It’s a small gland with big responsibilities, yet the thyroid—a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck—often suffers due to excess stress and nutrient-deficient food, with almost 500,000 Australians dealing with long-term thyroid disorders.
Diagnosis can either be hyperthyroidism (too much) or hypothyroidism (too little) hormone production, leading to symptoms including, but not limited to, exhaustion, constipation, depression, hair loss and, in women, heavy menstruation.
While relatively rare, thyroid cancer can also develop, with 3,435 Australians expected to be diagnosed in 2020.
It’s a disorder that manifests due to a variety of factors—many preventable—says naturopath, nutritionist and Lifestream wholefoods ambassador Janella Purcell.
“Our thyroids have been really affected in recent times thanks to lack of iodine and selenium in the soil, nutrient-deficient, highly processed foods, manmade chemicals and stress,” she says.
“The thyroid gland is located below the larynx in our throat and secretes hormones to regulate many metabolic processes, including growth and energy expenditure. When it is not functioning properly, our overall health sufferers—but there are steps we can take to help foster healthy, balanced thyroid function.”
For those who suffer from a thyroid condition, there are some simple healthy habits that can be adopted, says Janella, under the supervision of a health professional.
Janella’s Top Tips for Thyroid Health
1. TOP UP WITH SELENIUM
The main food sources of selenium in Australia are meat, poultry and game products; cereal products, fish and seafood(3). However soil concentration of selenium varies widely and affects levels in plant food. Australian soils are known to be selenium deficient, therefore our food is often lacking this essential trace element. Selenium is necessary for antioxidant protection and optimum immune and thyroid metabolism. I recommend Lifestream Natural Selenium, a wholefood source, cultured from selenium rich yeast that is 100% organically bound. High selenium yeast has emerged in recent times as the preferred option for selenium supplementation because it is natural and contains a wide range or organically bound selenium-rich proteins.
According to a 2014 Australian Health Survey, 3% of males and 6% of females aged two years and over did not meet their requirements for selenium intake. Amongst those 71 years and over, approximately one in 10 had inadequate selenium intakes (12% of males and 10% of females).
It’s important to note that selenium may be toxic in high doses. Adults should take no more than 150mcg of selenium supplementation daily. Check with your health practitioner if you’re unsure.
2. SUPPLEMENT WITH A WHOLEFOOD IODINE SOURCE
Iodine is an essential nutrient required for the production of thyroid hormones, which is important for normal growth and development—especially the brain. Add Lifestream Bioactive Spirulina, sea veggies, Himalayan salt, cranberries, organic yoghurt, navy beans, potatoes and strawberries to your daily diet under the guidance of a health professional if on thyroid medication.
3. DRINK LOTS OF CLEAN, ALKALINE WATER DAILY
Water helps your metabolism function more efficiently, and can help reduce your appetite, reduce water retention and bloating, improve your digestion and elimination, and combat constipation. If the taste of plain water doesn’t appeal, add a squeeze of cleansing, Vitamin C-rich lemon.
4. CHOOSE ORGANIC, FERMENTED SOY OVER PROCESSED SOY
Limit overconsumption of soy, especially processed and high-phytoestrogen forms of soy, like shakes, powders, soy milk and bars. Soy both acts as a goitrogen, and inhibits thyroid hormone absorption. You can either eliminate soy altogether, or limit it to organic fermented forms, like tempeh, in small quantities and not as a primary protein replacement. Non-organic soy is likely to be grown from genetically modified seed and sprayed with pesticides.
5. LIMITED GOITROGEN FOODS (particularly for hyperthyroidism)
These are naturally occurring substances in certain foods that can cause the thyroid gland to enlarge, which is called a goiter. Goitrogenic foods can also function like an antithyroid drug and actually slow down the thyroid and make it underactive (hypothyroidism). If you are hypothyroid, you don't need to avoid goitrogenic foods entirely. The enzymes involved in the formation of goitrogenic materials in plants can be at least partially destroyed by heat, allowing you to enjoy these foods in moderation if they are steamed or cooked. These are broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kohl rabi, turnip, kale and soy.
#worldthyroidday #lifestreamwholefoods #janellapurcell
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ABOUT JANELLA PURCELL
A sought-after naturopath, nutritionist, medical herbalist, iridologist and chef, Janella Purcell has been a regular on Australian television with appearances on Masterchef, and as the “good chef” on Good Chef, Bad Chef. She is also a regular contributor, columnist for many of Australia’s best-loved magazines, newspaper supplements and websites.
As an author, Janella has four best-selling books, including Eating for the Seasons, which won the “best health and nutrition” category at the International Gourmand Awards. Janella’s Wholefood Kitchen was also shortlisted for the prestigious award. Janella’s Super Natural Foods was released in late 2014.
Janella has combined her vast knowledge of food and nutrition to create a multi-disciplined approach to health and wellbeing. Dedicated to a core philosophy of food as medicine, the wholefood chef teaches how to get the most out of our meals – and how to avoid the pitfalls. She has been working with wholefoods since childhood and honing special diets for the past 15 years. Janella has personally used Lifestream products since her career began and officially became the brand’s ambassador in 2014.
Besides her wholefood workshops, media appearances and online work, Janella can be found consulting with clients at her Natural Food and Medicine Store in Sydney’s Surry Hills, as well as from her clinic in Bangalow, Northern New South Wales.
3. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2014, Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results - Foods and Nutrients, 2011-12, 'Table 10: Proportion of Nutrients from food groups', data cube: Excel spreadsheet, cat. no. 4364.0.55.007