The butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck produces the hormones triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4), and calcitonin that influence your metabolic rate, brain development and function, growth, menstrual cycle, heart rate, sleep, and thought process. A broken thyroid can overproduce (hyperthyroidism) or underproduce (hypothyroidism) these hormones. This can lead to weight gain or weight loss, stunted growth, underdeveloped brain, restlessness, irregular periods, depression, etc.
Medicines work, but their effects are short-lived. Foods, on the other hand, can help to normalize the thyroid function gradually and have no side effects. So, without much ado, let me tell you about the foods to eat and avoid for hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism and the diet charts. Let’s begin!
Hypothyroidism can lead to disrupted menstrual cycle, weight gain, constipation, goiter, depression, dry skin, hair fall, muscle fatigue, slow heart rate, high blood cholesterol, and a puffy face. Apart from medicines, you can consume these foods to boost your thyroid function.
According to the American Thyroid Association, iodine is needed for the production of the thyroid hormone. Iodine deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism and goiter (1). Since your body cannot produce iodine naturally, you should eat foods that contain a good amount of iodine. And the best way to do that is to consume iodized salt.
Brazil nuts are a great source of the mineral selenium that helps catalyze the conversion of the inactive thyroid hormone to the active form. Scientists have found that Brazil nut supplementation improved thyroid hormone levels (2). Selenium also helps reduce inflammation and inhibits cancer cell proliferation. You can consume up to 8 Brazil nuts per day. Do not eat too many as it may lead to nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Fish are rich in omega-3-fatty acids and selenium (3). Omega-3 fatty acids help lower LDL cholesterol, and selenium keeps your thyroid hormone kicking. Consume salmon, sardine, and tuna to counteract hypothyroidism. You can have 3-5 oz fish every day. Make sure not to overcook the fish.
By consuming bone broth, you can kill two birds with one stone. First, bone broth contains the amino acids glycine and proline that help repair the digestive lining and improve hypothyroidism. Second, hypothyroidism can fracture your bones and having bone broth can help strengthen your bones (4). You can consume a cup of bone broth for lunch or dinner. You can toss in some veggies. Make sure to cook the veggies properly as a few vegetables, when eaten raw, can promote hypothyroidism.
Green leafy veggies, colorful veggies, and fruits are great sources of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and dietary fiber. However, you should be careful if you are suffering from hypothyroidism because a few veggies and fruits can hinder the production of the thyroid hormones and are known as goitrogens. Veggies such as cauliflower, spinach, kale, broccoli, soybean, cabbage, radish, sweet potato, peach, avocado, and mustard greens are goitrogens (5). However, cooking these veggies and fruits properly can make the goitrogens inactive.
Seaweed like nori, kelp, and kombu help treat hypothyroidism as they are a great source of iodine, B vitamins, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid. These help to upregulate the thyroid hormone production, uplift mood, prevent lethargy, and improve brain function (6). You can have up to 150 mcg of seaweed per day.
Low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese are rich in iodine and selenium that help boost thyroid hormone production and activation. They are also rich in the amino acid tyrosine that helps combat the symptoms of hypothyroidism like depression and fatigue (7). You can safely have a glass of milk, 1/2 cup yogurt, and ⅙ cup cheese per day to increase the thyroid hormone levels.
Your thyroid function can also be accelerated by providing your body with the required amounts of zinc. It is mostly found in beef and chicken and can help convert triiodothyronine (T3) to thyroxine (T4). This conversion is of great importance because T3 is the inactive form while T4 is the active form of the thyroid hormone (8). Consume at least 3 oz of chicken breast or lean cuts of beef to boost thyroxine production.
Eggs are a great source of iodine and can help alleviate hypothyroidism (9). You can safely have two whole eggs per day. Do not consume the yolk if you already have elevated cholesterol levels. Otherwise, you can consume whole eggs that are rich in fat-soluble vitamins and other nutrients that are helpful for your body.
Shellfish like shrimps and lobsters are packed with iodine and zinc. And, as you know, iodine and zinc can help boost the production of the thyroid hormone. You can safely consume at least 3 oz shellfish to improve your thyroid levels (10).
Start cooking with olive oil if you don’t use it already. Olive oil is rich in healthy fats and nutrients that help to boost the thyroid hormone levels (11). Olive oil also helps to lower LDL cholesterol, thereby helping you lose weight and keeping your heart healthy. You can use up to 10 tablespoons of olive oil per day.
