How to Treat Hypothyroidism with Diet: 10 Effective Foods

We have come up with a helpful topic for many readers out there suffering from Hypothyroidism disease 1and also brought good information for those who are not. 

According to the American Thyroid Association, 90% of Hypothyroidism is caused by Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune thyroid disease where your thyroid gland wrongly attacks your immune system.

Iodine deficiency, genetic disorders, and medications taken after surgeries can also cause Hypothyroidism. Thyroid medication works best when taken on an empty stomach because it ensures proper absorption.

The History of Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

1. About Hypothyroidism

What is Hypothyroidism and how to treat Hypothyroidism2? Hypothyroidism is one of the autoimmune diseases, and when there is a decrease in thyroid hormone production, it results in Hypothyroidism.

This condition is common among those who are sixty years and above when the body stops producing enough thyroid hormones. The symptoms may not be that obvious, but if left untreated can cause a lot of health conditions.

Thyroid problems are on the rise, and though Hypothyroidism is common in middle-aged and older women, it is a condition that infants can develop. Several people with Hashimoto’s disease are supposed to develop Celiac disease, which again is an autoimmune disorder.3

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is also known as chronic lymphocytic Thyroiditis, and this is the most common cause of Hypothyroidism in the United States. When your hypothyroidism condition progresses to that of showing noticeable symptoms of an underactive thyroid gland, then it can be termed overt Hypothyroidism.

Thyroid Hormone Replacement Therapy4 is one of the ways to raise the abnormally low levels of thyroid hormones in the body. Thyroid Hormone Replacement medication is often given in pill form, and the dosage of medication can vary from patient to patient. Taking a radioactive iodine uptake test helps determine your thyroid health and functioning. The body temperature rises when the body makes too much of hormones, but when body hormones are deficient, the body temperature goes down.

2. Hypothyroidism Symptoms

Hyperthyroidism & Thyroid Storm Signs & Symptoms (& Why They Occur)

The symptoms of Hypothyroidism 5vary depending on the severity of the case. Though the symptoms are not visible in the early stages of this autoimmune disease6, they will become more obvious as the metabolism starts slowing down. Some of the most common symptoms by which you know you have Hypothyroidism are :

2.1. Body Pain

Body pain caused due to Hypothyroidism is termed hypothyroid myopathy7, and it can happen all over the body and affect every muscle in the body.

2.2. Brittle Nails

Sometimes when you have Hypothyroidism, your nails might break or bend easily. You need not always have Hypothyroidism if you have brittle nails.

2.3. Constipation

Hypothyroidism can affect your bowel movements, and constipation is one of the symptoms of Hypothyroidism.

2.4. Dry Skin

Some of the patients have extremely dry skin and often get mistaken for eczema or psoriasis. The dry skin caused due to Hypothyroidism does not respond to the usual creams, lotions, and ointments.

2.5. Depression

An old man feeling depressed with his hand on his mouth.
Photo by Tim Doerfler on Unsplash Copyrights 2018

An underactive thyroid gland causes this condition. If there is a deficiency of thyroid hormones in the nervous system, it can cause fatigue, lack of energy, and weight gain, which are all signs of clinical depression.

2.6. Enlarged Thyroid Gland

There can be swelling in the neck when your thyroid gland works less efficiently. It can cause pain and discomfort.

2.7. Hair fall

Hyperthyroidism can cause hair loss, and the best way to find out if you have thyroid disease is by going for a blood test. That said, hair fall does not always indicate you have Hypothyroidism.

2.8. High Cholesterol

There is an increased risk of having high cholesterol if you have Hypothyroidism. It is better to get your cholesterol level checked regularly if you have Hypothyroidism.

2.9. Heavy or Irregular Menstrual Cycle

In Hypothyroidism, there is always a hormonal imbalance. This imbalance can cause heavy periods or irregular periods.

2.10. Muscle Weakness

Muscle weakness and muscle cramps occur during Hypothyroidism, and there are chances you might have difficulty climbing stairs, holding objects, or holding objects.

