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  • Writer's pictureEmily Lipinski

Anti-inflammatory Foods for Thyroid Health & Hashimoto’s Disease

Inflammation is a key factor when dealing with Hashimoto’s thyroid disease. Although some of you may not have heard of Hashimoto’s thyroid disease, the majority of people in North American suffering from hypothyroid have this autoimmune condition that causes their thyroid dysfunction. If you are unsure if your thyroid condition is due to autoimmune disease, I encourage you to have your thyroid antibodies tested. If they are positive, reducing inflammation via diet and other lifestyle interventions can significantly help to improve thyroid symptoms.

Food can either be pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory in nature. A diet that is high in refined sugars, trans-fats, packaged foods and artificial colouring & flavorings can increase inflammation in the body. On the other hand, choosing whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, grass fed meats and wild caught fish can help to reduce inflammation in the body. Additionally, some foods naturally possess special anti-inflammatory properties and including more of these foods in the diet can further help to reduce the inflammatory load.

Anti-inflammatory Foods for Thyroid Health

1. Avoid packaged foods, refined sugars, trans-fats and low nutrient content foods

This may seem simple and obvious, but it is super important. Chemicals and processed food ingredients found in packaged foods and junk foods can not only cause inflammation but also increase weight gain. Furthermore, in 2015 the World Health Organization (WHO)’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced that consumption of processed meat is “carcinogenic to humans”. Other studies have suggested a link of excess refined sugar to cancer, not to mention diabetes and heart disease.

2. Wild caught fish

Known to be beneficial in autoimmune diseases due to the high omega 3 fatty acid content, fish can help to reduce inflammation. Research has also shown that increasing consumption of omega 3 fatty acids may be helpful in metabolism. Unfortunately, many of the fish that is available to us in stores is either heavily contaminated with mercury or may have been pumped full of antibiotics and colourings if farmed. Top choices for fish that are low in mercury and high in omega 3 fatty acids include: salmon, trout, sardines, herring, anchovies and smelt. The smaller fish listed are often not as readily consumed in North America as they are in other parts of the world, however not only are they high in omega 3’s, they are generally more sustainable for our oceans as they are so plentiful and reproduce quickly. If you don’t have access to high quality fish (or simply don’t like the idea of eating more sardines!) incorporating a high quality fish oil in your diet derived from sardines, anchovies and/or herring can be very beneficial. Ensure that you oil has been 3rd party tested for heavy metals like mercury! If you are vegetarian or vegan- algae omega 3s, flax and chia are also fairly good sources of omega 3 fatty acids.

3. Fruits and Vegetables

Everyone knows these foods are high in fiber, vitamins and antioxidants but blueberries, apples and dark leafy green vegetables are especially good for aiding in reducing inflammation in the body. Make sure to choose organic, especially for berries, apples and greens. The “dirty dozen” by the Environmental Working Group is a great resource to help understand what foods are best bought organic.

4. Ginger & Turmeric

These spices have long been used to help reduce inflammation in the body. Recent research shows promising results for these spices helping to decrease inflammatory markers. Additionally, turmeric may help to inhibit tumor activity in thyroid cancer! Ginger and turmeric can be taken in teas, added to salads, into cooking dishes and even added into smoothies. It’s important to note that these spices are best absorbed when combined with a little fat (think coconut oil or coconut milk) and a sprinkle of pepper. Stay tuned for some of my favorite tea recipes made with these ingredients!

5. Healthy oils

Although trans-fats, like those found in cookies, cakes, doughnuts, fried fast foods and frozen pizzas contain fats that can be inflammatory, consuming healthy fats can actually help to decrease inflammation in the body. One of the best known fats to reduce inflammation is extra virgin olive oil. Other fats that are beneficial include avocado oil, hemp seed oil and flax seed oil. Although avocado oil has a high smoke and is great for cooking with at high temperatures, olive, flax and hemp are best used at room temperature- or very low heat as using higher heats with these delicate oils can change the composition of these oils.

I know changing your diet and lifestyle for the better can be difficult to say the least. This is why I created the Thyroid Truths Grocery List - my top non-negotiable food items when eating to improve thyroid health. It's also perfect to print and keep on the fridge! Download it here :)

Have you helped to reduce your inflammation with foods? What have your strategy been for dietary changes? Leave your comments below I would love to hear from you!

Dr. Emily

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