Myth No : You Should Take Iodine Supplements If You Have An Underactive Thyroid
You do not need to supplement iodine if you live in the United States or other first world countries where iodine is added to many foods, including table salt. While iodine deficiency is one cause of hypothyroidism, if you are not iodine-deficient, there is no need to take iodine supplements, commonly seen as kelp supplements.
Iodine supplements are a fallacy, says Dr. Bakar. In fact, they can start negatively affecting thyroid function if you take them without the guidance of a physician.
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About Joe Leech, Dietitian
Joe Leech is a university-qualified dietitian from Australia.
He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in exercise science, followed by a Master’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2011.
Learn more about him on the About page.
Joe Leech, Dietitian
Worst Foods For Your Thyroid
A huge proportion of the sodium we consume comes from processed foods and it is recommended that those with hypothyroidism should avoid excess sodium. Having an underactive thyroid increases your risk of developing high blood pressure and eating too much sodium can increase this risk further!
Fried/ Fatty Foods
Whilst it is generally accepted that fried foods arent the healthiest anyway, they can be particularly bad for anyone with low thyroid as fat can inhibit the bodys ability to produce enough of this particular hormone. This is true of all high fat foods, but fried foods are particularly bad as they pump a lot of fat into your system in one go. You should also try and avoid foods such as mayonnaise or margarine, as well as trying to eat as much lean meat as possible instead of meats with high fat content.
Someone with an underactive thyroid is more likely to have a slow metabolism and therefore is more at risk of gaining weight. Refined sugars arent good for you at the best of times, however if you are already at risk of gaining weight you will inevitably gain it much faster from these high sugar foods if you eat them a lot. Eating excess levels of refined sugars can lead to a number of other negative consequences, such as high cholesterol and fatigue as well as damaging your liver!
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Can Thyroid Problems Cause Burning Mouth Syndrome
Burning mouth syndrome is a severe, painful condition characterized by burning sensations in the tongue, lips, palate , gums, inside of the cheeks and back of the mouth or throat. The feeling is often described as a scalding or tingling sensation. It is more common in women than in men and is particularly common around menopause. It may often be due to poorly functioning salivary glands. The poor function may be linked to abnormal T3 levels. Often, a diet rich in selenium and iodine is found to provide relief in some cases.
Get A Diagnosis As Quickly As Possible
If your thyroid is underactive, inadequate treatment may make weight loss almost impossible, despite diet and exercise. And the longer it takes you to get diagnosed, the more weight you could gain.
When you have mild hypothyroidism, even before your TSH is elevated enough to warrant treatment, your metabolism can slow down significantly, causing you to burn fewer calories each day. Hypothyroidism can also make you tired, achy, and less likely to exercise, leading to further weight gain. And, when youre tired, you may crave and eat more sugary foods and carbohydrates for energy.
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Familiarize Yourself With Your Medications
Some of the drugs doctors prescribe for your thyroid-related symptoms or other conditions you might have can cause weight gain. For example, the following medications are associated with weight gain:
- Antithyroid drugs such as Tapazole and PTU , used to treat Graves disease and hyperthyroidism
- Beta-blockers, like Sectral , Tenormin , and Corgard , which are often used to treat hyperthyroidism
- Steroid anti-inflammatories such as prednisone
- Estrogen and progesterone, either alone or together in hormonal birth control or in hormone replacement therapy
- Certain antidepressants, especially Prozac , Paxil , and Zoloft
- Mood-stabilizing and anticonvulsant drugs such as those given for bipolar disorder, including lithium, Depakote and Tegretol
If you’re on any of these medications and you’re gaining weight, talk to your doctor about your concerns. Never stop taking a medication without your doctor’s input.
Thyroid Disease Doctor Discussion Guide
Get our printable guide for your next doctor’s appointment to help you ask the right questions.
Good Foods For Hyperthyroidism
Foods low in iodine
Research shows that iodine is an essential factor in the production of thyroid hormones. In the case of hyperthyroidism, consuming a low-iodine diet can help reduce the excess of thyroid hormones.
