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Hypothyroidism Diet: 11 Foods You Should Eat For Better Health

What To Eat If You Have Hypothyroidism

If you have hypothyroidism, ensure you have foods rich in nutrients like vitamin B12, iron, zinc, and selenium which are needed for thyroid hormone production and regulation. Anti-inflammatory foods like omega 3 fatty acid-rich fish, apple cider vinegar, flax or chia seeds, and probiotics like fermented foods and yogurt can also help you cope better.

If you’ve struggled with your weight, found yourself unusually tired, suddenly become overly sensitive to the cold, noticed your skin is dry, or even become more forgetful or prone to depression of late, you may have to reckon with a thyroid that is underactive.1 Whether you’ve already been diagnosed with hypothyroidism or want to play it safe because you could be at risk, paying special attention to your diet is important. What you eat could change the way you approach your hypothyroidism problem. Luckily, some foods can do plenty for your health and help your body cope with the stresses that come with the condition.

Having a sluggish thyroid makes you more prone to weight gain. If your diet is heavy in processed foods, you are essentially overloading your body with fats, sugar, iodine, and sodium which can worsen weight gain and impair thyroid function.2 As far as possible, try and eat lots of fresh vegetables and fruit and stick to healthy, balanced meals rich in nutrients to make each calorie count. Here’s a list of foods that should help you win that fight against hypothyroidism. But remember, it’s equally important to know which foods you should avoid for hypothyroidism and watch your portions of these potentially problematic foods.

1. Omega 3 Fatty Acid-Rich Fish: Salmon And Tuna

Flax and chia seeds are a vegan source of heart-friendly omega 3 fatty acids and are also rich in digestion-aiding fiber.

If your hypothyroidism is linked to Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disorder that can bring on hypothyroidism, you may run the risk of developing high levels of cholesterol and heart disease.3 You should, therefore, consider having more heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids. The anti-inflammatory nutrient is even believed to help bring down cholesterol levels.4 This could be invaluable if you have experienced weight gain or high cholesterol levels from hypothyroidism and need to bring down your risk of developing heart disease. And there’s no better place to get your omega 3 fatty acids than from fatty fish like sardines, salmon, tuna, or rainbow trout.5

2. Zinc-Rich Foods: Seafood And Yogurt

Zinc is generally required for thyroid hormone production but hypothyroidism can also bring on an acquired zinc deficiency. Either way, it is a good idea to keep track of your zinc intake and ensure you get enough through foods like seafood, chicken, lean meat, whole grains, or yogurt.6 The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of zinc is 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women. If you are pregnant, the RDA increases to 11 mg and when you are nursing, it goes up to 12 mg a day.7

3. Vegetable And Bone Broth

Try and include vegetable or bone broths in your regular diet. They are rich in minerals that your body needs to produce thyroid hormones and to activate the hormones as well. Plus, they are relatively low in calories and fat, making them a light option. Toss in plenty of herbs like parsley which is also thyroid supporting to up the benefits further.8

4. Iron-Rich Foods: Lean Pork And Cooked Spinach

Iron is another mineral your body needs for normal thyroid function. As with zinc, hypothyroidism could interfere with iron metabolism. And, equally, insufficient iron may play a part in aggravating your thyroid.9

Because your underactive thyroid will make you prone to high cholesterol levels, it is a good idea to consider switching to lean protein sources.10 Plant protein sources like lentils or beans make a good choice while meat-eaters should opt for lean cuts of red meat or fish, chicken, or turkey.

Try and up your intake of iron-rich foods if you have an iron deficiency. Peas, morel mushrooms, green beans, and parsley are some vegetable options, though your body will better absorb iron from meat sources. Stick to lean cuts of beef and pork, or try game meats like venison and duck, or seafood like octopus or oysters.

5. Probiotic Foods: Kefir And Kombucha

Start having foods that have a probiotic effect, such as fermented foods, cultured foods, and dairy products with good bacteria in them. They help stimulate digestion by increasing stomach acid secretion and restore the balance of good bacteria in the body. Probiotics may also improve immune function and could help if you have nutrient deficiencies by aiding digestion.11

Try foods like fermented dairy product kefir or yogurt, healthy beverage kombucha, or fermented vegetables. You might, however, want to avoid raw cabbage-based foods like kimchi because of its goitrogenic effect.12

6. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a good detoxifying agent that can help restore alkaline balance and regulate hormone levels.13 It may also boost metabolism, aid weight loss, and reduce serum triglyceride levels.14 For these reasons, it is a good food for hypothyroidism. Take it before mealtimes mixed into a little warm water to stimulate stomach acid production.15

7. Fiber-Rich Foods: Berries And Barley

Soluble fiber can help balance and regulate blood sugar levels and aid digestion, making foods rich in fiber a smart choice if you have hypothyroidism. Include lots of fresh vegetables like beans and peppers and fruits like berries and citrus fruits in your diet. Whole grains like barley and oatmeal also boost fiber intake.16

