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Ask Elsa: underactive thyroid

Q. I WAS diagnosed with an underactive thyroid a couple of years ago and I'm on low-dose medication for it. I'm wondering if adjusting my diet would also be of benefit?

A. There are certain nutrients that help promote a healthy thyroid function. Therefore eating specific foods will give you the right nutrients to support your thyroid function.

Iodine is a trace mineral and an essential nutrient found naturally in the body. Iodine is known to be essential to a proper working thyroid gland and a deficiency is associated with hypothyroidism.

Iodised salt -- table salt with iodine added -- is the main food source of iodine. However, you should be aware that less than 5pc of the salt sold here in Ireland is iodised. Seafood and fish are naturally rich in iodine. Kelp is the most common sea vegetable that is a rich source of iodine. Eggs and dairy products are also good sources.

There are certain foods that are considered 'goitrogens' and should be limited as they can interfere with iodine uptake. These foods include kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli. However, the thyroid inhibiting effect of these food components are thought to be largely inactivated by cooking.

Along with iodine, selenium is a critical mineral for maintaining proper function of the thyroid gland. Food sources include mushrooms, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, cod, tuna and salmon.

Zinc is another essential mineral for optimising thyroid health. Good food sources of zinc include red meat, oysters, sesame seeds, cashew nuts, chick peas and kidney beans.

I'd recommend that you consult with a qualified nutritionist who will be able to devise a tailor-made diet and supplement plan for you.

Q. My kids love biscuits and cookies but I'm trying to get them to eat more healthily. I'd be happy to make treats as long as they're nutritious, any ideas?

A. My oat and almond cookies always go down a treat with kids. They're low in sugar and high in protein so they'll provide long-lasting energy for even the most active kids.

Get a large bowl and add 250g of oatflakes, 80g of ground almonds, 120g of brown rice flour and a ¼ tsp of sea salt. Mix well together. Add 90ml of sunflower oil and 75ml of agave syrup, one at a time and mix well. Add 2 tbsp of water to the mixture and stir through.

Oil two baking sheets. Start forming the cookies. Divide the mixture into 12 portions, placing six on each of the baking sheets. Place a 9cm scone cutter over one of the portions and press the cookie mixture down lightly. Lift the cutter and there should be a well-formed cookie. Repeat until 12 cookies have been formed. Bake in the oven at 190 degrees for 40 minutes, then cool and serve.

These cookies will keep for at least a week if stored in an airtight container.

Elsa Jones is a qualified nutritional therapist. She offers one-to-one consultations to treat your individual health concerns. www.elsajones nutrition.ie