The most common foods that reduce thyroid hormone production (when consumed in excess, especially if raw) belong to the mustard family of cruciferous vegetables known as brassicas (kale, maca, broccoli, cabbage, mustard, etc.) due to their higher than usual levels of sulfur-containing compounds (which provide the pungent taste characteristic of the mustard family).
Brassica foods have health benefits for the immune system and with detoxification due to their sulfur compounds, yet sulfur compounds, when taken in excess, and not counterbalanced by iron-rich or iodine-rich foods, lead to a reduction in thyroid hormones. Other non-brassica foods also lower thyroid function (both are listed toward the bottom of this article) like estrogen promoting soy products, stimulants, alcohol, concentrated sugars, certain grains, and various common foods, due to their tendency to compete with iron and iodine, deplete minerals, or disrupt hormone reception in the body.
The largest food group with thyroid lowering influences are the brassicas which offer both benefits and detriments to overall body health depending on the existing mineral balance in your body at the time of consumption.
Here is what you need to know in order to balance the good and bad among common health foods in your diet today:
Sulfur in Brassicas
Brassicas contain a sulfur compound called isothiocyanates (mustard oil) which block the production of thyroid peroxidase (TPO), the enzyme that transfers iodine to the thyroid hormones and to mother’s milk. The net effect is a reduced production of thyroid hormones due to the absence of the fundamental building block for thyroid hormones – iodine (a characteristic which may actually have its benefits in hyperthyroid conditions).
Brassica isothiocyanates have also shown to disrupt signaling across the thyroid cell membranes thereby reducing hormone transportation to other parts of the thyroid.
Isothiocyanates, (as members of the glucosinolate family of compounds) are associated to hyperplasia (enlargement due to increased cellular replication) and hypertrophy (enlargement due to increased cellular size) of the thyroid gland in ruminant animals by inhibiting the uptake of iodine . https://journals.uair.arizona.edu/index.php/jrm/article/view/9648/9260
Brassicas also contain a sulfur amino acid, SMCO. The sulfur in brassicas compete for iron leading to goiter and anemia. Reduced iron leads to a reduction in oxygen to the cells and thereby a disruption in the production of cellular ATP (required for energy). Feelings of lethargy and chronic fatigue are the common result.
Iron deficiency impairs selenium utilization, yet selenium is essential for the proper utilization of iodine. (Zimmerman MB and Kohrle J. The impact of iron and selenium deficiencies on iodine and thyroid metabolism: biochemistry and relevance to public health. Thyroid 2002;12:867-78).
Consumed in excess, the high sulfur levels in brassicas (also in eggs, onions, garlic and Black Salt/Pink Sulfur Salt) will compete for iron and iodine and thereby reduce the absorption of selenium in the body which is iron dependent. Yet these conditions exist only where an insufficient mineral/nutrient support exists in sufficient quantities to offset the iodine/iron drain from the brassica sulfur compounds.
Seaweeds (in Thyroid Balance, Earth & Sea Greens, and Vital Cleanse & Nutrify) for iodine, and Sacred Clay for iron, provide usable forms of offsetting nutrients required for optimal functioning of the thyroid when consuming moderate amounts of brassicas and other sulfur-rich foods.
While an excess of sulfur can cause anemia, a proper balance of sulfur, iron, selenium and iodine (along with numerous other mineral ratios that depend upon each other in relationship to these) can provide the body with powerful health-building properties.
Only whole earthen resources, like sea vegetables and clay, have the ability to feed the body with such refined balances of 60-70+ minerals required by the body for optimal health.
Benefits of Sulfur in the Production of Glutathione
A proper amount of sulfur in the body is essential for the production of glutathione, instrumental in the detoxification of heavy metals, radiation, environmental chemicals and various toxic compounds that are the byproduct of normal metabolism in the body. Sulfur-containing glutathione plays a role in the detoxification of numerous foreign compounds, both organic and inorganic.
Glutathione is an essential component of the human immune response to oxidative stress (toxins). Glutathione is considered the most important antioxidant produced by the body. Low levels of glutathione potentially lead to a very long list of life-threatening health conditions due primarily to the buildup of toxic substances normally neutralized by glutathione.
For example, if the liver’s capacity to synthesize glutathione is reduced through toxic overload or disease, a rapid toxic buildup takes place followed by diminished health and an early death. Glutathione is utilized in the liver to convert body waste and toxic compounds prior to enclosing the waste in bile fluids for delivery out of the body through the intestines.
"No other antioxidant is as important to overall health as glutathione. It is the regulator and regenerator of immune cells and the most valuable detoxifying agent in the human body. Low levels are associated with hepatic dysfunction, immune dysfunction, cardiac disease, premature aging, and death." The Immune System Cure, Lorna R. Vanderhaeghe & Patrick J.D. Bouic, Ph.D.
While brassicas in moderate amounts may help the body produce glutathione, the highest known sources of bioavailable glutathione are actually found in raw milk whey and asparagus.
