Hypothyroidism is a condition where the body produces an insufficient amount of thyroid hormones, which Healthline.com says, “…help control your growth, repair and metabolism.”
This results in an underactive thyroid and can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, depression, weight gain, and hair loss. And while diet alone can’t cure the condition, certain foods contain nutrients that can help to improve thyroid function. But others can do more harm than good. Read on to learn which foods to eat and which to avoid if you have hypothyroidism…
Fish, especially those that are wild-caught, are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which Dr. Axe says are “essential for hormone balance and thyroid function.”
Additionally, the source indicates that, when balanced against the omega-6 levels in your diet, omega-3s can also “reduce inflammation and support healthy neurological function.” Try eating fatty fish like Alaskan salmon, Pacific sardines, and Atlantic mackerel once or twice per week to realize their full benefits.
2. Coconut Oil
Is there anything coconut oil isn’t beneficial for? Not only is it good for your skin, and a better alternative to many traditional cooking oils, but due to its medium-chain fatty acids it contains, it is also helpful for a healthy metabolism, a boost in energy, and combating fatigue.
Additionally, DavidWolfe.com says it is “a natural antimicrobial, antibacterial and antioxidant that suppresses inflammation in the body.” To get the most benefit from coconut oil, be sure to buy an organic, cold-pressed variety.
It’s important to eat your greens, but in this case, particularly those from the sea, as seaweeds such as kelp, nori, kombu, and wakame are rich natural sources of iodine.
And iodine is an essential part of a person’s diet, especially in those who have an underactive thyroid. Why? Because, as MindBodyGreen.com explains, “If you have insufficient levels of iodine, it becomes a rate-limiting step in the production of thyroid hormones and you’ll inhibit your thyroid function.”
4. High Fiber Foods
While whole grain foods such as breads and cereals are among the most well known ways you can boost your intake, you can also get lots of fiber from beans, lentils, seeds, and many fruits and vegetables.
5. Fruits and Vegetables
Not only are fruits and vegetables good sources of fiber for people with an underactive thyroid, but they are also rich in a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that Dr. Axe says “are necessary for combating free-radical damage and lowering inflammation.”
Additionally, the source says fruits and vegetables are beneficial for “supporting digestive health, brain function, heart health, hormone balance and a healthy weight.” While most varieties are okay, cruciferous vegetables and certain fruits like peaches, pears, and strawberries should be consumed in moderation.
6. Sprouted Seeds
Not only are seeds an excellent source of fiber for those with hypothyroidism, but they also offer a type of omega-3 fatty acid called ALA, which DavidWolfe.com says “plays a vital role in proper hormonal balance and healthy thyroid function.”
Additionally, having enough of these fats in your diet can help with brain function, mood management, and keeping blood sugar levels stabilized in order to maintain a healthy weight. Try adding chia, hemp, or flax seeds into smoothies, oatmeal, or baking in order to boost your intake.
1. Cruciferous Vegetables
As previously mentioned, certain vegetables known as ‘cruciferous vegetables’ are best consumed in moderation or, in some cases, avoided altogether. These include greens like broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts, as well as other veggies like cauliflower, radishes, and turnips.
Why? Because EverydayHealth.com says “they may interfere with the production of thyroid hormone if you have an iodine deficiency.” And WholeNewMom.com adds that they’re often referred to as ‘goitrogenic foods’ because they can “cause an enlargement or goiter of your thyroid.”
2. Tap Water
Not all water is (created) equal. For those with hypothyroidism, tap water, in particular, has proven especially problematic. This is due to the fluorine and chlorine it contains, which can “inhibit iodine absorption,” says Dr. Axe.
As mentioned earlier, iodine is essential to the body’s production of thyroid hormones. And since those with an underactive thyroid already aren’t producing enough of these hormones, it’s best for them to stick to drinking fresh water only.
Gluten sensitivity is common among those with hypothyroidism, but in many cases people are unaware of the issue. As a result, it often goes undiagnosed, and as DavidWolfe.com explains, “An undiagnosed gluten sensitivity can cause inflammation, nutrient deficiencies and hormonal problems.”
So if you know you have an underactive thyroid, it may be best to avoid gluten altogether. That means steering clear of foods made from wheat, barley, and rye. Also, to be safe, be sure to read product labels carefully, and look for items that clearly state they are gluten free.
While sugary foods like chocolate, candy, and doughnuts are certainly delicious, they are best consumed in moderation, or avoided altogether, especially among those with hypothyroidism.
EverydayHealth.com explains that this is because having an underactive thyroid can slow down your metabolism, making it “easy to put on pounds if you aren’t careful.” Additionally, sugar can also “contributes to hormonal disturbances, fatigue, mood changes, and worsened depression,” says Dr. Axe.
According to EverydayHealth.com, “There’s long been concern over the potential negative effects that certain compounds in soy — called isoflavones — may have on the thyroid.” Particularly, because some research has found that excess intake may increase a person’s chances of developing hypothyroidism.
While other studies have found that, if you already have a thyroid problem, consuming soy “may interfere with your ability to absorb thyroid medication.” Therefore, it may be best to moderate your intake, or avoid soy-based products altogether—including tofu, edamame, miso, and foods made with soy protein isolate.
6. Refined Flour Products
It should come as no surprise that products made with enriched wheat flour—like white breads, pastas, and cereals—are best avoided, especially among those with an underactive thyroid.
Not only do they lack nutritional value, but Dr. Axe says they “negatively impact hormone levels and can contribute to weight gain.” If you do choose to eat wheat, the source recommends choosing “100 percent whole, ancient grains instead (like quinoa, buckwheat, etc.).”