5 Foods that Can Wreck Your Thyroid

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Wondering what the best thyroid diet is for overall health? The following food recommendations can help support your health so that not only your thyroid is healthier, but you feel better overall.

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Hypothyroidism is a big topic these days. Seems almost everyone has thyroid problems these days.  Today, let’s learn about foods that might affect your thyroid so you can talk with your doctor about your optimal diet.chocolate

So, you’ve recently found out that you have hypothyroidism.

Did you know that what you eat can impact your thyroid function—for better or worse.

It’s true–there is actually research showing that what you put in your body impacts your thyroid function–so this is a good thing to talk with your doctor about.

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Eat Healthy for a Better Life

Before we get into what foods to avoid with hypothyroidism, think about how this is common sense-if you want to be healthy, you have to eat healthy.

Think about it–does it make sense to put junk into your body and expect it to work well? Just like you wouldn’t put sludge into your car’s gas tank, you shouldn’t be putting processed foods, pesticides, artificial colors, and more into your body.

But what about everything else? Does that mean that all whole foods are healthy for someone with hypothyroidism?

Actually, that’s not the case. Even though on the surface, they might appear to be healthy, they might not be for you. In fact, there are several foods to avoid with hypothyroidism, or at least foods that you might want to take a closer look at if you struggle with thyroid issues.

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5 Foods to Avoid with Hypothyroidism

The following foods can possibly be bad for your thyroid health for a variety of reasons. Let’s talk about each of them and see why you might want to eliminate each of these from your diet. Of course, talk with your doctor about any concerns you have about these foods and your diet.

1. Soy

Soy is everywhere.

Soy burgers, soy cheese, soy milk.

It isn’t necessarily the health food it’s been made out to be, however.

The problematic compound in soy (for your thyroid) is isoflavones. In fact, a study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism reported that researchers fed some subjects 16 mg of soy isoflavones, which is the amount found in the typical vegetarian’s diet,  and others 2 mg soy isoflavones, which is the amount found in most omnivore’s diets.

The subjects fed 16 mg were 3 times more likely to cause patients to convert from subclinical hypothyroidism to overt clinical hypothyroidism (Sathyaplan, 2011).

Cooking does not destroy soy isoflavones. To avoid them, you need to eliminate soy as much as you are able from your diet. 

What about soy formula?

Soy is not a friend of babies. Check out what the researchers in this study found:

Infants fed soy formula are at higher risk for hypothyroidism and for later development of autoimmune thyroid diseases. In humans, goiter has been detected in infants fed soy formula; this is usually reversed by changing to cow milk or iodine-supplemented diets . After the 1960s, manufacturers reportedly began adding iodine to formulas to mitigate thyroid effects.” (Doerge, 2002)

Soy formula should not be your go-to option if you are having difficulties breastfeeding. Watch out, because even formula that isn’t labeled “soy formula” can contain soy.

If you are having trouble breastfeeding, be sure to check out these natural ways to increase your breast milk or try some of these lactogenic herbs.

Alternatives to Soy Formula

Finding donor milk is also a far superior option to formula as is making your own cow’s milk formula or goat’s milk formula.

You can even buy Powdered Goat’s Milk!

2. Gluten

If you have a thyroid problem and you’re eating wheat or other forms of gluten, you need to stop. Now.

Nearly 90% thyroid disorders are autoimmune in nature (that means that about 90% of all hypothyroid patients have an autoimmune disease).

There is also apparently a strong connection between gluten-intolerance and autoimmune thyroiditis. There are even some doctors who are prescribing a gluten-free diet for all of their patients with thyroid disorders.

3. Cruciferous Vegetables

One of the most controversial on the list of foods to avoid with hypothyroidism is this one. Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts, radishes, turnips, collard greens… and the list goes on (There’s a complete list of cruciferous vegetables here).