Clay & Sea Vegetables Offset the Sulfur Compounds from an Excess Intake of Brassica Foods
Sufficient quantities of earthen sources naturally high in bioavailable iron and iodine, like Sacred Clay, nettle leaf & sea vegetables (in Thyroid Balance, Earth & Sea Greens, and Vital Cleanse & Nutrify) assist in maintaining a proper balance in the sulfur-iron-iodine ratios, thereby insuring maximum benefits from the sulfur, iron and iodine present in the body.
With sufficient quantities of plant-based or clay-based iron & iodine, energy levels lowered from a sulfur excess will naturally, and rapidly, climb back to normal levels.
I can personally vouch for this having spent a time of consuming an excess of Pink Sulfur Salt (Black Salt). I love the flavor it adds to soups, beans, and salads. After several weeks of consuming larger than normal amounts (a teaspoon or so per meal 2-3 times per day), I entered a phase of chronic fatigue not knowing how I was causing the loss of my usual energetic state.
During research on the thyroid I understood the iron-sulfur relationship and went immediately to the cupboard to get Sacred Clay and Earth & Sea Greens. One tablespoon of each was consumed in water. Within 30 minutes I went from hardly wanting to walk to 110% of my usual energy – and it was 10 PM! I simply overwhelmed the excess sulfur in my body with iron & iodine earthen sources. Energy levels then returned to normal.
Health Benefits of Brassicas
Brassica plants also contain many health benefits due to the high phytonutrient (plant-based) nutrients of some (like kale), so they are not to be discontinued, just used with discretion.
The same isothiocyanate compounds that cause problems in excess also assist in the reversal of abnormal cell growths and provide the well-known antibacterial properties characteristic of mustard oil (the pungent, biting flavor in mustard leaf, horseradish, onions, garlic, daikon radish, & rocket arugula, and found to a much lesser degree in kale, cabbage, collards, broccoli, etc.).
Moderation is the key here. The list below provides an insight into some of the more common ways health foodists lower their health without realizing what is causing the problem.
Due to the volume of veggies commonly juiced, raw foodists, vegans, and vegetarians are more susceptible to low thyroid effects of the foods listed below – unless they consume large amounts of sea vegetables and iron-rich earthen mineral sources to offset the effects of the iodine/iron blocking isothiocyanates.
Effects of Cooking Brassicas
Cooking will reduce the brassica compound responsible for blocking iodine, and the increased use of sea vegetables in the same meal will add beneficial iodine back to the system. As an example, in Japanese cuisine seaweeds are commonly served with iodine-blocking soy products (which are typically used in far less quantities in Japan than in soy-fad America). Miso soup with seaweed & tofu is one example.
Cooking will also eliminate the beneficial properties of the sulfur-bearing isothiocyanate compounds on cell division and infections, so individual discretion is in order as to quantity, frequency, and whether to consume brassicas cooked or raw.
Adding seaweeds, clay, and iron-rich greens to the daily diet is a smart practice for numerous reasons beyond just their sulfur balancing effects – hundreds of additional nutritional compounds included in these earthen sources protect health in many other ways as well.
A Wise Precaution in a Radiation Impacted World
At a time in human history when radiation is at an all-time high, it is simply a wise precaution to reduce foods that steal iodine from the thyroid as you increase the sea vegetable content in the diet to increase iodine in the body. It is also wise to increase iron-rich clays and plants to counter the effects of sulfur compounds, build adrenal/hormonal strength and facilitate detoxification of radiation from the body (clays and sea vegetables are Nature’s most effective radiation detoxifiers) (also see Nature's Most Powerful Protections from Radiation Exposure).
Sea Veggies or Iodine Drops?
When consuming sea vegetables for your iodine, iodine drops are not required. Iodine drops (even the best on the market) lack the complete earthen mineral profile of 70+ minerals (found in sea vegetables) that belong with any iodine intake for proper utilization and balance in the body. Why settle for 1 or 2 nutritional compounds in iodine drops when you can achieve superior results from over a hundred nutritional compounds provided by sea vegetables?
List of Cruciferous, Brassica, Mustard Family Foods:
Non-Brassica Foods that Lower Thyroid Function:
Concentrated Sucrose, Glucose & Fructose Sugars place undue strains on the pancreas and adrenals due to their concentrated nature. High sugar levels in the blood wreck hormone havoc in several ways:
Sugar concentrates deplete the mineral reserves used for sugar regulating purposes (due to excessive demands and low mineral presence or availability).
