Does food impact thyroid function?
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck. It’s a misunderstood part of the endocrine system often blamed for weight gain.
In my experience of successfully serving over 100 individuals with hypothyroidism, I’ve come to realise that, there are many misconceptions about the thyroid, specifically around diet. The bottom line is everything is fine in moderation, and food will not affect thyroid function for the most part.
What should you eat?
Several important nutrients should be included in your diet to maximize your thyroid and overall health, these include:
5. Vitamin B-12
It is important to also understand why these nutrients are important to include in your diet, so get in touch with an expert before blindly starting to follow any diet. We need to understand why we need these nutrients, how they interact with our thyroid, how much we need, as well as which foods offer the most concentrated sources of each one!
Foods that Support Thyroid Function
Eliminating foods that interfere with normal thyroid function is just one part of the natural hypothyroidism treatment equation. The second part is consuming more of those foods that promote healthy thyroid function. Eat more of the following foods to help your thyroid function more effectively.
Nuts - Magnesium is a critical component of thyroid function, and nuts are high in magnesium, nuts are especially beneficial, as they combine the point of magnesium, a mineral that boosts both the thyroid and the immune system and is a critical component of natural hypothyroidism treatment.
Leafy greens - Spinach and other leafy green veggies are also excellent sources of magnesium.
Selenium - Trace amounts of selenium are needed to produce the enzymes the thyroid needs to produce hormones. Along with nuts, fish, mushrooms, and sunflower seeds are good sources of selenium.
Iodine rich foods - In many cases, hypothyroidism is associated with inadequate iodine stores. In these cases, consuming foods that are high in iodine is an important part of natural hypothyroidism treatment and, in most people, adding iodine is well tolerated. However, in individuals with undiagnosed thyroid disease or who have certain other risk factors, too much iodine can cause the thyroid to become overactive, a condition known as hyperthyroidism. One of the highest sources of iodine is seaweed. One gram of seaweed, depending on the variety, can contain nearly 3,000 micrograms of iodine. Besides, some varieties of seaweed, particularly the kelp family, contain other compounds that are known to be powerful thyroid inhibitors.
Zinc (Zn), iron (Fe), and copper (CU)- These three trace metals are vital to thyroid function. Low levels of zinc can cause T4, T3, and the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) to also become low. Research shows that both hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) and hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), can sometimes create a zinc deficiency leading to lowered thyroid hormones.
Decreased levels of iron can result in decreased thyroid function as well. When combined with an iodine deficiency, iron must be replaced to repair the thyroid imbalance. Copper is needed to help produce TSH, and maintain T4 production. T4 helps cholesterol regulation, and some research even indicates copper deficiency may contribute to higher cholesterol and heart issues for people with hypothyroidism.
What should you avoid?
There are several foods that you should eat in moderation if you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism and/or have an iodine deficiency. These foods include:
1.Raw cruciferous vegetables
3.Certain fruits like almonds, cherries, and peaches
4.Certain starches like millet, sweet potato, and tapioca
There are also certain diets, which have been promoted as beneficial for an underactive thyroid, which should be avoided – unless counter-indicated by a doctor or a diagnosed condition. These include:
1.The ketogenic diet
2.A gluten-free diet (unless celiac or gluten-sensitive)
There are several natural supplements or alternative medicines that have been popularized for their supposed thyroid stimulating abilities. These include:
Intermittent fasting and the thyroid:
Fasting has an impact on the thyroid. Since fasting directly impacts metabolism and the way body uses energy. Thyroid hormones drop when intermittent fasting. It causes a drop in thyroid hormone T3 and an increase in reverse T3 (rT3). Hormone T3 is crucial for the body to use energy, but during fasting, the body wants to conserve as much energy as possible, because it’s unclear when food will be eaten again.
The drop of T3 hormone levels is caused by a lower rate of conversion from T4 to T3, and it balances back once the normal feeding patterns continue.
Common myths regarding Hypothyroidism diets
1. You can’t eat cruciferous vegetables if you have a thyroid disorder:
Cruciferous vegetables, which include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale, have been thought to interfere with how your thyroid produces iodine. Iodine plays a role in hormone production in the thyroid gland. The truth is, you can — and should — eat these veggies (but not in raw form and limited quantities).
Cruciferous vegetables are part of a healthy and balanced diet, and I encourage patients with thyroid disorders to continue eating them in moderation. You would have to consume an excessive and unrealistic amount of these vegetables for them to interfere with iodine and thus hormone production in the thyroid.
2. You should take iodine supplements if you have an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism).
You do not need to supplement iodine as iodine is added to many foods, including table salt. While iodine deficiency is one cause of hypothyroidism, if you are not iodine-deficient, there is no need to take iodine supplements, commonly seen as kelp supplements.
Iodine supplements are a fallacy, they can start negatively affecting thyroid function if you take them without the guidance of a physician.
3. A gluten-free diet can cure Hypothyroidism:
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. A gluten-free diet cannot reverse Hashimoto’s. There is a lot of inaccurate information out there about a gluten-free diet and Hypothyroidism. This stems from the fact that both Hashimoto’s and celiac disease, where gluten intolerance is the primary symptom, are both autoimmune disorders.
Celiac disease can coexist with Hashimoto’s. In this case, patients would need to adhere to a gluten-free diet to manage their celiac disease, not Hashimoto’s.
http://4.My weight gain is from hypothyroidism:
There may be weight gain associated with an underactive thyroid, but it’s typically only 2 to 5kg.
Significant weight gain beyond this has nothing to do with thyroid function, it's because of what we eat on daily basis and daily physical activity. To avoid weight gain, I tell clients with hypothyroidism to monitor their portion sizes and calories, and to avoid empty calories from, say, sugary beverages.
Find Your Balance
When we support our thyroid naturally, like with the thyroid diet, we can improve the way we feel on many levels. It may seem complicated, but once we learn which foods help and how to support our thyroid with the micronutrients we need, it will become second-nature.
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