Hypothyroidism is a health issue that occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones. According to healthcare professionals, thyroid hormones regulate metabolism, cell and tissue repair as well as growth, among other essential bodily functions. People with hypothyroidism experience weight gain, hair loss, cold sensitivity, depression, fatigue, and a variety of other symptoms. Diet and lifestyle modifications may ultimately help improve thyroid function. In the following article, we will discuss the best diet as well as what foods to eat and what foods to avoid with hypothyroidism.
What is Hypothyroidism?
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ found in the center of the neck. It produces hormones that affect almost every cell and tissue in the human body. When the thyroid hormones are low, the pituitary gland, a small gland found in the base of the brain, sends a signal, known as the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which causes the thyroid gland to release necessary hormones into the bloodstream. Occasionally, the thyroid gland doesn’t release enough hormones even when there is enough TSH. This is referred to as primary hypothyroidism and it’s one of the most common types of thyroid dysfunction.
Approximately 90 percent of primary hypothyroidism cases occur due to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease that causes a person’s own immune system to attack and destroy the thyroid gland. Primary hypothyroidism may also occur due to iodine deficiency, genetic disorders, drugs and/or medications as well as surgery. In other cases, the thyroid gland won’t receive enough TSH signals. This happens when the pituitary gland isn’t functioning properly and it’s referred to as secondary hypothyroidism. Thyroid hormones regulate our metabolism which helps turn the foods we eat into energy.
Foods to Eat with Hypothyroidism
Thyroid hormones can help regulate the speed of our metabolism. Faster metabolisms ultimately burn much more calories. However, because people with hypothyroidism produce fewer thyroid hormones, their metabolism slows down and burns much less calories. Slower metabolisms can cause a variety of health issues, such as increased fatigue, blood cholesterol levels, and weight gain. Research studies found that eating a balanced diet can help increase the rate of metabolism. There are a variety of foods that can also help improve overall health and wellness in people with hypothyroidism, including:
- fruits, including bananas, berries, oranges, tomatoes, etc.
- vegetables, including moderate amounts of cooked, cruciferous vegetables
- gluten-free grains and seeds, including rice, buckwheat, quinoa, chia seeds, and flax seeds
- dairy, including milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.
- eggs (eating whole eggs is often recommended)
- fish, including tuna, halibut, salmon, shrimp, etc.
- meat, including beef, lamb chicken, etc.
- water and other non-caffeinated beverages
Essential Nutrients for Hypothyroidism
Iodine is an essential mineral that’s used to produce thyroid hormones. People with iodine deficiency may have an increased risk of developing hypothyroidism. Iodine deficiency is a common health issue that affects almost one-third of the population worldwide. If you have an iodine deficiency, consider adding iodized table salt to your meals or eating more iodine-rich foods, such as seaweed, fish, dairy, and eggs. Iodine supplements are unnecessary, as you can get plenty of iodine from your diet. Doctors have also found that getting too much iodine can damage the thyroid gland.
Selenium is an essential mineral that helps “activate” thyroid hormones so that they can be used by the human body. This nutrient also has antioxidant properties that may protect the thyroid gland from damage by molecules, known as free radicals, that can cause oxidative stress. Adding selenium-rich foods to your diet is a great way to increase your selenium levels. Selenium-rich foods include Brazil nuts, legumes, tuna, sardines, and eggs. However, avoid taking selenium supplements unless advised by a healthcare professional. Selenium supplements may be toxic if they are taken in large amounts.
Similar to the essential mineral, known as selenium, zinc also helps the human body “activate” thyroid hormones so that they can also be readily used by the human body. Research studies found that zinc may ultimately help regulate the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), or the hormone released by the pituitary gland that signals the thyroid gland to produce hormones. Zinc deficiency is rare in developed countries, as zinc is abundant in the food supply. However, people with hypothyroidism should eat a balanced diet with more zinc-rich foods, including beef, chicken, oysters and other shellfish, among other foods.