Sugar concentrates include agave, all natural crystal sugars (including organic dried cane juice), maple syrup, stevia drops and white powder extracts, conventional sugars, and artificial sweeteners
Sugar excesses lead to pancreatic & adrenal exhaustion
The adrenals produce over 50 hormones, some of which indirectly affect the regulation of thyroid hormones
Sugar concentrates lead to spleen imbalances. The spleen stores iron and plays an important role in nutrient assimilation (among many other splenic functions). Iron depletion or unavailability can result in anemia, and the inability for the thyroid to utilize iodine
High sugar levels lead to fungal overgrowth, also known to disrupt hormone production
The consumption of sweets and fats (like in fruits and nuts, or bread and butter, granola, nut butter and jelly on a rice cracker, etc.) is a food combining error that also leads to fats blocking sugar metabolism followed by fungal overgrowth and hormone disruption
Licorice Root & Stevia Green Leaf (not the concentrates) and Smoothie Spice Blend do not act like the concentrated sweeteners and are supportive of hormone balance in the body
Gluten grains are implicated in some thyroid autoimmune conditions – due primarily to the genetic modifications and traces of RoundUp in most gluten grains today, even the organic ones. Organic Brown Basmati Rice is a preferred alternative to breads.
Soy products (tofu, soy sauce, soy miso, soy milk, soy nuts, soy flour, tamari, tempeh, soybean oil, soy lecithin and soy derivatives) – Isoflavones in soy also deprive the thyroid of iodine. Fermentation reduces the isoflavones, but fermented soy will still over-estrogenate the body. An excess of estrogen in the blood (which reduce the liver's ability to clear excess estrogen), can result in hypothyroid symptoms by decreasing levels of active T3. http://drplechner.com/pdf/elestrogen.pdf
Alcohol produces a toxic effect on the thyroid, suppressing the ability of the thyroid to utilize thyroid hormones.
Stimulants like coffee, black & green tea, and yerba mate overstimulate the nervous system, and thereby push hormone production into higher gear, exhausting the endocrine glands. They also push the spleen out of balance resulting in numerous hormone related dysfunctions.
General Body Acidity, increased by most stimulant drinks, especially coffee, along with meats, eggs, nuts, breads, and numerous foods, further burden the body in its attempt to maintain hormone balance. High acid food & drink place excessive demands on the body's mineral stores, especially the alkalizing electrolytes (calcium, magnesium, potassium & sodium) and bicarbonate. Hundreds of metabolic functions in the body are dependant on these alkalizing minerals and precise pH balance to function at peak performance.
Chlorine & Flouride in some water supplies and in some black & green teas can block iodine receptors. Numerous other chemicals are known hormone disruptors, with glyphosate (in RoundUp herbicide) being one of the most prevalent hormone disruptors in our food chain today.
Other Thyroid-reducing Foods Include (when consumed in excess):
• Lima beans
• Pine Nuts
• Bamboo Shoots
• Sweet Potatoes
• Cassava Root from which Tapioca is made, (the cyanogenic glycosides in Cassava can, in high doses, can lead to cyanide poisoning and thyroid disturbances.)
• Flax seed (contains cyanide which transforms into thiocyanate and competes for iodine receptors).
Hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis (HPT) is an internal feedback system designed to regulate the levels of thyroid hormones in the body. Both mineral deficiencies and mineral excesses (like in the excess sulfur instances above) can have a negative impact on the production of hormones throughout the endocrine system. Minerals are building blocks (along with cholesterol) for hormone construction within hormone producing glands.
For this reason it is important to eliminate mineral supplements from the diet that are not whole earthen based. Cal-Mag, zinc, iodine, magnesium, etc. taken without the 70+ minerals and trace elements required to retain balanced mineral profiles in the body can result in destabilizing influences in hormone production.
Mineral dense seaweeds, algae, clays (for iron and minerals) and mineral dense herbs like nettle leaf & seed, alfalfa, yellow dock (for iron), along with numerous others are far superior at providing the body with balanced mineral profiles, given that they were made by Nature rather than a laboratory.
Even Nature-built mineral sources can have destabilizing influences when consumed in excess (unless balanced by other Nature-made sources), as demonstrated by my Pink Sulfur Salt experience above. Aggravating potential imbalances with laboratory-designed mineral compounds or extracts will only make matters worse.
OK, so what foods serve to build balanced thyroid function?
1) Sea Vegetables (Thyroid Balance, Earth & Sea Greens, and Vital Cleanse & Nutrify)
2) Mineral-rich & Hormone Balancing Herbs (like nettle leaf, seed, yellow dock, horsetail, alfalfa, rosemary, adaptogens, etc.)
3) Earthen Mineral Sources like Sacred Clay, Ancient Mineral Blend, Vitallite, Ormalite, Friendly Flora, etc.
4) Nutrient-Dense Superfood Blends (like Earth & Sea Greens, and Vital Cleanse & Nutrify) that DO NOT contain vegetables (especially brassicas). I consider vegetables in powder form to be an unwise use of space in a superfood blend, given that herbs, algaes, clays and seaweeds are more potent nutritionally, providing greater benefit to the body per tablespoon.
5) Herbal Formulas that nutritionally support the HPT axis: (the hypothalamic/pituitary/thyroid axis is the primary regulator of thyroid hormones)
So, there you have it. A little wisdom in how we eat and supplement can go a long way to building health.
Many blessings of health & success.
Enjoy the simple gifts from Nature
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