Diet For Thyroid Patients – 6 Foods To Include And 4 Foods To Avoid

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the lower part of the neck. It has a very important role to play in the different metabolic processes occurring in your body. Your thyroid is responsible for releasing two main hormones. These are triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones help in controlling the metabolism in your body.
When your thyroid is working the way it should, the two thyroid hormones are released into your bloodstream and make their way throughout your body. They assist different cells to make energy from the food you consume. The hormones are also responsible for regulating your blood calcium levels and basal body temperature, facilitating growth and development and helping in brain development while you were an infant. Unfortunately, there are millions of people across the world with under or overactive thyroid gland. This means that their thyroid either produces too little or too much thyroid hormones and this causes a wide range of health problems and symptoms. Some of these issues can be quite severe.
It has been observed that in many people thyroid disease is usually misdiagnosed or just overlooked by physicians. If you are one of those, you definitely need to consider a diet for thyroid to help not just your thyroid heal, but to also function properly.

Are You at Risk of Thyroid Disease? 

Gender seems to play a role in upping the risk of developing thyroid disease. Women are more susceptible to thyroid-related problems compared to men. You also can be at risk with advancing age or if thyroid disease runs in your family. Other risk factors include:
  • You are suffering from autoimmune disease
  • A close family member has been diagnosed with autoimmune disease
  • You have undergone thyroid surgery
  • You have been exposed to radiation
  • You have recently delivered a baby
  • You are in the midst of perimenopause or menopause
  • You have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer
If you are at risk or have already been diagnosed with thyroid disease, you seriously need to consider a diet for thyroid. You will be surprised how changing your eating habits can make you feel better and alleviate many of the symptoms.

Your Diet for Thyroid: 

The food you eat has a major role to play when it comes to the health of your thyroid. There are some nutrients that your thyroid needs for wellbeing and optimal functioning and you should look to include these nutrients in your daily diet.

1. Iodine:

Your thyroid absorbs iodine from the food you eat. It needs iodine to produce thyroid hormones. If your diet does not contain adequate iodine levels, your thyroid’s ability to make the hormones will go haywire and this will have an adverse effect on your entire body. While you can get iodine by consuming iodized salt, many women of childbearing age are actually deficient in iodine, as they do not get sufficient iodine through their diet. If you want to avoid iodine deficiency, look to add seaweed into your diet. Seaweed like nori, kombu, wakame and hijiki, are rich in iodine and a natural source of the element. But do not overdo the consumption, as too much iodine also can cause thyroid problems and make your symptoms worse.

2. Selenium:

This mineral is needed if you want your thyroid gland to work properly. It is required for producing and regulating the levels of T3. Look to consume foods, such as snapper, tuna, calf liver, shitake mushrooms, shrimp, cod and Brazil nuts, which are naturally rich in selenium.

3. Zinc, Copper and Iron:

These trace elements are needed for optimal thyroid function. Low levels of zinc have been reported to cause low levels of TSH. Copper is needed for producing thyroid hormones. Iron deficiency can result in reduced efficiency of your thyroid. So make calf liver, mushrooms, Swiss chard, turnip greens and spinach a part of your daily diet.

4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

These essential fatty acids play a vital role in ensuring the proper functioning of your thyroid. They also help in sensitizing your cells to thyroid hormones. You can get Omega-3 fatty acids by consuming fish oil, sardines, salmon, flaxseed, grass-fed beef, halibut, soybeans and shrimp.

5. Coconut Oil:

It may sound strange, but cooking your food in coconut oil will increase your metabolism rate and help you lose weight. This is because of the presence of medium chain fatty acids in the oil. Usually, coconut oil is recommended for people who have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism.

6. Antioxidants Vitamins and B Vitamins:

Vitamins A, C and E are potent antioxidants that help to eliminate oxidative stress that can damage your thyroid. You also should include foods rich in B vitamins. Look to include beef, eggs, chicken, fish, seafood, apples, oranges, apricot, watermelon, carrots, spinach, peas, tomatoes, turnips, dates, potatoes, pulses, nuts, strawberries, citrus fruits and whole grains to get vitamins A, C and E. Pork, green leafy veggies, chicken, eggs, legumes, shellfish, liver, wheat germ, almonds, peas, pecan and whole grain cereals are rich in B vitamins and should be incorporated into your diet for thyroid. 

