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Eating Your Fruits and Veggies? 3 Reasons Why You Are Still Unhealthy

The USDA recommends that each person eat between 2 1/2 and 6 cups of fresh fruits and vegetables a day. Even if you eat this amount daily, you still are probably lacking in vital nutrients that can prevent thyroid disorders. Why? Today's produce simply lacks the same nutritional value as produce in the past. Find out more about how you can heal a sluggish thyroid when fresh fruits and vegetables are not enough below.
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Research shows that million’s of today’s adults are suffering from a sluggish thyroid. The American Thyroid Association estimates that about 20 million American men and women have some form of thyroid problems. Web MD states that the most common cause of a sluggish thyroid is called “Hashimoto's thyroiditis.” This disease causes the thyroid to slow down due to excessive inflammation in the thyroid. Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune problem, when the body attacks harmless cells as invaders. This causes chronic inflammation.

The Cause of Chronic Inflammation

Although many medical doctors do not agree, research has suggested that part of the reason so many Americans face autoimmune diseases is based on the lack of nutrition in our diets. Americans tend to eat inflaming foods that are difficult for the body to digest. Take a look at some of the common foods that the typical American diet contains:

  • Sugar
  • Processed Foods
  • Chemical Additives
  • Oxidized oil (from high-heat oil processing and frying)
  • Low-nutrient fruits and vegetables
  • Refined grains
  • Low-quality meats

Contributing Factors for Thyroid Disease

Many of the above ingredients contribute to chronic inflammation which leads to an increased chance of seeing autoimmune disorders. Although there are other factors at play, improving your diet could significantly reduce your chance of seeing an autoimmune disorder- not to mention improves the function of your thyroid.

Although there are many factors that contribute to thyroid disease that have nothing to do with nutrition, such as medications, family history, and simple genetic metabolic rate; your diet can play a large role in the function of your thyroid. Have you ever wondered why Americans are more likely to have thyroid problems than individuals in other parts of the world?

The following factors contribute to the poor health of Americans and their sluggish thyroid symptoms:

Lack of Vegetables and Fruit

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), most Americans simply do not eat enough vegetables and fruit. In the a weekly Morbidity and Mortality report from 2010, the CDC states, “"A diet high in fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk for many leading causes of death and can play an important role in weight management. Healthy People 2010 objectives for fruits and vegetables include targets of increasing to 75 percent the proportion of persons aged ≥2 years who consume two or more servings of fruit daily and to 50 percent those who consume three or more servings of vegetables daily."

Although these guidelines are no where near the USDA recommended daily intake for fruit and vegetables (the USDA recommends that everyone eats about 2 ½ cups of vegetables and fruit per day), the fact that this was a goal of the CDC in 2010 shows that most Americans are severely lacking in fruit and vegetable intake. In 2009, only around 30 percent of adults ate more than 2 servings of fruit each day, and only around 26 percent ate vegetables three or more times per day. Instead, most Americans eat poor-quality foods full of unhealthy ingredients like vegetable oils, pre-packed meals, processed grains, sugar, and processed meats. Foods which are altered from their original state (like hot dogs, most boxed foods, flour, and most canned goods) provide vastly reduced nutrients from their unprocessed counterparts.

These foods contribute to a wide variety of health problems including obesity, diabetes, thyroid malfunction, and a variety of autoimmune diseases.

Lack of Omega-3s

Did you know that a lack of fish in your diet could be contributing to your sluggish thyroid? According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, eating at least 8 ounces of fish each week can reduce heart problems including heart disease and heart attack. The main benefit of fish is the vital fatty essential acids they contain, the heart-healthy omega 3s. Omega 3 oils are shown to help reduce oxidation in the blood and reduce inflammation overall, which can promote a healthy thyroid among other things.

Fish also contain many other beneficial ingredients, including B vitamins that are often lacking in the American diet, vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, calcium, selenium, pantothenic acid, phosphorous, and vitamin D. In fact, fish are one the best foods you can eat to promote an overall sense of wellbeing and fight depression.

Fortified Foods

In theory, foods fortified with vitamins are healthy sources of nutrients. However, the vitamins added to foods after processing are often manufactured from synthetic ingredients that are nearly impossible for your body to absorb. This means that although many junk food items are “fortified” with vitamins, you would probably have a lot more luck getting the vitamins and minerals that you need by eating dirt.