These vegetables are considered to be goitrogenic food, meaning that they’re foods that can cause an enlargement or goiter of your thyroid. They also can slow down the function of the thyroid by making it difficult for your body to use iodine, a necessary building block of thyroid hormones.

Good News: Cooking Helps with Cruciferous Vegetables and Thyroid

Thankfully, many of the problematic enzymes in cruciferous vegetables can be partially destroyed by heating foods. So, if you’re going to eat cauliflower, cabbage, or kale – be sure to cook the vegetables before eating them.

Additionally, there are some who advise that if one is taking sufficient iodine, selenium, and zinc that any possible negative effects of cruciferous vegetables is negated or reduced.

Also, estrogen dominance can affect your thyroid (source) and cruciferous vegetables are said to help with that problem. (source)

4. Fluoridated Water

Until the 1950s, fluoride was prescribed to those suffering from hyperthyroidism as a thyroid inhibitor… and it worked in surprisingly low doses. This may sound strange, but fluoride exacerbates the impact of iodine deficiency.

As was discussed earlier, iodine is essential for the body in order to create thyroid hormones (Gas’kov 2005Hong 2001Wang 2001Zhao 1998Xu, 1994).

The National Research Council, put together a 500-page review of fluoride and toxicology. Here’s what they had to say about fluoride’s impact on thyroid disease:

“The effects of fluoride on various aspects of endocrine function should be examined, particularly with respect to a possible role in the development of several diseases or mental states in the United States. Major areas of investigation include . . . thyroid disease (especially in light of decreasing iodine intake by the U.S. population).” (National Research Council, 2006)

Do note that there are other studies that are somewhat mixed, so do your own research on this topic.

How to Get Rid of Fluoride?

Stop drinking fluoridated water.  You should invest in a good water filter for sure. Check out this post and this one on how to make your water safe.) 

Stop using fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash. You can find a number of healthy toothpastes you can purchase or recipes to make your own!

Don’t forget to check your medications. You might be surprised to learn that many common medications are fluorinated. Antidepressants, antacids, arthritis medications, and more contain fluoride. Be sure to check this site to find out if the medication you’re taking is on the list.

5. Processed Foods and Foods Containing Sugar

At the beginning of this list about foods to avoid with hypothyroidism, I mentioned that these are foods that aren’t junk. Well, I take that back. this one is.

Sugar and processed foods cause inflammation in the body. Inflammation inhibits T4 to T3 conversion. Since your thyroid needs T3, this isn’t a good thing.

Your thyroid produces a hormone called triiodothyronine, known as T3. It also produces a hormone called thyroxine, known as T4. Together, these hormones regulate your body’s temperature, metabolism, and heart rate. Most of the T3 in your body binds to protein.

So if you can’t produce T3, you have a problem.

Moral of the story: decrease foods that cause inflammation.

Eat plenty of fruits, veggies, free-range eggsgrass-fed meats, and healthy fats.

More Thyroid Information

The following posts have more information on thyroid tests and more.

Other Great Thyroid Resources

While this list of foods to avoid with hypothyroidism is helpful, there is so much more to know about thyroid disease. Following are two fabulous resources.

The book, The Root Cause, is a fabulous resource for those with thyroid issues.  Did you know that it’s estimated that 90% or more of those with hypothyroidism have Autoimmune Hashimoto’s?

I devoured this book totally in just a few sittings after getting it.  It’s so full of great information and it’s one of those “keeper” books.

Other books I take out of the library, but “keeper” books are for buying and taking notes in and going back to over and over again.

I met the author this year and she knows what she is talking about.

Hashimotos Root Cause
One of the best books on thyroid health in my opinion.

This author goes way deeper than just a list of foods to avoid with hypothyroidism. She dives into many angles of the disease to help your body function as well as it can.

Also, this book by Aviva Romm, is a great overall discussion about underlying causes of both thyroid and adrenal issues.

Please remember: neither Adrienne nor I are doctors, so please do not make changes to your diet, supplements, or exercise program without first consulting with your physician.


