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Hypothyroidism and Autoimmune Disease, Part 2: How Foods Affect Your Thyroid

Hypothyroidism and Autoimmune Disease, Part 2: How Foods Affect Your Thyroid

Last week, we discussed thyroid disorders. Like we mentioned, thyroid disorders (especially hypothyroidism, an under-active low thyroid disorder) affect over 40% of the population and 80% of women in the US. And, despite how common hypothyroidism is, there is a common thread in the vast majority of cases: iodine deficiency.

Iodine consumption is extremely important to benefit people with thyroid disorders, as well as supporting thyroid health in general. The vital mineral is used naturally by cells to convert food into energy, one of the responsibilities of the hormones produced by the thyroid, and it is used to produce these hormones in the first place.

Iodine occurs naturally in many foods, helping to support thyroid function. Certain foods, however, contain naturally occurring substances known as goitrogens, which can interfere with thyroid function. Goitrogens are any substance found in foods, chemicals, or drugs that can disrupt the production of thyroid hormones by interfering with iodine uptake. Foods that contain goitrogens include:

  • Cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, turnips, rutabaga, etc.)
  • Soybeans and soy extracts
  • Millet
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Peanuts

If you eat a good nutrient-rich diet and are generally healthy, there’s no need to limit these foods. If you have hypothyroidism or are experiencing hormone disruption (pregnancy, menopause, etc.), some healthcare practitioners recommend limiting consumption of these foods. Complete elimination of these foods from your diet probably isn’t necessary; the best way to balance your diet is to eat them in reasonable or smaller quantities than usual and be sure to include several iodine-rich foods for each goitrogenic food you eat.

Generally speaking, soy is the most problematic goitrogen of the foods listed above. Soy products exist in many forms and are usually an ingredient in processed foods; so, someone who eats a lot of processed food might unknowingly be eating lots of soy with it. Because of this, it’s a good idea for people with hypothyroidism to limit their intake of processed foods.

Another way to limit goitrogens is to cook your food. Although most fruits and vegetables hold more nutritional value when eaten raw, cooking is known to help inactivate goitrogenic compounds in foods.

Beneficial foods to HELP your thyroid gland include foods that are rich in selenium, iodine, and animal-based omega-3 fatty acids such as:

  • Ocean fish and fish oil
  • Brazil nuts
  • Beef
  • Sea kelp
  • Shrimp
  • Baked potatoes with the peel
  • Milk
  • Turkey
  • Organic milk

The best way to optimize the health of your thyroid gland is to consume supportive nutrients in the foods listed above AND to take supplements. At the office, we keep several different supplements that are specifically designed to comprehensively support the thyroid with essential nutrients. Ask us about the supplements we carry, especially if you noticed you may have symptoms of a thyroid disorder or hormone disruption!

The thyroid and adrenal glands work together in metabolic processes. Many experts believe that strengthening the adrenal glands will help support specific aspects of thyroid disorders such as fatigue, energy levels, and stress adaption. Often, a supportive adrenal gland supplement will increase the effectiveness of a nutritional support program for the thyroid. The supplements we carry here at the office for both thyroid and adrenal gland health contain optimal levels of iodine, not to mention any other nutrients required for proper functioning of the thyroid and adrenal glands. Do your metabolism a favor and ask us about our supplements!


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