Eating Right for Your Thyroid: Dos and Don’ts for Patients with Hypothyroidism

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According to the American Thyroid Association, about 20 million Americans have some kind of thyroid disease. For women over the age of 50, one of the most common conditions is hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid, a gland in the neck, does not produce enough T3 and/or T4 hormones. This can have a wide range of debilitating side effects, including fatigue, weight gain, body aches, depression, constipation, stomach pain, and brain fog.

Hypothyroidism is typically diagnosed with a blood test, so if you think you might be suffering from this condition, you should contact a health professional to get more information. Once you have been diagnosed, there are a variety of options for treatment. More than ever, experts are recommending an integrative approach to treating the condition that involves a variety of different management strategies, including dietary changes, that can support the health of your thyroid and get you back to feeling good again.

Nutritional Changes as an Intervention for Hypothyroidism

Clinical evidence indicates that dietary choices can either improve or exacerbate the symptoms of hypothyroidism. Therefore, many healthcare professions include nutritional counseling as part of an integrative strategy for the treatment of hypothyroidism. Although every individual’s situation is different, it can be helpful to have a general idea of what foods are best for people with hypothyroidism and what foods it would be better to avoid.

Top Foods for People with Hypothyroidism

If you have hypothyroidism, there are a variety of foods that can help support the health of your thyroid and/or reduce the intensity of your symptoms. Here are some foods that you may want to include in your diet:

 

  • Seaweed. Seaweed is one of the best natural sources of iodine, an element that is essential for proper thyroid function. You can find dried kelp, nori, or dulse at your local natural foods store and use it in soup or as a garnish on a meat dish.
  • Apples. Apples are an excellent source of pectin, a compound that can support the health of hypothyroidism patients in several ways. First, pectin helps with the removal of toxins such as mercury that interfere with iodine absorption. Research also indicates that pectin can limit the capacity of your cells to absorb fat, which can be helpful for patients who struggle with weight gain as a side effect of hypothyroidism.
  • Brazil nuts. Brazil nuts are high in selenium, an element that is involved in the conversion of the inactive form of the thyroid hormone (T4) into the active form (T3). It can also help combat inflammation (a common cause of hypothyroidism), and it contains L-Arginine, an amino acid that may help to boost energy and support weight loss.
  • Yogurt or kefir. Yogurt and kefir both contain high levels of probiotics, which help support a healthy gut. In patients with hypothyroidism, this can help improve metabolic efficiency and relieve uncomfortable abdominal symptoms like constipation.
  • Salmon. Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, so it can combat the inflammation that often causes or exacerbates hypothyroidism. In addition, research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids can support weight loss by signaling to liver cells to use more fat for energy rather than storing it as fatty tissue. Also, if you experience depression or brain fog as a symptom of hypothyroidism, omega-3 fatty acids can increase the activity of mood-boosting neurotransmitters.
  • Green tea. Drinking green tea is another way to help speed up the metabolic processes that are hampered by hypothyroidism. Studies show that the antioxidants in green tea, called catechins, can cause fat to be released from fat cells and converted into energy into the liver. The caffeine in green tea can also be a quick fix to fight fatigue associated with hypothyroidism.

Foods to Avoid If You Have Hypothyroidism

Although there is no evidence that certain foods cause hypothyroidism, there are some foods that have the potential to exacerbate your condition. Therefore, you may want to limit your intake of these foods:

 

  • Soy. Research indicates that the hormone estrogen can interfere with the body’s ability to properly respond to thyroid hormone signaling. Soy contains high amounts of phytoestrogen, so most doctors recommend that hypothyroidism patients limit their intake of this food.
  • Cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and brussel sprouts can make it harder for the body to absorb iodine. However, cooking these vegetables can help, and as long as you limit your intake to about five ounces per day, you are unlikely to experience any negative effects.
  • Alcohol. Consuming alcohol can make it harder for your thyroid to produce T3 and T4 hormones, and it can also interfere with your body’s ability to utilize these hormones. After you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, it is best to drink only in moderation.

It is important to note that these diet tips alone can’t solve the problem of an underactive thyroid. To properly address the problem, you need to develop a plan with a health care professional. Atlanta Chiropractic and Wellness offers consultations for patients with thyroid disorders, and our expert physicians can help develop an integrated, personalized treatment plan that can help you get your life back on track. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

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