Thursday, February 13, 2014

Importance of Our Thyroid and Foods to Boost Thyroid Health

Definition and Functions of Thyroid

The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland that is located low on our neck. It is a powerful organ that regulates hormones throughout the body. The thyroid is crucial for the body's metabolism and cell growth. When your thyroid dysfunctions, your health weakens and the side effects are very unpleasant. When your body produces too much thyroid hormone, your body's system speeds up and a condition known as hyperthyroidism develops. When there is too little thyroid hormone being produced, the body's system slows down and it is called hypothyroidism. If your thyroid gland is not functioning properly, neither will you. 

Some signs that signal that your thyroid is dysfunctioning include enlarged thyroid (goiter), trouble with losing or gaining weight (since the thyroid regulates metabolism), extreme tiredness, anxiety, depression, high cholesterol, brittle hair and nails, stiff and swollen joints, sluggishness, and more. These don't come all together at once, but slowly you will feel more and more miserable by the day to a point where you become so miserable you don't know why. If you are experiencing many of these symptoms, it may be worth consulting with a doctor.

Foods That Promote Thyroid Health

There are ways we can do to keep or improve our thyroid health through our diet:

- Iodine-rich foods. Iodine is the fuel for our thyroid and is important for keeping our thyroid healthy. Iodine-rich food includes seaweed (also a natural MSG!), cod fish, fish oilseggs, shrimp, turkey, and cow's milk

- Selenium-rich foods. Selenium is vital for immune system function. Lack of it can contribute to autoimmune problems, such as thyroid disease and psoriasis (skin disease). Selenium-rich food includes fish, meat and poultry, grains (wheat germ, oats, barley, brown rice), mushrooms, garlic, onions, brazil nuts, and sunflower seeds.

- Foods rich in essential fatty acids. Essential omega-3 and -6 fatty acids help the thyroid in maintaining metabolism and is important for cellular health, which includes the cells of the thyroid gland. Good sources of essential fatty acids are fermented cod liver oil, fish (salmon, tuna, herring, sardines), pasture-raised foods (meats, milk, yogurt, cheese), flaxseeds, leafy vegetables, walnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

- Coconut OilCoconut oil is nature's richest source of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs). MCFA's are not stored in our body as fat, but quickly converted to energy, which boosts metabolism and helps to regulate thyroid function. Coconut oil works synergistically with essential fatty acids. Your body needs saturated fats to most effectively retain and use essential fatty acids. The combination of the two is ideal combination for providing the fats our thyroid needs to function properly.

- Copper- & iron-rich foods. These two micro nutrients are vital for optimal thyroid function. Copper deficiency is the most important factor in the development of hyperthyroidism. Copper rich foods include oysters, organ meats, clams, cashews, crab, sunflower seeds, cocoa products, whole grains and cereals containing wheat bran. Good sources of iron include red meat, poultry, beans, leafy greens and shellfish. You can increase your absorption of iron by combining it with vitamin C rich foods such as citrus, potatoes, red berries, tomatoes and bell peppers.

Diets That Depress the Thyroids

- Nutrient-poor diets. The habit of eating fast food and processed foods will lead to problems with the thyroid gland later in life. Dieting, especially starvation diets which severely restrict caloric intake, is another common cause of underactive thyroid. Starvation slows the body's metabolism as the thyroid gland learns to expend energy more efficiently to conserve calories for the next "famine." After a starvation diet we have a tendency to gain even more weight than we took off, and we may find it even harder to lose weight the next time we try. A low-calorie diet can suppress the thyroid function in less than 24 hours. After one to three months of such dieting, there is a danger of permanently inhibiting the thyroid function. 

- Caffeine. Our body produces adrenaline when we drink caffeine (coffee, tea, soda, etc.), a hormone produced during times of stress. Excessive consumption of caffeine over a prolonged period of time will wear out the adrenal glands and has a suppressing effect on the thyroid gland. 

- Soy Isoflavones. Soy has goitrogenic (thyroid-suppressing) effect and anti-nutrients that blocks mineral absorption (including iodine), thus slowing down thyroid metabolism. Cooking does not destroy the goitrogenic effect of soy isoflavones. Infants who take soy formula are at higher risk for thyroid problems later in life. Fermented soy such as tempeh and miso is a better choice as the goitrogenic effect is reduced through fermentation. Click here to see a list of other goitrogenic foods that are best avoided if you have thyroid problems.

