Healthy Diet for an Underactive Thyroid

by Francine Juhasz

About Francine Juhasz

Francine Juhasz has a doctorate in clinical psychology and is a Qi Gong and yoga teacher, health and nutrition freelance journalist and featured self-help and life-skills speaker. For more than 30 years she has conducted programs, workshops, seminars and private counseling sessions in emotional, mental, marital and sexual health and fitness in universities, elder-care communities and community centers in both the U.S. and Europe.

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People suffering from hypothyroidism have decreased thyroid function that can cause excessive fat accumulation, a slow pulse, low blood pressure, fatigue, low body temperature and a lessening of overall energy. Although no diet can cure hypothyroidism, eating fruits, vegetables, foods rich in vitamin B and healthy fats may help support your medically prescribed synthetic thyroxine.

B Vitamins and Iron

Foods containing B vitamins aid the thyroid gland, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Whole grains, such as buckwheat, oats, barley, rye, brown rice and wheat, are rich in vitamin B, as are potatoes, black eyed peas, beef, lentils, kefir and turkey. Foods rich in iron also help support thyroid functioning, such as watermelon, beetroot, dried dates, raisins, parsley and turnip greens. Edward Bauman, associate dean of nutrition at the University of Natural Medicine in Santa Fe, advises adding seaweed, such as kelp, nori, wakame and kombu, to your diet because sea vegetables contain large amounts of iron. Such foods should never be used to substitute for your thyroxine treatments, nor should you take vitamin B or any supplements without consulting your doctor.

Healthy Fats

Substituting saturated fats from fatty red meat, ham, sausage, bacon and hot dogs with healthy omega-3 fats found in cold water fish helps reduce thyroid inflammation, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Good fish choices include mackerel, herring, sardines, salmon and tuna. Other healthy fats are found in flax seeds, walnuts and vegetable oils. Use olive oil or vegetable oils, such as safflower oil, instead of butter for cooking.

Antioxidant Fruits and Vegetables

The antioxidants found in fresh fruits and vegetables fight harmful free radicals in your body that damage cells and cause disturbances in your thyroid gland. They also help your body absorb thyroxine medication, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Good fruit choices include cranberries, strawberries, cherries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and tomatoes. Pomegranates are a particularly good choice because they contain high amounts of the antioxidant polyphenols -- anthocyanins, tannins and ellagic acid. Bell peppers, kale, squash, beets, spinach and cabbage are vegetables rich in antioxidants.

Goitrogens and Excess Fiber

If you suffer from an underactive thyroid, you may need to avoid foods that contain goitrogens, or chemicals that can inflame your thyroid and interfere with your thyroxine hormone synthesis, according to the University of Michigan Health System. Lima beans, cassava, rapeseed, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, watercress, pak choy, mustard greens and soybeans contain goitrogens and are otherwise healthy foods you should not avoid without consulting your doctor. Other goitrogenic foods include peanuts, pine nuts, kale, radishes, kohlrabi, rutabaga and turnips. High-fiber foods, such as walnuts, whole grains, cottonseed meal and soybean flour, may hinder the absorption of your synthetic thyroid hormone. Nevertheless, dietary fiber is generally good for people with an underactive thyroid to help counteract constipation and slow digestion. Ask your doctor how much fiber is right for you. Black beans, dry oats, bran cereal, lentils and avocados are also high in fiber.

Photo Credits:

  • raspberries image by Maria Brzostowska from Fotolia.com

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.