Food and Thyroid Health: What To Eat and What to Avoid

Blog / Health / November 17, 2016

Thyroid disease touches many people’s lives, either because you suffer from it yourself or know someone who does. I know this post will be pertinent to many of our readers and customers.

Depending on what type of thyroid condition you have – hypothyroidism (under active) or hyperthyroidism (over active) – it’s important to know that there are certain foods and nutrients that you should and should not be eating.

Nutrition For Hypothyroidism

Do eat:

  • Vitamin B: the B-vitamins are important for thyroid health.¹ Vitamin B12 deficiency is also common in hypothyroid patients.² Try eating fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk and dairy for vitamin B12. And try brown rice, bananas, wheat germ, Vegemite, almonds and mushrooms for other B-vitamins.
  • Vitamin D: research has found that sufferers of hypothyroidism tend to also have a deficiency in vitamin D. Experts suggest supplementation if your levels are too low.³
  • Iron: too much or too little iron can affect your thyroid function. Iron deficiency has also been linked to decreased thyroid function.⁴ Get tested, and if you’re deficient, try to get your iron from dietary sources like white beans, lentils, and pumpkin seeds. This is because supplemental iron has the potential to interfere with thyroid medications.¹
  • Antioxidants: To reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which impacts on thyroid health, eat foods high in antioxidants. Examples include green tea, white tea, organic berries, goji berries, high-quality dark chocolate, pecans, dark colored grapes, artichokes and dark leafy greens.

Try to avoid excessive consumption of:

  • Soy products: as many experts believe that soy products (especially the unfermented kind) can interfere with thyroid health and thyroid medications.⁵⁻⁶
  • These foods are believed to interfere with thyroid function and should not be overeaten by people with hypothyroidism: broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, spinach, turnips, soybeans, peanuts, linseed, pine nuts, millet, cassava, and mustard greens.¹
  • Smoking tobacco cigarettes: this one’s a no-brainer! Smoking is terrible for you in general and has the capacity to negatively impact your thyroid health.
  • Alcohol consumption: drinking in moderation and for special occasions is okay, and a part of a balanced lifestyle. Excessive alcohol consumption, on the other hand, is ill-advised.

Nutrition for Hyperthyroidism

Do eat:

  • Vitamin B: as above
  • Vitamin C: as an antioxidant and to support your immune system.
  • Probiotics with Lactobacillus acidophilus: to support gut health and immunity
  • Iron: as above
  • Antioxidants: as above
  • Healthy fats: olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, omega 3 fish oil and flaxseed oil… instead of unhealthy trans fats (see below) that contribute to a variety of health issues.

Try to avoid excessive consumption of these foods in order to reduce symptoms of hyperthyroidism:

  • Soy products: as above
  • Refined carbohydrates and sugar: these should be avoided as they may worsen the symptoms of hyperthyroidism.⁷ Examples include white bread, store-bought pastas, biscuits and candy
  • Red meat and processed meats: experts recommend eating less meats that have been cured, smoked, dried, and processed in other ways.⁷ Examples include bacon, salami, spam, some sausages, some burger patties, and luncheon meats.
  • Trans fats (usually hydrogenated vegetable oils): often found in commercially made goods like pastries, cakes, and fried goods. Be careful with margarine and vegetable oil spreads.
  • Smoking tobacco cigarettes: for the same reasons above
  • Alcohol consumption: for the same reasons above

Processed and refined foods are bad for everyone. But it appears to be especially bad if you suffer from hyperthyroidism.

We’ve endeavored to provide a list of the types of foods that will benefit each condition. But this is by no means exhaustive, and you should also keep in mind that moderation is key.

The above information is backed by science and recommended by The University of Maryland Medical Center.

We recommend you take this information and discuss with your doctor. Personalized advice about your thyroid health from a qualified medical practitioner is ideal.

We hope you’ve found this information helpful, and thanks again for checking out our blog!

Sources:

  1. http://umm.edu/Health/Medical/AltMed/Condition/Hypothyroidism
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18655403/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3921055/
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18568296/
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9464451/
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17472472/
  7. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/hyperthyroidism

4 thoughts on “Food and Thyroid Health: What To Eat and What to Avoid

Lowana

Yes, I know about Soy..many years ago I was diagnosed with dairy intolerance so went off cheese, milk, etc..and substituted with soy cheese, soy milk, soy yoghurt and a couple of years later I was diagnosed with Graves disease which gave me double vision..after several years my cousin gave me an article which said soy products could give one thyroid problems…so I went off soy immediately, and went on oat and almond milk and cheese with 0 sugar which is no problem. Next blood test, about 6 months later, the Graves disease had gone..but because a nerve in one eye had been killed I can’t do anything about the double vision..darn.

CD

Lowana, Have you ever thought about medical acupuncture? I too have/had Grave’s twice & besides a change in diet, TCM, OTC supplements, medical acupuncture helps to re-balance & does address nerve problems. It wouldn’t hurt to seek out a NCCAOM certified acupuncturist for a consultation.

Ella Willis

Hello thanks for information so what are symptoms for hypo/or hyper
for example a person may feel sleep after they eat sugar which is that
hypo or hyper Thanks

Monica

Hi Ella,

According to endocrineweb common symptoms for hyperthyroidism are:
Appetite change (decrease or increase)
Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
Heart palpitations
Fatigue
Increased sweating

And common symptoms for hypothyroidism are:
Fatigue
Hair loss
Weight gain or increased difficulty losing weight
Dry, rough pale skin
Weakness

– Monica from AlgaeCal

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