrygold is a good brand), tallow, and lard.  I use olive oil for cold uses. I do not limit my fat intake. This chart is helpful in explaining which fats to use and which to avoid.

I bake with coconut flour, coconut oil, tapioca starch, arrowroot flour, and almond meal.

I also snack on nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, healthy meat sticks (not slim jims), seaweed, sardines,  lara bars, veggies

There are a bunch of fabulous blogs/FB pages that I follow. Some are educational and others share tons of awesome recipes!

Here are some of my personal favorites:

www.nomnompaleo.com

www.balancedbites.com

www.everydaypaleo.com

www.facebook.com/justeatrealfood

www.marksdailyapple.com

http://chriskresser.com/

www.robbwolf.com

www.primaltoad.com

www.paleononpaleo.com

www.againstallgrains.com

*Some of the staples I load my pantry with for baking are coconut milk, coconut flour, tapioca starch, arrowroot, coconut oil, almond meal, enjoy life (GF/DF) chocolate chips, bourbon vanilla, frozen blueberries (I go blueberry picking during the summer and freeze pounds of them).

As I’ve said in the past I am not 100% and I am far from perfect. If you try to be, you will drive yourself batty and won’t enjoy your life. We live in a culture that is very much attached to grains, and that makes this lifestyle difficult without support. It’s not impossible…just difficult. It is important to reach out for support and take baby steps. I have good days and bad days. There are days when I stare at the fridge and think “what the heck am I going to make today?” I always figure it out and I am learning how to think outside the box! Scrambled eggs mixed with ground beef and seasonings tossed over salad greens makes an excellent meal. I found that by “liking” primal/paleo FB pages your newsfeed gets filled with awesome recipes to try, tips, and helpful information.

I started out by just cutting out gluten. That to me is a huge step. Then when I noticed the amazing positive changes I slowly converted to eating less and less processed foods. I still get the occasional gluten free sugary treat. I always feel lousy afterward, but once in awhile I do it anyway. I also like to have a gluten free beer in the summertime, and enjoy drinking wine with my friends. My weakness is dark chocolate-I try to find the darkest and lowest in sugar available.

I hope this helps, feel free to ask away if you have questions and I will try to point you in the right direction!

 

 

 

* Please note: This is a personal blog. I am not a Doctor or a Dietician. All data and information provided on this site is for informational/educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitution for professional medical advice.