A healthy diet is undoubtedly one of the most crucial aspects of rebalancing the body and learning to thrive with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The dense micronutrients found in organic fruits and vegetables play a key role in the body’s ability to come back into a state of health, particularly when there has been long term malabsorption due to issues like leaky gut. Juicing and green smoothies are both great ways to integrate more healthy fruits and vegetables in the diet with their enzymes and delicate nutrients fully intact.
How Much is Enough?
Nutrition experts agree that healthy people need to eat between 6 and 8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.[i] Many people with Hashimoto’s may even need to up to 10 servings per day (or more) during the healing period to maximize the body’s ability to repair itself. It is also important to get a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in order to garner the health benefits found in diverse food selections. Juicing and healthy smoothies can help to integrate more servings of fruits and vegetables per day and to get more variety, since most juices and smoothies can be made to taste great, even with fruits or veggies that you may not normally enjoy eating.
What Equipment Is Required?
Juicing is best done with a high quality juicer like the Champion or other macerating style juicers. Cheap centrifugal juicers don’t work as well and often don’t last super long. Consider a juicer a long term investment in your health and go for a mid-priced, quality machine. Smoothies can be made in any blender, however you will get the best texture and consistency from a high quality machine like a Vitamix. Again, quality does improve the end result and if juicing and green drinks are something you would like to incorporate into your daily life, it is best to buy a machine that won’t break down after a few months of use. If you can’t afford expensive equipment, get creative. Craigslist, ebay and consignment stores are great places to check for quality used kitchen gear.
If you’ve never incorporated juicing or green smoothies into your diet, it may feel a bit intimidating. Start out slow and simple and feel out what fruits and veggies you like juiced or in healthy smoothies. Also pay attention to how your body reacts. Easy juices to start with include a combination of carrots, cucumber, celery, beets and green apples. Mix and match – enjoy! You can also add a small piece of fresh ginger or get more creative or exotic by throwing in some lemon (a small amount of peel is fine as long as its organic), cranberries, parsley or pineapple. Smoothies can be a bit more of a treat by utilizing fresh banana, fresh or frozen blueberries, pear, apple, mango, raw cacao and the list goes on. Try to add at least one low glycemic vegetable to every smoothie – think cucumber, chard or romaine – and minimize the amount of sweet root vegetables and fruits (in ratio with other ingredients) in your juice.
But What About Goitrogens?
A big question mark for folks with Hashimoto’s is the issue of goitrogenic foods. These foods contain substances which may interfere with iodine absorption and thyroid hormone synthesis in some people – particularly when other nutrient deficiencies are present. They can potentially lead to the development of primary hypothyroidism and goiter – hence the name. Goitrogenic foods include soy – the number one culprit and not really an issue when it comes to juicing. Other goitrogens are cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, cabbage, and turnips along with foods like peaches, peanuts, strawberries, millet, spinach and sweet potatoes.[ii]
According to nutritionist and Hashimoto’s expert Jill Grunewald, it may not be time to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. She claims that since 90 percent of Hashimoto’s sufferers in fact do not have an iodine deficiency, that limiting goitrogenic foods may not be necessary. Natural health advocate Chris Kresser states that, in fact, goitrogens may help to prevent the autoimmune attack on the thyroid that can be caused by excess iodine. The benefits of cruciferous vegetables in particular, may well out way the risks by providing dense micronutrients, antioxidants and other beneficial compounds.
One way to mitigate the goitrogenic substances in foods is to cook them, so one option if you’d like to add kale, broccoli or other potential goitrogens to smoothies is to steam blanch them and freeze them in serving size portions which you can add into your smoothie each day. Variety is also key, changing the vegetable mix in your juice or smoothie combinations will ensure that you receive the benefits of many different foods while limiting your exposure to potentially harmful substances.
Organic is a MUST when it comes to juicing and smoothies, since you will be consuming large amounts of fruits and vegetables this way. It is really a must for anyone suffering from Hashimoto’s whether you incorporate juicing and smoothies into your lifestyle or not. Try not to get too much sugar from root vegetables – like carrots and beets – or sweet fruits like bananas. Balance the sugar with healthy greens – think romaine, cucumber, celery, kale, chard – and other low-glycemic foods like berries, citrus and apples. Smoothies inherently retain the fiber of the fruits and vegetables, but you don’t get as many micronutrients as through juicing. They both have value and can be utilized to give your body extra nutrients and support for healing and thriving with Hashimoto’s.