3 Must Know Facts about Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale and Hypothyroidism

THIS POST FIRST APPEARED ON WWW.THYROIDTRUTHS.COM. If you haven’t had a chance to check out THYROID TRUTHS yet, be sure to take a look!
One of THE MOST commonly asked questions I receive is can I eat cruciferous vegetables if I have hypothyroid disease?
Cruciferous veggies, otherwise known as the brassica family of vegetables, include kale, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, turnip tops, and brussel sprouts. I don’t know about you, but these are some of my all-time favorite vegetables to cook with! Plus, the cruciferous vegetables are well known for their health benefits which include being a high source of fiber and also may be effective at fighting cancer. These veggies contain a substance known as Indole 3 Carbonyl (13C) that targets multiple aspects of cancer cell cycle regulation and helps to benefit estrogen metabolism.
Although this all sounds great, lately these veggies have been getting a really bad rep for harming the thyroid!
The claim is that the cruciferous vegetables contain certain substances known as goitrogens (goiter producing substances) that could cause the thyroid to enlarge or slow down, and reduce the absorption of iodine (important for thyroid function). These vegetables also contain a substance known as thiocyanate, which may interfere with iodine absorption to further damage the thyroid. Obviously for all of us that have hypothyroid, this reads as a huge red flag causing many of us to consider removing these delicious vegetables from out diet.
However, there are very few studies that suggest that these claims are true. In fact, some studies show that the risk may be minimal at best.
Fact #1: Researchers at the University of California found that only certain types of cruciferous vegetables may actually reduce the amount of iodine uptake. These were: collard greens, brussel sprouts and Russian kale. But other cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, turnip tops and broccoli rabe contained less than 10umol of goitrogenic chemicals per 100g servings and researchers concluded that these veggies therefore posed minimal risk to the thyroid.
Fact #2: In another study, researchers provided participants with 150g of brussel sprouts every day for 4 weeks. Remember, these Brussels are supposed to interfere with iodine uptake.  The  brussel sprouts used in the study did in fact contain a high amount of chemicals thought to harm the thyroid. However, the chemicals did not affect the thyroid function of the participants. Measurements of thyroid hormones were unchanged after the 4 weeks!
Fact #3: Other studies have shown that cooking these “goitrogenic” foods, especially lightly steaming them, can inactivate the goitrogens! It appears that the sweet spot for de-activation of these substances is steaming for 3-4 minutes.
Bottom line: Cruciferous vegetables, including kale, broccoli and cabbage have many health benefits and do NOT seem to be as problematic to the thyroid as some are claiming. That said, if you have hypothyroidism, it would be recommended to cook or lightly steam or crucifers more often to ensure you are not being exposed to high levels of goitrogens. Additionally, if you love raw crucifers and often eat them uncooked, it would be a good idea to have your thyroid hormone levels checked via blood work to ensure that these vegetables are not interfering with your medication or affecting your thyroid health in any way.
Do you love cruciferous vegetables as much as I do? What’s your favorite way to cook them? I will be sharing my favorite cauliflower recipe with you all soon- so stayed tuned. In the meantime, I would love to hear from you! Leave your comments below!
Dr. Emily
Paxman PJ and Hill R. The goitrogenicity of kale and its relation to thiocyanate content. J Sci Food Agric. 1974;25(3):329-337.
Nutr Rev. 2016 Apr;74(4):248-58. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuv110. Epub 2016 Mar 5.
Hum Toxicol. 1986 Jan;5(1):15-9

Introducing my new website: Thyroid Truths!

I am very excited to announce and introduce my new website, Thyroid Truths! After years of living with hypothyroid myself, and treating countless patients with thyroid disease I have created Thyroid Truths. This is your guide to losing weight and feeling great while living with hypothyroidism. I have built this in hopes that the knowledge helps you as much as it has helped me. Thyroid Truths is designed to provide you with a database of information, resources and videos to help to you with your thyroid health.


My story

When I was in my early 20’s, despite a healthy diet and active lifestyle, I was gaining weight, my face was puffy, my periods began to be very painful and I was constantly cold. My MD kept telling me that my blood work was fine, I was healthy.

But deep down I knew SOMETHING was going on- and I suspected it was thyroid.

