The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits at the base of your neck and releases the hormones that have a hand in regulating metabolism, heartbeat, growth, internal temperature, and much more. So as you can imagine, when your thyroid is out of whack, a lot of problems can occur in your body.
There are two main types of thyroid disease, hypothyroidism, and hyperthyroidism. The first, hypothyroidism, occurs when the thyroid does not make enough hormones. This can happen when the thyroid itself malfunctions, which is called primary hypothyroidism. The disorder can also occur when the pituitary gland in your brain fails to send important messages to the thyroid that are necessary to trigger the release of thyroid hormone. That’s called secondary hypothyroidism. In both cases, the symptoms include weight gain, fatigue, depression, and sensitivity to cold.
On the other hand, when the thyroid releases too much hormone, it’s called hyperthyroidism. The symptoms are largely opposite from what happens when you don’t have enough thyroid hormone. You may experience weight loss, nervousness, irritability, sensitivity to heat, and irregular heartbeat.
Thyroid disease is largely controlled by genetics, but stress, environmental toxins, and diet play a part. We are going to let you know what foods are known to exacerbate thyroid disease because that’s one element that is within your control. You may be surprised by some of these, especially #4 because we tend to think of it as the ultimate health food.
1. Fast Food
The thyroid gland uses iodine from our diets to create the hormones T3 and T4. In fact, the thyroid is the only organ that uses iodine. There are lots of reasons to avoid fast food, but when it comes to thyroid disease, the fact is that this food contains a ton of salt but very little iodine.
At home, we get a lot of our daily iodine from iodized table salt, but there is no requirement for fast food restaurants to use iodized salt in their food. Studies confirm that fast food meals net you very little helpful iodine for all the sodium you’ll consume.
2. Processed Food
Just like fast food, processed and packaged foods also contain a ton of sodium but rarely use iodized salt. If you don’t believe us, start checking labels at the store. Many of these products, even sweet ones, contain more than 20% of your daily sodium allowance in one “serving” (which is likely to be less than you would normally eat).
A diet containing too much sodium puts you at risk for heart disease and high blood pressure, and getting your sodium from processed foods adds little to no critical iodine. That’s why it’s always best to prepare meals fresh at home and salt them using iodized table salt.