Hypothyroidism- food to eat and food to avoid


Hypothyroidism is a complicated chronic endocrine health condition that can sometimes become challenging to manage. Various factors can make it difficult to manage thyroid hormone levels in the blood; food is one of such factors that causes difficulty in managing thyroid hormone levels in the blood. People with hypothyroidism must choose their food carefully as it plays an essential role in influencing the symptoms and treatment. Some nutrients present in certain foods significantly impact the functioning of the thyroid gland and may inhibit the absorption of replacement hormones that one might be taking to overcome this disorder.

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland present in the neck that synthesizes the thyroid hormone under the pituitary-hypothalamus control. Interestingly, thyroid hormones play a crucial role in maintaining various metabolic functions of the body. Iodine plays a pivotal role in the production of thyroid hormones.  Apart from iodine, the other micronutrients that play an essential role in thyroid hormone synthesis are iron, selenium, and zinc. [1]

 The thyroid gland mainly produces T3 and T4 hormones. Any imbalance in the production of thyroid hormone can cause:

  • Hypothyroidism- a condition marked by the inability of the thyroid gland to produce enough thyroid hormone.
  • Hyperthyroidism- a condition characterized by overproduction of a hormone by the thyroid gland.

What is hypothyroidism?

Around 12% of the global population has hypothyroidism. The constant increase in the number of cases of hypothyroidism is creating concern among health care professionals about this chronic thyroid dysfunction disorder.

Hypothyroidism is a chronic endocrine disorder marked by the thyroid gland’s inability to produce adequate thyroid hormone. If hypothyroidism is left untreated for a long-time, it can cause severe complications.

The commonly manifested symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Fatigue
  • Laziness
  • Weight gain
  • Intolerance to cold
  • Dry skin
  • Constipation
  • Elevated blood cholesterol level
  • Pain in joints
  • Puffy face
  • Swelling of the thyroid gland
  • Stiffness of the muscles
  • Difficulty in remembering things

If hypothyroidism is left untreated, it can lead to Myxedema coma, a life-threatening complication that causes hypothermia, slowed mental function, and organ failure.

What causes hypothyroidism?

Have you ever wondered why some people develop hypothyroidism? The cause behind hypothyroidism is varied and is mainly caused due to:

  • Auto-immune disorder
  • Lack of iodine consumption
  • Excessive consumption of iodine [2]
  • Radiation
  • Inflammation of thyroid gland
  • Lack of production of TSH from the pituitary gland.

Hypothyroidism is an irreversible condition, and its symptoms are managed well by taking appropriate medication as advised by your endocrinologist/doctor. While medicines play a crucial role in managing this chronic thyroid disorder, some lifestyle changes and healthy eating habits can help to reduce the intensity of your symptoms.

What food is bad for hypothyroidism patients?

Often people wonder what food to avoid for hypothyroidism? The simple answer to their query is that people with low blood thyroid hormone levels should avoid fried fast foods, processed food, food that has high sugar content -like cakes, soft drinks-  and excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages.

While there is no diet for hypothyroidism, there are a few foods to avoid with hypothyroidism which includes:

  • Soy foods, including tofu and edamame, as they may affect one’s ability to absorb medication for hypothyroidism. [3]
  • Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, kale, turnip, and cauliflower, as these vegetables may affect the thyroid gland’s ability to utilize iodine efficiently. [4]
  • Fried foods, because fried foods may affect the ability of the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones. Also, fried foods affect the body’s ability to absorb medication to manage normal thyroid hormone levels.
  • Excessive consumption of coffee because coffee affects the absorption of thyroid hormones. [5]
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol because alcohol suppresses the functioning of the thyroid gland, thereby affecting the production of thyroid hormone. [6]
  • Too much dietary fiber intake because excessive consumption of dietary fiber may interfere with the absorption of the medication for hypothyroidism. [7]

People having low blood thyroid hormone levels must be aware of what food is bad for hypothyroidism? Caregivers must make a list of foods to avoid hypothyroidism to make it easy to monitor the food for people with low blood thyroid hormone levels. We suggest you make a chart of what foods to avoid for hypothyroidism patients so that watching their diet becomes easy.

What foods to eat if you have hypothyroidism?

Have you ever wondered what foods are good for maintaining normal blood thyroid hormone levels in people with low blood thyroid hormone levels? People with low blood thyroid hormone levels must know what food is bad for hypothyroidism and what food they should consume?

People with hypothyroidism must eat a healthy diet rich in nutrients like selenium, iron, and zinc like green leafy vegetables, whole grains, eggs, seafood, nuts, lentils, citrus fruits, milk products, and non-caffeinated and non-alcoholic beverages. Caregivers must ensure to manage a healthy diet for hypothyroidism patients.

What care should people with hypothyroidism take?

Apart from diet and medication, people having low blood thyroid hormone levels must incorporate the following changes to manage their symptoms of hypothyroidism:

  • Drinking plenty of water to flush out toxins from the body
  • Eating in moderate quantities, avoid overeating.
  • Avoid getting stressed, as stress may make it difficult for you to manage your thyroid hormone levels.
  • Exercise regularly, go for a short walk every day.

People with hypothyroidism can lead a normal life without developing any complications by taking the advised diet, medication, and care.

  1. Hess SY. The impact of common micronutrient deficiencies on iodine and thyroid metabolism: The evidence from human studies. Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab 2010;24:117-32.
  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3976240/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16571087/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3496161/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18341376/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3743356/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8636317/
Open chat