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.
Hypothyroidism is a big topic these days. Seems almost everyone has thyroid problems and adrenal fatigue these days. Today, let's learn about foods to avoid with hypothyroidism to see what can be done to support your thyroid health with the right dietary choices.
So, you've recently found out that you have hypothyroidism.
What you eat can impact your thyroid function—for better or worse.
Your doctor probably won't tell you about this, but knowing how the foods you put in your body impact your thyroid function is just as important as getting the right tests and getting on the proper dosage of thyroid medication.
Diet and Disease
Before we get into what foods to avoid with hypothyroidism, let me first tell you that diet and disease are inextricably intertwined. It just makes 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 disease.
5 Foods to Avoid with Hypothyroidism
The following foods can 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.
Soy is everywhere.
It isn't the health food it's been made out to be, however.
The problematic compound in soy (for your thyroid) are the 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.
Note from Adrienne – we used to eat TONS of soy when we leaned heavily vegan. Now it almost never crosses our lips.
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.
Alternatives to Soy Formula
You can even buy Powdered Goat's Milk!
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 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.
Check out this post to find out more about the thyroid-gluten connection..
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 (You can find the complete list of cruciferous vegetables here).
Some of my favorite veggies are in this list. But these vegetables can indeed cause problems with your thyroid.
These vegetables are considered to be goitrogenic foods. That is, these are foods that 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
Does this mean you need to completely give up some of your favorite vegetables?
Finally some good news, right :)?
In fact, many of the 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.
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.
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)
There are other studies that are somewhat mixed, but if you're not avoiding fluoride because of goitrogenic properties there are plenty of other reasons to try to eliminate fluoride from your diet.
How to Get Rid of Fluoride?
• Stop drinking fluoridated water. You should invest in a good water filter for sure. Here are
• 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.
- (Note from Adrienne: I have my own thoughts on water filtration and recommend you check out this post and this one on how to make your water safe.)
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.
(Hint: inflammation is just another reason to avoid wheat and other grains.)
More Thyroid Information
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.
This author goes way deeper than just a list of foods to avoid with hypothyroidism. They delve into many angles of the disease to help your body function as well as it can.
This next book is a great overall discussion about underlying causes of both thyroid and adrenal issues. The author, Aviva Romm, is incredibly insightful.
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 blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.