Finally, at the age of 27, I found out the truth. I had a “complete thyroid panel” collected that revealed I had Hashimoto’s hypothyroid, a common auto-immune condition that causes anti-bodies to attack the thyroid. By this time, my TSH had also increased and I needed medication to help my situation. I was frustrated and angry after learning that if I had the complete thyroid panel done earlier, it may have shown the elevated antibodies (even though my TSH was normal) and I might have been able to prevent going on life-long medication!  Nonetheless I began to learn as much as possible about thyroid disease. Combining my medical background with my passion for natural approaches, I can happily report that I have greatly improved my health and energy levels.

Did you know that 1 in 8 woman will develop a thyroid condition over the course of their lifetime? Do you think you could be part of this statistic? Take this quiz on the thyroid truths page to find out!

As the website grows, it will contain free information, recipes, e-books and online courses to help you life your best life while living with hypothyroidism.

I am looking forward to hearing your feedback about the new site! If you know someone in your life that could benefit from this thyroid information, please pass it along!

In Health,

Dr. Emily

4 Reasons Why Selenium may help the Thyroid

Selenium is a mineral found in the soil, and is naturally occurring in very small amounts in some foods and water. Although our bodies require very small amounts of selenium, certain parts of the world have now been found to have selenium deficient soil, and thus lead to more selenium deficient foods. Recent research shows that selenium may be helpful in treating Hypothyroidism. Here’s why.

1. In areas where the soil is low in selenium, it has been shown that people are more likely to develop Hashimoto’s disease, one of the most common forms of Hypothyroidism in North America.

2. In one study, when patients suffering from various forms of thyroid disease were tested for selenium levels, all were found to be lower than normal healthy people without thyroid disease.

3. The thyroid contains more selenium by weight than any other organ. Selenium is a key part of the enzymes that remove iodine molecules from the thyroid hormoneT4 converting it into the active thyroid hormone T3. Therefore without selenium there would be no activation of thyroid hormone. Additionally, selenium plays a important role in protecting the thyroid gland against oxidative damage.

4. Do you take iodine? Without adequate selenium, high iodine levels can lead to destruction of the thyroid gland cells.

In a placebo controlled study published in 2002, German researchers reported on an experiment in which they gave 200 mcg of selenium daily to patients with Hashimoto’s disease and high levels of thyroid peroxidase antibodies (Read more about thyroid testing and antibodies here). After three months, the thyroid peroxidase antibody levels of the patients taking selenium were decreased by 66.4% compared to their pre-treatment values, and antibody levels returned to normal in nine of the selenium treated patients. However, in 2008 researchers in Austria reported that they were not able to duplicate the results of the earlier study. They suggested that selenium supplementation might be of greater benefit to patients with higher disease activity, or higher levels of antibodies prior to starting the selenium therapy.

Foods high in selenium include:

  • Brazil nuts
  • Yellowfin Tuna
  • Halibut
  • Sardines
  • Mushrooms
  • Grass Fed Meat

However, as mentioned above, selenium levels in our food sources may have decreased, or may vary greatly. If you are struggling with thyroid disease, talk to your health care provider to see if selenium may be helpful for you!

Yours in Health,

Dr. Emily

Works Cited

  1. Gärtner R, Gasnier BC, Dietrich JW, Krebs B, Angstwurm MW. Selenium supplementation in patients with autoimmune thyroiditis decreases thyroid peroxidase antibodies concentrations. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Apr;87(4):1687-91.
  2. Karanikas G, Schuetz M, Kontur S, et al. No immunological benefit of selenium in consecutive patients with autoimmune thyroiditis. Thyroid. 2008 Jan;18(1):7-12.
  3. Kohrle J. The trace element selenium and the thyroid gland. Biochimie. 1999 May;81(5):527-33.
  4. Kucharzewski M, Braziewicz J, Majewska U, Góźdź S. Concentration of selenium in the whole blood and the thyroid tissue of patients with various thyroid diseases. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2002 Jul;88(1):https://emilylipinski.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php25-30.
  5. Köhrle J. The trace element selenium and the thyroid gland. Biochimie. 1999 May;81(5):527-33.
  6. Lifeextension, “Thyroid Regulation” accessed November 2017.
  7. Mazokopakis EE, Chatzipavlidou V. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and the role of selenium. Current concepts. Hell J Nucl Med. 2007 Jan-Apr;10(1):6-8.
  8. Zimmermann MB, Köhrle J. The impact of iron and selenium deficiencies on iodine and thyroid metabolism: biochemistry and relevance to public health. Thyroid. 2002 Oct;12(10):867-78.






