Your thyroid gland, which is located at the front of your neck (closer to your collarbone area), is primarily responsible for your metabolic rate. The faster your metabolism, the more calories you burn per day. Those who suffer from an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) often have difficulty losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight regardless of how well they eat or how much they exercise.
For your thyroid gland to function properly, it needs iodine to produce the thyroid hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). It is these two hormones that are really responsible for the regulation of your metabolism. Thus, insufficient iodine from your diet = insufficient production of thyroid hormones = sluggish metabolism. Get it? Got it? Good.
So how do I incorporate more iodine into my diet? Well, for starters, it's important to know that all table salt is iodized in North America. However, getting your iodine through table salt is not a good idea since that means you will also be getting a lot of hypertension-inducing sodium and nothing else (no bueno!). I prefer getting my iodine by incorporating different types of seaweeds into my meals and snacks (see below). Sea vegetables are a great source of iodine and many other essential minerals! By the way, I don't ever use table salt (it's a big no-no in my kitchen), because it is heavily refined and stripped of many important minerals. Instead, I use unrefined sea salt or kelp salt in moderation.
So, the above picture is of one of my favourite snacks, apples (I like the Red Delicious or Gala kind) with dulse. Dulse is a salty, paper-thin, slightly chewy seaweed that is great as a snack alone or as a condiment in soups and salads. The slightly fishy taste may put some people off, but I kind of like it. This snack is great, because it satisfies my sweet and salty cravings.
Another great way to add sea vegetables to your diet is to cut up bits of nori sheets onto your salads. Nori is the same seaweed you find in sushi rolls. It is much less fishy-tasting than dulse (I personally don't notice any fishiness). Nori complements salads dressed with Asian flavours (i.e. sesame, soy, ginger, rice wine vinegar, etc.) best. Here's a quick salad I made for dinner last night after coming home around 9:30 p.m. tired and hungry... (It was dressed with sesame oil, ginger, lemon juice, rice wine vinegar, and nori of course!)
Kelp supplements can also be found at many health food stores and natural dispensaries. However, these supplements can easily cause excessive iodine intake, which is also not a good thing. Too much iodine can over-stimulate the thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism), causing heat intolerance, increased appetite yet weight loss, acne, and many other symptoms. Iodine intake from eating natural, whole foods is always best! Supplements, though, are definitely a good thing when suffering from a very underactive thyroid gland. A nutritionist can help determine what your iodine needs are.
Hope this post gives you guys and gals some ideas of how to get more seaweed into your diet. Let's all give our thyroid gland some natural support!