2.11. Tiredness

A middle-aged woman fell asleep because of tiredness.
Photo by Shane on Unsplash Copyrights 2020

Constant tiredness is one of the symptoms of Hypothyroidism, and it happens due to decreased thyroid hormone production.

2.12. Poor Memory or Concentration

Difficulty in concentration and bad memory are both symptoms if you have Hypothyroidism.

2.13. Puffed Up Face

Hypothyroidism can affect life, and one of the symptoms of Hypothyroidism is puffiness of the face.

2.14. Swelling in the Joints

Fluids can build in your joints and cause swelling, and swelling in the joints is one of the hypothyroidism symptoms.

2.15. Sensitive to Cold

Cold sensitivity is always associated with some underlying condition, and Hypothyroidism is one of them.

2.16. Weight Gain

There can be a considerable amount of weight gain when you have thyroid disorders.

3. Causes of Hypothyroidism

Many causes can contribute to you getting Hypothyroidism, and it does not necessarily need to be connected to your diet. Your lifestyle, environment, chemicals in the food you consume, and other factors play a role when it comes to the dysfunction of your thyroid gland.

3.1. Environmental Toxins

A woman standing on the street with a lot of smoke around her.
Photo by David Lee on Unsplash Copyrights 2018

Environmental toxins like pesticides, industrial chemicals, toxins found in consumer goods, and heavy metals can cause damage to your thyroid and interfere with the production of T3 and T4. It can also cause problems in the conversion of T4 to T3.

3.2. Fluctuations in Blood Sugar

If your thyroid function is not normal, it will affect your blood sugar. Low blood sugar can affect your thyroid function because your thyroid function depends on your blood sugar metabolism.

3.3. Gluten Intolerance

Gluten intolerance and Hashimoto’s disease are linked, and most of those who have Hashimoto’s disease suffer from Celiac disease8. If you are sensitive to gluten and you consume it, your thyroid gland can get affected.

3.4. Gut Health

Gut health and the thyroid are interconnected, and the health of your gut has an impact on your thyroid. Your thyroid hormones play an important role in your gut’s health and will help prevent any gut inflammation.

3.5. Hashimoto’s Disease

As in the case of other autoimmune disorders, the immune system misidentifies the thyroid gland as a foreign body and produces thyroid antibodies to attack it. In that process, the thyroid tissues get destroyed.

3.6. HPA (Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal) Axis Dysfunction

The thyroid is closely linked to the HPA Axis, and any fluctuations in the HPA can impact the thyroid. Chronic stress can cause an imbalance in your HPA Axis. Too much exercise can also disrupt the HPA Axis and negatively affect thyroid health.

3.7. Nutrient Deficiencies

Iodine, Zinc, and Selenium are important for thyroid health, and it is important to include foods that contain these in your diet. A deficiency in any of these can impact your thyroid health.

4. How to Treat Hypothyroidism with a Diet

There are many ways to treat Hypothyroidism, and following a healthy diet can be helpful to many when it comes to improving thyroid hormone levels and having a normal thyroid function. A good hypothyroidism diet plan is a good way to treat Hypothyroidism and improve thyroid function. Thyroid issues vary from person to person, and including high-fiber foods in the diet is good for improving thyroid conditions.

A view of various high-fiber healthy food together on a white background to treat Hypothyroidism with diet.
Photo by kerdkanno on Unlimphotos

Many foods will not help if you have thyroid dysfunction, but certain nutrients and minerals in foods will help manage your underlying thyroid function. A diet based on eggs, vegetables, and lean meat is the best diet for Hypothyroidism. This will help prevent weight gain, which is one of the main symptoms of this autoimmune disorder.

4.1. Brazil Nuts

If you are looking for tips on how to treat Hypothyroidism with diet, then Brazil nuts are a good choice. They contain Vitamin E, Vitamin B, manganese, and selenium which are good for thyroid function. You can get a decent measure of selenium supplementation9 if you include Brazil nuts in your diet if you want to treat Hypothyroidism using a diet.

4.2. Brown Rice

If you are looking for how to treat Hypothyroidism with a diet, including brown rice in your diet is a good option. Brown rice has pantothenic acid, which is sometimes used as a dietary supplement during thyroid treatment. Cooked brown rice is good for a daily dose of manganese, fiber, and minerals that support thyroid health.