Are you avoiding all of these foods to avoid for hypothyroidism–
or would you add anything to the list?

Trisha Gilkerson is a homeschooling mom to four crazy boys. She blogs with her awesome hubby Luke at Intoxicated on Life where they talk about faith, homeschooling, and health. They’ve authored the Write Through the Bible curriculum and family Bible Studies and have recently released their first healthy living book – Weeding Out Wheat: A Simple Faith Based Guide. They love connecting with their readers, so be sure to follow them on their blogFacebookTwitterGoogle+, and Pinterest.

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140 Comments

  1. You can’t test thyroid function by blood testing. There are some things it tells but not whether you may need some help. If a good
    Holistic doctor is not available, use the Barnes temperature test,
    (on google) and then go to the health food store and get a good glandular.
    P.S. only a mercury thermometer works as far as I know.

  2. Does anyone know of a way to test for thyroid issues other than drawing blood? How did they test for it before?

    1. Nothing conventional that I know of. Other kinds of testing may or may not be accurate….muscle testing, etc.

  3. Hey Adrienne,
    I have had a total thyroidectomy due to Hashimotos and potential thyroid cancer. How does this article affect me on the diet I should eat? I still have Hashimotos and autoimmune concerns so I understand I need an anti inflammatory diet. Any help and guidance is so appreciated? Tina

    1. Hi Tina.

      Thanks for reading. If you are convinced that you need an anti inflammatory diet, have you looked at the autoimmune protocol diet? I have a lot of recipe adaptations for that on my site and hope to write about it more in the future. Basically it’s no dairy, no eggs, no nightshades, no grains and no nuts or seeds. There are a few more issues. Then you add things back in. This book is a great introduction. This is an affiliate link: https://amzn.to/2qBtF5k

  4. Be careful with many eggs, even organic free-range kinds – the chickens are often fed on soy grains — so the yolks is full of soy. Here are soy-free eggs that a company ships to people’s homes (it’s to Tropical Traditions) (apparent affiliate link deleted by blog owner)

    1. Thanks for sharing. I believe you shared an affiliate link here. Please do refrain from doing so in the future. Thanks.

  5. Adrienne,
    I have hashimoto’s and have just recently started to eat gluten free and am ALSO trying to stay away from the other foods that are not good for my thyroid…but the issue I’m running into is, between the two lists..there’s not a lot out there that’s goid for me…theres fruits and veggies i can eat but it seems half of those its telling me to stay away from because its not good for The thyroid.

    1. We are in the same boat. We do some grains, nuts and seeds, fats, meats, veggies and some fruit. I think that the veggies are OK if they are steamed – that’s not medical advice, but I can share more later.

    1. It would be best to test them to see how you respond. The autoimmune paleo diet recommends going off of them for awhile and seeing how they affect you and then adding them back in.

  6. Are you doctors or did you just learn these things from reading other non-doctors? Because if you are not doctors then you should definitely include that on the article. I guess my point is, how qualified are you to tell people which food are dangerous for them? I am a nutritionist and half of the food groups you mentioned here are healthy food that will not harm people.

    So again, what are your credentials…. what gave you the license to call some healthy food as dangerous?

    1. Hello there. That note about us not being doctors is on the bottom of the post. Perhaps you missed it. There is a lot of information about these foods being a concern for those w/ thyroid issues and there are others who think differently. It’s up to you to determine this w/ your doctor.

  7. Every time I see suggestions for a gluten free diet I can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of the faulty reasoning behind why this is important to eliminate. What is important to eliminate is the contamination in our food system; GMO’s, pesticides, processed foods.. Why was this issue with gluten not a problem with our grandparents? Maybe it’s because they ate real food and not the crap the is being pushed off on the current generation.

    No doubt you’ve done tons of research on the subject of hypothyroidism. I stand firm in my opinion. It’s NOT the gluten, it’s the crap in our food chain.

