by Dianne Trussell, BSc Hons, science & health educator & writer
How often do we think about our thyroid glands? Probably only when something goes wrong. Me too, but looking back, ever since puberty or earlier, my thyroid gland has probably been a little bit sluggish. Not pathological, just ‘not firing on all cylinders’. I used to need a lot of sleep, feel the cold, had cold hands and feet, poor digestion, put on weight easily which I found difficult to shift, plus my hormones were out of balance… these are all signs associated with lowish thyroid activity. Ironically I had enormous amounts of energy for my high levels of physical and mental activity from waking to bed-time, in contradiction to the pattern of low thyroid which usually goes with poor energy levels. (I was evidently getting my energy from somewhere else – a whole other story).
Seemingly unconnected to these low thyroid signs, I did not want to eat broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower or beans. Something in my body didn’t want them, and I did not like the smell or taste of these foods so it was easy for me to not eat them. That is still true today, and they make my body very uncomfortable for a few days if I consume them.
Fast forward to last week when I discovered that these foods are known to suppress thyroid function! So for me with my lowish thyroid, they may not be suitable as regular dietary choices. Obviously my body knew this, even way back as a child, maybe even before scientific research brought us this information. For those who don’t have a thyroid condition and whose bodies don’t react to them, don’t worry, as cooking partially destroys the chemical that affects the thyroid and so can be safely consumed. Also the amount of the chemical contained in the dose of vegetables we eat is unlikely to cause a problem, but as in my case, if the tendency is already there then it makes sense to reduce or avoid them.
Apart from the continuous confirmation that our bodies really do know what’s right and not right for them, there is more to this thyroid story than the scientifically known chemistry and physiology.