The Goitrogens Compounds Found in Healthy Carbohydrates Might Affect the Thyroid Gland Function
Carbohydrates – Part 8
In this series of articles (Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) I am talking about restricting calories, and their side-effects. Also, how to be counting our calories, and many details about the macronutrients in our diet. In this article, and in the next one, Part 9, I am going to talk about how even healthy choices of carbohydrates might negatively affect our thyroid gland, what to do in order to protect it, and more.
Are you dealing with thyroid conditions? If the answer is yes, you are not alone. Thyroid disorders including hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, goiter, and other Iodine deficiency disorders, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and thyroid cancer are among the commonest endocrine disorders worldwide. (1, 2)
Keep reading this article and you are going to discover how to help the health of your thyroid gland through simple changes in your diet.
What is a thyroid gland?
The thyroid is a vital hormone gland found at the front of the neck, under the voice box that has a butterfly-shape. It is responsible for the formation and secretion of thyroid hormones as well as iodine homeostasis within the human body. And the thyroid hormone produces effects on practically every cell in the human body, generally increasing their function and metabolism.
Not only the thyroid gland plays a major role in metabolism, growth, and neuronal development. Also, it helps regulate many body functions by constantly releasing a steady amount of thyroid hormones into the bloodstream. If the body needs more energy in certain situations – for instance, if it is growing or cold, or during pregnancy – the thyroid gland produces more hormones. (3, 4)
Some of the most common thyroid conditions and signs and symptoms
Goiter means enlargement of the thyroid gland and is a condition associated with a variety of physiological or pathological stimuli. And the most common cause of goiters worldwide is a lack of iodine in the diet.
Not all goiters cause signs and symptoms but when signs and symptoms do occur may include swelling at the base of our neck, a tight feeling in our throat, hoarseness, coughing, difficult swallowing and breathing, etc. (5, 6)
Hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough of certain crucial hormones and is one of the most common thyroid disorders.
Worldwide, environmental iodine deficiency is the most common cause of thyroid disorders, including hypothyroidism. And it may not cause noticeable symptoms at its very beginning. However, if left untreated might cause a number of health problems.
Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism include cold intolerance, weight gain, due to decreased basal metabolic rate and thermogenesis, puffy face, thinning hair, slowed heart rate, mental slowing, depression, dementia, fatigue, dry skin, decreased peripheral reflexes, constipation, irregular menstruation, infertility, muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness, stiffness, pain or swelling in the joins, elevated blood cholesterol levels, enlarged goiter, etc. (7,8)
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a condition in which our immune system attack, and destroys our thyroid cells, which over time causes a decline in thyroid hormone levels. This disease is also known as chronic autoimmune thyroiditis and chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis. And is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in developed countries that primarily affects middle-aged woman but can also happen in men and women of any age, and even in children.
Early signs and symptoms may include constipation,tiredness for no apparent reason, dry skin, pale and puffy face. More advanced symptoms may include cold intolerance, decreased sweating, fatigue and sluggishness, hair loss, brittle nails, unexplained weight gain, muscle weakness, enlargement of the tongue, join pain and stiffness, excessive and prolonged menstrual bleeding, depression, dementia, memory loss, muscle cramps, etc.
What is needed to be better understood by doctors and patients is that the vast majority of hypothyroidism cases are not a direct problem with the thyroid gland per se but, with the immune system that is out of control and attacking the thyroid gland. And understanding it is crucial to change the way it is being treated. (9, 10)
Hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid is also an endocrine condition that occurs when the thyroid gland produces excesses thyroid hormone thyroxine (the main hormone secreted into the bloodstream by the thyroid gland).
In contrast to hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism often accelerates our body’s metabolism, and may cause unintentional weight loss and a rapid or irregular heartbeat. Also, a multitude of symptoms can be present, including brittle hair, dry skin, heat intolerance, anxiety, diarrhea, etc. (11, 12)
Graves’ disease is also an immune system disorder in which the thyroid is overstimulated, causing overproduction of thyroid hormones or hyperthyroidism, and is one of the most common causes of hyperthyroidism.
The most common sigs and symptoms of Graves’ disease include anxiety and irritability, heat sensitivity and an increase in perspiration, weight loss, despite normal eating habits, frequent bowel movements, tremors, change in menstrual cycles, bulging eyes, fatigue, sleep disorders, reduced libido, heart palpitations, etc. (13, 14)
Iodine deficiency and thyroid function
Iodine is a micronutrient obtained from food sources, particularly vegetables grown on iodine-rich soil, seaweeds, etc., (see more below), present in thyroid hormones, and responsible for regulating thyroid function, supporting a healthy metabolism, supporting growth and development and of crucial importance for health and well-being.
However, globally, it is estimated that 2 billion individuals have insufficient iodine intake, and iodine deficiency is the most common cause of hypothyroidism around the world. Therelationship between iodine deficiency and thyroid disease is known since early in the twentieth century, and has a multitude of adverse effects, due to inadequate thyroid hormone production.
However, there are many other factors that might contribute to thyroid diseases such as chronic stress, aging, smoking status, genetic susceptibility, nutrient imbalances, ethnicity, endocrine disruptors as toxins exposures, gut issues, etc. (15, 16)
Are you getting enough Iodine in your diet?
Since iodine is crucial for our health and well-being, without any question, it is extremely important to optimize our iodine intake through our diet, as most of our iodine isobtained from our food sources. So, the best way to assure adequate levels of this mineral is by following a nutrient-dense type of diet. (17)
A nutrient-dense type of diet as the Paleo Diet includes iodine-rich foods daily in our plates, through a variety of high quality macronutrientes that will assure us a variety of micronutrients needed to maximize our health.
In other words, the Paleo diet includes foods with a great variety of minerals, vitamins, fatty acids, enzymes, fatty acids, etc., Basically, the micronutrients and everything else our body needs to thrive. For this reason, I am a Paleo diet advocate. (18, 19)
On the other hand, even when we are following a nutrient-dense type of diet such as Paleo or any other diet considered health options, we must understand that there are some substances in certain foods that we consume that might prevent or restrict the normal absorption of iodine in our body. The called goitrogenic foods.
The goitrogenic foods have goitrogens on them, natural or synthetic compounds or substances that impair the normal body’s ability to absorb the available iodine from our food. And some super-healthy veggies that are extremely consumed by the “healthy community”, have goitrogens.
So, even when we are following a nutrient-dense type of diet, we must be aware of the goitrogenic foods (see below the list), as they may affect the thyroid gland, causing swelling on it. Because if we habitually keep eating these foods in the raw form, it might hurt and compromise the health of our thyroid gland. Then, the goitrogenic foods must be limited in our diet.
Besides the goitrogens compounds found in our food, many chemicals in our environment and some over the counter medications are known to have a goitrogenic effects on them. Products such as antibiotics, over the counter medicaments - NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), some heart medications, pesticides, perfumes, and cleaning products filled with heavy metals, etc. All of them might interfere with the function of the thyroid gland. (20, 21, 22, 23, 24)
In the next article I will talk in detail about the goitrogenic foods, who should need to avoid these foods, how to minimize the effect of the goitrogenic foods in our diet, and more.
I hope this information is helpful to you.
Please, leave a comment or question in the link below.
See you soon.