Thyroid Health and Sleep


One of my passions is treating thyroid disease.

Optimizing thyroid function, especially if you have Hashimoto’s or other autoimmune thyroid disease, requires some good detective work including testing for all the important markers of thyroid health. If you haven’t read my blog on thyroid tests, you can find it here.

Next month, I will be giving a talk to other doctors and dentists on “The Clinical Management of Weight Reduction in Oral Sleep Apnea”. While reviewing my notes and creating my presentation I came across some interesting research regarding the thyroid and sleep apnea. Before I tell you about this research, it is important to note that many of my patients with thyroid troubles have disordered sleep patterns but this does not necessarily mean that have sleep apnea. One of the key signs that the thyroid has began to under function is feeling tired. In fact, many of my patients report wanting to sleep 9, 10, 11, or even 12 hours at a time- and still feeling fatigued!. On the other end of the spectrum, sometimes sleep can be disturbed when thyroid hormones are out of balance. These patients may feel tired because they have been up many times during the night, which could be a result of hormone imbalance.

Sleep Apnea, is a chronic health condition that is characterized by pauses in breathing while sleeping.  These pauses in breathing and lack of oxygen wake people up during the night and the result is un-refreshing, fragmented sleep. The symptoms of sleep apnea include: snoring, restless sleep, gasping for air while sleeping, fatigue, daytime sleepiness,  and nasal congestion. Sleep apnea has also been correlated to weight gain, high blood sugar levels and high blood pressure. So how does sleep apnea relate to thyroid disease? Interestingly enough, studies have found that 25-35% of people with hypothyroidism also have sleep apnea AND sleep apnea may be a disk factor for the development of autoimmune thyroid disease! Research that was reported in a 2012 study published in Endocrine journal revealed that over 50% of people with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (otherwise known as OSA) tested positive for thyroid antibodies (TPO or TG antibodies). These people still had normal levels of TSH, the “gold standard” marker for determining thyroid disease. However, thyroid antibodies can be positive long before TSH changes, and can be an early marker of thyroid dysfunction- especially if the patient has symptoms of thyroid disease!

Testing for sleep apnea requires having your breathing monitored overnight in a sleep lab. As unpleasant as this may sound early detection and early treatment significantly improves health outcomes. Remember, sleep apnea can cause weight gain, high blood pressure and high blood sugar. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, using CPAP or Oral Dental Appliance can improve fatigue and increase energy. If you are overweight, working to reduce weight can also be key in reducing symptoms.

If you have symptoms of hypothyroid such as:

  • Easy weight gain
  • Puffy face
  • Fatigue
  • Intolerance to cold
  • Heavy periods
  • Dry skin
  • Brittle nails

I would encourage you to ask your doctor, or work with another healthcare practitioner to have multiple thyroid tests run including TSH, T4, T3 and TPO.

I believe wellness requires working with a physician (medical or naturopathic) that is willing to get to the root cause of your symptoms. Don’t be shy to ask questions about your health- taking charge of your health is empowering!

Dr. Emily



Superfood Spotlight: Turmeric

Turmeric is no longer a simple spice added to curries. You can find this amazing herb at every health food and supplement store. It is now sold in various packages, by different brands all over the world. Why are so many people getting excited about turmeric?

Studies show many Canadians are suffering from pain, inflammation and stiffness throughout their workday. Adding some turmeric to the daily routine may be helpful in alleviating pain and improving the inflammatory response in the body. This is important to note- inflammation reduction is not only important in managing pain but can also be key to addressing autoimmune conditions (like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) and other skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

Turmeric, also known as curcuma longa, is a member of the ginger family and is native to India and China. It grows to a height of about 3 feet and it cultivated for the medical value of its roots, which can also be used to flavour and colour food. Curries get their bright yellow/orange hue from turmeric. You will also notice when handling turmeric it can quickly stain or hands or clothes if you are not careful!

Turmeric can be found as:

  • Powder
  • Capsules
  • Fresh Root


What it Does 

Turmeric has been used for centuries in India and has been traditionally prescribed for the treatment of bad eyesight, rheumatism, arthritis and liver problems. To date, many studies have now been performed with turmeric via test tubes, animals and humans. These studies have shown that turmeric may be effective for the following conditions:


  • Osteoarthritis
  • Indigestion
  • Acid Re-flux
  • Cancer Prevention
  • Heart Disease
  • Stomach Ulcers
  • Bacterial and Viral Infections


How is Turmeric Used?

