Hypothyroidism is a condition where someone has an underactive thyroid, which is a butterfly-shaped gland. An underactive thyroid gland isn’t producing enough crucial hormones, leading to worsening symptoms as it progresses.
For some people, following a diet for hypothyroidism is essential for those afflicted with this thyroid disease. Optimizing your nutrition to enhance thyroid function can help manage and offset the related symptoms, preventing them from worsening.
Below, we’ll delve into various nutritional approaches and strategies to help you follow the best diet for hypothyroidism.
Why Should You Follow The Best Diet For Hypothyroidism?
The Mayo Clinic discusses how many health problems can arise when leaving hypothyroidism untreated over time. These conditions include:
- Joint pain
- Heart disease
While this thyroid disease can impact everyone, it’s most prevalent in middle-aged and older women.
Treating your underactive thyroid with the best diet for hypothyroidism is a must if you suffer from this condition. You might not even notice your underactive thyroid hormones at first, so be wary of excess fatigue and weight gain as you age.
Read on as we explore methods and tips to follow the best diet for hypothyroidism:
12 Suggestions On Following The Best Diet For Hypothyroidism
Below, we’ll examine various suggestions to help people with hypothyroidism manage, overcome, and treat the related symptoms.
1. First Things First: Receive A Diagnosis
Since it’s hard to detect whether you have an underactive thyroid or suffer from thyroid disease, getting a diagnosis is your first step to treating hypothyroidism.
You can receive a thyroid function test (sometimes referred to as a “free” T4 test) that measures your hormone levels to detect if there’s a problem.
Once you know your thyroid gland is compromised, you can start planning your hypothyroidism diet.
- Knowledge is power–once you’re aware you have hypothyroidism, you can treat it
- Symptoms are tough to detect, so you might not know you may need a “free” T4 test.
The Bottom Line: Getting a positive diagnosis is your first crucial step to treating this thyroid disease, rejuvenating your thyroid gland, and following the best diet for hypothyroidism.
2. Receive A Prescription For Thyroid Hormone Replacement Medication
Once you’ve received your hypothyroidism diagnosis, your doctor will prescribe thyroid hormone replacement medication (i.e., Levothyroxine).
We’ll soon delve into dietary tips. However, any approach to bolstering thyroid function will be wasted if you don’t receive thyroid hormone treatments for your condition. Once you’ve received a prescription, you can take the necessary dietary steps to up your thyroid levels.
- Thyroid medication and hormone prescriptions are the best way to treat hypothyroidism and ensure you get enough thyroid hormones.
- Prescriptions mixed with the correct dietary approach are far likelier to restore thyroid function.
- Depending on where you live and if you have insurance, prescriptions can be expensive
The Bottom Line: Combined with the correct thyroid medication prescription, a hypothyroidism diet will help restore optimal thyroid function.
3. Monitor Your Iodine Intake To Offset Thyroid Dysfunction
The Mayo Clinic points out how sufficient iodine in your diet is integral to healthy thyroid function.
Iodine deficiency is rare in developed countries because of the widespread iodine additives in food and salt.
A balanced diet ensures you’ll receive enough iodine to bolster thyroid function. Well-rounded nutrition means you won’t require any supplemental iodine. Too much iodine can hamper thyroid hormone production, causing hypothyroidism.
- Iodine helps ensure optimal thyroid function
- There’s already enough iodine in a well-balanced diet
- Too much iodine can cause hypothyroidism
The Bottom Line: People with hypothyroidism and those without it need enough iodine for healthy thyroid function. Those eating a well-rounded diet won’t need–and should avoid–iodine supplements.
4. Taking Effective Iodine Supplements (When Necessary)
While the likelihood of being iodine deficient is rare in the US, 30% of the world’s population is vulnerable to this problem. Provided you’ve been diagnosed with an iodine deficiency, iodine supplements may help–but it’ll depend on a doctor or Registered Dietician’s recommendation.
