I know Instagram goes crazy for green smoothies
Not so much.
I’ll let you in on a little-known fact (well, it’s known in the naturopathic world, but not so much in the Instagram world).
While kale is super healthy… too much of it in it’s raw form can decrease the uptake of iodine by the thyroid.
Basically, high consumption of ‘goitrogens’ – substances that suppress the function of the thyroid gland, by inhibiting or interfering with the uptake of iodine and iodine rich foods, may induce what’s known as secondary iodine deficiency… and this may lead to hypothyroidism, as well as host of other health issues.
Which foods may do this?
Goitrogens are found in the Brassica family of veggies (more when they are eaten raw); cabbage, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, turnips and Brussels sprouts, as well as other foods such as linseed, casava, millet, soybean and soy products and other entities such as members of the halogen family (bromine, fluorine, lithium and arsenic).
Why do we need iodine?
Iodine is crucial for healthy thyroid hormone production, including the conversion of T4 (an inactive hormone) to T3 (it’s active form).
Other uses in the body include*:
- Reproductive health
- It’s also super important in pregnancy, infants, children and adolescents to help with brain and nervous system development
- Prevention of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in offspring of women with adequate levels of iodine during pregnancy
- Improved outcomes in fibrocystic breast disease and cyclic mastalgia
- There’s also evidence of a preventive role for iodine in breast cancer
Iodine is found in all seawater fish and shellfish, sea veggies such as seaweed, iodised salt and some fortified breads and milk (but fortified foods? Ugh.)
As an aside, Selenium is also super important for the proper conversion of thyroid hormones T4 to T3, and for the only iodine recycling pathway of the body. Apart from thyroid hormone modulation, selenium is one of the most important antioxidants for our bodies, and as well as playing an important role in mood, reproductive health, immunity, and cardiovascular protection.
Selenium is found in brewer’s yeast, wheatgerm, meat, fish, seafood, Brazil nuts, garlic and organ meats.
So can you see why eating bunches of raw kale everyday… might not be so great in the long term??
Especially… if you suffer from reproductive issues, fatigue or thyroid issues. And since most of my clients suffer from fatigue and/or thyroid imbalances… daily raw kale smoothies are NOT a part any dietary recommendations that come from my clinic.
Sure, enjoy some raw kale here and there. But daily? Not so much.
You see, I know green kale smoothies might seem cool… but fatigue + thyroid imbalances? They’re not.
And lets not even get me started on the ‘dampness’ of green smoothies from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective. Especially in winter. *I shiver at the thought. Literally. I’m cold thinking about drinking cold green kale smoothies in winter.* But a fellow blogger and health + wellness guru – Adele from Vegie head – has addressed that, in this post.
So to sum it up…
If you love eating raw kale, just don’t eat it everyday.
If you can eat it in moderation, and mostly cooked, you’ll be supporting your body in a really nourishing way.
(Same goes for the other veggies in the cabbage family.)
Some other tips:
- Instead of raw kale in your green smoothies, use beet tops, carrot tops or other greens
- Add some Brazil nuts into your smoothie
- Eat seafood + other foods high in iodine to support your thyroid
- Try this delish green smoothie by the beautiful Cara at Ultra Inspired Living
Here’s a recipe for one of my fave smoothies…
It has greens in it, but it’s a purple smoothie. Joy!
It’s easy to make, it’s not just full of super foods, and the ingredients are accessible, nutrient-dense and also… really healthy for you.
Will it win awards on Instagram for best (read: most annoyingly overflowing smoothie in a glass jar that no sane person would ever fill that much or pick up and drink from?) Maybe not.
But… will it be supporting your thyroid? Your adrenal glands? Your nervous system and your digestive system?
*** Suspense-filled pause… ***
Why yes… it most certainly will.
:: A handful of frozen berries and/or half a frozen banana
:: A handful of baby spinach, beetroot tops or carrot tops (or a combination)
:: Protein powder of choice (I love Nuzest‘s chocolate flavour) or you could just throw in a handful of nuts
:: A teaspoon of chia seeds or nut butter
:: 1-2 tbsp of GF muesli or something crunchy to top it with… because ya know, our brains like to know we’ve chewed our food, it helps to send the message we’ve eaten real food. It’s important.
:: Top with something crunchy
:: Drink (but also… chew)
I hope you find this post helpful… now go and enjoy some cooked kale whenever you want, or raw kale — in moderation.
PS. I must also say… I don’t usually jump on the bandwagon when it comes to definitives or rules about food, eating or the like. It’s just not my thing.
In saying that, if you don’t ‘agree’ with me on this, that’s all good… just note that this isn’t an opinion piece… it’s biochemistry.
And while I’m no scientist… this makes sense to me, to my clients, to the researchers I learn from… and it’s evident in my 1:1 clients’ results.
So if you’d like to comment below… please do! Just keep it nice, keep it real, keep it kind.
* Lesley Braun & Marc Cohen, Herbs & Natural Supplements, 3ed.