Vegetables have always been considered healthy and they can be consumed by everyone. As vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and the best part is they are low in calories as well, we assume that we can eat liberal amounts of this food group. But, have we ever thought that any of these vegetables can interfere or play around with our hormones as well? Yes, they do! Let’s talk about Cruciferous vegetables and how it impacts thyroid function.
What Is Thyroid & How Does It Affect Our Health?
Thyroid hormones carry out a large number of functions in our body, like maintaining body temperature, regulating other body organs like the brain, heart and muscles as well as body metabolism which in turn regulates our body weight. The most common disorders related to the thyroid gland are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
- Hypothyroidism: is a condition in which the thyroid gland is unable to produce a sufficient amount of thyroid hormones. One of the reasons for hypothyroidism is iodine deficiency. Iodine is required for synthesis of thyroid hormones, thus its deficiency can cause hypothyroidism. Lack of thyroid hormones leads to weight gain, feeling lethargic, constipation, hair loss, impaired memory and sensitivity to cold.
- Hyperthyroidism: is a condition in which there is increased production and release of thyroid hormones. Excess of thyroid hormones leads to weight loss, restlessness, irritability, hair fall, muscle weakness and intolerance to heat.
How Do Cruciferous Vegetables Affect Thyroid?
Cruciferous, also known as Brassica vegetables, come from the plant family known as Cruciferae or Brassicaceae. Most commonly consumed cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, turnips, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, radish, watercress, rutabagas, spinach and lettuce. These nutrient packed vegetables are loaded with Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and they are also good sources of antioxidants and fiber. These vegetables are beneficial for weight loss, fighting cancers and reducing inflammation. But, when we talk about thyroid, it has a negative role to play with respect to hypothyroidism.
Goitrogens are naturally occurring chemicals found in cruciferous vegetables when consumed in raw form. They are healthy and vitamin rich. But, if you have a thyroid condition, you should be aware of it. Goitrogens in cruciferous vegetables interfere with thyroid function by reducing the body’s ability to use iodine. As discussed earlier, our body needs iodine for production of thyroid hormones, hence, iodine deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism. Consumption of cruciferous vegetables increases the symptoms of hypothyroidism and people suffering from this condition should avoid consuming cruciferous vegetables.
But, in the case of hyperthyroidism, they have a positive role to play by inhibiting the production of thyroid hormone and keeping it in check. So people suffering from hyperthyroidism can consume cruciferous vegetables without restrictions.
You Can Still Enjoy Them With Small Adjustments
Or we can say we can minimise the negative effects of cruciferous vegetables and even people suffering from hypothyroidism can consume them in moderation. Just follow these simple tips:
- Cooking cruciferous vegetables, instead of consuming them raw, helps in reducing the levels of goitrogens. Cooking methods like steaming, blanching and fermenting can be used.
- Increasing iodine intake by adding iodine-rich sources like seafood, eggs, dairy products and iodized salt (less than half a teaspoon of iodized salt can fulfill our daily iodine requirement).
- Increasing selenium intake as selenium helps in removing free radicals generated in the thyroid gland, preventing any damage to the thyroid gland. Some of the selenium-rich sources include brazil nuts, fish, meat, sunflower seeds, tofu, baked beans, portobello mushrooms, whole grain pasta and cheese.
Please Note: Even after having cooked goitrogens in the diet, if it gets difficult to balance your thyroid condition, you may have to cut out cruciferous vegetables from your diet. It is better to consult your doctor, nutritionist or dietitian to make sure your diet is well balanced. Apart from avoiding cruciferous vegetables, maintaining an active lifestyle, a protein and fiber rich diet will help us boost metabolism and shed down extra weight gained due to hypothyroidism.
We hope this article was informative and helps you. To know more about how to manage thyroid issues with lifestyle changes, speak to an expert by subscribing for GOQii’s Personalised Health Coaching here.