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
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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.

 

 

 

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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

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