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June 09, 2023 8 min read

Salt plays a crucial role in our daily diet, enhancing the flavor of our meals and providing essential minerals. However, the choice of salt can have additional significance for individuals with thyroid conditions. The relationship between salt and thyroid health has raised questions about which type of salt is best, especially for someone that suffers from hypothyroidism.

Let's take a look at the impact salt has on your thyroid health.

Is salt the bad guy?

Salt has long been villainized in the realm of nutrition due to its association with health issues like high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. However, the question remains: Is salt really the bad guy? The answer is not as straightforward as it may seem. While excessive salt intake can negatively affect health, moderate and appropriate salt consumption is essential for our bodies to function optimally.

Salt, or sodium chloride, plays a crucial role in maintaining fluid balance, nerve function, and muscle contractions. It is also involved in the regulation of blood pressure. However, the key lies in finding the right balance. On the other hand, drastically reducing salt intake can have its own set of problems, such as electrolyte imbalance and compromised thyroid hormone production.

The benefits of salt and spices for people with low thyroid hormone

A person dealing with hypothyroidism.

Aside from here are various benefits of salt and spices for people who have hypothyroidism. These include:

1. Enough salt intake actually prevents water retention

Contrary to popular belief, maintaining an adequate salt intake can help prevent water retention rather than exacerbate it. When we think of salt, the first thing that comes to mind is often water retention and bloating. However, the relationship between salt and water balance is more nuanced than it appears.

Salt helps our body to maintain the delicate balance between intracellular and extracellular fluids, ensuring that our cells receive the necessary hydration while excess fluid is efficiently eliminated. Inadequate salt intake can disrupt this delicate balance, leading to water retention and swelling.

By consuming enough salt, our bodies are able to maintain optimal fluid balance, preventing the buildup of excess fluid in tissues and reducing the likelihood of bloating and edema.

It's important to note, however, that this applies to individuals with normal kidney function without underlying health conditions such as kidney disease requiring sodium restriction.

2. Enough salt intake may lower blood pressure

Salt has long been associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure, but the relationship between salt intake and blood pressure is more complex than it seems. While excessive salt consumption or high salt diet can elevate blood pressure in some people, particularly those who are salt-sensitive, moderate and balanced salt intake may have the opposite effect. When consumed in appropriate amounts, it helps regulate blood volume and relaxes blood vessels, improving blood flow and potentially lowering blood pressure.

Here's how enough salt intake may lower your blood pressure: When you eat food with too little salt or protein, it affects your blood volume or the amount of blood in your body. This can lead to water moving from your blood vessels into your body tissues, causing swelling or edema. As a result, your body tries to make sure important organs still receive the right amount of blood by adjusting your blood pressure.

The kidneys play a big role in this process by releasing a substance called renin, which helps direct blood to vital organs and raises blood pressure. However, if you try to lower your blood pressure by eating even less salt, it can make the situation worse, causing even higher blood pressure.

At the same time, your kidneys are trying to fix the problem by taking in more water and salt from the fluids they've filtered out and putting them back into your blood. Since there isn't enough of certain substances in your blood to hold onto this extra water, it ends up leaking back into the tissues. This continuous cycle can result in swelling, especially in areas like the ankles, and rapid weight gain due to the extra water in the tissues.

3. The right type of salt can improve thyroid function

A well-balanced diet is essential for everyone, but for individuals struggling with low thyroid hormone levels, paying special attention to iodine intake is crucial. Iodine, a vital mineral, plays a significant role in producing thyroid hormones. One effective way to ensure you're getting enough iodine is through the use of iodized salt, which can help combat even mild iodine deficiency.

Severe iodine deficiency can lead to various health problems, including stunted growth and cognitive impairments, making iodine intake an important concern, especially for those with hypothyroidism. Iodized salt provides an accessible, consistent, and relatively simple method for boosting iodine levels in the diet, helping to prevent any negative effects associated with iodine deficiency.

Aside from iodized salt, incorporating iodine-rich foods and spices can also support optimal thyroid health. Foods like seaweed, fish, dairy products, and eggs can be useful to include in your meal plan to ensure adequate iodine consumption.

For individuals with low thyroid hormone levels, maintaining a balanced and iodine-rich diet through the use of iodine salt, iodine-rich foods, and spices can significantly contribute to supporting healthy thyroid function. By addressing even mild iodine deficiency, you can enhance your overall health and keep your thyroid functioning at its best.

4. Salt can give you better sleep

Including an appropriate amount of salt in your diet offers numerous health benefits, one of which is the improvement of sleep quality. Consuming adequate amounts of salt can boost oxidative metabolism, defend your body against stress, and reduce inflammation. Furthermore, a well-balanced salt intake supports blood sugar stabilization and helps prevent the loss of essential minerals like magnesium.

In conjunction with calcium, consuming the right amount of salt can play a role in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels. One of the vital functions of salt in the body is lowering adrenaline levels. Having a salty snack before bedtime can be a practical strategy to reduce adrenaline and promote more restful sleep.

5. Salt and other spices may help combat inflammation

In addition to iodized salt, certain spices offer benefits for thyroid function. Turmeric, for example, contains curcumin, a compound known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation in the thyroid gland, often caused by autoimmune disorders like Hashimoto's thyroiditis, can impair its function.

