At a Glance
- The thyroid is a gland which secretes an essential hormone, thyroxine.
- Hypothyroidism affects an estimated 27 million Americans, and can be caused by a variety of different factors.
- Juicing can help to improve thyroid function by providing a concentrated source of raw, natural ingredients.
We don’t really think about our thyroid gland – at least, I haven’t given it much thought until recently. It just sits there, doing its job and that’s that.
A friend of mine has been trying really hard to lose weight for her wedding. As someone with an interest in nutrition, she shared her eating plan with me, and I couldn’t understand why she wasn’t losing weight.
Plenty of low calorie, unprocessed foods, high water intake – her diet had all the right ingredients for weight loss. She had increased the amount of physical exercise – she was doing all the right things.
Given the ultra-high motivation for weight loss, and considering the type of person she is, I couldn’t see her as someone who would consider slipping up with even the occasional donut.
Eventually, I suggested she go and check things out with her doctor, who, after some tests, diagnosed an underactive thyroid.
Determined to help my friend, I turned to juicing, had a look into some ingredients that could help, and developed some juicing recipes – which are included here – to help improve her thyroid problem and lose weight.
The result? In conjunction with medication, things are definitely heading in the right direction for my friend, and we’re both looking forward to the wedding!
What Is the Thyroid?
The thyroid is a gland at the front of the neck. It has two connected lobes that sit each side of the windpipe, so it looks a bit like a butterfly shape.
The function of the thyroid is to secrete various hormones, the main one being thyroxine.
This hormone is essential for growth and development, including brain development in the body, regulating body temperature and has a major role in most of the body’s metabolic processes, including digestion, influencing heart rate and function, and helps to maintain healthy bones.
The release of thyroid is controlled by the brain, which releases TSH, or thyroid stimulating hormone, to trigger secretion of thyroxine.
What Is Hypothyroidism?
An estimated 27 million people in the US suffer from thyroid disease, with many more millions of cases still undiagnosed. Women are at higher risk of thyroid problems, and the risk increases with age.
Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid doesn’t secrete enough thyroxine, and can be caused by problems in the immune system.
Common symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Dry and thinning hair
- Dry skin
- Muscle cramps
- Heavy or abnormal menstruation
- Sensitivity to cold temperatures
This list of symptoms is not exhaustive. In addition, these types of symptoms are not exclusive to a problem with your thyroid. If you suspect you have a thyroid condition, specific medical advice and proper thyroid tests are needed, so pay a visit to your doctor.
Left untreated, the symptoms of thyroid problems often become increasingly severe, and can lead to heart problems, mental health issues and nerve damage. (source)
What Causes Hypothyroidism?
In some cases, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the immune system actually perceives the thyroid as a threat, and attacks it to stop it working.
More rarely, hypothyroidism can be triggered by insufficient levels of iodine, a trace element important in the process of making thyroid hormones.
High levels of stress have been associated with increased risk of hypothyroidism.
Many different medications, such as lithium, can slow down thyroid function.
Thyroid function can also be affected by disorders of the pituitary gland and during pregnancy. (source)
Thyroid and Nutrition
It’s very important for people with thyroid problems to be aware of their diet and how it affects the thyroid.
Hypothyroidism is a condition that can be dramatically affected by eating the right – or wrong – foods. In particular, with hypothyroidism, it’s important to know that correct amounts of foods you should be eating
One of the food components that is not helpful, particularly for hypothyroidism, is a compound called goitrogens. They have been found to contribute significantly to poor thyroid function, especially if you have low levels of iodine.
Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables contain goitrogens, so on the face of it, anyone with a thyroid problem should steer clear.
However, some experts say the other beneficial nutrients in this vegetable family mean it’s sometimes appropriate to consume these – just cooked rather than raw, and not a plateful at a time.
Gluten can slow down your metabolism, and has been linked to thyroid problems.
It’s worth investigating your diet for yourself – if you suspect a particular food is responsible for your symptoms, eliminate it from your diet for a few weeks and monitor the effect, then re-introduce it. If symptoms return, it’s a big clue that this food is playing a part in your symptoms!
A visit to a properly qualifies nutritional expert can be well worth it for thyroid problems. The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a Registered Dietician Nutritionist search tool here.
Juicing for the Thyroid
Juicing is a great way for people to increase the nutritional quality of their diet. The majority of people won’t, can’t or just don’t have time to munch their way through all of the whole produce that can fit into a glass of juice.
