Recipes, remedies for thyroid health
There is medicine in your kitchen, said Andrea Beaman, HHC, AADP, chef, holistic health coach, and herbalist, at the 2020 Integrative Healthcare Symposium in New York City.
Beaman was previously diagnosed with thyroid disease and a goiter and told her she would need radioactive iodine treatment and prescription medications. By using food as medicine, she was able to turn her health around, and remains passionate about helping those with thyroid conditions.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck. It combines and converts iodine into triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) thyroid hormones. The thyroid produces T3, T4, and calcitonin, which, along with parathyroid hormone, regulates blood calcium.
Additionally, the thyroid is responsible for communication between cells and various bodily systems. It stimulates bone cells to build bone tissue. Thyroid hormones are essential for brain and skeletal growth, and cells consume oxygen to make energy with thyroid hormones. The thyroid also controls the rate of metabolism, body weight, and temperature and helps regulate waking and sleeping, menstrual cycles, and increases mitochondria that increases energy.
Symptoms of thyroid imbalance may include weight problems, hair loss, exhaustion and chronic fatigue, allergies, dry skin, depression, anxiety, menstrual problems, and digestive distress.
The thyroid is not a solo operator—it is part of the larger endocrine system, which includes the hypothalamus, pituitary, pineal, thyroid, thymus, adrenals, pancreas, and gonads. Therefore, thyroid function can be inhibited by endocrine disruptors, including environmental toxins, pesticides, and other chemicals.
Popular diet protocls that neglect entire food groups can also inhibit thyroid function, Beaman said. Practitioners should ditch the fads and prioritize getting patients on good, clean food, Beaman said. She recommends organically grown, naturally raised foods as the number one cooking cure for thyroid health. She encourages local and seasonal eating and suggests shopping local farmers markets or joining a community shared agriculture program to understand in-season foods in your region. Some examples she offered include watermelon, cucumber, and feta salad for the summer and butternut squash soup with toasted pumpkin seeds.
Iodine-rich foods are also optimal for thyroid health. These include fish and other seafood like shrimp, sea vegetables, capers and salt-brined pickled foods, and nettles.
Beaman said patients with thyroid issues will also need to calm the nervous system, reduce stress, and support the adrenal glands. Adaptogenic herbs, such as ashwagandha, ginseng, and licorice, strengthen the body overall and increase ability to handle stress. Incorporate adaptogenic herbs using a recipe like this:
Restorative Herb Balls
- 1½ tablespoons Siberian Ginseng
- 1 tablespoon Ashwaganda
- 1 tablespoon cured He Shou Wu
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup tahini
- 2 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoon peanut butter or almond butter
- Toasted sesame seeds
Mix all the ingredients together (except sesame seeds). Roll into small balls. Roll balls in sesame seeds. Store in the refrigerator.
Enjoy 1-2 balls per day for 1-3 months.
“We have this wisdom inside us that tells us what to eat—our intuition,” Beaman said. “If we listen to our intuition, what we need to nourish our bodies becomes abundantly clear.”