    Respectfully submitted

    1. Hi Gayla. I’m sorry that you feel that way. There are loads of practitioners who advocate removing gluten from our diet. The amount of gluten and the type of wheat has also changed so I think there are multiple reasons for the issue now. There are epigenetic things going on as well. Here is a post I did on that subject. https://wholenewmom.com/health-concerns/do-you-believe-this-myth-about-gut-health-plus-the-perfect-storm-for-gut-imbalance-and-illness/

      I’d be interested in what you think.

      1. Well I started juicing and for the first couple of weeks to a month I was feeling great, now I am back to feeling lethargic, sleeping horrible and so on and so on. I stumbled across a juice for people with hypothyroidism and realized I’m juicing everything that’s bad for me even though this stuff is supposed to be good. I am hoping by eliminating all of these from the juice I will get better again.

        1. I’m sorry and I hope you feel better! Could be something else is making you feel bad? Or you are sensitive to something in there? Or the raw foods in there are affecting you. Really hope it changes. I can’t do white potatoes. They make me feel terrible. I have been sleeping better staying off the computer at night and exercising earlier. Take care.

          1. Hi Adrienne,

            Thank you for the reply. No I really think it’s the fact that I was juicing the raw foods that has the thyroid blocking chemical. I stayed off it for a couple of days and I can already feel my energy levels bouncing back. So now I’m starting to find alternative greens and following a few recipes that I have found online. Hoping that will make it even better.

      2. I agree with Gayla, it’s not the gluten in food that is a problem, it’s about not eating any foods with pesticides and GMO’s . I have eaten nothing but organic raw foods for 4 years, and finally my thyroid tests, T3 and T4 , and my TSH levels are NORMAL. Round-up is sprayed on wheat, which is toxic and deadly to your health…that’s just pesticides. Corn and soy are GMO’s , also unhealthy. Decades ago when the crops were not sprayed with deadly chemicals, gluten intolerance was never an issue. It has nothing to do with if you eat gluten or not, unless you have Celiac disease.

        1. Hi there. I have heard that and am concerned about this, but I have other concerns about gluten – that it triggers zonulin, is inflammatory and looks like your body’s tissues. Have you read this?

    2. Gayla the reason why gluten is problem specially to those with hasimoto is that gluten is very similar to thyroid tissue on how it is built chemically. That is why when people with leaky gut or other gut issues due the bad diet have gluten getting through their gut walls and when the body starts to do antibodies against the said gluten it also starts to make those antibodies against your thyroid gland. So instead of destroying the gluten it starts to destroy your thyroid. And that is why the gluten is problem to those who has hasimoto. From some reason the gluten sensitivity is also high with thyroid patients as is sensitivity to casein. And that is something that is also showing on those pets who has thyroid issues. That is something you can ignore if you so choose…but the chance is if you are thyroid patient with hasimoto that your body will not do so.

    3. I cannot agree with you more Gayla! You are spot on.
      Grains are from the beginning of time, and continue to be the main staple across all continents…… There wasn’t issues till they started to genetically modify wheat. Why do people want to ignore that THAT IS THE ISSUE? Wheat is the first GMO food. You just didn’t hear about it……… it was introduced 20 years ago to us unsuspecting Guinea Pigs. When did the skyrocketing digestive, thyroid, leaky gut issues start happening? A few years later!!

    4. My hair falls out when I eat it ( this started about 1.5 years ago, I am 62.). I totally agree with what you are saying but… I also noticed a change in my digestive system. When I first went off of it to test it, after 2 weeks, I actually felt a “shift in my body”. (even organic flour). I had already been changing my diet in regards to soy, corn,… before I knew it was thyroid.. I am seeing a functional medical doctor and my numbers are improving.. I also knew I had mild adrenal fatigue since 2008… you can do all the right things with your thyroid, but without dealing with the adrenals, you will not see a total healing. I have always been interested in the root cause and have been seeing results for over 40 years with diet, vitamins, supplements. I am not on any meds. We are all different and what works for one, may or may not work for another.

