The Daily Telegraph
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The thyroid is a small, hormone-producing gland in your neck. One of its many functions is to regulate how quickly your cells burn calories. Skipping meals, low-calorie diets, stress and hormonal changes such as pregnancy and menopause can all influence how well your thyroid performs.

The thyroid communicates with each cell by releasing hormones into the bloodstream that act as chemical messengers. Some protein is necessary for this process, along with vitamins A and E and small amounts of the minerals selenium, zinc and iodine.

Support your thyroid with:

Protein (add nuts or seeds to your cereal or start the day with beans, eggs or kippers on wholegrain toast).

Vitamin A (liver, eggs, fish, oranges and green vegetables).

Vitamin E (sunflower seeds, wheatgerm, rice bran oil and olive oil).

Selenium (brazil nuts, fish, offal, garlic, eggs and mushrooms).

Zinc (oysters, liver, lentils, eggs and beans).

Iodine (seafood and seaweed, particularly kombu and arame).

A few foods may reduce thyroid hormone production when consumed in large amounts. These include soybeans (particularly if taken as a supplement), cassava and the brassica family of vegetables (eg. cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and watercress) if consumed raw. Brassicas do, however, have plenty of health benefits so don't stop eating them!

Briefly steaming them will prevent any potential adverse effects. Iodine is only needed in small amounts, so be wary of overdoing things (particularly if pregnant or breast-feeding). Avoid iodine-containing supplements and use kombu and arame seaweeds as seasonings.

If your symptoms (and waistline) don't diminish after a few months, it's best to discuss the problem with your doctor. However, don't forget to consider your stress levels. We all know that stress can have a negative impact on health, and thyroid functioning is particularly sensitive to it. An expanding waistline is not uncommon, but do you have constantly cold hands and feet, too? Do you suffer from fatigue, thinning hair, constipation and dry skin? If so, these are all signs that your thyroid may need some dietary TLC.