Do you have any experience with thyroid issues and how do you deal with it?

Disclaimer: Although I am passionate about healthy and natural living, I am not a certified or a licensed medical practitioner who can counsel anyone in medical issues and cannot be held responsible for any decision you make regarding your health. What I am sharing are what I have learned and applied to my family but may not necessarily work for yours. My only hope is that this blog may encourage you to learn more about healthy and natural living which will hopefully help you as you make decisions for your own family.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Travel: Batu, Malang, Indonesia

Last December, we got a chance to visit a new city in Malang, Indonesia, with our cousins. The place is called Batu. Quite a small, neat town in the mountains. The air was cool and fresh, similar to the weather in Cameron Highlands. We stayed in a three-bedroom villa at Jambuluwuk Hotel and Resorts. The place was clean and their breakfast selection was decent. 

The view from our villa

To go to Batu from Singapore, you need to fly to Surabaya first and then drive to Batu, 3-5 hours depending on traffic. This is where we went and what we ate while we were there:

1. Secret Zoo. They have an amazing varieties of animals and a big theme park. One full day here may not even be enough. Too bad it was pouring rain when we were there. We'll have to go there again when Elin is older.

2. Eco Green Park. Walking distance from the Secret Zoo. This park has water plays, a section for birds, insects, ducks, etc. They also showcases art projects made using old junks and trash. You can buy a pass that goes to both parks. This park is not as big as the Secret Zoo, but it can take at least 3-4 hours to finish the whole park and you may not have enough time to enjoy the Secret Zoo if you only purchase a one-day pass. We bought a one-day pass and went here first thinking we could finish this early enough then spend the rest of the day at Secret Zoo. We couldn't. I recommend a two-day pass if you have time.

3. Kampoeng Kidz. A wonderful and fun place to bring kids. They can feed the animals and pick their own veggies and fruits. Not to mention, the scenery is breathtaking!

4. Batu Night Spectacular. There is an amusement park and a lantern garden here. The amusement park was so crowded because it's very cheap to enter and you pay per ride. We went here just to see the lantern garden at night. Beautiful lights!

5. Ate Bakso Bakar Pak Mas (grilled meatballs). Local delicacy. Yum!

6. Ate at Khas Jawa. Everything was delicious and very affordable. Try their Rawon (beef/oxtail soup made with herbs and spices) and Nasi Campur (mixed rice with egg, green beans, beef, chicken, noodles, etc.)

7. Ate at Warung Bethania. Highly recommended for the food and ambience. You can order all kinds of Indonesian food here - fried fish with chili, oxtail soup, rawon, grilled marinated chicken, etc.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Travel: Kampoeng Kidz, Batu, Malang, Indonesia

If you're traveling with children to Batu, Malang, then Kampoeng Kidz is a must-visit! Children can go to Kampoeng Kidz to help feed the animals, pick our own fruits and vegetables, or do arts and crafts for a minimal fee with the help of students who receive free education there. It's a great way to support Kampoeng Kidz.

Musical performance by the students

There are so many things you can do there. You will need one full day if you want to participate in all their activities.

Feed the fish using baby bottles:

Feed the rabbits:

Feed the goats:


Do arts and crafts, including designing your own jewelry, acrylic painting, making frames, glittery figurines, frames, bags, hats, building 3D houses or puzzles, etc.:

Picking fruits and vegetables (tomatoes, corn, strawberries, etc.):

Elin, eating the fruits of her labor

We would go back again!

Kampoeng Kidz
Address: Jalan Pandanrejo 1 Bumiaji, Kota Batu, Jawa Timur – Indonesia Hotline Service: 08113608800 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Travel: Eco Green Park, Batu, Malang, Indonesia

Need ideas for your next art project? Look at these creative art made from junks! These were taken at Eco Green Park in Batu, Malang. They are so creative! It just shows how so many things we consider trash can be re-used and re-purposed to create something beautiful.

A cow made using old junk cars

An elephant made using old monitors

A horse made using cans

There are many other things to see and do in this park. They have water plays, a small bird park, a section on insects, and plantations to check out. Quite a neat place to bring the kids.

This place is also located by the big theme park called Batu Secret Zoo, so it's worth a visit if you happen to go there. 

Address:  Jl. Oro-Oro Ombo No. 9A, Kota Wisata Batu, Indonesia

Telephone: +62-341 512525