    5. “The Wheat Belly” by William Davis MD goes in to good detail about how the wheat was changed in an attempt to feed the world.

  8. I’ve read The Root Cause because my husband has Hashimotos. I believe currently t science says that avoiding cruciferous vegetables is old science.

    1. It appears to depend on the type of disease you have but overall may not be an issue. Thanks! I read that book as well. It’s great. I met the author as well.

  9. I know everything you have spoken of on Thyroid. I have had Hypothyroidism since I was 10 1/2 years old. I can’t take any of he thyroid mediations (they had all given me extreme high fevers reaching almost 105 temperature) I almost died from them. The only medication I have bee able to tolerate is Cytomel generic is LIOTHYROONINE 25mcg tabs three times a day. Been on this for 12years now. My doctor has a bad habit of not testing my T3 & T4. he only tests y TSH and says I’m getting to much. She takes me of one pill and within 3 days my hair is falling out in gobs, my migraine headaches are back and sinus infections are out of the park! I demand new blood work with my T3 & T4. So you tell me what does this new doctor not see. My T4 is 0.16 L which should be between 0.40-4.50 mIU/L and my T3 is 0.3 L and 0.8-1.8 ng/dL. Wouldn’t you say its too low? She says to me its fine and says If I want to see another Endocrinologist to go right ahead. After I had my blood work done I went back on my pills 3 times a day and my Migraine headaches are gone. My hair isn’t falling out as bad but I know that will take 3 to 6 months to stop falling out. Also most people need to know when your hair stops falling out don’t expect it to grow back. It usually never does with Thyroid disorders. What is TPO & TgAb? I never hard of this! If you have any suggestions for me let me know. Thank You! Peggy from Chicago

    1. Hi Peggy. I’m so sorry you are having a rough time. TPO is Thyroid Peroxidase and TgAb is Thyroglobulin Antibody. Those are testing antibodies. I don’t know about hair never growing back. Mine did. I do have issues w/ my hair from time to time but overall it’s doing well. This post might help. https://wholenewmom.com/health-concerns/essential-oils-for-hair-growth/ And I use totally or more natural shampoos. That’s really important too. It sounds to me that a different endo is a better choice. Or you could go w/ someone who is more holistic? I have worked w/ some good people. One is the author of this post https://wholenewmom.com/health-concerns/thyroid-disease-hypothyroid-what-causes-hypothyroidism/ The other one I really like but she is on maternity leave right now.

    2. I have hash also.have the Dr check ur free t3 and free t4. I was over doses on cytamal by a pharmacy I was to get 5mcg 2xdaily and they gave me 50mcg 2x daily plus I was on 75 mg of synthroid. It almost killed me and cold have caused a massage heart attack. I was experiencing what you are now

    3. for you,,,,i advice stop eating artificial hormonse products specially egg,and chicken and others.glutn,eat,,,,green leafy vegetables,you make juice like carrots,celery,and apple,3 glasses aday.your problem slowly dssaper .good morning

  10. I have hyperthyroidism and live in Australia, our water has added fluoride so not sure about that, wish it had worked I was undiagnosed for 9yrs and almost lost the will to live.

      1. Hello, I’m wondering if you could contact me about the water system you mention the Berkey filter? I’ve never heard of it & I’d like to purchase.
        Sincerely,
        Jennifer Solorio

  11. Sorry but i have to disagree totally (except for the Soy and processed food).
    Neither the Brassicoids nor the all hated Gluten causes my Illness. I think thats just a hype and because im a biologist (and yes, i suffer from Hashimoto aswell) I learned so much in Nutrition to can confirm thats absolute NOT nessecary to exclude Gluten, Gluten is nothing than the “glue” from wheat, its a sugar based compound. Those who are really suffering from an allergic disease have to exclude it of course.
    And no, its pretty mean to say “your doctor wont tell you” because if it where that nessecary to know they would let you know. I have several friends which are Doctors and would tell me, but there is no!
    Im really angry and exhausted because this hype is more invasiv than a virus and nearly all people are immun against proper arguing, they just “feel” it couldve an impact…. but you do you also stop breathing cause the air contains more toxic compounds than wheat? No.

