Making up one end of the thyroid disorder spectrum, hypothyroidism occurs when the production of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) diminishes, resulting in weight gain, cold sensitivity, depression, and sluggishness. While the condition may at times appear hard to handle, knowing what to eat and not eat, along with prescribed medication, can aid in greatly reducing the symptoms:
Say Yes To:
Selenium is integral to optimum thyroid function as it helps convert the inactive thyroid hormone (T3) into its active form (T4) to be used by the thyroid gland. So, consuming one whole egg a day provides 20% of the daily dietary selenium requirement. In addition, eggs also contain 16% iodine; another essential thyroid nutrient. Other sources of selenium include tuna, sardines, and legumes.
2-Chicken and Beef:
Considering that a zinc deficiency can lead to alopecia, an autoimmune condition causing severe hair fall, while optimum amounts promote T4 activation and TSH regulation, adding 3 ounces of chicken breast or lean beef to your daily diet can help ensure adequate intake of this essential nutrient. Chicken and beef are also good sources of Tyrosine; an amino acid used for T3 and T4 production.
Not only is it good for repairing the digestive lining damaged as a hypothyroidism side-effect, but a once daily cup of bone broth also helps prevent bone breakage due to osteoporosis, an oft inevitable side-effect, by strengthening the bones.
4-Antioxidant-Rich Fruits and Vegetables:
Since antioxidants aid thyroid function by protecting it from autoimmune attacks, consuming blueberries, plums, grapes, cherries, tomatoes, and bell peppers, among others, can help reduce hypothyroid symptoms. However, avoid peaches, pears, and strawberries as they have been shown to hinder T4 absorption.
Helping increase thyroid hormone levels and enriching the body with healthy fats and nutrients necessary for optimum thyroid function are just some of the body-wide benefits of olive oil. However, make sure to use extra-virgin olive oil and do not exceed the daily 10 tablespoon limit.
Say No To:
Particularly for patients with Hashimoto’s Disease (a hypothyroidism precursor with similar symptoms) and Celiac Disease (gluten sensitivity), consuming gluten can reduce the body’s ability to properly utilize thyroid medication and irritate the small intestine. So while eliminating dietary gluten is advised, some individuals may be able to consume whole-grain versions of bread, pasta, and rice (primarily gluten-rich foods) with their doctor’s advice.
Similar to gluten, fats can also reduce the effectiveness of thyroid hormone replacement medication along with interfering with the thyroid gland’s hormone manufacturing ability. Examples of fatty foods include margarine, butter, mayonnaise, fried foods, and fatty meat cuts.
3-Frozen, Processed, and Sugary Foods:
Not only does the high sodium content in frozen and processed foods pose an increased risk of hypertension and heart disease, but consuming more than the daily recommended 1500 mg of sodium can also lead to excess weight gain and other resulting health problems. Moreover, sugary foods also worsen hypothyroidism by causing uncontrolled insulin spikes.
The Gray Area:
Although caffeine’s ability to block thyroid hormone absorption gives coffee and other caffeinated products a prime spot on the unrecommended foods list, patients can still take one cup of coffee a day, provided that they do not take their medication with coffee instead of water and wait for 30 minutes after taking their medication.
Since most dairy products are now fortified with iodine, consuming them in excess can further aggravate hypothyroidism. However, since dairy products make up a considerable portion of the required calcium and iodine intake, limit daily consumption to a ½ cup yogurt, 1 glass of milk, and 1/6 cup cheese at least 2 hours after taking thyroid medication.
While a major source of fiber, iodine, and other nutrients, vegetables like broccoli, spinach, cabbage, turnips, cauliflower, and kale can affect thyroid hormone production and block the thyroid glands ability to utilize iodine. Therefore, iodine deficient individuals must make sure to consume no more than 5 ounces of crucifers a day and avoid eating them raw. Also, fish like salmon, sardine, and tuna should be limited to 3-5 ounces a day due to high iodine content.
Since dietary sources are sufficient for fulfilling the daily requirements of nutrients like calcium, zinc, and selenium, patients must avoid taking supplements for these nutrients unless recommended by the doctor as they have been associated with hindering thyroid function. Also, remember to consult with your doctor before making any changes to your dietary plan. You can also book an appointment with a top Endocrinologist in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your thyroid-related concerns.
About the Writer:
Yashfa Marrium is a freelance writer and health enthusiast. You can reach her at [email protected].