Foods to Avoid: 

Just like there are some foods that are beneficial for the health and functioning of your thyroid, there are some foods that are harmful for your thyroid. Hence, you should be looking to avoid these foods altogether.

1. Aspartame:

If you use aspartame as an artificial sweetener, you should immediately look to stop it. It has been linked with Graves’ disease and many other autoimmune disorders. The chemical present in aspartame can cause an immune reaction in your body, resulting in production of thyroid antibodies and thyroid inflammation.

2. Non-fermented Soy:

Soy contains isoflavones, which are goitrogens. These are compounds that interfere in the thyroid gland’s ability to absorb iodine and work optimally. You should be looking to avoid soy-based foods, including soy burgers, tofu, soy milk, soy sauce, tempeh, miso, and soybean oil. Also, make sure you do not consume processed foods containing soy.

3. Gluten:

Gluten also is a goitrogen. In addition, it can trigger an autoimmune response in body if you are sensitive to it. Foods with gluten include wheat, barley, rye and most processed foods. So, keep them out of your daily diet.

4. Cruciferous Vegetables:

These are vegetables, like cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and broccoli. They contain isothiocyanates, which are goitrogens and can adversely affect the health and working of your thyroid gland. There are health experts who reckon that consuming cooked cruciferous veggies can negate their goitrogenic effects and provide many health benefits. However, speak to your doctor before you decide to eat these veggies. If you do, make sure you steam them well to enjoy them as a part of your daily diet. 

Foods to Heal Your Thyroid: 

  • Once you have thyroid, you also should look at foods that can help your thyroid heal. These are over and above the diet for thyroid.
  • You should be looking to eat foods that have macronutrients as well as micronutrients. Try to go with organic fruits and vegetables, as they will be free of toxins, chemicals and hormones. Also, they will be replete with nutrients. You should also look to add fermented foods in your diet, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and homemade yogurt, as they are rich in probiotics.
  • There are many bacteria in your digestive tract and these are beneficial bacteria. They protect your digestive system against other harmful bacteria and help to eliminate toxins, undigested foods and parasites. Many times undigested foods can leak into the bloodstream causing hordes of problems, such as food allergies, weakened immune system, infections, diseases and food intolerances. You also could end up with a problematic thyroid that is unable to function optimally.
  • To heal your thyroid, make sure you include healthy proteins and fats. They are required for the production of hormones in your body and also help to keep your digestive tract healthy. Look to include walnuts, coconut oil, avocados and coconut butter in your diet to enjoy healthy fats. Animal fats are the best to heal a troubled digestive system, so opt for beef and chicken fat. However, make sure the fat is rendered. Look to gain your protein through grass-fed beef, chicken, turkey, fish and pork. If you are a vegan, try to get your protein through lentils, beans and other vegetarian sources. But avoid soy and soy-based products, as they are not recommended for people with thyroid disease.
  • There are many herbs that are full of minerals and vitamins. You should be looking to include these herbs into your diet. Try and consume them raw to ensure the minerals and vitamins are not denatured during cooking. If you have hypothyroidism, consume turmeric, as it is known to aid in healing the thyroid. Echinacea is extremely helpful in cases of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease. Bladderwrack and Ashwagandha are recommended if you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, while bugleweed is best for hyperthyroidism.
  • Many people with thyroid disease also have adrenal fatigue and chronic low levels of cortisol. Such people should be looking to eat adrenal-healthy foods, such as garlic, onions, sprouts, green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, spinach, bananas, turnip greens and almonds. These foods will help to restore the proper functioning of the adrenals.
However, make sure you do not get into a fit of anger, jealousy or hostility, as your restored adrenals will release cortisol and this hormone has an adverse effect on the thyroid gland. Try to calm yourself down by taking up activities like dancing, yoga or painting. These will prevent adrenal fatigue and also help to keep cortisol levels normal.