Clearly, one of the biggest solutions to thyroid problems is to eat a healthy diet full of fresh vegetables and fruits and by avoiding triggers that cause inflammation and encourage autoimmune diseases. However, there is still more to the story.

3 Reasons Why Conventional Vegetables and Fruits Lack Nutrition

Ideally, what you eat should provide everything you need to remain healthy. Fruits and vegetables would provide the vitamins you need, and meat would provide everything else required to stay healthy. However, today’s food is not what it once was. The current method for manufacturing food leaves much to be desired. Products like fertilizers, pesticides, and the industrialized nature of the modern food manufacturing process has contributed to a reduced nutritional content in all our food. Find out why your food may not be as healthy as you think below:

Respiration

Studies have shown that the longer you wait to eat fruits and vegetables, the less nutrition the vegetable actually contains. This process is known as respiration and is part of the normal breakdown of foods. However, food sold at a supermarket is likely to have been picked days or weeks before you pick it up, which means that even fresh vegetables and fruit are greatly lacking in nutritional content.

Poor Nutrient Quality

According to soil analysis and numerous studies, today’s vegetables are much less healthy than vegetables grown in the past. How can this be? A 2004 study conducted by the University of Texas in Austin found the true reason why this keeps happening. Decades ago, vegetables were grown using more natural methods. Farmers used natural fertilizer like cow manure and wood ash to fertilize their crops. Farmers also rotated crops based on the time of year and the current demand of the local market.

However, when food started to become subsidized and farmers were asked to grow the same crops over and over, the nutritional value of the soil started to decline rapidly. Different crops pull different nutrients out of the soil. When crops are rotated, the nutrition levels have time to balance. When the same crop is grown again and again, the soil is quickly depleted of all nutrients. Crops that are designed to grow faster and resist pests, disease, and weather strip the ground of nutrients even faster.

When the researchers looked at the nutritional content of 43 vegetables and fruits grown in 1950 and 1999, what they found was surprising. All varieties of fruits and vegetables had declines in how much protein, iron, vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, vitamin E, zinc, magnesium, vitamin C, phosphorus, calcium, and many other nutrients since 1950. The researchers stated that modern agricultural practices like improving size, growth rate, and pest resistance are leading to the decline of the nutritional value of the crops.

According to the researchers, focus on growth and yield rather than nutrition is one reason today’s crops are lacking in vital nutrients. In fact, today’s corn is about 40 percent pure sugar- a far cry from the nutrient-dense, antioxidant corn varieties of the past (known today as Indian corn and sold only for decoration). Most of our vegetables, and nearly all of our fruit- has gone through a similar modification process.

Toxic Chemicals

Most conventionally-grown produce uses a large variety of chemicals to keep the vegetables and fruits “healthy.” These chemicals are used to fight disease and pests. However, what is naturally toxic to pests and diseases is also likely to be toxic to what eats the produce- namely, us. Produce full of pesticides is hardly offering us the nutrition we need to remain healthy and fight our own diseases and keep our body’s systems (including the thyroid) functioning properly.

Get the Best Nutrition Possible

If it’s not enough to simply eat more fruits and vegetables, how can we avoid problems like a sluggish thyroid and other autoimmune disorders? Luckily, there are still a few ways to ensure you get all the usable nutrients that you need. Use the following two steps to ensure your diet is full of thyroid-supporting ingredients.

Update Shopping Habits

Shopping smarter will help you receive the maximum amount of nutrients. In general, you can get most of the nutrients you need from food sources (a few are rare even in organic foods). If possible, grow as much of your own food as you can. This will provide you with the best, freshest source of nutrients. Even someone living in an apartment without any yard can grow a few vegetables or herbs on a patio or with an indoor growing light. Anything you can’t grow, try finding from organic, local sources.

However, if you can’t find organic; local, conventionally grown produce will offer more nutrients than conventional produce from a store. Avoid wilted produce, when possible. Wilted produce has the fewest nutrients of all since it is so close to spoiling. Look to the guide below for choosing the best quality products:

Tips for Finding Nutritious Foods
  • Look for foods grown as close to you as possible to minimize nutrient respiration
  • Grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers
  • Non-genetically modified
  • No artificial ingredients or dyes
  • No chemical preservatives
  • No growth hormones or antibiotics
  • Fresh, firm produce
  • No confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs)
  • Grown according to nature (i.e. cows fed grass, not grains or animal byproducts) 
  • Minimally-processed foods

Avoid “fortified” or “enriched” foods. If a food requires fortification or enrichment, it likely had all of the natural nutrients stripped during processing.