Turmeric can be incorporated into daily cooking, but is best absorbed into the body when combined with a fat (like olive oil or coconut oil) and a little bit of pepper. As mentioned above turmeric can also be found in higher doses contained capsules, which may be a more effective way to manage pain or other chronic inflammatory issues.  Speak to your medical or naturopathic doctor if you are interested in using turmeric.



Turmeric in food is generally considered safe.

Taking large amounts of turmeric for long periods of time may cause stomach upset and, in extreme cases, ulcers. People who have gallstones or obstruction of the bile passages should be cautious when taking turmeric.

Additionally, because turmeric may increase the metabolism of liver enzymes, taking turmeric while taking other medications metabolized by the liver may change the concentration of these medications in the body. As always, it is best to speak with a professional before using new herbs or supplements.

Have you had benefit by using turmeric in  your diet? I would love to hear from you. Let me know your comments below!

Dr. Emily



Corporate Health Toronto: How to Effectively Manage Stress to Improve Productivity

Did you know? Stress related illnesses including anxiety and depression are now at an all-time high in Canada? In fact, anxiety, depression and burnout are the fastest growing disability claim in Canada!

Stress management is imperative to long term health, happiness and productivity at the workplace. I often speak to “The 4 R’s of Stress Management” as an effective way to lead a more balanced and healthy life.

The 4 R’s of Stress Management:

  1. Rhythm: Re-establish nature’s rhythm, get up at a decent hour, eat 3 meals a day, and go to bed before 11pm. Connect with nature on a regular basis.

This includes practicing good sleep hygiene:

Do not eat 2 hours before bedtime, sleep in a very dark and quiet room, do not look at TV screens or computer screens 1 hour before bed and dim the lights in the house (around 10 pm).

  1. Relaxation: Make a habit of relaxing every day! Use meal times as a chance to relax and practice mindful eating. Remember eating should be a sensual experience: smell the food, see the food, taste the food. This will allow you to make better food choices as you become aware of the nutrients and nourishment you are feeding your body.

Meditation can be a great way to relax! Remember that meditation does not have to be a seated, cross legged activity. Meditation can be done while walking, running or commuting.  It’s about turning off the “to do list” and taking in your surroundings.  Great guided meditations can be found on YouTube or iTunes and downloaded to your smart phone.

  1. Replenishment: Make healthy food choices high in antioxidants to replenish your body with proper vitamins and minerals, enabling the body to carry out its daily activities effectively.

Consider engaging in a creative outlet-music art or play, something that will excite you about life! Remember pessimism can facilitate disease, if we become disillusioned and bored with life, so will our cells. Pick a new hobby, join a group that interests you, and find something to be passionate about other than work!

  1. Rehydration: 8 glasses of water a day, including 1 glass of water upon waking**. Can add lemon, cucumber, mint etc. to flavor. Avoid juices (unless freshly juiced) as the pasteurization process leaves them devoid of nutrients and high in sugars.

**Remember the first thing you put into your body in the morning should not be caffeine! This can raise your cortisol levels further increasing your stress hormones.  Break-your-fast with water and a nutritious breakfast containing protein.

How much stress management are you incorporating in your life? Try to incorporate more of the above into your daily activities and notice the impact it can create on your well-being!

Carpe Diem,

Dr. Emily Lipinski, ND



5 Reasons Why I Don’t Eat Dairy








Many of us who grew up in North America were raised on milk and dairy products.  We were lead to believe that dairy was not only important but NECESSARY for bone health. Dairy is one of the 4 food groups in the Canadian food guide and it is recommended to have 2 cups a day.

But over the last few years many questions have been raised over the benefits of dairy.  Many individuals report gastrointestinal upset due to the lactose in milk and others seem to be unable to tolerate casein, another protein found in milk.  Although dairy does have a few benefits, I personally feel the risks (or side effects) outweigh the benefits for dairy consumption.  Not only does my food sensitivity test reveal that I develop an inflammatory response in my body when I eat dairy, some of the recent research presents some pretty compelling reasons to put down the cows milk.

