How diet affects hypothyroidism

With Hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland is under-active and doesn’t produce enough of the thyroid hormone. In the process, the body produces less heat and the organs function below optimal levels, which results in symptoms of fatigue, lethargy, weakness, difficulty concentrating and feelings of being cold constantly. Less energy also means decreased activity levels, which can further contribute to weight gain.

Although there’s no evidence that eating or avoiding certain foods will improve thyroid function in people with hypothyroidism, you can certainly treat the symptoms with diet therapy. To help increase energy levels, you need to:

  • Eat more complex carbs to give your body a steady stream of energy. Be sure to limit your portion size to 1 cup or 1 slice of whole grain breads, brown rice and other carbohydrates
  • Eat complex carbs early in the day, when your energy demands are at their peak
  • Keep green and leafy vegetables, and lean protein for your last meal of the day

So What Nutrients Help Boost Thyroid Function?

Iodine
Without sufficient iodine, your thyroid cannot produce enough hormones for your body to function at an optimal level. Seaweed is the most reliable source of natural iodine, however egg and dairy products are also good sources. It might be better to take an iodine supplement, but it’s best to speak to your doctor first, as too much iodine can also be a problem.

Selenium
This is critical for the proper functioning of your thyroid gland, and it regulates the T3 hormone. Selenium is found in foods such as shrimp, tuna, cod, halibut, button and shitake mushrooms and Brazil nuts.

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Zinc, Iron and Copper
We need these metals in trace amounts for our thyroid to function normally. Foods such as spinach, mushrooms, turnip greens and Swiss chard are all good sources of these trace metals.

Omega-3 Fats
These essential fats, which are found in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and fish oil, play an important role in thyroid function.

Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is made up of mostly medium-chain fatty acids, which can help increase metabolism and promote weight loss, along with providing other thyroid benefits. Coconut oil is especially beneficial for people with hypothyroidism.

Antioxidants and B Vitamins
The anti-oxidant vitamins A, C and E can help your body neutralise oxidative stress that may damage the thyroid. In addition, B vitamins help to manufacture thyroid hormone and play an important role in healthy thyroid function. Concentrate on eating foods such as quinoa, brown rice, lentils, nuts, whole-wheat pasta (if you are not allergic), fortified cereals, bananas, chicken/turkey, salmon, baked potatoes and spinach.