Your thyroid is a tiny gland with major responsibilities. It produces hormones crucial for normal energy levels, body temperature, digestion, appetite control and moods. If you have hypothyroidism, your thyroid gland produces too few hormones. While hypothyroidism is most common in women over age 50, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, it can affect anyone. In additional to medical treatment, a healthy diet that is limited in certain foods can help ensure your wellness. For specified guidance, consult a registered dietitian.
Raw Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables, although highly nutritious, release a compound called goitrin during digestion. Goitrin can interfere with thyroid function, says Cheryl Harris, a registered dietitian and contributing writer for "Today's Dietitian." The effects can be severe if you also have an iodine deficiency, which affects some people with hypothyroidism. Cooking cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale and brussels sprouts, takes away most or all of their goitrogenic properties.
Soy can also be goitrogenic, and substances within soy called isoflavones can reduce thyroid hormone production. Sheila Dean, a registered dietitian at the Palm Harbor Center for Health and Healing in Florida, recommends that people with thyroid conditions consume soy in moderation. This means limiting your consumption of tofu, edamame, soy nuts and soy-based meat and dairy product alternatives to roughly one or fewer servings per day. One serving of soy is equal to 1 cup of soy milk, 1/2 cup of soybeans or 2 to 3 ounces of tofu.
High-fiber foods are a vital part of most healthy diets. A fiber-rich diet can help minimize thyroid-related symptoms, such as excessive food cravings and constipation. Eating high-fiber foods with synthetic thyroid medications, however, can reduce the drugs' absorption, says Dr. Todd B. Nippoldt, a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist, leading to reduced thyroid function. To avoid these risks, take thyroid medications with low-fiber foods, such as eggs or salad, or between meals on an empty stomach. Particularly fiber-rich foods include beans, lentils, raspberries, whole grains and artichokes.
Gluten and Millet
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye that causes intestinal damage in people with celiac disease. A strong link exists between autoimmune thyroid disease and celiac disease, says Harris. Avoiding gluten may improve thyroid function even if you have hypothyroidism without celiac disease. Common sources of gluten include white and wheat breads, cereals, pastas, crackers and wheat-based snack foods. Gluten-free whole grains, which provide B-vitamins -- nutrients that may reduce hypothyroidism symptoms -- include brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, gluten-free oats and popcorn. While millet is a gluten-free whole grain, it has goitrogenic properties. Excessive intake may reduce thyroid function.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Hypothyroidism
- Today's Dietitian: Thyroid Disease and Diet -- Nutrition Plays a Part in Maintaining Thyroid Health
- Mayo Clinic: Is There Any Truth to the Hypothyroidism Diet? Can Certain Foods Increase Thyroid Function?
- Mayo Clinic: High-Fiber Foods
- Today's Dietitian: Two of a Kind -- Research Connects Celiac and Thyroid Diseases and Suggests a Gluten-Free Diet Benefits Both
August McLaughlin is a health and sexuality writer, podcast host and author of “Girl Boner: The Good Girl’s Guide to Sexual Empowerment” (Amberjack Publishing, 2018). Her articles appear in DAME Magazine, Cosmopolitan.com, the Huffington Post and more, and she loves connecting with readers through her blog and social media. augustmclaughlin.com