Weekly Ways to Replenish Yourself

The kitchen is my meditation room. There I make the food that will allow me to thrive, nourish my family's health, delight friends, and hopefully inspire you to try the same. The Archives section of Replenish PDX houses the newsletters where I write about recipes, nutrition information and the wellspring of reflections that come from those kitchen meditations. With these words, my hope is to bring you deeper into the connection with food your body and your understanding of how you feel and function. This is where you get to take it all home.

The big thyroid – brassica question… answered!

Posted on: May 26th 2016

If you’re in the states, I’m wishing you a lovely upcoming holiday weekend filled with time outside enjoying some sunshine, family and friends. (If you’re not in the states, I do hope your weekend is a great one too!)

Today I want to talk to you about one of my favorite topics…

thyroid health!

(Hey, did you know that yesterday was World Thyroid Day?!)

Tomorrow I’m leaving the states, headed to Toronto, to speak about this very subject.

And one question that always comes up when we talk about the thyroid is about brassicas.

brassicas, brassicas

It’s hard to refute the value of broccoli and their budding cousins yet I know there can be so much confusion about these beneficial beauties, especially when it comes to your thyroid health and wellness.

First, what the heck is a brassica?

When we refer to the brassica family, we’re speaking about those cruciferous veggies you know, love and possibly fear. Green leafies such as:

  • broccoli
  • kale
  • Brussels sprouts
  • cauliflower
  • collard greens
  • mustard greens
  • broccoli raab
  • arugula
  • bok choy
  • Napa cabbage
  • and even some roots like radish, turnips, horseradish and wasabi

Brassica is simply the Latin name for this family of gems, basically meaning “cabbage”.

The brassica are powerhouses of nutrients including vitamin C, vitamin K, the complex of B vitamins and carotenoids.

I remember years ago, hearing my friend and fellow Healing Hashimoto’s Summit presenter saying that one could hardly consume enough of these goodies in one day to reap all the health benefits evidenced in both cancer research and liver detoxification.

And yet one person’s food can be another person’s poison.

I get it. This can be confusing, right?

Like I said, who would refute the benefits of these green gems?

Well, it’s possible that someone with thyroid issues may have been told that the goitrogens in the brassicas can do their body more harm than good.

Ready to learn more about your thyroid health?

Join me and a host of other thyroid experts in the upcoming Healing Hashimoto’s Summit. I promise to take you deeper into the conversation of how to manage your health in my session during the summit.

Second, what, pray tell, is a goitrogen?

Curiously, these prized plant-foods also contain compounds that can cause thyroid hormone deficiency under one of several conditions:

  • if eaten in excess (an amount dictated by the individual, not the measuring cup)
  • in the presence of mineral deficiency, such as iodine
  • in the presence of mineral excesses, as is the case with calcium or fluorine

Many doctors, including the most renowned thyroid experts, like those you’ll meet in the Healing Hashimoto’s Summit, would say that it’s nearly impossible to consume enough goitrogens to become a real problem unless the foods highest in this plant chemical – turnips and rutabagas – are eaten daily, as a staple and in the presence of iodine deficiency.

Of course we’re all unique beings. (This is one of my favorite things to remind you.)

We each have different mineral stores and shortages.

Your proximity to the healing or harmful effects of any food or practice is different than mine or your neighbors.

I’d be remiss if I did not speak this truth.

Yet, because of their rich antioxidant and fiber content, beneficial for most health conditions, I do not recommend (nor do I practice) brassica evasion. (I say this as someone who has a thyroid disorder and has learned to manage it and teach others to do the same!).

You may be of the belief that cooking helps to dissolve and inactivate the goitrogens in your brassicas. And it’s true. Yet there is no clear evidence about the amount of heat or the time exposed to the heat that will do this.

That said, some cooking and moderation will enable you to reap the benefits of your cruciferous veggies, inviting the friend and forsaking the foe.

Benefits? Please please tell me I can keep eating my greens!

Indeed you can.

As I noted, I’m a fan of all brassicas, most particularly for their liver loving life force.

They are nearly unrivaled as a food source for activating glutathione (the mother of all antioxidants) and supporting detoxification of many chemical substances through your liver.

The truth is that there is so much to explore in how we eat and support our unique health needs. Despite bio-individuality, I love that we now have a world where we don’t have to do it alone.

Join me for the Healing Hashimoto’s Summit. It begins on June 13th and we can continue to discuss thyroid health.

I look forward to helping you refine your relationship with food (especially those brassicas), your body, and your everyday relationship to uncovering the best you that you can be.

Andrea Nakayama



P.S. Don’t miss my interview, “Functional Medicine Frameworks to Your Unique Path to Thyroid Health” during the Healing Hashimoto’s Summit.

Register now (it’s free)! And you’ll get my interview immediately!