Hypothyroidism is a disease state that is caused by insufficient production of thyroid hormone by the thyroid gland. The thyroid hormone is responsible for controlling the body’s metabolic rate so thyroid deficiency can affect all body functions and this can range from mild to severe forms. There is a general slowing of all physical and mental processes in individuals with hypothyroidism.
As such, many of those with hypothyroidism struggle with unintentional weight gain and the resulting inability to lose weight. This is one of the most frustrating aspects of hypothyroidism. But then again, diet is one of the best ways to support thyroid function.
A hypothyroid diet should consist of foods that can improve thyroid function by supplying the required nutrients that the thyroid needs to function and produce the hormones. The following foods should be part of the hypothyroid diet :
- Foods rich in iodine – Iodine is a mineral that is essential in producing the thyroid hormone. Foods include seaweeds (sushi), seafood, saltwater fish, bananas, parsley, iodized salt can also be used in cooking.
- Selenium-rich foods – Also a mineral that plays an important part in thyroid hormone production. Can be found in tuna, brown rice, Brazil nuts, brewer’s yeast, salmon, meat and chicken.
- Fish – Plenty of fish should be included in the hypothyroid diet because of the presence of Omega-3 fatty acids. This helps in the transport of the hormone throughout the body.
- Tyrosine-rich foods – Iodine combines with tyrosine in thyroid hormone (thyroxine) production. Can be found in lean meat, fish, turkey, low-fat milk, lentils.
- Foods high in fiber – Eat foods high in fiber content, as this helps in cleansing and losing excess weight. Foods such as wheat, oats, rice and other grains as well as most fruits and vegetables can provide the fiber required.
- Foods high in vitamins A, E, B-complex – The hypothyroid diet can include chicken, turkey, fish, non-starchy vegetables, legumes, and certain grains that do not fall in the goitrogenic category.
The following foods which can be termed as goitrogenic foods should be avoided or at the very least limited in a hypothyroid diet :
- Soy and soy-related foods – This can suppress thyroid function, thus worsening hypothyroidism. The diet should not include foods such as soy milk, miso, tofu, tempeh, and soy sauce as well as many refined and processed foods.
- Cruciferous vegetables – This could also block thyroid function. Foods such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, mustard, cauliflower, peaches, peanuts, turnips, radishes and strawberries.
- Tap water – Chlorine and fluoride can be found in tap water, these two minerals interfere with thyroid function.
- Fatty foods – In someone with hypothyroidism, the diet should not include fatty foods such as organ meats, egg yolks and whole milk products. Instead of this, use lean cuts of meat, egg substitutes and skim milk. These are healthier options.
- Foods high in sugar content – Limit intake of simple sugars and starches such as rice, pasta, cereals, dairy products, desserts, and fruits high in sugar content as this contribute to further weight gain.
Apart from considering the components of the hypothyroid diet, it is also important to note that meals must be taken on time, and should be done in small, frequent feedings without skipping a meal. Eating the proper hypothyroid diet and avoiding foods which can interfere with the thyroid function are important aspects of managing hypothyroidism.