Both soluble and insoluble fiber are said to help heart health, another reason to have these foods. Aim at consuming 38 gm of fiber daily if you are an adult male under 50 and 25 gm a day if you are a female of the same age. After 50, men need 30 gm of fiber a day and women need 21 gm. You could also get in insoluble fiber from carrots and tomatoes as well as whole grains.17

8. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is popular for hypothyroidism and can help bump up your metabolism and also aid weight loss. It can also increase basal body temperature and help suppress fat deposition.18 It is rich in antioxidant vitamins and could help improve cholesterol levels as well.19

9. Ginger And Turmeric

These anti-inflammatory foods are also rich in thyroid-supporting nutrients. Ginger, for instance, is rich in magnesium, potassium, and zinc. And both turmeric and ginger could help improve and normalize thyroid function.20

10. Vitamin B12-Rich Foods: Eggs And Tuna

Iodine is a mixed bag when it comes to hypothyroidism. Getting the balance right is vital. While your body needs it for thyroid hormone production, too much of it could be equally problematic and may worsen the hypothyroidism. Consult your doctor before increasing intake of iodine-rich foods like seaweed or iodized salt in your diet.21

If you are not getting adequate levels of vitamin B12, that could hurt your thyroid.22 Moreover, vitamin B12 intake may ease fatigue and depression-related symptoms from hypothyroidism. Try eating fish like tuna, rainbow trout, or salmon. Many cereals also come fortified to meet your B12 needs.23

11. Selenium-Rich Foods: Brazil Nuts And Turkey

Selenium is vital for thyroid health, but as with iodine, too much could also be a problem. Get tested for your selenium levels and ensure you get in the daily recommended levels. Have selenium-rich foods like yellowfin tuna, sardines, halibut, mushrooms, turkey, chicken, and beans. Your doctor might also recommend selenium supplements if you are found deficient. Those with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis may benefit from supplementation, according to some researchers.24

References   [ + ]

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3. Hashimoto’s Disease. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
4. Simopoulos, Artemis P. “Omega-3 fatty acids in health and disease and in growth and development.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 54, no. 3 (1991): 438-463.
5. Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Office of Dietary Supplements.
6. Betsy, Ambooken, M. P. Binitha, and S. Sarita. “Zinc deficiency associated with hypothyroidism: an overlooked cause of severe alopecia.” International journal of trichology 5, no. 1 (2013): 40.
7. Zinc. Office of Dietary Supplements.
8, 12, 15, 16. Curley, Patricia A. “Dietary and lifestyle interventions to support functional hypothyroidism.” Inquiries Journal 1, no. 12 (2009).
9. Dahiya, Kiran, Monica Verma, Rakesh Dhankhar, Veena Singh Ghalaut, P. S. Ghalaut, Ashuma Sachdeva, Isha Malik, and Rajesh Kumar. “Thyroid profile and iron metabolism: mutual relationship in hypothyroidism.” (2016).
10. Wang, Furong, Yinyin Tan, Chenggang Wang, Xu Zhang, Yuanfei Zhao, Xinhong Song, Bingchang Zhang et al. “Thyroid-stimulating hormone levels within the reference range are associated with serum lipid profiles independent of thyroid hormones.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 97, no. 8 (2012): 2724-2731.
11. The benefits of probiotics bacteria. Harvard Health Publishing.
13. [Johnston, Carol S., Cindy M. Kim, and Amanda J. Buller. “Vinegar improves insulin sensitivity to a high-carbohydrate meal in subjects with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes.” Diabetes Care 27, no. 1 (2004): 281-282.
14. Kondo, Tomoo, Mikiya Kishi, Takashi Fushimi, Shinobu Ugajin, and Takayuki Kaga. “Vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjects.” Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry 73, no. 8 (2009): 1837-1843.
17. Eat more fiber-rich foods to foster heart health. Harvard Health Publishing.
18. Nagao, Koji, and Teruyoshi Yanagita. “Medium-chain fatty acids: functional lipids for the prevention and treatment of the metabolic syndrome.” Pharmacological Research 61, no. 3 (2010): 208-212.
19. Nevin, K. G., and T. Rajamohan. “Influence of virgin coconut oil on blood coagulation factors, lipid levels and LDL oxidation in cholesterol fed Sprague–Dawley rats.” e-SPEN, the European e-Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism 3, no. 1 (2008): e1-e8.
20. Al-Suhaimi, Ebtesam A., Noorah A. Al-Riziza, and Reham A. Al-Essa. “Physiological and therapeutical roles of ginger and turmeric on endocrine functions.” The American journal of Chinese medicine 39, no. 02 (2011): 215-231.
21. Iodine Deficiency. American Thyroid Association.
22. Jabbar, Abdul, Aasma Yawar, Sabiha Waseem, Najmul Islam, Naeem Ul Haque, Lubna Zuberi, Ataullah Khan, and Jaweed Akhter. “Vitamin B12 deficiency common in primary hypothyroidism.” Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association 58, no. 5 (2008): 258.
23. Vitamin B12. Office of Dietary Supplements.
24. Ventura, Mara, Miguel Melo, and Francisco Carrilho. “Selenium and thyroid disease: From pathophysiology to treatment.” International journal of endocrinology 2017 (2017).

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.