There is a lot of confusion out there as to what to eat to nourish the thyroid, so I am going to share my basic Thyroid Food Rules so that you can get an idea of how to eat for your thyroid health. I am a firm believer that everyone is different and therefore some foods will be both good and bad for an individual thyroid person. For example, everyone raves about coconut oil for thyroid health, metabolism, and weight loss, but for me personally, if I consume it too often then I feel ill. However, there has to be a starting point before you can drill down into your specifics. So I am sharing what my general rules are for myself to give you an idea.
I am a firm believer that everyone is different and therefore some foods will be both good and bad for an individual thyroid person. For example, everyone raves about coconut oil for thyroid health, metabolism, and weight loss, but for me personally, if I consume it too often then I feel ill. However, there has to be a starting point before you can drill down into your specifics.
This would be the most important of the Thyroid Food Rules to follow, even if you did none of the others. Gluten, dairy, soy, and sugar are inflammatory to the body and will worsen your symptoms. Gluten includes wheat, barley, rye, and oats. Some thyroid experts suggest removing grains altogether, and I know I feel better if I keep them to a minimum, but only you can decide that for yourself by going without grains for a while to see if you feel better for it. Dairy includes milk, ice cream, yogurt, cream, butter, and cheese. Soy products include tempeh, miso, tofu, soy sauce, and keep an eye on ready-made products as soy shows up in a lot of those. Sugar – anything ending in “ose” so check your ingredient labels. This does not include fruit!
This means don’t mess with your food too much or buy it pre-prepared if possible. The least amount of processing retains the most nutrients. When it comes to organic foods, I know the price is always a consideration so do the best you can. Keep in mind that pesticides that are sprayed onto our food are toxic to the thyroid and cause further hormonal issues as they are designed to stop pests reproducing.
Most people with autoimmune disease and thyroid disease suffer from Leaky Gut. This is when small particles of food are getting through the gut wall into the bloodstream where they don’t belong causing allergies and further immune issues. Bone broths are by far one of the quickest ways to heal the gut. Make sure the bones are grass-fed and organic though because lead is stored in all mammal bones so you may get more than you wanted.
With a compromised gut function, it is hard to get the nutrients we need to help our thyroid function optimally. Vegetable juices are fantastic for this as the fiber has been removed leaving the nutrients to soak straight into the cells without a poor digestive system slowing it down. If you drink with your meals, swap it out for a nice green juice which will also give you extra enzymes to process the meal.
Number 5 in the Thyroid Food Rules list may be the cause of your hair dropping out! Goitrogen foods include Cabbage, Cauliflower, KALE, Broccoli, and Brussel’s Sprouts. The goitrogens in these foods block iodine from getting to the thyroid and in doing so slow’s down the thyroid function. Cooking will destroy the goitrogens mostly, however, I still only have them as a treat type food as opposed to every day, and I NEVER eat them raw!
So all those thyroid people out there eating raw Kale chips to be healthy, you could be making things worse!
This does not have to be animal protein, this also means plant protein, however, if it is animal make sure it is grass-fed and wild-caught to avoid messing with your thyroid. The thyroid needs the amino acids in protein to make the hormone, so getting some every day is vital. Another tip is to eat protein within an hour of waking (not getting out of bed – WAKING) if you have Adrenal issues, which most thyroid people do. This will calm the adrenals at the start of the day as opposed to drinking a cup of coffee first thing which puts your adrenals into fight or flight before you even walk out the door.
20% of thyroid hormone is converted from inactive form to active form in the gut, so great gut health is necessary for this process to occur. There are two ways of increasing the good guys in our gut. One way is to increase our probiotic foods such as fermented vegetables and also take a probiotic with your thyroid medication every day. (The strain of probiotic you are looking for is LGG and it is helpful for inflammation). The second way is to increase your consumption of prebiotics which is the food for probiotics. This includes a high fiber diet and foods such as Jerusalem Artichokes, Dandelion greens, and Persimmons.
When we are intolerant to certain foods and continue to eat them our body is always on high alert. If you know there is a food or group of foods you feel bad after eating, then stop eating them! Intolerances change with health status, so if you remove something for 6 months or so, you may find you are able to slowly introduce them again without problems.
Oh, I can just feel the resistance, and hear you cry “Does this really have to be one of the Thyroid Food Rules!! It’s always the hardest to do. Coffee inhibits iron absorption and overstimulates the adrenals. Black tea is full of naturally occurring Fluoride which will block iodine from getting to the thyroid. Now when I say Black Tea, I am not referring to drinking it without milk. I mean any normal tea such as English Breakfast, Earl Grey, etc. If you choose to swap the coffee and tea out for herb teas (which I highly recommend) be careful that the herb tea is NOT just an infusion, which is black tea with herb flavors added. Those teas will still contain fluoride.
I eat minimalist meals a fair amount of time- not too many different ingredients at one time, just a larger amount of 1-4 ingredients. With compromised digestion, this makes absorption easier and I just feel better for it.
I keep healthy jars of snacks in the fridge at all times. This is the difference between me sticking to my health plan and not and why I wrote the recipe book Thyroid Jar Food. It is actually a book filled with my own recipes so I could have them all in one spot!
So that’s the basics of what I do. Just a note to anyone changing their diet in any way. Always follow a new way of eating for a reasonable amount of time (at least 4 weeks) before deciding if it is helping or not. Keep in mind, if you cut back on some of these things or remove them that detox will most likely occur which may have you thinking the new food regime is no good for you. Rest assured if coffee is removed – YOU WILL FEEL LIKE CRAP – which does not mean necessarily that going back to it is a good idea. You get my point here right??
The other thing to be vigilant with when changing a diet is to always keep an eye on your blood work numbers, particularly if you are on medication as it may need to be changed. This is THE piece of information I want you to take away from this!!
I hope these Thyroid Food Rules help you change your health and feel better.