Diet can have a significant impact on symptoms of hypothyroidism. Some foods can improve some symptoms, while others can make them worse or interfere with treatment. The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland located in the throat. Hypothyroidism, or inactive thyroid, means that this gland produces less hormones than the body needs. This can slow down the body’s metabolism and lead to weight gain and fatigue, among other symptoms.
Here’s how diet can affect hypothyroidism symptoms and specific foods to eat and avoid.
How does diet affect hypothyroidism?
Having hypothyroidism means that the body does not have enough thyroid hormones. While a change in diet can’t cure this problem, it can help manage it.
To get started, it may help to know the following Trusted source:
– Foods that contain certain nutrients, such as iodine, selenium and zinc, can help maintain healthy thyroid function.
– Certain foods can have a negative effect on thyroid function and aggravate the symptoms of hypothyroidism.
– Certain foods and supplements can interfere with the body’s absorption of thyroid replacement medications, so limiting them can also be helpful.
Foods containing iodine
The body needs iodine to produce thyroid hormones. But since the body cannot make iodine, people must get it from their diet.
Foods rich in iodine are:
– iodized table salt
– salt water fish
– whole eggs
Iodine deficiency is relatively rare due to the widespread use of iodized table salt. A deficiency can cause an enlarged thyroid gland, called goiter.
However, it is essential to avoid consuming too much iodine. This can indeed aggravate hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, that is to say an excess of thyroid hormones in the body.
For this reason, one should only add more iodine to one’s diet if recommended by a doctor.
Foods containing selenium
Selenium is a micronutrient that plays a role in the production of thyroid hormones and has antioxidant activity. Thyroid tissues naturally contain it. A 2017 study found that maintaining selenium levels in the body helps prevent thyroid disease and promotes overall health.
Selenium-rich foods include:
– Brazil nuts
– the tuna
– Brown rice
Foods containing zinc
Zinc is another nutrient that may specifically benefit people with low thyroid hormone levels. One study showed that zinc supplementation, either alone or in combination with selenium supplementation, improved thyroid function in women with hypothyroidism.
Zinc-rich foods include
– the crab
– fortified cereals
– pumpkin seeds
Foods to avoid and why
Certain nutrients can interfere with thyroid health. While foods rich in these nutrients are not to be avoided, restricting their intake can help a person manage their hypothyroidism.
Goitrogens are compounds that can affect thyroid function from Safe Source if a person consumes large amounts of them. However, in regular amounts, vegetables that contain goitrogens, such as broccoli and bok choy, are beneficial for overall health and do not interfere with thyroid function.
Additionally, cooking vegetables largely deactivates goitrogenic compounds.
Foods that contain goitrogens are usually green cruciferous vegetables, including:
– Brussels sprouts
– Russian kale
There is some evidence that soy may interfere with the body’s production of thyroid hormones.
Foods that contain soy include:
– soy milk
– soy sauce
People with Hashimoto’s disease are more likely to have celiac disease than the general population. This is because Hashimoto’s disease and celiac disease are two types of autoimmune disorders, and someone with one of these disorders is more likely to develop another.
Eliminating gluten from the diet improves thyroid function in people with Hashimoto’s syndrome who do not have celiac disease. This disease causes chronic inflammation and damage to the small intestine due to ingestion of gluten, a protein found in wheat and other grains, including barley, oats and rye. The treatment for celiac disease is to adopt a gluten-free diet. People with hypothyroidism related to an autoimmune disease can try switching to a gluten-free diet to see if their symptoms improve.
Reducing the intake of ultra-processed foods and added sugars can help improve symptoms, manage weight, and boost overall well-being.
Here are some examples of ultra-processed foods and drinks that also contain high amounts of added sugar:
– fast food
Other dietary advice
It is important to take thyroid medications on an empty stomach so that the body can fully absorb them. Take it at least 30-60 minutes before breakfast or at least 3-4 hours after dinner. This medication should not be taken within 4 hours of eating foods containing iron or calcium.
In addition, the following medications and supplements may interfere with the absorption of thyroid medications by the body:
– antacids or acid reducers
– milk and calcium supplements
– iron supplements
– fiber-rich foods, such as bran flakes, fiber bars, and fiber drinks
– foods rich in iodine
– soy foods