The thyroid gland may be only a few centimeters in length at the start of our necks, but because it regulates the body's metabolism and energy production, its success or failure dictates a lot about our health. "Yet in a significant number of people with thyroid deficiencies, routine blood tests fail to detect insufficient thyroid hormone, leaving patients without an accurate explanation for their symptoms," writes Jane E. Brody, the personal health columnist for The New York Times.
These symptoms, she notes, vary from somewhat alarming to all-out concerning. Hair loss, sleep problems, and anxiety could be signs, but so can depression, excessive fatigue, and unexplained weight gain. Plus, Brody cautions that women of childbearing age may find it hard to get or stay pregnant if they are having thyroid problems.
Sara Gottfried, an integrative medicine doctor, experienced some of these symptoms and soon discovered that her body was in "a failure state," according to a blood test. Gottfried was aging faster than normal, and because of a family history of obesity and diabetes, she decided that her best plan of action was creating a plant-based diet to balance her blood sugar and lessens cortisol.
"I discovered that only 10 percent of your risk of disease is genetic," she said. "Ninety percent is environmental—mostly your daily lifestyle choices and the biochemical neighborhood those choices create for your DNA." Now, Gottfried sticks to a strict regimen: She eats 20 to 30 different plant species every week, chooses local foods with lots of color, avoids anything "processed," and fits in plenty of fiber. When she eats meat, Gottfried checks that it's anti-inflammatory.
"Meticulous eating improves my health span, the period of my life during which I feel in my prime, free from disease, in hormonal harmony, and looking and feeling young," she said. So how can you follow her lead and keep your thyroid in check? Read about her food plan for breakfast, lunch, and dinner below.
6 ounces frozen blueberries or other seasonal fruit
3 ounces of quinoa, prepared in a rice cooker
3 tablespoon freshly ground flax
Sea salt, to taste
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
1 teaspoon organic spirulina
5 to 8 ice cubes
1 tablespoon MCT oil, optional
6 ounces of chopped cucumber, sugar-plum grape tomatoes, and mixed fermented vegetables
1 tablespoon MCT oil
Meyer lemon, to taste
4 ounces lentils
6 ounces non-starchy vegetables, like zucchini
6 ounces of salad with 2 ounces of avocado
4 ounces wild-caught Steelhead trout
4 ounces Spigariello raab
2 ounces fermented vegetables
Check out subtle signs of a thyroid disorder, coming up next!