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an orange-colored citrus chia fresca in frosty glasses with ice cubes and garnished with slices of lime

Citrus Chia Fresca

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This ultra-refreshing Citrus Chia Fresca is totally chuggable and just the thing when you're feeling depleted. I've combined the "Adrenal Cocktail" benefits of potassium-rich coconut water, sea salt, and vitamin C, with the Mexican hangover cure known as Chia Fresca.

Chia Fresca is typically made with chia seeds, water, sweetener, and lime or lemon. Some drink it as an energy drink, but the relief this beverage provides comes in large part from the chia seeds. Chia is anti-inflammatory, high in fiber, high in antioxidants, and a complete protein source. We'll cover some of the thyroid-specific benefits of chia later in this post.

This recipe happens to be gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, Paleo, and low-carb. Follow the recipe below to make an energizing anti-inflammatory refreshment for you and a friend, or multiply to make a larger pitcher. This Citrus Chia Fresca can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. 


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What Are the Thyroid-Adrenal Benefits of this Drink? 

While chia may be the superstar ingredient here, there are thyroid-healthy aspects of all ingredients in this drink. We'll cover chia seeds in detail below, but first, let's talk about the "Adrenal Cocktail" that inspired this beverage and why it's a home remedy worth trying. 

While scientific evidence around the "Adrenal Cocktail" may be lacking, it does contain a bevy of nutrients and minerals to help boost your energy without caffeine, excess sugar, or other stimulants.

The logic behind the Adrenal Cocktail is to provide vitamins and minerals that can help support the adrenals and your energy levels throughout the day. Namely, those nutrients include Vitamin C, and electrolytes like sodium, trace minerals (from sea salt or Himalayan salt), and potassium.

Those who have a hard time getting going in the morning can try this Citrus Chia Fresca as an alternative to coffee, which tends to spike and then crash our energy levels. For those whose energy takes a nosedive in the afternoon, an Adrenal Cocktail may provide that gentle energy boost to help you get through the end of the workday and dinner prep. I'm one of those people, and a caffeine-free afternoon pick-me-up is my favorite way to use this Citrus Chia Fresca.



What Is the Connection Between Thyroid and Adrenal Function?  

The thyroid-adrenal connection is a strong one, and many Thyroid Thrivers suffer from adrenal imbalance. This can show up as energy imbalances like being tired all day and wired at night or simply having chronic low energy throughout the day.

The adrenals produce cortisol, which has been vilified as "the stress hormone," but cortisol plays an important role in our energy levels throughout the day. For example, a natural cortisol spike in the morning is what helps us wake up and get out of bed. 

It's best to work with a holistic or functional healthcare practitioner if you feel that you may be having adrenal dysfunction because things like nutrient deficiencies, diet, and lifestyle can all play a big role.

Chronic stress, for example, can lead to chronic high cortisol levels. Chronic high cortisol levels can have many impacts on thyroid function, including:

  • Suppression of thyroid hormone production
  • Reduced T4 (inactive) to T3 (active) thyroid hormone conversion
  • A lowered response to thyroid hormones
  • An increase in Thyroid-binding Globulin which can impact our body's utilization of thyroid hormone 
  • Lowered immune function
  • Increased inflammation

According to thyroid expert Dr. Amy Myers, some thyroid patients with unaddressed adrenal dysfunction who are put on thyroid medication may initially feel worse instead of better. "They can experience a racing heart or shaking hands," she states, "as their body is forced into overdrive from the sudden rush of thyroid hormones."

Test, don't guess is the Thyroid Thriver's motto. When it comes to adrenal testing, a 24-hour salivary cortisol test that measures cortisol at several points throughout the day (NOT just once) is what's typically recommended by holistic and functional practitioners for the clearest assessment. This enables us to see the body's daily cortisol curve, which is supposed to spike in the morning, and gradually slope downward throughout the day, enabling us to wind down and sleep at bedtime. 

If you feel that your adrenal function may be out of whack, speak to your healthcare provider about testing and treatment options. 

Okay, let's look at the benefits of that star ingredient: chia seeds. 



Is Chia a Good Choice for Thyroid Thrivers? 

Indeed, the same tiny seeds used to grow our beloved Chia Pets are the same as those now regarded as a superfood. So, what's all the hype about, and do chia seeds have a place in your thyroid-healthy diet? 

Several of the most outstanding nutritional qualities of chia seeds can also be helpful in addressing common thyroid symptoms and supporting our overall health and vitality. Let's take a closer look...