View this list from Healthline if you need to choose an iodine supplement, and be conscious of dosage recommendations, ingredients, and overall quality.
- Getting enough iodine might improve thyroid function
- Supplementing iodine is often not necessary because there should be enough in the food you eat
The Bottom Line: An iodine supplement can help if your thyroid disease stems from an iodine deficiency–but only take this course of action if it’s recommended by a healthcare professional.
5. Get Enough Selenium In Your Hypothyroidism Diet Plan
Healthline cites selenium as a vital mineral to bolster thyroid hormone production while shielding the thyroid from oxidative stress-related damage.
Selenium-rich foods include:
- Brazil nuts
Selenium supplements can also be helpful in specific instances. However, you should only take them if recommended by a healthcare professional.
- Getting the recommended selenium dosage per day (up to 400 mcg) offers benefits such as decreasing thyroid antibodies
- Eating foods rich in selenium is an ideal preventative measure against hypothyroidism
- Too much selenium intake could lead to diarrhea, hair loss, nail loss, skin rashes, nausea, and acute selenium toxicity.
The Bottom Line: Foods rich in selenium are integral in preventing hypothyroidism and offsetting hypothyroidism symptoms. Only rely on selenium supplementation if recommended by a healthcare professional.
6. Cook Your Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables contain goitrogens, which might impede one’s ability to produce thyroid hormones.
However, those with hypothyroidism can enjoy moderate amounts of cruciferous veggies like kale, broccoli, and cabbage without worrying about their thyroid health. Foods like broccoli and kale don’t hold many goitrogens, and cooking such foods reduces goitrogenic activity, making them safe.
- Cooked cruciferous veggies offer many health benefits and won’t worsen thyroid functionality if eaten in moderate amounts.
- Raw cruciferous vegetables should be limited if not avoided.
The Bottom Line: Cooking your cruciferous veggies will bolster your overall health while not exacerbating your thyroid problems.
7. Experiment With A Gluten-Free Diet
Gluten-free diets are growing in popularity for people with gluten sensitivities and celiac disease.
While such a nutritional approach deals with gluten sensitivity, can you effectively manage hypothyroidism or avoid it if you eliminate gluten?
According to clinical trial-based research, there’s reason to believe that a gluten-free diet can benefit women suffering from an autoimmune thyroid condition.
More specifically, it’s believed that eliminating gluten from one’s diet is effective for those with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis–an autoimmune disorder. Hashimoto’s disease has links to celiac disease and can lead to hypothyroidism.
- Eliminating gluten can help treat celiac disease, which–if left untreated–could lead to issues with your thyroid (like Hashimoto’s disease)
- A gluten-free diet can increase energy and encourage weight loss.
- This dietary approach still requires more research on how it impacts the thyroid
- Gluten-free foods often contain high sugar and fat content
The Bottom Line: Going gluten-free might help prevent Hashimoto’s disease and, therefore, hypothyroidism. However, this subject is under-researched.
8. Prioritize Food Containing Zinc
There’s an increasing belief that people with hypothyroidism can benefit from a zinc-rich diet. One report from Medical News Today shows how combining selenium and zinc supplementation can improve thyroid function in women suffering from hypothyroidism.
Examples of zinc-rich foods are as follows:
- Fortified cereals
- Pumpkin seeds
- There’s a growing stream of information supporting the idea that zinc can help people with hypothyroidism
- Zinc is present in many foods, so it shouldn’t be too hard to ensure you receive enough in your diet
- The research available is of a small sample size
The Bottom Line: It won’t hurt people with hypothyroidism to get enough zinc in their diet. It will take time to discover the extent of this approach’s impact on thyroid conditions.
9. Avoid Ultra-Processed Foods
Reducing the added sugars and ultra-processed foods in your diet could help your thyroid-related symptoms while managing weight and enhancing overall wellness. Examples of the ultra-processed, sugary foods and beverages in question are as follows:
- Hot dogs
- Fast food
- Eliminating these foods from your diet is an overall boon to your health outside of hypothyroidism
- Eliminating these processed foods will also likely help manage your hypothyroidism
- These items are prevalent in the Western diet and could be difficult to avoid or eliminate from your day-to-day eating habits
The Bottom Line On Eliminating: People with hypothyroidism should avoid ultra-processed food because doing so will likely help with symptoms and overall wellness.
