Taking care of your thyroid is not just about drinking the right thyroid supplements. It also has to involve some changes in your nutritional intake particularly through the food that you eat--one that is commonly referred to as a thyroid diet.
Whether your thyroid is sluggish or hyperactive, this article is for you. Here’s a quick diet guide for a healthier thyroid.
Diet tips for hypothyroidism
Foods to eat
Fish is one of the primary go-to food options for Omega-3 fatty acids. While EPA and DHA are more famous for their ability to lower the bad cholesterol levels in our body, they actually have other benefits. In fact, they can reduce inflammation, and support thyroid function. The trick here is to choose the fish varieties that can offer you the best quality and quantity of Omega-3 like salmon, tuna, and sardine.
Seaweed is rich in vitamins and minerals including iodine, making it one of the best food options for hypothyroid patients. However, iodine consumption should involve some level of caution. Consuming too much won’t do any good to your thyroid as well. That said, consult your doctor first if you plan on adding seaweed or any iodine-rich food to your thyroid diet.
Coconut oil can help promote healthy metabolism and increase energy levels--things that hypothyroidism can easily suppress. It also has antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties that can fight inflammation.
Hypothyroid patients usually deal with digestive problems. This can manifest as constipation or indigestion. So, adding more fiber to your thyroid diet is one of the best ways to combat those issues.
Nuts, especially Brazil nuts, are great sources of selenium which helps in the conversion of the T4 hormone to its active form. However, make sure you’re not allergic to any nuts before you include them in your thyroid diet.
Foods to avoid
Goitrogens are substances that are naturally found in some types of food. These substances have the ability to interfere with thyroid hormone production which explains why hypothyroid patients and those with iodine deficiency should be careful when consuming foods rich in goitrogens.
Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, kale, broccoli, and cauliflower are some of the best examples of vegetables containing goitrogens. But, that doesn’t take away the fact they are also rich in essential nutrients. So, if you’re hypothyroid and still want to make the most out of their benefits, you can at least steam them for 30 minutes and consume them in smaller portions. The rule of thumb is to never eat them raw.
The theory is that people with thyroid problems like Hashimoto’s disease are usually sensitive to gluten and the main cause is intolerance.
Gluten intolerance can lead to inflammation in the gut which further triggers the immune system to go into overdrive. But, instead of attacking the gluten, it mistakenly attacks the thyroid due to the similarity in their proteins’ molecular structure. Once the healthy thyroid tissues are damaged, this can ultimately lead to severe hypothyroidism.
While these foods contain high levels of sodium, they don’t really have any traces of iodine in them or any other nutritional value because manufacturers are not necessarily obligated to use iodized salt with their products. What they do, however, is increase your risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease.
Diet tips for hyperthyroidism
Foods to eat
The goitrogens found in cruciferous vegetables can suppress the production of thyroid hormones, making them quite beneficial for hyperthyroid patients.
Hyperthyroidism results to accelerated metabolism which ultimately results to sudden weight loss or inability to gain weight despite having a good appetite. Eating protein-rich foods along with moderate exercise will help patients increase their muscle mass and maintain a healthy weight.
Berries are natural antioxidants and are capable of boosting our immune system. They also have anti-inflammatory properties which can help regulate the development of autoimmune diseases. However, make sure to limit your consumption because berries are high in oxalates that can cause kidney stones.
Zinc is one of the essential minerals that can help regulate organ functions. But, hyperthyroid patients have depleted zinc levels in their body due to their thyroid condition. Hence, it only makes sense to add zinc-rich foods in their diet. Whole grains like brown rice, millet, and cereal are great options.
A person with untreated or poorly managed hyperthyroidism or Grave’s disease can potentially develop bone loss due to the absence of calcium in their blood which will eventually lead to osteoporosis (Source: British Thyroid Foundation). Hence, adding some calcium-rich foods like plain yogurt, cheese, and milk to their thyroid diet can help prevent this complication.
Although, large amounts of milk is not advisable since it may contain a significant amount of iodine. For those who are lactose intolerant, they can opt for almond milk or soy milk.
Foods to avoid
Naturally, the thyroid gland will react accordingly to high levels of iodine in the body by producing more thyroid hormones. So, people with hyperactive thyroid should avoid foods that are rich in iodine like salt, seaweed, processed foods, and kelp among others.
Any food that contains caffeine can potentially aggravate the symptoms of hyperthyroidism like palpitations, anxiety, mood swings, and rapid heart rate.
These oils are commonly found in packed foods, crackers, chips, margarine, and coffee creamers among others. While hydrogenated oil takes longer to digest, they are also packed with unhealthy fats which can pose a threat to your cardiovascular health and ultimately, your thyroid.
Thyroid health is an urgent subject matter considering how our thyroid affects various processes and functions in our body. So, we must take the initiative to undergo the necessary tests to determine its current state and take action according to our own needs.
The good news is, there’s no need for us to spend money on expensive supplements that can potentially have side-effects. Let’s turn to food. You can never go wrong with the right kinds.