What Do You Eat?
An inadequate diet is one of the most common causes of an underactive thyroid. Similar to how expensive cars run more smoothly with premium fuel compared to cheap gas, our thyroid glands also require ‘premium’ foods that are high in certain micronutrients in order to function at its peak. We can’t just load any kind of food into our bellies and expect our thyroid to work normally! If you make sure your diet is thyroid optimal, experts believe it may increase your thyroid hormones. This will, in turn, increase your metabolism, help you lose weight, and likely make you feel better about yourself.
Foods To Avoid
Desiccated thyroid extract
Porcine or bovine thyroid glands found in diet supplements can be dangerous. They might contain actual thyroid hormones or could have diseases in them, both of which are very harmful in supplements. In fact, the FDA issued warnings in 2000 as well as more recently in 2011, urging consumers to be extremely cautious and to avoid supplements that derive bovine from high risk countries. You can read more about the dangers of thyroid extracts in our article here on which thyroid supplements to avoid.
These usually have a lot of sodium, sugar, and other unhealthy preservatives and chemicals. Note that the sodium in packaged and processed foods is not the good kind of salt. The kind of salt that is helpful to the thyroid is ionized salt. Processed foods do not usually contain this kind of salt however. Instead it will increase your blood pressure and cause other complications in the body.
Most would consider the gluten-free diet craze to be a trendy fad, and although there is some truth to that statement, there is also a connection between connection between hypothyroidism and gluten intolerance. If you are gluten intolerant, you might also be at higher risk to thyroid diseases according to several studies. Chris Kresser talks more about this on his website here.
Some experts will agree with this and some will not. The effects of soy on the thyroid are not fully known yet, but according to this study, if you do eat soy based foods, increase your iodine intake as well. Or you could just not eat any to be on the safe side.
Alcohol consumption affects all functions of the thyroid and results in lower thyroid hormone levels. When a person consumes alcohol, the body prioritizes filtering the alcohol from the bloodstream. Estrogen increases, prolactin rises, and progesterone decreases suppressing thyroid function, decreasing T3, T4, and TSH levels. You can read more about the effects in these studies.
Foods To Eat
Low calorie, high nutritious foods such as fresh, raw fruits are rich in antioxidants, fiber, and other micro-nutrients. Fruits promote healthy weight loss and suppress appetite. Eating fruits without preservatives are preferred.
Meat and fish
Quality meat and seafood, in my opinion, are some of the most beneficial foods for the thyroid. Firstly, they contain protein which is very important in suppressing appetite and maintaining muscle mass. Secondly, meat has helpful amino acids and minerals such as glutamine, tyrosine, saturated fats, tryptophan, and iron. I’ll leave it up to you to google what each one of these nutrients do in the body, but rest assured they are important for a healthy thyroid. There’s a reason why our ancestors have eaten meat since the dawn of time. The one thing I would say is that it is important to have quality meat that is derived from grass-fed, organic, free-range animals. Seafood, such as fish, also contains some of these nutrients, but more importantly it is very high in iodine, the most important mineral needed by the thyroid.
One of the highest dietary sources of selenium. It is used to convert thyroxine to its active form and helps decrease thyroid antibodies.
Sea vegetables, potatoes, eggs, yogurt, and beans
These foods are very popular with vegetarians since they do not contain meat or seafood yet are still high in the ever-so-important iodine. They also protein albeit in lower amounts than meat and seafood. Nevertheless most people still feel fuller while eating less. Potatoes with the skin, especially, are high in also every micro-nutrient and most yogurts contain helpful probiotics. Just make sure it isn’t processed with added sugar or sodium.
Thyroid Support Supplements
Eating all these healthy foods and avoiding the bad ones is difficult, time consuming, and expensive. Instead, many consumers decide to support their bodies with thyroid support supplements. These supplements contain essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that our thyroids need. Of course they cannot replace medications prescribed by doctors, but it can be a big help to people whose thyroid issues stem from an insufficient diet.