Thyroid conditions can affect your energy, weight and overall health.
This butterfly-looking gland is responsible for the production of hormones, which are responsible for regulating your body’s metabolic rate as well as heart and digestive function, muscle control, brain development and bone maintenance.
Whether you’ve already been diagnosed with a thyroid condition or you’re growing concerned about the health of your thyroid gland, make sure you pay attention to the following six foods:
Blanket statement: avoid excess sugar(1) in your diet. Believe it or not, if you cut back on cheap products with added sugar, strawberries will start to seem like the sweetest treat in the world.
If you have autoimmune thyroid disease, pay close attention to your blood sugar levels. Always snacking on sugary foods can send your pancreas into overdrive and lead to insulin resistance, which can damage your thyroid. This can lead to a decrease in hormone levels.
Moral of the story: when it comes to sugar, less is more!
2. Fried Foods
Foods high in trans fats(2) can inhibit the effectiveness of thyroid hormone replacement medications. They may also have an adverse effect on the body’s natural production of thyroid hormone.
Fried foods are high in trans fat; if you are taking thyroid medication, keep a close watch on how many French fries you scarf down every day. For those on hormone-based medication for thyroid health, some health professionals have recommended totally eliminating fried foods from your diet.
When it comes to soy(3), moderation is the key. If you’ve been treating hypothyroidism with synthetic thyroid hormone, pay particular attention to your consumption as it could interfere with your body’s absorption of the treatment.
By waiting four hours after you take thyroid medication to consume soy, you let your body process each substance individually. This rule applies to certain nutritional supplements as well, such as magnesium and calcium pills and antacids containing aluminum hydroxide or calcium.
Additionally, for those with an iodine deficiency, the isoflavones in soy may lead to decreased thyroid function(4).
4. Cruciferous Veggies
You’ve probably heard all about the benefits of broccoli, cabbage and the like by now. Cruciferous vegetables(5) certainly have their place in any healthy diet—but if you’re dealing with a thyroid condition, it may be best to shift your focus toward other healthy greens for awhile.
That said, this is only a potential concern if you have an iodine deficiency and if you rely on cruciferous veggies for a substantial portion of your diet. As long as you maintain variety in your health choices and get all the nutrients you need, your daily broccoli habit isn’t going to hurt you.
Unfortunately for much of the population, coffee(6) isn’t the greatest early morning refresher if thyroid health is a concern. That said, a moderate amount of coffee consumed daily isn’t necessarily a huge deal.
Over time, excessive consumption of coffee can wear out your adrenal glands(7), which can lead to many different thyroid conditions and adrenal fatigue.
When you drink it, your adrenals release the stereotypically fight-or-flight hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine. If you have been drinking obscene amounts of coffee from a young age and are concerned about your thyroid health, now might be the time to start cutting back.
There’s very little compromise when it comes to gluten(8) and thyroid health. Gluten contains a protein called gliadin, which is foreign to the human body. Your thyroid contains an enzyme called transglutminase, which is very similar to gliadin.
When you consume gluten, your immune system initiates an attack response on gliadin—and on the similar enzyme in your thyroid. After your consumption of gluten, your thyroid can suffer damage for up to six months. If you have an autoimmune thyroid disease, it’s best to get regularly screened for Celiac disease and gluten intolerance.
Maintaining a healthy thyroid is a part of maintaining a healthy body. Some of the foods on this list, such as fried foods, are considered unhealthy across the board and are best avoided whenever possible. Others, like cabbage, almost certainly have a rightful place in your diet.
By considering thyroid health into your approach to overall health you will find the right balance of all the nutrients you need while staying away from foods that could really hamper your quality of life. Stay healthy!