Foods to Avoid with Hypothyroidism
Fortunately, people with hypothyroidism don’t have to avoid eating too many different types of foods. However, foods that have goitrogens should be eaten in moderation and they should also be cooked accordingly as these can ultimately affect the production of thyroid hormones by interfering with iodine uptake in the thyroid gland. People with hypothyroidism should also avoid eating processed foods, as these generally have a lot of calories. This can be a problem for people with hypothyroidism, as they may gain weight more easily. Here is a list of foods and supplements you should avoid, including:
- millet (including all of the different varieties available)
- processed foods, including cakes, cookies, hot dogs, etc.
- supplements (only take supplements recommended by a healthcare professional)
Here is a list of foods you can eat in moderation. These foods have goitrogens which can be harmful if they’re eaten in large amounts, including:
- soy-based foods, including edamame beans, tofu, tempeh, soy milk, etc.
- cruciferous vegetables, including kale, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, etc.
- certain fruits, including strawberries, pears, and peaches
- beverages, including green tea, coffee, and alcohol
Harmful Nutrients for Hypothyroidism
Goitrogens are substances that may affect thyroid function. People with hypothyroidism should avoid eating foods with goitrogens, however, this only appears to be a problem for people who have an iodine deficiency or eat large amounts of goitrogens. Also, cooking foods with goitrogens may inactivate these substances. One exception to the previously mentioned foods above includes pearl millet. Several research studies found that eating pearl millet may ultimately affect thyroid function, even if you don’t have an iodine deficiency. Furthermore, many common foods have goitrogens, including:
- soy foods, including edamame, tempeh, tofu, etc.
- certain vegetables, including cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale, etc.
- fruits and starchy plants, including strawberries, peaches, cassava, sweet potatoes, etc.
- nuts and seeds, including peanuts, pine nuts, millet, etc.
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ found in the center of the neck which produces hormones when the pituitary gland releases a signal known as the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). However, thyroid dysfunction can ultimately cause a variety of health issues, including hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism, also known as an underactive thyroid, occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones. Diet and lifestyle modifications may ultimately help improve thyroid function. In the article, we discuss the best diet as well as what foods to eat and what foods to avoid with hypothyroidism. Several essential nutrients can also help improve hypothyroidism while certain substances can affect thyroid function. – Dr. Alex Jimenez D.C., C.C.S.T. Insight
Hypothyroidism is a health issue that occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones. According to healthcare professionals, thyroid hormones regulate metabolism, cell and tissue repair as well as growth, among other essential bodily functions. People with hypothyroidism experience weight gain, hair loss, cold sensitivity, depression, fatigue, and a variety of other symptoms. Diet and lifestyle modifications may ultimately help improve thyroid function. In the article above, we discussed the best diet as well as what foods to eat and what foods to avoid with hypothyroidism.
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, and nervous health issues or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health protocols to treat injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.
Curated by Dr. Alex Jimenez
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid).” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 7 Jan. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypothyroidism/symptoms-causes/syc-20350284.
- Norman, James. “Hypothyroidism: Overview, Causes, and Symptoms.” EndocrineWeb, EndrocrineWeb Media, 10 July 2019, www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/thyroid/hypothyroidism-too-little-thyroid-hormone.
- Holland, Kimberly. “Everything You Need to Know About Hypothyroidism.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 3 Apr. 2017, www.healthline.com/health/hypothyroidism/symptoms-treatments-more.
- Raman, Ryan. “Best Diet for Hypothyroidism: Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 15 Nov. 2019, www.healthline.com/nutrition/hypothyroidism-diet.
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Additional Topic Discussion: Chronic Pain
Sudden pain is a natural response of the nervous system which helps to demonstrate possible injury. By way of instance, pain signals travel from an injured region through the nerves and spinal cord to the brain. Pain is generally less severe as the injury heals, however, chronic pain is different than the average type of pain. With chronic pain, the human body will continue sending pain signals to the brain, regardless if the injury has healed. Chronic pain can last for several weeks to even several years. Chronic pain can tremendously affect a patient’s mobility and it can reduce flexibility, strength, and endurance.
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