Flax seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, selenium, and iodine (12). You can consume ground flax seeds with your smoothie or breakfast cereal, or you can use flax seed oil for cooking. You can safely have 2-3 tablespoons ground flax seed powder and 2 tablespoons flax seed oil per day.
Legumes are rich in iodine and zinc and are gluten-free (13). You can consume lentils, beans, bean sprouts, chickpeas, etc. to boost your thyroid gland hormone secretion.
Add fiber-rich foods to your diet because if you are suffering from hypothyroidism, chances are you are also suffering from indigestion and constipation. Include foods such as papaya, cooked green leafy veggies, and gluten-free whole grains to improve your digestion.
Water helps to hydrate and flush out toxins. Drink 3-4 liters of clean water per day to help your cells function properly. Though water may not directly help you tackle hypothyroidism, drinking enough of it can help your organs function properly.
These were the 15 foods you should consume if you are suffering from hypothyroidism. Here’s your diet chart.
|Meals||What To Eat|
|Early Morning (7:00 – 7:30 am)||1 cup warm water with juice of one lime|
|Breakfast (8:15 – 8:45 am)||1 boiled egg + oatmeal with apple and flax seed powder + 3 Brazil nuts|
|Lunch (12:00 – 12:30 pm)||Seaweed salad or shrimp lettuce wrap|
|Evening Snack (4:00 pm)||1 peach + 1 cup coconut water|
|Dinner (7:00 pm)||1 cup bone broth/lentil soup with thoroughly cooked veggies|
You should also avoid consuming the foods mentioned below.
The thyroid gland can also affect your body in the opposite way, i.e., by overproducing the thyroid hormone. This condition is known as hyperthyroidism. Here’s what you should eat if you are suffering from hyperthyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism leads to weight loss, increased heart rate, anxiety, irritability, irregular periods, bulging eyes, insomnia, difficulty in concentrating, increased hunger, and moist skin. Apart from your doctor prescribed medicines, foods can also help treat hyperthyroidism. Here’s the list.
Raw cruciferous veggies or leafy greens are goitrogens, i.e., they inhibit the production of the thyroid hormones. This is exactly what you need as your thyroid is overproducing the thyroid hormones. Consume broccoli, spinach, kale, bok choy, cabbage, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, radish, collard greens, rocket spinach, Brussels sprouts, bell pepper, tomato, apple, berries, kiwi, orange, lemon, grapefruit, etc.
Millets and brown rice also have high goitrogenic activity. They are a great source of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. You can consume ½ – 1 cup brown rice or millets per day to suppress the overproduction of thyroid hormone.
Have chicken breast, fish, mushroom, soy chunks, and legumes to help build lean muscle mass. Hyperthyroidism leads to an increased appetite and rapid weight loss. Since proteins take much longer to digest, they will keep you full for a longer duration.
When it comes to inhibiting the overproduction of the thyroid hormones, you should consume green tea. Scientists have found anti-thyroid activity in green tea due to the presence of fluoride. You can consume up to 2 cups of green tea per day.
Basil, oregano, and rosemary are anti-inflammatory in nature and can help alleviate the problem of hyperthyroidism.
So, these were the five main food groups that can act as a dietary aid to treat hyperthyroidism. Here’s your diet chart.
|Meals||What To Eat|
|Early Morning (7:00 – 7:30 am)||2 cups room temperature water|
|Breakfast (8:15 – 8:45 am)||Tomato+apple+grapefruit smoothie and 2 boiled eggs|
|Mid-Morning (10:30 am)||1 medium cup baby carrots with a dash of lime juice and sea salt|
|Lunch (12:30 – 1:00 pm)||Tuna/chicken/mushroom salad with spinach, asparagus, kale, tomato, and tofu|
|Evening Snack (4:00 pm)||1 cup green tea + 32 kernels of in-shell pistachios|
|Dinner (7:00 – 7:30 pm)||Kidney bean chili or grilled fish with herbs and veggies|
You should also follow these tips to make the foods actually work for you.
Now, let me list out the foods you should avoid if you are suffering from hyperthyroidism.
Foods can help you a lot, but a few nutrients in the food may interfere with both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism medicines. So, you should talk to your physician before consuming any of the foods mentioned here. You should also take care not to consume foods you are allergic to.
Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are serious health issues and should not be ignored. Start consuming the recommended foods for the most cost-effective treatment for your abnormal thyroid condition. Good luck!