Through juicing, you can create some fabulous concoctions which supply the body with thyroid-boosting nutrients and avoid foods that can exacerbate thyroid problems.
As juicing removes a high amount of the nutrients from the fibrous pulp of whole produce, juicing provides a fast hit of nutrition to benefit your body in a form that is easy on your digestive system.
Which Foods Can Help Thyroid Problems?
This spicy, fragrant root contains magnesium which can improve thyroid and heart function and helps with muscle relaxation. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and boosts the immune system. (source)
Tomatoes are high in antioxidants and many other nutrients such as selenium, thought to help to regulate the function of the thyroid gland and support the immune system. (source)
Research has shown that antioxidants have a significant effect in reducing some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism. (source)
These provide a great source of hydration which helps all metabolic functions, but also many B vitamins which help to support thyroid function.
Adding natural sweetness to any recipe, carrots are well known for their high vitamin A content and antioxidant properties, but carrots also help to lower the levels of several different chemicals in the body that are associated with higher stress levels, which can negatively affect thyroid function.
Apples are a great source of pectin, which encourages the body to clear out any heavy metals like mercury. The relevance of this to thyroid problems is that the more heavy metals are in your system, the less effectively iodine can be used to produce thyroid hormones.
In addition, apples contain a plant compound called quercetin, which has been proven to reduce the effects on metabolism which result from hypothyroidism. (source)
These delicious berries contain high amounts of antioxidant and many other nutrients that are beneficial in reducing the symptoms of hypothyroidism. (source)
Some experts say melon – and particularly cantaloupe – is a thyroid superfood. It contains all of the nutrients needed to maximize thyroid function – vitamins A, C and K, B vitamins, plus magnesium, copper and potassium. (source)
This group of fruits is renowned for their high vitamin C content, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Citrus fruits also contain a wide range of other plant compounds that help to support immune system function and benefit the thyroid.
Basil is known as an adaptogenic herb, and has been used in traditional medicine to reduce stress. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which have been proven in research. (source)
Pineapples are packed full of helpful nutrients which can improve the use of iodine in the body, vitamins A, C, E and K , B vitamins and other antioxidants.
It also contains calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, manganese, phosphorus, selenium and zinc, all of which are important for good thyroid function.
Pineapple is the only natural source of a plant compound called bromelain, which has been well research for its anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties.
Bromelain has also been shown to boost the immune system and have a direct effect on thyroid cells. (source)
These colorful, fragrant fruits are high in vitamin C, but also contain other antioxidants like zeaxanthin and a huge range of other beneficial nutrients like copper, calcium and iron, which help to support thyroid function and improve circulation and oxygen transport to the thyroid cells. (source)
Juicing Recipes for the Thyroid
There are the original recipes I invented for my friend – give them a try and see how they work for you!
#1 Salad in a Glass
This salad-based juice also contains carrots and apples to balance the vegetable flavors.
- 1 inch piece root ginger
- 1 cup romaine lettuce
- 2 medium tomatoes
- 3 sticks celery
- 1 medium cucumber
- 5 medium carrots
- 1 medium apple
- Juice the ginger, lettuce and tomatoes
- Juice the celery, cucumber, carrots and apple
- Pour and serve
#2 Blueberry Melon Heaven
This juice is deliciously cool and refreshing. It’s full of nutrients to help thyroid function and packed with antioxidants.
- 1 cup blueberries
- ½ cantaloupe melon
- ½ medium cucumber
- 6 medium carrots
- Juice the blueberries and melon
- Juice the cucumber and carrots
- Add ice and serve immediately
#3 ABC (Apple Basil Cleanser)
Apples and basil go together surprisingly well, and this juice is great for giving the thyroid a boost.
- 1 cup basil leaves and stalks
- 1 cup grapes
- 2 sticks celery
- 3 medium green apples
- Juice the basil leaves and grapes
- Juice the celery and apples
- Serve immediately
#4 Thyroid Treat
This tasty juice packs a powerful punch of vitamin C
- 1 orange, peeled
- ½ grapefruit, peeled
- ½ lime
- 3 kiwi fruits
- 1 medium zucchini
- Juice orange, grapefruit and lime
- Juice the kiwi fruits and zucchini
- Pour over ice and serve
#5 Pineapple Mango Fandango
This is a sweet juice – the pineapple and mango mean the lettuce can boost the nutrition without spoiling the taste.
- 2 cups any green lettuce
- 1 cup mango
- ½ pineapple
- 1 medium apple
- Juice the lettuce and mango
- Juice the pineapple and the apple
- Serve and enjoy