Thyroid gland is indeed one of the most essential glands of the body. Anatomically, it is located at the front aspect of the neck and is responsible for secreting different hormones to maintain optimal metabolism in the body. A decline in the thyroid activity can significantly alter the rate of hormonal secretion; thereby leading to hypothyroidism. Unfortunately, mild cases of hypothyroidism are usually silent or asymptomatic and most patients are not even aware of their functional status. However, obesity, heart diseases, fertility issues and joint pain are some of the notable complications of poorly managed hypothyroidism in patients.
Chronic deficiency of iodine is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. Although medications can adequately help in resolving this deficiency, but it is very important to opt for dietary approach first. It is to be noted that intake of certain foods such as soy, millet and cruciferous vegetables can actually make the hypothyroidism worse; which is why it is very important to know what not to eat when you have hypothyroidism. It is recommended to consult with the physician before making any dietary modifications.
What Not to Eat When You Have Hypothyroidism
When you have hypothyroidism, foods to avoid should be taken note of, in other words, when knowing what not to eat, hypothyroidism can be controlled much easily.
1. Soy (Phytoestrogens)
Phytoestrogens are abundantly present in soy. It is believed that excessive estrogen levels in the body can significantly interfere with the thyroid activity. Excessive uses of soy in diet can double the risk of developing hypothyroidism and patients already suffering from hypothyroidism must limit the intake of soy.
2. Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables such as kale, broccoli, Brussels, cauliflower, sprouts, turnip and bok Choy etc. are responsible for decreasing the absorption of iodine. This malabsorption of iodine can affect the hormonal activity of thyroid gland.
Eating raw cruciferous vegetables has been statistically proven to decrease the iodine absorption according to several studies. Researchers believe that cooking these vegetables can help in decreasing the toxic effect on iodine absorption.
3. Gluten Protein
Gluten is a type of protein that is abundantly found in grains, such as rye, barley, wheat etc. Gluten elicits an acute or chronic inflammatory response in the small intestine in some genetically susceptible individuals that may hinder the absorption of thyroid hormones supplements. Patients with hypothyroidism must limit the intake of gluten products if they are taking thyroid replacement supplements.
4. Foods High in Fat
Fat-rich products such as butter, margarine and mayonnaise etc. can decrease the absorption of thyroid hormones in the body. It also decreases the body’s ability to produce essential thyroid hormone. Cutting off all the fatty products from the diet improves the hypothyroidism status.
5. Sugar-Rich Foods
As thyroid gland is responsible for maintaining healthy metabolic activities of the body, moderate to severe hypothyroidism can alter the pace of various reactions and biological functions of the body. Eliminating sugar containing food products can increase the efficiency and allow your system to respond more adequately to the energy demands of the biological system.
6. Sodium –Rich Processed Foods
Processed foods contain large amounts of sodium. In hypothyroidism intake of large amounts of processed foods increases the risk of developing hypertension and hypernatremia. Individuals with hypothyroidism must check the label of the food product before making the purchase. It is ideally recommended to select the food items that are low in sodium content.
Generally, hypothyroid individuals must limit their daily sodium intake to no more than 1500 mg per day in order to decrease the risk of developing hypertension.
7. Monitor Your Daily Fiber Intake
Fiber intake is required for the maintenance of a balanced digestive system but excessive intake of fiber from different products such as fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and beans can interfere with body’s ability to synthesize thyroid hormone and utilize them.
Excessive fiber content also complicates the thyroid treatment/therapy. Healthcare providers recommend a dose of 20-30 mg per day to hypothyroid individuals. If an individual is required to increase his daily fiber intake for other indications, consultation with the physician becomes necessary to increase the dose of thyroid supplements or other medications.
8. Millet (Gluten-free Grain)
Millet is a gluten free grain which is commonly used in the preparation of different stews and soups. Millet is also a chief ingredient in preparation of Indian flat bread. Although it is gluten free product but excessive intake of millet can significantly decrease the synthesis and absorption of thyroid hormones.
Replacement of millet with other grains is recommended by physicians in hypothyroidism.
9. Foods Impacting Iodine Absorption
Foods or ingredients that may impact the absorption of iodine in the body should be eliminated from diet. One of the common products which significantly decrease the iodine synthesis is coffee.
Coffee alters the production of thyroid hormone by inhibiting the release and absorption of iodine. It also works as CNS stimulant which increases the metabolic rate of bod hence causes an imbalance in metabolism processes.
10. Some Other Foods
Food that are rich in natural goitrogen must be eliminated from diet. They inhibit the synthesis and release of thyroid hormones.
- Goitrogen containing vegetables: cabbage, spinach, kale, mustard greens.
- Goitrogen containing fruits: strawberries and peaches
- Goitrogen containing beans: pine nuts and peanuts.
There is no evidence that a certain diet plan can treat the condition of hypothyroidism. However there are some products which must be used in limited amounts as they can interfere with thyroid hormone synthesis, its release and absorption. Some of these foods are,
- Cottonseed meal
- Medications such as antacids
- Calcium supplements
- Iron containing multivitamins
- Cholesterol lowering agents