10. What About A Vegan Diet?
While the information remains limited on the subject, some studies indicate that vegan diets can offer protection against hypothyroidism.
Generally, awareness keeps increasing that plant-based nutrition has links to reduced chronic diseases and associated mortality and morbidity rates.
There are concerns about a lack of iodine in vegan lifestyles. Still, the growing number of plant-based options makes it easier to eat a well-rounded vegan diet.
- Plant-based diets are good for the environment.
- A well-rounded vegan approach could help protect against hypothyroidism while bolstering overall health and wellness.
- Research remains relatively inconclusive on this topic
The Bottom Line: Despite concerns about a lack of essential nutrients that protect people with hypothyroidism, a vegan diet seems like it could provide helpful defense against thyroid deficiencies.
11. Avoid These Foods, Medications, And Supplements If You’re On Thyroid Medication
For the most part, people with hyperthyroidism should avoid the following supplement, foods, and medications because they’ll interfere with their thyroid medicines:
- Calcium supplements
- Iron supplements
- Acid reducers or antacids
- Fiber bars, fiber drinks, bran flakes, and other foods high in fiber
- High-iodine foods
- Soy-based foods
- Removing these foods will help you absorb your thyroid medications, thereby helping reduce symptoms
- This suggestion isn’t a game-changer–just a helpful tip to make a slight but valuable difference
The Bottom Line: For the sake of successful medical treatments for hypothyroidism, don’t eat the foods listed above when you’re on thyroid medications.
12. Up Your Vitamin D Intake
New studies suggest that a deficiency in vitamin D has mild links to people with hypothyroidism.
Early research indicates that thyroid conditions may benefit from vitamin D supplements–but the studies are still in their earliest stages.
- This approach could prove pivotal in preventing and treating hypothyroidism and related conditions if the research discussed above is valid.
- Far more must be learned about this topic before this can be a trusted hypothyroidism treatment
The Bottom Line: More is needed to know about this hypothyroidism treatment approach to make sweeping statements about efficacy, validity, and safety. Yet, the current research is promising for this method.
How Can Top Nutrition Coaching Help Your Hypothyroidism?
Dealing with hypothyroidism is stressful, and following the most suitable approach to symptom management can feel impossible with all the available (often conflicting) information.
How can you know what’s valid and accurate? How can you be sure that a specific diet will work for your symptoms? Or, perhaps, you want to take preventative measures as you age and aren’t sure where to start.
The dedicated team of licensed nutrition experts at Top Nutrition Coaching can shed the necessary light on the best diet for hypothyroidism. Our network is filled with a broad range of highly qualified, accredited Registered Dieticians. So, we can match you with a results-oriented specialist to meet your needs.
We’ll bring our services to you. You only need to visit our website to get matched with the appropriate licensed Nutrition Coach.
Working with Top Nutrition Coaching and successfully managing your hypothyroidism is as straightforward as taking our quiz and waiting to be matched. You don’t need to leave the comfort of your home to receive top-tier nutritional guidance that will enhance your quality of life for decades to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below, we’ll delve into questions we’re frequently asked about hypothyroidism:
What’s the best hypothyroidism diet?
The ideal diet for hypothyroidism consists of legumes, nuts, olive oil, lean meats, fresh fruits, and other whole foods. Moderate amounts of complex carbs, eggs, and dairy products can also be included.
What foods worsen your hypothyroidism?
Those with hypothyroidism should avoid raw cabbage, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, turnips, and Brussels sprouts because they may prevent your thyroid from using iodine.
Are bananas good for my thyroid?
All fruits–bananas included–are suitable for your thyroid if you eat them in moderation.