4.3. Dairy Products

There is a link between Hypothyroidism and low bone mineral density which can cause osteoporosis. Calcium and Vitamin D are both good for bone health. Dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese are all good sources of Calcium, and they can be taken instead of Calcium supplements. Yogurt has selenium and Calcium, and they both support thyroid health.

A tray of cheese and other dairy products.
By Andra C Taylor / Unsplash Copyrights 2021

4.4. Eggs

Egg yolks are rich in zinc and selenium, and egg whites are rich in protein. Including eggs in your diet is a good option when it comes to how to treat Hypothyroidism with diet. If you are looking for foods to eat while having Hypothyroidism, then eggs are a good choice to include in your diet regime.

4.5. Fish

Fish like salmon, sardines, and tuna have fairly good quantities of Vitamin D, which is good if you are looking for how to treat Hypothyroidism with a diet. The primary source of Vitamin D is the sun; sun exposure is a good way to get rid of Vitamin D deficiency. Over-exposure to the sun is not good. Hence it is important to limit your time in the sun.

Salmon also has omega-3 fatty acids and significant amounts of protein. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, and inflammation aggravates thyroid problems. Having salmon in your diet is good for taking care of inflammation.

A top view of marinated fish with lemon slices.
By Melanie Andersen / Unsplash Copyrights 2021

4.6. Green Tea

Green tea is good for boosting your metabolic rate, which makes it a good drink for people with Hypothyroidism. Green tea has a lot of health benefits. If you are looking at how to treat Hypothyroidism with diet, then drinking green tea is good because your metabolic rate gets affected if you have Hypothyroidism.

4.7. Fruits

Fruits rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants are good if you are looking for how to treat Hypothyroidism with a diet. Include pineapples, oranges, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries in your diet regime. Pineapples are rich in manganese and Vitamin C, and they are good for defending the body from free radicals.

The same applies to oranges. The Vitamin C content in oranges makes the thyroid gland function excellent. Blueberries are good for thyroid hormone production, and they have high flavonoid content.

A bowl of black and red berries.
By Armin Djuhic / Unsplash Copyrights 2019

Just like blueberries, raspberries have good Vitamin C content, fiber, ellagic acid, and antioxidants. This is one of the fruits of Hypothyroidism if you want to know how to treat Hypothyroidism with diet, and they help with weight loss in that diet.

The manganese in blackberries is good for thyroid function. Pomegranates are also good fruits to include in your hypothyroidism diet as they are rich in antioxidants which are important for thyroid health. They are also rich in fiber, Vitamin C, selenium, zinc, and pantothenic acid.

4.8. Iodized Table Salt

Iodine deficiency is one of the reasons for Hypothyroidism, and the body needs enough hormones to make thyroid hormones. How treat Hypothyroidism with a diet, then using iodized table salt in your main meals is a good way to do it. Make sure you do not consume too much iodine because it is not good for the thyroid. Excess iodine happens when you take too many iodine supplements to improve thyroid function.

4.9. Meat

Lamb, beef, chicken, and all meats are good for maintaining a healthy immune system and good when it comes to treating Hypothyroidism with diet. You get a lot of iron and Vitamin B12 from meat, and these two are required to convert the T4 thyroid hormone to the T3 hormone, which is what is required for your body’s proper function. Eating meat in moderate quantities is not detrimental to your body.

A various options for roasted meat served with roasted vegetables.
By Victoria Shes / Unsplash Copyrights 2019

4.10. Turmeric

Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties, and it is said to help you with Hypothyroidism. Turmeric is also rich in antioxidants which makes it effective when it comes to treating thyroid disorders.

If you want to know one of the foods to eat when it comes to treating Hypothyroidism, turmeric can be added to your foods to add to their flavor. Turmeric can also balance the thyroid hormones in Hypothyroidism and maintain your thyroid health properly.

5. Foods to Avoid if You Have Hypothyroidism

If you have been diagnosed with Hypothyroidism, make sure you consult your healthcare professional and get a proper hypothyroidism diet. It is better to avoid processed foods, millet, selenium supplementation, and zinc supplements unless recommended by a healthcare professional.