    Sorry for the english, and not coming to point, im not native-english.

    1. Hi there. Thanks for commenting. There are of course many causes of thyroid disease, but there is a lot of information out there about the issue of gluten and they thyroid so I am not going to be eating it. I also have seen many people whose antibodies went way down after going off of gluten. I hope you get healthier. Thanks.

    2. I have been In the medical field for 18 yrs and my understanding is Drs do not have to take nutrition classes and if they do it isn’t a long class. Typically this would be something that the Drs would have to research on their own for what kind of diet is best for each disease they diagnosis. We have to be diligent ourselves and do our own research. For me as soon as I eat items with gluten in them my stomach bloats and I feel sick. I have read that Hashimotos can stem from having digestive problems. Yes the air we breathe, the water we drink and any food we eat has poisons due to pollution but I want to try to do as much as I can to prevent feeling like crap all the time. So yes Drs give people medicines every day that kill people with all the side effects that most Drs don’t even take the time to know they just expect for you to read the label once you pick it up at the drug store. So it is nice that I can have an alternative in helping heal my body.

  12. Walnuts interact with my hormone replacement making me have an allergic reaction. It also states to stay away from them in the pamphlet I get with my prescription. I have been gluten free for the last five weeks and I feel better not like a huge difference but I don’t feel as exhausted as when I ate gluten. I’ve found that exercising everyday helps to keep the brain fog away. Thanks for the list, I have never had a problem with the vegetables, but my thyroid was completely removed.

    1. Thanks for sharing this. I actually really used to exercise a lot and haven’t been….that might be part of why I haven’t been doing as well.

  13. What about fermented vegetables like kimchi or sauerkraut? They’re not cooked. I’ve been making these foods lately and I have Hashimoto’s disease for 20 years now. I really hope I can eat these.

  14. Thank you. I appreciate your good article on the hypothyroid . I have it for 10 years just after giving birth to my son. I’m not sure but some nuts like walnut also are harmful to hypothyroidism. This is a lifetime fight with disease for people like me

    1. Hi and you are welcome. Are you saying that walnuts are bothering you? I think if you have Hashimotos they might be an issue, or only if you are sensitive to them?? Let me know.

  15. Nobody tell me yet this question I have remove my thyroid 8 years back completely ,that any of this recommendation play important role in my life or does not make me difference?

    1. I think since the goitrogens affect the thyroid it most likely isn’t an issue but I would talk to your physician. Thanks!

  16. Thank you for taking the time to write this article. I suffer hypothyroidism and i completely agree with all of your information. The vegetables listed i completely avoid. I have experienced discomfort and a general unwellness after consuming. There are plenty of other greens to eat without causing issues. For all the comments of negativity above this disease is cruel. If you are a sufferer yours us your own. There is only you and your body to listen to. Guidelines are just that. We are all different. Consider this before you pass your opinion. Quite frankly these opinions are wasted.

  17. This is great and all true. However, I have tried for years to fix my thyroid but could not get it completely working properly. I then had my mercury fillings removed. I got rid of my restless leg syndrome, restored my eye sight, and I was finally able to get my temperature up near normal, 97.8 up from around 91. The mercury in your mouth is probably causing your thyroid problems. There is also mercury in high fructose corn syrup.

  18. Would it make a difference in my reboot if I were to cook these particular veggies prior to juicing them. Or should I just stick to the short list until I’m done? Thank You so much for your time.

    1. Research shows that cooking deactivates many of the goitrogens so … the answer is it all depends. There are some thyroid issues that are due to too much iodine and others that are due to too little so it really depends on your situation. I’m not sure what kind of a reboot you are talking about.