What does a Hypothyroidism Diet Consist of?

Thyroid hormones are produced by the thyroid gland to aid in the control of growth, metabolism rate and restoration of cells in our bodies. Hypothyroidism is a medical condition where the thyroid gland does not produce a sufficient amount of thyroid hormones needed. 

Worldwide, only 1 to 2% of the population is affected by hypothyroidism, people who have this condition often experience crippling fatigue and brain fog (inability to focus). Also, hypothyroidism tends to effectuate weight gain and hair loss among other symptoms. 

Consumption of food itself will not heal hypothyroidism. However, adopting a hypothyroidism diet into your lifestyle will minimize its symptoms. A combination of the right nutrients and medication can help your body restore its hormone-producing function.

What is Hypothyroidism?

The thyroid gland is situated at the base of your neck. It produces and stores thyroid hormones that influence all the cells in your body. These hormones are released into the bloodstream when your thyroid levels are low.

The most common type of hypothyroidism is caused by Hasimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to attack your thyroid gland. This is called primary hypothyroidism. 

When the thyroid gland does not receive enough Thyroid-Stimulating Hormones (TSH) due to the pituitary gland not functioning properly, it is called secondary hypothyroidism. 

What are the main nutrients for the Hypothyroidism Diet?

For optimal thyroid health, certain nutrients are a must. Listed below are the essential minerals that need to be included in your hypothyroidism diet. 

Iodine

Iodine is needed to produce TSH. People with an iodine deficiency have a higher risk of hypothyroidism. For your hypothyroidism diet, try to add iodized table salt to your meals or consume more foods that are rich in iodine such as fish, dairy, eggs and seaweed. 

With a healthy intake of iodine through your diet, you can avoid iodine supplements altogether. Studies have shown that consuming too much of iodine through supplements may cause more damage to the thyroid gland in the long run. 

Selenium

Selenium activates the thyroid hormones in your body. It also contains antioxidants that protect the thyroid gland. A proper hypothyroidism diet will have foods rich in selenium such as tuna, sardines, legumes, nuts, etc. 

Avoid selenium supplements as they are highly concentrated in form. Selenium is known to be toxic when consumed in large amounts so it is best to consult your doctor before adding it to your hypothyroidism diet. 

Zinc

Zinc helps the body activate and regulate TSH. people with hypothyroidism should add foods like oysters, shellfish, chicken and beef as they are rich in zinc. 

What foods are used in Moderation for the Hypothyroidism Diet?

Any food that contains goitrogens should be ideally cooked and consumed with moderation. Keep clear of any highly processed foods as they contain an abundance of calories that could cause you to easily gain weight.

The main foods to avoid are millets of any type. All highly processed foods and supplements. Sufficient intake of iodine and selenium are needed to maintain a healthy thyroid but using supplements might cause an imbalance in thyroid levels.  

Not all foods have to be abstained from, there are some that can be consumed in moderation, as listed below. However, some of these foods do contain little amounts of goitrogens which could irritate your thyroid if consumed in large quantities.  

  • Soy-based foods such as soy milk, tempeh, beans, tofu, etc. 

  • Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, kale, broccoli, spinach, etc.

  • Certain fruits like strawberries, pears, peaches, etc. 

  • Beverages such as coffee, green tea and alcohol. 

An Outline of a Hypothyroidism Diet

The outline detailed below is an example of what a hypothyroidism diet should consist of on a weekly basis. Be sure to take your thyroid medication at least 120 minutes before your first meal. The food listed consists of a healthy amount of protein intake, a moderate to low amount of carbs and should help you in reducing weight gain.

On Monday

  • Breakfast will consist of toast with eggs.

  • Lunch will include a chicken salad with a handful of nuts.

  • Dinner will be stir-fried chicken and vegetables served with rice.

On Tuesday

  • Breakfast will consist of oatmeal with a 1/4 cup of berries.

  • Lunch will include a grilled salmon salad.

  • Dinner will be fish baked with lemon and pepper served with steamed vegetables.

On Wednesday

  • Breakfast will consist of toast with eggs.

  • Lunch will include fish baked with lemon served with steamed vegetables.

  • Dinner will be shrimp served with a quinoa salad.

On Thursday

  • Breakfast will consist of chia pudding and a sliced fruit of your choice. 

  • Lunch will include a quinoa salad with shrimp.

  • Dinner will be roast lamb served with steamed vegetables

On Friday

  • Breakfast will consist of a banana-strawberry smoothie.

  • Lunch will include a chicken sandwich with salad.

  • Dinner will be sliced lean pork, bell peppers and salsa.

On Saturday

  • Breakfast will consist of eggs, cucumbers and mushrooms.

  • Lunch will include tuna and a boiled egg salad.

  • Dinner will be a homemade pizza topped with tomato paste, olives and cheese.

On Sunday

  • Breakfast will consist of an omelet with various vegetables.

  • Lunch will be a quinoa salad with green vegetables and nuts.

  • Dinner will include a grilled steak with a side of salad.

Some nutrients like fiber, iron and calcium can hamper your body from absorbing thyroid medication accordingly. You must consult your doctor before including any of those nutrients in your hypothyroidism diet. It is essential to heed proper medical advice before commencing on this diet regime.