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A pink sticker managing for your thyroid.

Foods For Managing Hypothyroidism (incl. Hashimoto’s)

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Foods for Managing Hypothyroidism

For any unfamiliar, hypothyroidism is the condition of having an underactive thyroid gland. The thyroid gland lives at the base of the front of your neck, and, as the name suggests, it makes and stores thyroid hormones. Those are important for many systems in the body, and a shortage typically causes fatigue, weight gain, and other symptoms.

What causes it?

This makes a difference in some cases to how it can be treated/managed. Causes include:

  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition
  • Severe inflammation (end result is similar to the above, but more treatable)
  • Dietary deficiencies, especially iodine deficiency
  • Secondary endocrine issues, e.g. pituitary gland didn’t make enough TSH for the thyroid gland to do its thing
  • Some medications (ask your pharmacist)

We can’t do a lot about those last two by leveraging diet alone, but we can make a big difference to the others.

What to eat (and what to avoid)

There is nuance here, which we’ll go into a bit, but let’s start by giving the one-line two-line summary that tends to be the dietary advice for most things:

  • Eat a nutrient-dense whole-foods diet (shocking, we know)
  • Avoid sugar, alcohol, flour, processed foods (ditto)

What’s the deal with meat and dairy?

  • Meat: avoid red and processed meats; poultry and fish are fine or even good (unless fried; don’t do that)
  • Dairy: limit/avoid milk; but unsweetened yogurt and cheese are fine or even good

What’s the deal with plants?

First, get plenty of fiber, because that’s important to ease almost any inflammation-related condition, and for general good health for most people (an exception is if you have Crohn’s Disease, for example).

If you have Hashimoto’s, then gluten (as found in wheat, barley, and rye) may be an issue, but the jury is still out, science-wise. Here’s an example study for “avoid gluten” and “don’t worry about gluten”, respectively:

So, you might want to skip it, to be on the safe side, but that’s up to you (and the advice of your nutritionist/doctor, as applicable).

A word on goitrogens…

Goitrogens are found in cruciferous vegetables and soy, both of which are very healthy foods for most people, but need some extra awareness in the case of hypothyroidism. This means there’s no need to abstain completely, but:

  • Keep serving sizes small, for example a 100g serving only
  • Cook goitrogenic foods before eating them, to greatly reduce goitrogenic activity

For more details, reading even just the abstract (intro summary) of this paper will help you get healthy cruciferous veg content without having a goitrogenic effect.

(as for soy, consider just skipping that if you suffer from hypothyroidism)

What nutrients to focus on getting?

  • Top tier nutrients: iodine, selenium, zinc
  • Also important: vitamin B12, vitamin D, magnesium, iron


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