5.1. Brussels Sprouts

You should avoid eating large amounts of Brussels Sprouts and cruciferous vegetables if you do not have a healthy thyroid function as both Brussels Sprouts and cruciferous vegetables have different classes of goitrogens which can suppress the production of thyroid hormones.

5.2. Soy Milk

There has always been a constant debate about having soy milk while taking thyroid medication. Soy-based foods are supposed to interfere with the body’s ability to absorb the medication used to treat Hypothyroidism.

5.3. Gluten-Free Diet

Following a gluten-free diet is not going to help you with Hypothyroidism. It works well only if you are diagnosed with Celiac disease. If your thyroid is severe, it is better to see a healthcare professional and get treated. If left untreated, Hypothyroidism, weight gain, slow heart rate, depression, peripheral neuropathy, infertility, and goiter.

6. Things to Remember

Hypothyroidism cannot be controlled just with medication or diet, and you might need to make a few lifestyle changes which can be helpful. Going for a gluten-free diet is good if you are sensitive to gluten.

The best way would be to eliminate gluten from your diet. An anti-inflammatory diet, organic foods, and foods that are rich in fiber are good things to follow while making changes to maintain a healthy weight.

Managing your stress, getting adequate sleep, a regular exercise program without overexercising, and avoiding low-carb diets like the keto diet program are good changes to bring in if you are dealing with Hypothyroidism. It will be better to use fewer non-stick cooking utensils and plastic containers while making other lifestyle changes.

In The End

The American Thyroid Association is dedicated to thyroid health and the advancement, understanding, prevention, and treatment of thyroid disease and disorders. There are many ways to treat thyroid using a diet, and you might be able to avoid thyroid medication totally if you are in the early stages and restore thyroid function to normalcy.

The above-mentioned list will enable you to choose your diet over dietary supplements and thyroid medication and produce thyroid hormones that are good for you.

You can take the help of a good medical practitioner, lifestyle coach, personal trainer, mindfulness expert, and nutritionist and get treated properly by getting to the root of thyroid disorder. A good medical practitioner will help you with the treatment and medication and monitor your progress.

A nutritionist will help you with deciding on a diet that is fit for your metabolism, and a personal trainer will help you with your exercise program without overexertion.

In case you liked this article, here is something more. 

  1. Chiovato, Luca, Flavia Magri, and Allan Carlé. “Hypothyroidism in context: where we’ve been and where we’re going.” Advances in therapy 36 (2019): 47-58. ↩︎
  2. Ayala, Alejandro R., Mark D. Danese, and Paul W. Ladenson. “When to treat mild hypothyroidism.” Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics 29.2 (2000): 399-415. ↩︎
  3. Alaedini, Armin, and Peter HR Green. “Narrative review: celiac disease: understanding a complex autoimmune disorder.” Annals of internal medicine 142.4 (2005): 289-298. ↩︎
  4. Wiersinga, Wilmar M. “Thyroid hormone replacement therapy.” Hormone research 56.Suppl. 1 (2002): 74-81. ↩︎
  5. Canaris, Gay J., John F. Steiner, and E. Chester Ridgway. “Do traditional symptoms of hypothyroidism correlate with biochemical disease?.” Journal of general internal medicine 12.9 (1997): 544-550. ↩︎
  6. Browning, Jeffrey L. “B cells move to centre stage: novel opportunities for autoimmune disease treatment.” Nature reviews drug discovery 5.7 (2006): 564-576. ↩︎
  7. Sindoni, Alessandro, et al. “Hypothyroid myopathy: a peculiar clinical presentation of thyroid failure. Review of the literature.” Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders 17 (2016): 499-519. ↩︎
  8. Fasano, Alessio, and Carlo Catassi. “Celiac disease.” New England Journal of Medicine 367.25 (2012): 2419-2426. ↩︎
  9. Gerloff, Brian J. “Effect of selenium supplementation on dairy cattle.” Journal of animal science 70.12 (1992): 3934-3940. ↩︎

Last Updated on by Sathi Chakraborty, MSc Biology

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