Here are the other reasons I have chosen to stop consuming diary:

  1. MILK MAY INCREASE BONE FRACTURE RISK: In 2013, 2 researchers from Harvard, Dr. David Ludwig and Water willet published an article raising even more questions about milk: they suggest it does not help bones become stronger and may be linked with cancer . In the late 90’s the Nurses Health study followed over 75,000 woman for over 12 years and found no protective effect of increased milk consumption on bones.  In fact, it may even increase fracture risk.
  1. DAIRY CONSUMPTION HAS BEEN LINKED TO CANCER: dairy consumption may also be linked to ovarian cancer and breast cancer !
  1. DAIRY MAY INCREASE ACNE AND OTHER INFLAMMATORY CONDITIONS: Additional concerns have been outlined in research pertaining to dairy promoting acne, allergies and inflammation in some individuals. Many woman notice less PMS symptoms and/or less cramping with the removal of dairy from their diet. I have seen numerous cases of hard to treat acne significantly improve by just removing dairy from the body!
  1. WE CAN OBTAIN ENOUGH CALCIUM THROUGH VEGGIES, NUTS AND SEEDS: The recommended daily calcium intake for woman aged 9-18 years of age is 1300mg per day and for woman aged 19-50 it is 1000mg per day. 1 cup of milk is around 300mg, however research has shown that calcium absorption from vegetables (kale) is greater than from milk. Listed Below are some great sources of calcium.

Sesame Seeds –  A quarter cup of sesame seeds has 351 mg calcium.

Spinach – A cup of boiled spinach has 245 mg.

Collard Greens – A cup of boiled collard greens has 266 mg.

Blackstrap Molasses – One tablespoon has about 137 mg.

Kelp – One cup of raw kelp has 136 mg.

Tahini – Two tablespoons of raw tahini (sesame seed butter) have 126 mg.

Broccoli – Two cups of boiled broccoli have 124 mg.


  1. DAIRY MAY AGGRAVATE OTHER MEDICAL CONDITIONS: such as irritable bowel syndrome, ear infections and chronic constipation.

Except for the odd piece of cheese, I have cut dairy out of my diet completely for the past few years. There are so many great alternatives available- almond milk, hemp milk, gmo organic soy milk, rice milk etc! Goat’s milk is also a good alternative for some, however individuals who have a really hard time digesting cow’s milk also may have trouble with goats.

Have more questions about diet? Or are you looking for more ways to increase your health? Book an appointment with a Naturopathic Doctor!

Yours in Vitality,

Dr. Emily


Works Cited

Feskanich D, Willet WC, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA. Milk, dietary calcium, and bone fractures in women: a 12-year prospective study. Am J Public Health 1997;87:992-7.

Cumming RG, Klineberg RJ. Case-control study of risk factors for hip fractures in the elderly. Am J Epidemiol 1994;139:493-505.

Huang Z, Himes JH, McGovern PG. Nutrition and subsequent hip fracture risk among a national cohort of white women. Am J Epidemiol 1996;144:124-34.

Cummings SR, Nevitt MC, Browner WS, et al. Risk factors for hip fracture in white women. N Engl J Med 1995;332:767-73. 31. Finn SC. The skeleton crew: is calcium enough? J Women’s Health 1998;7(1):31-6.

Nordin CBE. Calcium and osteoporosis. Nutrition 1997;3(7/8):664-86.

Cramer DW, Harlow BL, Willet WC. Galactose consumption and metabolism in relation to the risk of ovarian cancer. Lancet 1989;2:66-71.

Genkinger JM, Hunter DJ, Spiegelman D, et al. Dairy products and ovarian cancer: a pooled analysis of 12 cohort studies. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2006; 15:364–72.

Outwater JL, Nicholson A, Barnard N. Dairy products and breast cancer: the IGF-1, estrogen, and bGH hypothesis. Medical Hypothesis 1997;48:453-61.

Chan JM, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci E, et al. Plasma insulin-like growth factor-1 and prostate cancer risk: a prospective study. Science 1998;279:563-5

Melnik. Evidence for acne promoting effects of milk and other insulin like dairy products Nestle Nutr Workshop Ser Pediatr Program. 2011;67:131-45. doi: 10.1159/000325580. Epub 2011 Feb 16.

Danby. Acne dairy and cancer. Dermatoendocrinol. 2009 jan-feb 1 (1): 12-16.

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2005 Feb;52(2):207-14.

 Acta Otolaryngol. 1999;119(8):867-73 45. Med Hypotheses. 2010 Apr;74(4):732-4. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2009.10.044. Epub 2009 Nov 25..

. Nature. 2014 Jan 23;505(7484):559-63