January 9, 2010
If you suffer from Hashimoto's Disease or any form of hypothyroidism, the chances are you'll already have found that certain foods make you feel better – your hands and feet become warmer, your head clears, and you feel more optimistic (depression being one of the bleaker symptoms of hypothyroidism). The main reason these foods increase the level of thyroid hormone is because they contain iodine – which is necessary for the body to make the thyroid hormones.
Safe Iodine-rich Foods
Some of these foods are surprising, and don't regularly turn up on lists of iodine-rich foods. Most people with hypothyroid conditions are aware that seaweed such as kelp and bladderwrack are high in iodine, together with fish and fish products, egg yolks and dairy products.
However, there are a number of fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and herbs that not only contain iodine – in amounts significant enough to warm up the system – but are also outstanding in other ways that have been shown to help thyroid conditions, such as having strong anti-inflammatory action, high selenium content, or an additional metabolic effect, working in synergy with the thyroid.
In addition, these foods can safely be eaten in small amounts until you are able to calculate the level of iodine that is safe for your condition. Seaweeds, such as kelp and bladderwrack, are too iodine-rich for Hashimoto sufferers and can worsen symptoms, causing inflammatory flare-ups, whereas the foods given in the list below will provide a more subtle iodine introduction, backed up with additional benefits.
Fresh Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Herbs and Nuts that Stimulate the Thyroid
According to The Merck Index 14th Edition 4, the key fresh foods that provide iodine in gently stimulating amounts are those listed below:
Fruits – pineapple, coconut, strawberries, rhubarb, mango, dates, apricots, balsam apple
Vegetables – Jerusalem artichoke, spinach, potato
Grains – oats, buckwheat, lentils
Spices – cinnamon, black and white pepper
Herbs – fennel, hyssop
Nuts – hazelnut
Tree leaves – Moringa (Moringa oleifera)
Pineapple: Iodine and Powerful Anti-inflammatory
All of the fruits in this list have additional benefits for people with Hashimoto's. Pineapple contains the entire range of vitamins, 16 minerals, and is extremely rich in bromelain, an anti-inflammatory enzyme that is so powerful that it is commonly used alone as a treatment for autoimmune disorders; it also breaks down proteins (including parasites), acts as an anti-coagulant (lowering blood-pressure) and purifies the blood.
Coconut: Iodine and Instant, Non-sugar Energy
Coconut provides a unique form of saturated fat that contains medium-chain fatty acids that boost the metabolism quickly. This kind of fat doesn't need to be linked up with carrier proteins (lipoprotins) and stored – it travels straight to the liver for immediate conversion to energy. Coconut also contains caprylic acid (also known as octanoic acid) which combats fungal infections such as candidiasis.
Strawberries: Iodine and Anti-histamine
Strawberries are the top berry source for quercetin, which is anti-inflammatory and has been found to protect brain cells from damage (1). It is also known as "nature's antihistamine", inhibiting the production of histamine, which is involved in inflammatory responses, as well as allergic ones. And just one cup of strawberries contains over 140 per cent of the RDA (recommended daily amount).
Rhubarb: Iodine and 12 Other Minerals
Rhubarb is part of the Polygonaceae family and has been used as a medicine since the third century BCE. It is rich in iodine and also contains vitamins A, C and many of the B vitamins. It is remarkable for its high mineral content which – in addition to iodine – includes calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, phosphorous, silicon, sodium, sulfur and zinc, chlorine, and potassium. The rhizomes and roots contain powerful anthraquinones, which are stimulant laxatives, useful for relieving the constipation that's an unpleasant part of hypothryoid conditions.
Apricots: Iodine and Phytonutrients
Apricots are high in the phytonutrients lycopene, beta-carotene and quercetin, and have been shown to reduce the risk of liver steatosis (fatty degeneration of the liver) (2). They are also one of the foods identified by healthcare professionals as possibly key to the extreme longevity of the Hunzas people of Kashmir (3).
Balsam Apple: Iodine and Metabolism Regulator
Also known as bitter melon, this fruit contains four bioactive compounds which activate a protein named AMPK. This has been studied at length for its role in regulating metabolism, and enabling glucose uptake processes in the body.
Mangoes and Dates
Dates are a rich source of selenium (needed for thyroid hormone production), and contain 23 types of amino acids within their proteins. Mangoes are the richest source of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene) – one mango provides 1½ times the RDA.
Other Iodine-Rich Fresh Foods to be Used with Caution
Soy beans are rich sources of iodine, but the isoflavones in soy beans and products can actually depress thyroid function (because they inhibit thyroid peroxidase-catalysed reactions that are essential for forming thyroid hormones), so soy is best avoided. Black walnut is also an extremely rich source of iodine, and offers extraordinary benefits for bacterial or parasitic problems but its iodine content is so high that it should be used one drop at a time, until a safe level is established.