Ever wonder what foods you should eat if you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto or suspect characteristics of either one?
A hypothyroidism diet should be your first defense to gain control over thyroid symptoms and possibly recover from the negative effects associated with inflammation or conditions attacking your thyroid.
Having a better understanding of the best and worst foods to consume for hypothyroidism can help you fight this disease. Often these foods will address hidden thyroid disruptors such as the gut-gluten connection and histamine intolerance.
Research suggests that adopting a hypothyroidism diet will get you started in the right direction… here’s one that you can follow now.
15 Tips for the Hypothyroidism Diet
Worst Foods for the Thyroid
1. Eliminate refined carbohydrates
Aim to avoid foods such as bread, white flour, white rice, white potatoes, sugar, corn syrup, honey, and candy. Instead, eat more complex carbohydrates (like non-starchy vegetables). A lower carbohydrate diet has been shown to reduce thyroid autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto.
2. Watch for goitrogens
Cruciferous vegetables are from the Brassica family, known as goitrogenic vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli rabe, cauliflower, kale, and turnips. The goitrogenic compounds are iodine-suppressing and may interfere with the normal function of your thyroid. This is especially important to consider if your iodine levels are low. However, if your iodine levels are normal you shouldn’t need to eliminate these foods entirely as they are so nutrient dense. Regardless, these foods really aren’t much of an issue because cooking inactivates the goitrogen compound.
3. Go easy on drinking green tea
Research shows that green tea provides many health advantages from weight loss, to blood sugar balance, support of heart health, decreased cancer risk, and much more. However, recent studies are suggesting that green tea may have goitrogenic effects which may inhibit thyroid production. This is mainly because green tea is naturally high in fluoride which competes with iodine in its role in thyroid function. It is certainly not recommended to cut green tea from your diet completely. Rather, you may want to limit your consumption and stay up on the latest research in making your decision in the future.
4. Hold the Soy
Soy is a phytoestrogen and can interfere with the body’s ability to use thyroid hormone. Soy is hidden in many foods from soy-based infant formulas, soy milk and cheese, processed soybean in textured vegetable protein, soybean oil in margarine, salad dressings, tofu, tempeh, and even health foods like protein bars and protein drinks.
5. Avoid caffeine, colas, alcohol, and smoking
Indulging in these habits may irritate the thyroid gland. Drinking non-caffeinated beverages such herbal teas can be a better alternative. Still wanting your coffee, then consider this delicious warm drink called teeccino which offers a rich coffee flavor and health benefits without caffeine.
6. Keep an eye on histamine foods
If you suspect histamine intolerance these foods can lead to inflammation and impact the thyroid. Symptoms usually become apparent after consuming high-histamines foods such as alcohol, smoked meats, shellfish, matured cheese, beans, nuts chocolates and other cocoa-based products, and foods with preservatives and artificial coloring. For some, histamine reactions may also occur after consuming fermented foods such as sauerkraut, pickles, vinegar, and yogurt.
7. Avoid highly processed foods and sugar
Both processed foods and sugar negatively impact metabolism, blood sugar levels, and hormonal balance. Examples of processed foods include “convenience foods”, canned foods, microwaved meals, cookies, cakes, breakfast cereals, and more. Rather, strive for whole foods, and choose organic and preservative free foods.
8. Say no to gluten and excessive grains
These foods can cause more digestive issues and inflammation and increase the risk of autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto. Consider gluten-free grain alternatives such as quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, wild rice, millet or fresh green lettuce (romaine) wraps as a substitute to make sandwiches.
Best Foods for the Thyroid
9. Eat vegetables/fruits
Diet is where everything should start – nature’s natural medicine. Make sure you are getting a whole foods diet with 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day for rich-antioxidant protection and to reduce inflammation. These superfoods are not only nutritious but are satisfying and health-promoting. It is the best way to include complex carbohydrates in your daily diet and prevent concerns with weight among other factors.
10. Eat iodine-rich foods
Look for foods like seafood and seaweed from kelp, dulse, and nori for good sources of natural iodine. Some people with hypothyroidism benefit from adding iodine in their diet, while others will have the opposite effect. It is always best to try to get your iodine from food sources over high supplementation to avoid the potential of overdosing and negative impact on your thyroid.
11. Include some fermented foods
These foods provide loads of health benefits by feeding the good bacteria in your gut and balancing the ecosystem known as your gut microbiome. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, kombucha and fermented veggies are a rich source of prebiotics that feeds the “good guys” in your gut which promotes improved gut and thyroid function. Start slowly to allow your gut ecology to shift in favor of the good guys and ensure you can tolerate these foods.
12. Add in quality protein
Eat more lean, healthy protein at each meal like chicken, turkey, fish (especially salmon and sardines) and eggs and whey protein. Make sure all of these foods are organic and free of antibiotics and hormones.
13. Eat raw Brazil nuts
This particular nut is high in selenium and helps the thyroid to convert T4 to T3 and to reduce TPO antibodies. Selenium is an antioxidant which protects your thyroid against free radicals and autoimmune conditions. Other selenium-rich foods include mushrooms, meat, and fish.
14. Go for good fats
Your thyroid loves good fats such as fatty fish, coconut oil, raw butter, ghee, cod liver oil, flaxseeds and egg yolks. These healthy fats can help to suppress inflammation, boost metabolism, stabilize blood sugar levels, and support brain function.
15. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Your body is composed of 70% water and every cell in your body can benefit from drinking water. Stay hydrated with plenty of filtered water to flush your body of unwanted toxins that may accumulate in your digestive tract and kidneys. Adequate water helps guard against dehydration, fluid imbalances, constipation, fatigue and can help to rev up your metabolism. Avoid tap water which is high in iodine blockers such as fluoride and chloride.
Too often when trying to avoid foods that make us ill, we tend to focus on what not to eat. The good news is, there are plenty of amazing foods you can eat that will support your thyroid function and as it turns out these foods have been shown to promote optimal health overall.
A Deeper Dive at the Hypothyroidism Diet
Gluten Sensitivity and Thyroid Problems
As I’ve mentioned above, hypothyroidism is considered an autoimmune issue in 90% of cases. There is usually a strong connection to gluten intolerance when there is a diagnosis of both Hashimoto’s and Graves’ disease, which is on the flip-side of Hashimoto’s.
In Graves’ disease, there is too much thyroid hormone circulating in the blood. This is usually associated with hyperthyroidism which is also connected to autoimmune issues. Common hyperthyroidism symptoms include weight loss, rapid heart rate, anxiety, frequent sweating, and fatigue.
The Gluten-Thyroid Connection
The molecular structure of gliadin, a protein found in gluten, closely resembles that of the thyroid gland. When that gliadin passes through the gut’s protective barrier entering the bloodstream, the immune system’s natural response is to prepare to destroy it. Gliadin antibodies also cause the body to attack thyroid tissue. So, if you have an autoimmune type of thyroid issue and you eat foods containing gluten, your immune system will attack your thyroid.
The high presence of anti-gliadin antibodies in thyroid disorders is likely related to gluten entering the bloodstream through the small intestine via “leaky gut.” Leaky gut can result from poorly digested gluten.
So, it is super critical to completely eliminate ALL gluten-containing foods in your diet if you have this autoimmune connection because every time you eat it, the immune response can last for up to 6 months. Being gluten free only part-time isn’t going to help prevent the damage to your thyroid.
The Histamine-Thyroid Connection
Histamine intolerance is most problematic in people with leaky gut, thyroid conditions like hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. It can also be seen in people with a genetic defect in their DAO SNP, meaning they don’t clear histamines from the body. When your body does not break down histamines and clears them, it will increase inflammation and worsen thyroid conditions.
In completing DNA testing with my patients, I often found the correlation with genetic defects in SNPs and histamine intolerances. This area may be important to check out if you suspect any histamine response.
Typical symptoms may include reactions such as bloat, hives, watery eyes, sinus congestion, sneezing, lip swelling, racing heart, and more.
The reaction to histamine foods can vary depending on how ripe the foods are and how they are stored. Leftovers, especially meat can collect bacteria which when consumed increases histamine reactions.
Everyone has their own histamine threshold and it will become evident to you very soon.
Studies show that people with Hashimoto’s disease are at more risk for histamine reactions.
Be ready to handle immediate histamine reactions with inflammation-fighting herbal teas such as ginger, chamomile, or nettles. You can also opt for supplements such as bromelain or quercetin.
Get More Natural Remedies for Hypothyroidism
1. And let’s not forget exercise. Research shows it is important to exercise regularly, as the muscles are huge communicators for hormone balancing of the thyroid and adrenal glands. Doing yoga, such as the “Shoulder Stand” pose is known to help to revitalize the thyroid. Doing this simple pose for 5 minutes a day can be helpful. Find what works for you and do it daily, your body will respond favorably.
2. Managing stress is critical for adrenal health which directly impacts thyroid function. When the adrenals are forced to pump more stress hormones in response to chronic stress, they eventually become fatigued and weak. Consequently, weak adrenals make it difficult for the thyroid gland to function properly or respond to treatment with success.
3. Getting at least eight hours of sleep every night is important for renewal and repair. Sleep is crucial for overall health and thyroid function. In fact, sleep deprivation can lead to poor adrenals causing further thyroid problems. Sleeping at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every day is healing for the adrenals. This simple change regulates the adrenal glands and their natural internal clock.
Tips For Success
It is important to look at all factors contributing to overall thyroid function including lifestyle habits. Finding ways to manage stress through diet, getting into nature, mindfulness practices such as relaxation and deep breathing, and daily supplementation and adaptogenic herbs can all work towards the healthy function of the adrenal and thyroid glands.
A Patient’s Success with Hypothyroidism
A recent patient in my Westchester NY office came to me with extreme fatigue and digestive issues and was taking thyroid medication which didn’t seem to be helping her symptoms. At first look, we uncovered digestive problems such as bloat, extension, and bouts of constipation. Her treatment plan addressed her gut infections, leaky gut, and nutrients for thyroid support. This helped her digestive issues and even reduced the dose of her thyroid medication. We modified her diet to include thyroid friendly foods as mentioned in this article. Within 30 days her energy levels improved significantly, and digestive issues were no longer symptomatic and she was sleeping better. The interplay between the diet, gut, and thyroid cannot be overlooked when getting to the root problem.
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Learning to address the connection between your lifestyle, diet and the gut should be your first defense in trying to achieve a hormonal balance of thyroid function. If you need support, contact me today so we can get you on the road to recovery and feeling like yourself again.
What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts or experience with this.