There is a proven link between lush vibrant hair and a healthy thyroid. When the thyroid is not functioning properly the most common symptoms produced are hair loss, hair thinning, low energy, weight gain and hormonal imbalances.
What causes the thyroid to malfunction? There are many known causes including excessive stress, age, hormonal imbalances and even heredity plays a part.
The foods we eat can also aggravate pre-existing thyroid problems. A number of foods are known to contain substances known as goitrogrens which slow the production of thyroid hormones. When the thyroid gland tries to overcompensate by producing more hormones it can become enlarged and more exhausted.
Strict vegetarians may be more prone to food triggered thyroid interference. Why? Some of the foods that are known to contain goitrogens include soybeans, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, peanuts, strawberries and cabbage.
Goitrogens are named for goiter which means an enlargement of the thyroid gland. If the thyroid gland is having difficult making thyroid hormones, it may enlarge as a way of trying to compensate.
Two general categories of foods have been linked to disrupted thyroid hormone production. Soybean-related foods and cruciferous vegetables.
Soybean-related foods include:
Soybeans, soy extracts and foods made from soy including tofu and tempeh. While soy foods share many common ingredients, it is the isoflavones in soy that have been associated with decreased thyroid hormone output. Isoflavones are naturally-occurring substances that belong to the flavonoid family of nutrients.
Flavonoids, found in virtually all plants, are pigments that give plants their amazing array of colors. Most research studies in the health sciences have focused on the beneficial properties of flavonoids, and these naturally-occurring phytonutrients have repeatedly been shown to be highly health-supportive.
Cruciferous-related foods include:
The cruciferous food family contains "crucifers" and include broccolie, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, mustard, rutabagas, kohlrabi and turnips. Isothiocyanates are the category of substances in crucifers that have been associated with decreased thyroid function. Like the isoflavones, isothiocyanates appear to reduce thyroid function by blocking thryoid peroxidase, and also by disrupting message that are sent across the membranes of thyroid cells.
Additional Goitrogen foods include:
Peaches, peanuts, radishes, spinach, strawberries and millet also contain goitrogens.
Eating Foods That Weaken The Thyroid
Physicians have not yet been able to determine what is considered excessive when it comes to the consumption of goitrogenic foods by people known to have pre-existing thyroid issues. Even if the thyroid has not been diagnosed as diseased, how much of goitrogenic foods would someone need to eat to push a borderline thyroid over the edge to malfunction?
Hard to say. Which is why doctors and nutritionists recommend continuing to eat goitrogenic foods but in a very conservative manner.
Ironically, the very foods that can increase thyroid problems and thus impact the hair, are foods that have an association with decreased illness due to their high nutritional values.
The goal is not to completely eliminate goitrogenic foods but to limit their intake and log the results for long term personal research.
A standard, one cup serving of cruciferous vegetables 2-3 times per week, and a standard, 4-ounce serving of tofu twice a week is likely to be tolerated by many individuals with thyroid hormone deficiency. It's worth it to try and include these foods in a meal plan because of their strong nutritional value and great track record in preventing many kinds of health problems.
Limiting goitrogenic foods is more problematically with soy foods because soy is used in combinations. It appears in hidden forms and it is used in textured vegetable proteins (TVP) and isolated soy concentrates.
Eating Foods That Strengthen The Thyroid
Studies have also shown that other foods will help to strengthen the thyroid and stimulate thyroid function rather than suppressing it. Some well-known examples includes avocado, coconut and saturated fats.
Studies performed on rats indicate that excess caffeine in conjunction with a lack of iodine may promote the formation of thyroid cancers. Despite being a stimulate, caffeing (coffee, tea, cola and chocolate) may be a suppressant on the thyroid.
Foods stimulating thyroid tissue
Some foods and drinks have an opposite effect on the thyroid gland--that is, they stimulate thyroid function rather than suppressing it; examples being avocado, coconut, and saturated fat. Indeed some studies on rats suggest that excess caffeine in conjunction with a lack of iodine may promote the formation of thyroid cancers. Despite being generally a stimulant, caffeine (examples: coffee, tea, cola, chocolate) acts on thyroid function as a suppressant."
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This article was compiled from a variety of sources including:
Conaway, C. C.; Getahun, S. M.; Liebes, L. L.; Pusateri, D. J.; Topham, D. K.; Botero-Omary, M., and Chung, F. L. Disposition of glucosinolates and sulforaphane in humans after ingestion of steamed and fresh broccoli. Nutr Cancer. 2000; 38(2):168-78.
Fowke, J. H.; Fahey, J. W.; Stephenson, K. K., and Hebert, J. R. Using isothiocyanate excretion as a biological marker of Brassica vegetable consumption in epidemiological studies: evaluating the sources of variability. Public Health Nutr. 2001 Jun; 4(3):837-46.
Getahun, S. M. and Chung, F. L. Conversion of glucosinolates to isothiocyanates in humans after ingestion of cooked watercress. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1999 May; 8(5):447-51.
Liggins, J.; Bluck, L. J.; Runswick, S.; Atkinson, C.; Coward, W. A., and Bingham, S. A. Daidzein and genistein contents of vegetables. Br J Nutr. 2000 Nov; 84(5):717-25.
Toda T, Uesugi T, Hirai K, Nukaya H, Tsuji K, Ishida H. New 6-O-acyl isoflavone glycosides from soybeans fermented with Bacillus subtilis (natto). I. 6-O-succinylated isoflavone glycosides and their preventive effects on bone loss in ovariectomized rats fed a calcium-deficient diet.Biol Pharm Bull 1999 Nov;22(11):1193-201
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