Supplement Wisely

By following the above guidelines, you can maximize the nutrients you get from food. However, some supplementation may also be necessary, considering that today’s foods simply lack the nutrients of foods in the past. However, many of today’s supplements are also low in quality.

Use these tips to find the most beneficial supplements:

Targeted Application: Multivitamins can be helpful in filling in nutritional gaps, but better formulas will target specific issues and use vitamins and minerals that work together rather than against each other. For example, calcium is hard to absorb without the presence of magnesium. Many other vitamins and minerals also work best in combinations. Supplements that target specific issues usually will be more effective than those that are simply designed to add nutrients without a specific purpose in mind.

High Quality Ingredients: Some vitamin companies use the cheapest form of a vitamin or mineral possible. Usually, the budget versions of ingredients are harder (and sometimes impossible) for the body to absorb. For example, some low-quality iron supplements are simply passed straight through the body and little to none of the mineral is actually absorbed.

Tested Formulas: Before you purchase a supplement, check the research behind each ingredient. Are there studies that support the use of an ingredient in a formula? For some supplements, there are few scientific studies, but that does not necessarily mean that the supplement does not work. In some cases, traditional medicinal use and individual reports back the usefulness of that particular substance. However, if you can find no evidence that any of the ingredients work in a certain formula, then it is probably less effective than other supplements.

Avoid Harmful Additives: Some vitamins and supplements contain additives that make the supplement less effective and possibly even harm your health. Avoid the following additives in your supplements:

  • Artificial colors
  • Magnesium stearate
  • Titanium dioxide
  • Hydrogenated oils

Essential Thyroid Nutrients

What are the most important nutrients for maintaining a healthy thyroid? Find out in the list below. Many of these ingredients can be challenging to find from food sources, which could be one reason why so many Americans have thyroid issues. If you know you don’t regularly get these nutrients through diet, adding them in supplement form is proven to help fight a sluggish thyroid and improve your overall health.

Selenium

Normally thought of as a mood-boosting nutrient, selenium is also important for a healthy thyroid. According to studies, selenium is essential for the production and conversion of thyroid hormones. In fact, the correct ratio of iodine and selenium work together to provide healthy thyroid hormone production that regulates the metabolism, cell production, and energy production.

L-Phenylalanine and L-Tyrosine

L-phenylalanine is an essential nutrient that is necessary to create the amino acid tyrosine. Tyrosine and L-phenylalanine are both nutrients that help promote a healthy thyroid. Studies show that a deficiency in these two amino acids are classic signs of a sluggish thyroid.

Zinc

Zinc was found to be an essential nutrient for proper thyroid function in a 1990 study conducted on individuals with Down’s syndrome, who have a tendency to have a slow thyroid as well as zinc deficiencies. When several patients with Down’s syndrome were given zinc supplements, their thyroid function improved.

Iodine

According to studies, an iodine deficiency can lead to a sluggish thyroid. In some studies, supplementing with selenium and iodine together helped improve the function of the thyroid.

Copper

Copper levels are linked to thyroid performance. In animal studies, rats deficient in copper were more likely to have thyroid problems. In one study from 1975 published in the “American Journal of Veterinary Research” rats who were fed a copper-deficient diet were the most likely to develop thyroid problems.

The Difficulties of Consuming a Nutritionally-Dense Diet

Even though most people realize that eating healthier is better for them, eating well may simply not be enough to stave off issues like an underactive thyroid or autoimmune diseases. Today’s foods are simply not as nutritious as foods manufactured in the past. Today’s crops focus on yield and sustainability rather than nutritional content of the foods- to our detriment.

Luckily, there are still ways to ensure that you receive the nutrients you need to heal your thyroid and any other problems in your body. Looking for foods in the right places without added chemicals and modifications is a huge part of a nutrient-rich diet. The remaining part is ensuring you fill in any nutritional gaps with high-quality supplements.

When you follow these two steps, you give your body the building blocks it needs to retain healthy thyroid function. You will find that you drop pounds, improve your immune system, recover from autoimmune disorders, and have more energy and better health than ever before.

Sources


http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/thyroid-disease.html

http://www.thyroid.org/media-main/about-hypothyroidism/

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/hypothyroidism-underactive-thyroid-symptoms-causes-treatments

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