When you want to find out what the healthiest diet is, you end up with tons of different answers. There is Mediterranean diet, South Beach diet, Zone diet, Paleo, Primal, Weston A. Price… While it is almost impossible to know which one is the best, we can make certain educated guesses on what is good for us. In my opinion, the fundamental of a healthy diet should be sourced from nature. Vegetables, fruits, wild caught fish and seafood, pasture raised red meat, free-range turkey, chicken and eggs, raw dairy products, soaked and sprouted legumes, raw nuts and seeds, and some well-prepared grains should be the focal point of a diet. Also, any food that one is intolerant to, and foods that cause inflammation should be avoided. For example, I am lactose intolerant. Therefore, I avoid dairy products such as milk, cheese, whey protein, etc. One can have Celiac disease or can be simply grain intolerant. So, they should avoid grains not to cause any allergic reactions and/or inflammation. Even though all we need, micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, essential fatty acids, etc., can be found and sourced from the list mentioned above, some foods are not present in most of our diet. This can cause some nutrient deficiencies that can lead to things like thyroid problems, inflammation, weak immune health and poor antioxidant system. Of course, without freaking out about the status of your health, please consult your medical professional and see if you can benefit from correcting any micronutrient deficiency. In this article (first part of a series), you will find two foods that are most likely not present in your diet that can help you. Without further ado, let’s start.
When people add raw nuts and seeds in their diet, they usually go for almonds, walnuts and chia seeds. While these are all healthy options, Brazil nuts are one of the Earth’s richest foods in Selenium content. Selenium is especially important for a properly functioning thyroid. Free T3 levels in our bodies are shown to be good indicators for current condition of our metabolism. Low free T3 levels can indicate slowed down metabolism, and in order to have optimum free T3 levels, we need enough intake of Selenium. This is because deiodinase enzymes that convert T4 to T3 are Selenium dependent. While Selenium can be found in other food sources such as seafood, crimini and shiitake mushrooms, asparagus and other animal protein, there is a good chance we are not getting our recommended daily value (70 micrograms/day). Some supplements like thyroid-help supplements and multivitamins can have Selenium in it. However, the poor absorption of these supplements may lead to Selenium deficiency. In addition to eating sardines a few times a week (which have good amount of Selenium), I eat 2 Brazil nuts every day. I buy them in-shell, crack them open and I either eat them next to my eggs during breakfast or toss them in a smoothie. The importance of buying raw nuts in-shell may not be obvious. However, raw nuts contain healthy fats that can be oxidized and become unhealthy until they reach to you. Also, things like air exposure, transportation, and storage of shelled raw nuts can lead to high amounts of mold. Selenium is also important for antioxidant protection and immune health. What makes this whole Selenium intake trickier is that two people (living in different parts of the world or US) eating the same diet can have different levels of Selenium. This is due to the differences between Selenium content of the soil. Without going overboard, Brazil nuts can help you with getting adequate amounts of Selenium. I should also say that safe upper limit for Selenium is set at 400 micrograms/day. So, you should not really gorge on this stuff.
Raw Nori and other sea vegetables
“I’m already eating vegetables, now I need to eat sea vegetables???” Well, do you remember the importance of variety? Sea vegetables are usually forgotten unless the meal is sushi. Yeah, you know. That crunchy dark green thing that wraps the sushi roll, that is Nori. I really love eating Nori. It really gives the meal some crunchiness and added flavor, especially when you make wraps with them. You can simply buy raw organic Nori sheets on Amazon (I use the company RawNori and it comes with a free sushi rolling mat), and use them instead of bread. Or, you can simply have a couple next to your salad to enhance flavor. You can also consider kelps. I have never used kelps but it sounds like a good idea to buy some kelp flakes or powder to add it to a salad. I heard that kelp really smells like ocean. So, if you have sensitive smell, you may want to avoid it and go with Nori. The reason that I think sea vegetables should be a staple in everyone’s diet is their iodine content. They do contain trace amounts of other goodness as well, but the main reason to eat them is iodine. Iodine is a really important mineral for optimum thyroid function. Just like explained above, there are hormones produced by your thyroid called T4 and T3. The “T” stands for the amino acid tyrosine, and the numbers “3” and “4” refers to the number of iodine bonded to the tyrosine. The daily value is set at 150 micrograms/day, and I think it seems okay to go a little higher (up to 300 micrograms/day). The safe upper limit for iodine is set at 1100 micrograms/day and excess iodine can cause some serious damage such as autoimmune attack on thyroid gland. Other iodine rich foods are wakame, scallops, shrimps, cod, sardines, salmon, and eggs. Having fish a few times a week and adding some sea vegetables to your diet every now and then should provide you enough iodine.