What Is a Good Diet for Hypothyroidism?

Karen Frazier
Basket of Vegetables

What is a good diet for hypothyroidism? This is a question many people who have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism may ask themselves. While there is no set hypothyroid diet, there are dietary changes you can make to help manage your condition.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a fairly common medical diagnosis. It is a condition where the thyroid gland doesn't make enough thyroid hormone. Having a sluggish thyroid can cause a number of problems including weight gain, sluggish metabolism, hair loss, hormonal imbalance and exhaustion or low energy, just to name a few. It is diagnosed by blood tests. Hypothyroidism can be a primary condition, or it can be secondary to a diagnosis of the autoimmune disease, Hashimoto's thyroiditis.

What Is a Good Diet for Hypothyroidism?

If you've been diagnosed with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto's thyroiditis, then you may be wondering what is a good diet for hypothyroidism. Your doctor has probably prescribed medication, but can diet help as well? There is no set diet for people with hypothyroid disorders; however, there are a number foods you can eat that may help, as well as foods to avoid that could worsen your condition.

What to Eat

Eating a balanced diet that meets all of your nutritional needs is essential, whether you have hypothyroidism or not. It is especially important in those who have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism because it can help you to avoid weight gain and keep your energy levels high. Along with a balanced diet, eating the following foods may help to support thyroid health.

Fiber

Eating high fiber foods can help to prevent weight gain or promote weight loss in people with hypothyroidism. A high fiber diet helps to control insulin levels in the bloodstream. It also aids in digestion and elimination, and helps to control appetite. Fiber is available from a variety of food sources including fruits, vegetables, gluten-free whole grains and legumes.

While it is important you incorporate fiber into your diet, fiber can block the absorption of thyroid medication. Always take medication at least an hour before ingesting fiber in order to avoid blocked absorption.

Foods Rich in Selenium

The mineral selenium is essential in the process of converting T4 to T3 - which is an important part of healthy thyroid function. Selenium-rich foods include Brazil nuts, chicken, salmon, onions, garlic and blackstrap molasses.

Foods High in Tyrosine

The amino acid tyrosine is one of the components of the thyroid hormone thyroxine. The other component is iodine. Eating tyrosine-rich foods will assure enough of this amino acid is available for conversion to thyroxine. Foods rich in tyrosine include animal proteins, dairy products, almonds and bananas.

Iodine-Rich Foods

Iodine is the other component of thyroxine. Adequate iodine intake is essential in healthy thyroid function. Iodine rich foods include seaweed, Celtic sea salt, iodized salt and seafood.

What to Avoid

Some foods are best avoided by people with hypothyroidism. The following foods should be avoided or minimized if you have been diagnosed as hypothyroid.

Goitrogenic Foods

Goitrogenic foods are foods that alter or block iodine absorption. A number of foods are considered goitrogenic and best avoided, including:

  • Soy products
  • Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, turnips and cabbage
  • Mustard
  • Peaches
  • Peanuts
  • Radishes
  • Strawberries
  • Walnuts

Gluten

Gluten can trigger an autoimmune response in many people. As a matter of fact, hypothyroidism and gluten intolerance seem to go hand-in-hand, because the structure of gluten mimics the structure of the thyroid gland. When an autoimmune response is triggered by gluten, the body can no longer differentiate gluten from the thyroid gland and it may begin to attack the gland.While individual results may vary, many endocrinologists recommend their hypothyroid patients eat a gluten-free diet. Gluten can be found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. It is also present in many processed foods like soy sauce and mustard. Read labels and look for ingredients like wheat flour. There are a number of websites that list foods with gluten including the LoveToKnow Gluten Free channel.

Fluoride and Chlorine

Fluoride and chlorine found in most tap water may block iodine receptors in the thyroid. Because of this, bottled water that doesn't contain either of these elements may be best for those with hypothyroidism.

Managing Your Condition

Currently, there is no cure for hypothyroidism. If you have been diagnosed with low thyroid function, then you will need to manage your condition for the rest of your life through a combination of medication and diet. By following a sensible eating plan as outlined above and working with your personal health care provider, there's no reason you can't live a vital, happy, healthy and energetic life.

What Is a Good Diet for Hypothyroidism?