By reducing inflammation, spices like turmeric may support thyroid health. Furthermore, spices like ginger and cinnamon have been associated with improved blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity.

Do you need extra salt if you have hypothyroidism?

If you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, you may be curious about whether or not you need to increase your salt intake.

Salt is indeed crucial for maintaining fluid balance and supporting the proper functioning of cells and nerves. However, the relationship between salt and hypothyroidism is not as straightforward as it might seem.

The hypothalamus and pituitary gland in your brain play critical roles in managing electrolyte balance throughout the body. Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electric charge and are vital for various bodily functions, including nerve and muscle function, hydration, and maintaining the body's pH level.

The hypothalamus produces and releases several hormones, including the antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which regulates electrolyte levels. The pituitary gland releases the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ADH is responsible for regulating water balance by controlling the amount of water reabsorbed by the kidneys, thereby influencing overall fluid balance in the body.

On the other hand, ACTH stimulates the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands, which helps regulate sodium and potassium levels. Sodium is an essential electrolyte that affects fluid balance and nerve function. In contrast, potassium is necessary for maintaining proper muscle and nerve cell activity.

People with hypothyroidism often struggle to retain sodium effectively. Low sodium levels in the bloodstream make it harder for the blood to hold water, causing it to seep into the tissues and lead to tissue edema, a common symptom of hypothyroidism.

Tissues that are waterlogged can cause stress to the cells, leaving them in a low-energy state. For those with hypothyroidism, adding a little extra salt to their diet can be especially beneficial in preventing edema. Simply seasoning your food to taste and sprinkling a bit more salt on various meals throughout the day can be a positive change if you struggle with hypothyroidism.

Keep in mind that if you suddenly increase your salt intake, your body might need some time to adjust. You may temporarily retain a little extra water over a few days, but in the long run, a higher salt diet can actually help prevent water retention.

Can drinking too much water disturb salt balance?

Drinking adequate water is essential for maintaining good health, but it is possible to disrupt the balance of salts in your body if you drink excessive amounts of water. This condition is known as water intoxication or hyponatremia. Normally, the body maintains a delicate balance of electrolytes, including sodium, which is an essential salt for various bodily functions.

When you consume too much water without adequate salt intake, it can dilute the concentration of sodium in your body. This imbalance can disrupt the normal functioning of cells, including those in your brain. Symptoms of hyponatremia may include nausea, headache, confusion, seizures, and in severe cases, it can lead to coma or even be life-threatening.

Which salt is good for thyroid patients?

A woman sitting down, looking healthy.

When it comes to choosing the right salt for thyroid patients, it is recommended to opt for iodized salt. Iodized salt is fortified with iodine, ensuring an adequate intake of this important mineral. Iodine is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in the production of thyroid hormones.

Your thyroid gland relies on an adequate supply of iodine levels to synthesize thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). In cases of hypothyroidism, where you have an underactive thyroid and fail to produce sufficient thyroid hormones, iodine deficiency can further exacerbate the condition.

However, taking too much iodine can cause problems such as muscle cramps and even heart disease. This is especially true if you already have thyroid problems, such as thyroid nodules, hyperthyroidism, and autoimmune thyroid disease.

The easiest way to get iodized salt is through table salt. However, sea salt can be a great option. It is a natural source of minerals and can be a healthier alternative to table salt. It contains trace amounts of iodine and other beneficial minerals that support thyroid function.

Are there any good spices to add to your diet?

Aside from salt, there are several spices that you can add to your diet to enhance the flavor of your meals while also supporting thyroid health. Here are some options:

  • Turmeric: Turmeric is a vibrant yellow spice known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It contains curcumin, a compound that may help reduce inflammation in the body and support thyroid function.

  • Ginger: Ginger has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can benefit thyroid health. It can be used fresh, dried, or powdered to add a zesty kick to your dishes.

  • Cinnamon: Cinnamon is not only delicious but has potential benefits for thyroid health. It may help regulate blood sugar levels and support a healthy metabolism, which can indirectly impact thyroid function.

  • Cayenne pepper: Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, a compound that gives it its spicy kick. Capsaicin has been linked to potential metabolism-boosting effects, which can be beneficial for thyroid health.

Conclusion: Consuming enough salt and spices is important

Selecting the right salt for thyroid patients is crucial for supporting thyroid health and overall well-being. While iodized salt is a popular choice due to its iodine content, it might not be necessary for those who already consume a balanced diet rich in dietary sodium or iodine sources. Keep in mind that maintaining a healthy lifestyle, comprising a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and proper medical care, is essential for supporting your thyroid health and overall vitality.

But remember, aside from enough salt intake, thyroid hormone replacement therapy is important if you have hypothyroidism. Natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) supplements, like VitaliThy, can help increase your thyroid hormone levels. Thus, optimizing your thyroid function and easing your symptoms. In addition, VitaliThy, a natural desiccated thyroid you can buy online, is free from common allergens like gluten and lactose. It also doesn't contain fish, shellfish, and eggs. Thus, it's suitable for people with special dietary restrictions.

Wojciech Majda
Wojciech Majda

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