An estimated 27 million Americans have thyroid disease, and more than half are undiagnosed. Frequently misunderstood, and too often overlooked and misdiagnosed, thyroid disease affects almost every aspect of health. Taking care of it with good nutrition is a smart step in the right direction. Here are some foods for a recommended Thyroid diet for patients, that research has shown can nurture a healthy thyroid, as well as some ones to avoid.
Foods that Help with Thyroid
There are several foods that thyroid patients should eat to improve the functioning of the gland. Simply put, you need to increase the consumption of:
Coconut and coconut butter, or more commonly known as coconut oil, has been used as a food and medicine since the dawn of history. Unlike saturated animal fats found in meats and dairy products, coconut butter is a raw saturated fat containing fatty acids which the body can metabolize efficiently and convert to energy quickly. Research also shows it helps to regulate thyroid function.
Kelp and Nori Seaweed are stellar, nutrient-dense sea vegetables recommended for thyroid. Kelp is also known as Laminaria and contains a natural substance that enhances flavor and tenderizes. Kelp works as a blood purifier, and promotes adrenal, pituitary and thyroid health. Its natural iodine may help normalize thyroid-related disorders, like overweight, and lymph system congestion.
Turkey is one of the leanest protein foods and is low in calories, making it an excellent healthy food choice. Turkey also contains selenium which has been shown to inhibit cancer development, improve the immune system, and aid in the metabolism of our thyroid hormone.
Salty Seafood such as halibut, herring, sardines, mackerel, haddock, anchovies, marine shellfish, finfish, shellfish etc. contain omega-3 and iodine and are recommended for a thyroid diet.
Nuts such as macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pecans, Brazil nuts, cashews are rich in monosaturated fats.
Zinc rich foods like poultry, red meat, pacific oysters, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds help with thyroid.
In addition to the above, use garlic, onions and olive oil to cook your food.
Some supplements that help with the proper functioning of thyroid are
- Zinc (25-50 mg)
- Ashwagandha, an Ayurvedic supplement
- Selenium (300 to 1000 mcg per day on medical advice only)
- Vitamin B6
Foods to Avoid for Thyroid Patients
Some foods slow down the functioning of the thyroid gland and should therefore, be avoided by thyroid patients.
Thyroid patients should avoid the consumption of goitrogens, substances that suppress the function of the thyroid gland, and which can also cause an enlargement of the thyroid. Goitrogens are in foods such as cabbage and all its variations like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale etc. and also mustard, turnips, rutabaga, radish, horseradish, watercress, sweet potatoes, cassava and canola oil. Soy, millet and peanuts also include goitrogens and should be avoided.
It is also important to reduce consumption of soy products like soy milk and tofu. And if you must have soy milk, make sure you do not consume it before or after 3 hours of taking your thyroid medicine.
Simple carbohydrates such as processed white sugar, cooked carrots, ripe bananas, dried fruits, honey, maple syrup, white bread, white rice, potatoes, white pasta, sweets etc. should be avoided.
Avoid caffeine in the form of coffee, tea, chocolate, soft drinks and caffeinated energy drinks.
A Perfect Thyroid Diet
Both copper and iron are so important for thyroid function, so thyroid patients should take time to make sure they’re getting enough in their diets. Foods such as organ meats, oysters, clams, crabs, cashews, sunflower seeds, wheat bran cereals, whole-grain products, and cocoa products are all rich in copper. Foods like leafy green vegetables, beans, shellfish, red meat, and poultry are high in iron. Complement your iron intake with adequate amounts of vitamin C from foods such as citrus fruits, red berries, tomatoes, potatoes, and bell peppers to help maximize your body’s iron absorption efficiency.
In addition to taking care of your diet for thyroid by eating and avoiding the above mentioned foods, you also need to learn to manage your stress since thyroid has a proven relationship to stress. Try to stay calm and use relaxation techniques to manage your thyroid effectively.