How would you notice that something is wrong with your thyroid gland? This gland can be either too lazy or it may work too hard.
Located in the lower part of the neck, the thyroid gland regulates how fast the body burns food and controls energy levels. It also regulates body temperature, carbohydrate breakdown, mental clarity, well-being, vitamin absorption, cholesterol levels, production of nails and hair, skin suppleness and sex drive.
By far the most common problem is underperformance: you are hypothyroid. This can make you, amongst other things:
constipated, depressed, forgetful, tired, restless; gain weight, feel cold, have dry hair or loose it, have coarse skin or carpal tunnel syndrome, and cause strange feelings in neck or throat (a goiter). See .
When it works too hard, you are hyperthyroid. This can make you, amongst other things:
shaky, hot, sweating, loose weight, nervous, irritable, weak, loose hair, restless, anxious, and short of breath. It can make your heart race, cause diarrhoea, insomnia, increased appetite and eye problems, have coarse or itchy skin and an irregular menstrual cycle. See .
So - what to do if you think there is something wrong?
If you suspect a problem in this area, go to the doctor. But you can help a lot yourself too.
If your thyroid is underactive, try the following.
- Avoid peanuts and raw brassicas: Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips and kale. Also peaches, pears and spinach. They block the uptake of iodine into the thyroid gland.
- Also avoid unfermented soy. Soy, too, blocks iodine uptake, thereby starving the thyroid of essential nutrients. This means: no tofu, no soy milk, no edamame or soybean oil. Read the labels: soy is cheap, so it is used in lots of products! Only fermented soy, like tamari or fermented soy sauce, tempeh and miso are recommended .
- Eat your food nice and hot.
- Eat plenty of veg and fruit, less sugar and refined products.
- Try avoid stress  - sorry, this is only for Dutch readers!
- Exercise - but moderately.
- Ideally avoid the pill and its surfeit of hormones.
- Avoid toxic food and heavy metals: eat organic, less meat.
- Use natural products which don’t contain hormone disruptors.
- And special yoga exercises under trained supervision do help; so does acupuncture .
- See also .
A hyperactive thyroid is much more rare.
There are herbs (hawthorn, bugleweed, motherwort and lemon balm) and foods (oats and food rich in calcium, magnesium and vitamin D) which help prevent problems associated with hyperthyroidism. Enough sleep and regular exercise are important, as always.
Veg: beet, purple sprouting broccoli, brussels, (savoy) cabbage, carrots, winter (=black) radish, chard, celeriac, kale, cavolo nero, leek, parsnip, potato, pumpkin, rocket, spinach, swede, turnip, Jerusalem artichoke, chicory, corn salad, endive, kohlrabi, salsify, winter purslane.
Meat: goose, mallard, partridge, pheasant, venison.
Fish: bib, cockles, crab, dab, flounder, lobster, mackerel, oysters, pollack, scallops, seabass, whiting.
TO SOW/PLANT (outdoors):
If the weather is suitable: garlic, broad beans, spring onions, shallots, early peas, carrots, parsnips, green/red cabbage, onion sets. And apple trees, if the weather isn't too severe and the ground not waterlogged or frozen.
Ab. 170g kale, 1 tblsp apple cider vinegar, 2tblsp extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt.
Rinse the kale, strip the leaves from the stems, cut into 5 cm pieces. Dry thoroughly. Mix the dressing and massage it into the kale pieces with your hands, for 1-2 minutes. Place on oven sheets and bake for 20—30 mins at 145°C. Turn the pieces for the last 10 mins, to make sure both sides are thoroughly dried out and crisp.
SIMPLE LEEKY (WHOLEMEAL) PASTA with SARDINES for 2.
1 tin sardines, ab. 200g cleaned chopped leeks, 100-200g wholemeal pasta, 1 clove garlic, thyme, soy sauce, lemon juice, salt, pepper, cayenne/chilli or 1 red chilli pepper.
Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add pasta and leeks. Just before they’re done (they will probably be done at the same time) sauté the chopped garlic, chilli and some thyme leaves in the sardine oil. Stir, cook for a few minutes - don’t let the garlic brown! - and add the sardines. Don’t mash them too finely. Put a lid on to let them warm up. Add the pasta/leeks which should be cooked by now. Stir, heat through, add soy sauce to taste (and salt/pepper if needed) and a squeeze of lemon juice.
300g pearled spelt or barley, 400g swede cut into 1cm dice, 2 chopped onions, 1 chopped garlic clove, plenty of chopped parsley, 50g grated hard well-flavoured cheese plus extra to serve, 1l water/stock, 20g butter, 2 tblsp olive oil, nutmeg, seasoning.
Heat water/stock. In another pan slowly heat butter and oil, add onions and sweat gently until soft. Add garlic and swede, stir for 2 mins. Add spelt/barley and stir for 2 mins, making sure all grains are well coated with grease. Now start adding stock slowly, a quarter at a time, stirring often. When it's all in, cook about 25 mins for spelt or a bit longer for barley, to a tender texture with a hint of bite. Stir in parsley and cheese. Add salt, plenty of pepper, nutmeg. Serve topped with more grated cheese. Serve with a green salad.
PURPLE SPROUTING CABBAGE with EGG and GARAM MASALA for 2 (adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall).
3 large eggs at room temperature, 200g purple sprouting broccoli, 50g butter, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 garlic clove, grated or very finely chopped, 2tsp garam masala, sea salt, pepper.
Put eggs in boiling water, cook for 6 mins: drain and rinse cold, peel.
Chop off the woody ends and steam or boil the broccoli. Steamed, it will keep more colour. Cook for 4-6 mins until just tender, drain. Melt the butter with the oil, add garlic, then garam masala. Turn the heat down very low and cook for 1-2 mins, season. Put the broccoli on a warm plate/plates. Halve the eggs and place on top. Dress both with the spicy fat, serve.
Instead of broccoli you can use other greens, like young leaves of kale or cavolo nero. And if you don't have masala you can use curry powder, though it will give a different flavour.
For more recipes see February issues from former years - click on February 2017 on the right hand side. Or go to https://thoughtforfoodaw.wordpress.com, which still has eight recipes for this year.
We also have an alphabetical index of subjects, which you will see if you click on 2017 > February, in the top right hand corner.
Next month: no worries. To see this now, go to https://thoughtforfoodaw.wordpress.com and scroll down.