Hypothyroidism occurs when an underactive thyroid gland doesn’t produce thyroid hormones. This can cause a number of health problems such as obesity, joint pain, infertility and heart disease. One of the biggest contributions to this condition is your diet.
There are particular foods that are known for their effect on thyroid health. Soy is the most well- known, but did you know that broccoli, peanuts, strawberries, kale, and other vegetables are also culprits? Most of these foods contain goitrogens, substances that disrupt the production of thyroid hormones by interfering with iodine uptake in the thyroid gland that regulates your metabolism.
Here is a look at the main foods to be concerned about when dealing with hypothyroidism:
- Gluten sensitivity can trigger a number of autoimmune responses, including autoimmune thyroid disease. With women, it often goes hand in hand with celiac disease, since undetected celiac can increase hypothyroid symptoms despite higher and higher doses of thyroid replacement hormone. Avoiding gluten is an important step to regaining thyroid health.
- Soy contains isoflavone genistein. This ingredient can cause an interruption in the process that is necessary for enzymes to transfer iodine to the thyroid hormones. If you are a strict vegan and soy is a big part of your diet, restrict your intake to fermented or cultured foods like tempeh, soy sauce, miso, and natto.
- Sugar can disrupt the hormone balance necessary for proper metabolism. Hypothyroidism is associated with difficulty losing weight, and can also contribute to fatigue, mood changes and depression.
- Raw cruciferous vegetables, like cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, mustard greens, kale, turnips, and collards contain Isothiocyanates, and like soy isoflavones disrupt signaling across the thyroid’s cell membranes for iodine transfer. You can eliminate this issue by simply cooking the vegetables, as the heat alters the isothiocyanates’ molecular structure and eliminates the goitrogenic effect.
- Like gluten, dairy can cause inflammatory responses. Avoid cow’s milk dairy products. Goat milk, almond and coconut “milk” are better choices.
- Most tap water has fluorine and chlorine that inhibit iodine absorption. Use a filtering system to purify your water
Here are foods you should add when dealing with hypothyroidism:
- Wild-caught fish, especially salmon, tuna mackerel and halibut. They provide omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for hormone balance and thyroid function.
- Coconut oil includes medium-chain fatty acids that support metabolism. As a bonus, it also has antimicrobial, antioxidant and antibacterial properties that suppress inflammation, stabilizes blood sugar levels and increases energy and fights fatigue.
- Seaweed is a great natural source of iodine and helps prevent deficiencies which inhibit thyroid function. Kelp, nori and dulse are the best sources.
- Probiotic foods like kefir, kimchi, kombucha, natto, sauerkraut and other fermented foods balance microflora bacteria, which aids hypothyroidism by reducing autoimmune reactions.
- Flax, hemp and chia seeds, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds all provide omega-3 fat that’s critical for proper hormonal balance and thyroid function.
- Beef and chicken bone broth have the amino acids l-proline and l-glycine, which can help repair the digestive lining and improve hypothyroidism.
- Mineral rich foods like spinach, pumpkin seeds and lentils, (iron) ginger, almonds and walnuts (zinc) and mushrooms, chickpeas (copper) are essential for thyroid support.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen herb that helps the body respond to stress, keeping hormone levels better in balance. It can significantly increase thyroxine hormone levels, which reduces the severity of the symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Selenium L-tyrosine, Fish oil vitamin D and B-complex supplements are also helpful. These can help the production of the T3/T4 thyroid hormones and can reduce autoimmune affects and decrease anti-thyroid antibody levels.