Chia is high in fiber: Just one ounce of chia seeds (about 2 tbsp.) provides 11 grams of fiber. Getting enough fiber in our diets (which most of us don't) is a great way to support your gut health and digestion. This can help relieve constipation and other gut-health issues like slow gut motility and gut dysbiosis, commonly associated with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's.

Because fiber also helps us feel full, it can support our efforts to shed excess weight-- a common frustration for Thyroid Thrivers. Finally, the fiber in chia seeds may help us maintain a healthy blood sugar balance, and animal studies have shown that chia seeds may improve insulin sensitivity. 

Note: According to thyroid expert and patient advocate Mary Shomon, it's important to take your thyroid medication at least an hour before high-fiber foods and supplements, as fiber can decrease your body's absorption of thyroid medication. There's no need to avoid fiber altogether, but if you shift from a low-fiber to a high-fiber diet, you may need to monitor your thyroid function for a possible change in medication dosage.


Chia is high in Omega-3s: Just one ounce of chia seeds (about 2 tbsp.) provides over 5,000 mg of Omega-3, which far surpasses the recommended daily intake of at least 1,200 mg. Omega-3s are one of the best fats we can consume to reduce inflammation throughout the body.

High inflammation, according to thyroid expert Dr. Amy Myers, can aggravate the autoimmune response and contribute to an increase in thyroid antibodies. She adds that most of us are deficient in Omega-3s. Also, most of us consume far too many Omega-6 fats in the highly-processed standard American diet. Consuming too high of a ratio of Omega-6s to Omega-3s (as many do) can contribute to inflammation and serious disease. 


Chia provides a complete source of protein: Chia seeds contain all nine essential amino acids, meaning the body can utilize the protein they provide to build muscle. That said, it's important to keep in mind that it's difficult to get the amount of protein we need from a typical serving of chia. 1 ounce (about 2 tbsp.) of chia seeds provides about 5 grams of protein.


Chia is loaded with antioxidants: Chia seeds are an excellent source of several antioxidants, including quercetin, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, kaempferol, and myricetin. Antioxidants provide a myriad of health benefits and cancer-preventive benefits within the body. Antioxidants also help prevent chia seeds from going rancid, making them highly shelf-stable. 


Chia contains several key thyroid-supporting nutrients: In addition to the beneficial macro-nutrients listed above (i.e. protein, fiber, and healthy fats), chia seeds are a significant source of several micronutrients that are beneficial to Thyroid Thrivers. A 1-ounce serving of chia seeds (about 2 tbsp.) contains 12% of the DV of Iron, 12% of the DV of zinc, 15% of the DV of thiamine, 16% of the DV of niacin, and 23% of the DV of magnesium. 


In conclusion, Chia seeds can be a wonderful, nutrient-dense, gut-health-supportive, and anti-inflammatory addition to a thyroid-healthy diet, as long as you can tolerate seeds and aren't currently on a strict healing diet like the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). Seeds of any kind are not allowed during the elimination phase of the AIP.


On the Menu: Horchata Chia Pudding


 Thyroid Healthy Recipe Highlights:

  • Coconut water is a great alternative to sports and energy drinks due to its impressive amount of electrolytes like potassium. An 8-ounce serving of coconut water contains 500 mg of potassium. While naturally sweet tasting, it also has far less sugar than typical bottled sports drinks. 
  • Chia Seeds are an incredibly nutrient-dense food providing several benefits for Thyroid Thrivers. They are high in antioxidants and key thyroid-supporting nutrients like magnesium, zinc, iron, and B vitamins. A 1-ounce serving of chia seeds (about 2 tbsp.) contains 11 grams of fiber, 5 grams of complete protein, and over 5,000 mg of anti-inflammatory Omega 3s. 
  • Citrus fruits like Oranges and Limes are an excellent source of Vitamin C which may increase your absorption of thyroid medication. Also, those with hyperthyroidism may need extra vitamin C as it is more quickly depleted from tissues. In addition, a study recently shared in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism stated, “In patients with hypothyroidism and gastrointestinal pathology, vitamin C improves the abnormalities in serum free T4, T3, and TSH concentrations.”
  • Sea salt is a natural source of iodine as well as numerous other bioavailable trace minerals. 


 Happy cooking, happy thriving, and enjoy the recipe (below)!

P.S. If you're anything like me, when I started down the path of thyroid-healthy eating I had questions-- lots of them. What I didn't have was a step-by-step system, to get me where I wanted to go. I wasted a lot of time piecing together bits of information about what to eat, what to avoid, and HOW to make thyroid-healthy dietary changes. That’s why I created the Thyroid-healthy Meal Plan Kickstart. Ready to harness the power of thyroid-healthy eating? Let’s get you kickstarted! Learn more HERE.



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