Low-iodine food choices include:
- Canned, fresh, and frozen vegetables and fruits
- Carbs like grain, cereal products, and pasta without iodine
- Egg whites
- Homemade bread made with non-iodized salt
- Honey and maple syrup
- Unsalted nuts and nut butters
Foods high in iron
Iron, which helps blood carry oxygen throughout the body, is essential to normal thyroid function. Eating iron-rich foods is a great way to potentially improve the health of your thyroid.
Foods that are rich in iron include:
- Fortified grain products like bread and cereal
- Lean meat
Studies show that selenium plays an important role in thyroid health.
Selenium-rich foods include:
- Cereals and other grain products
- Dairy products
Research has shown that some spices can have a positive effect on thyroid health. Turmeric, a popular spice known for its anti-inflammatory properties, may help reduce and manage hyperthyroidism. The same is true for consuming spices like green chili.
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Other Allergens: Eggs Nuts Seafood And Dairy
Avoiding all foods that youre allergic to is crucial if youre suffering from either of the two ATDs.
Consuming allergenic foods will aggravate whatever symptoms youre already suffering. Allergies can cause skin rashes, difficulty breathing, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea on top of the ATD symptoms youre already experiencing.
If youre unsure if youre allergic to something or not, its recommended to just avoid it.
Common allergenic foods include egg yolks, milk and dairy products, nuts, and seafood.
Cheese can not only cause allergies but they may also contain iodine, which you should avoid if you have hyperthyroidism .
Thyroid problems can be caused by an under-performing or over-performing thyroid gland. Both will require you to change your diet during treatment. You can lessen the impact of your symptoms and make treatment more efficient by avoiding these foods.
Health by choice, not by chance.
Fat: Red Meat Butter And Fried Food
Youll have to lower or avoid fat intake entirely depending on your particular thyroid problems.
For hyperthyroidism, its only recommended to avoid unhealthy fats . Doing so will help reduce inflammation.
Keep away from foods rich in trans or saturated fat like red meat, high-fat dairy products, crackers, cookies, cakes, pastries, french fries, and any food with hydrogenated vegetable oil as an ingredient
For hypothyroidism, all fat intake should be reduced yes, even healthy fat. A study has found that fat sabotages your bodys ability to absorb the thyroid hormone replacement medicines that youre taking. Fats also disrupt your thyroid glands ability to produce hormones.
This is why its recommended to cut out all fried foods and reduce the intake of fats from other sources .
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Gluten Found In Bread Pasta And Rice
Those with hypothyroidism may want to consider minimizing their intake of gluten, a protein found in foods processed from wheat, barley, rye, and other grains, says Ruth Frechman, RDN, a dietitian in the Los Angeles area and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. And if you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, gluten can irritate the small intestine, and may hamper absorption of thyroid hormone replacement medication.
An article published in May 2017 in the journal Endocrine Connections noted that hypothyroidism and celiac disease are often present together, and while no research has demonstrated that a gluten-free diet can treat thyroid conditions, you may still want to talk to a doctor about whether it would be worth eliminating gluten, or getting tested for celiac disease. A study published in July 2019 in Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology & Diabetes found that a gluten-free diet may have clinical benefits for women with thyroid disease.
If you do choose to eat gluten, be sure to choose whole-grain varieties of bread, pasta, and rice, which are high in fiber and other nutrients and can help improve bowel irregularity, a common symptom of hypothyroidism. Also be sure to take your hypothyroidism medication several hours before or after eating high-fiber foods, to prevent them from interfering with the absorption of your synthetic thyroid hormone.
Cruciferous Vegetables Like Broccoli And Cauliflower
Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cabbage, are full of fiber and other nutrients, but they may interfere with the production of thyroid hormone if you have an iodine deficiency. So if you do, its a good idea to limit your intake of Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, turnips, and bok choy, because research suggests digesting these vegetables may block the thyroid’s ability to utilize iodine, which is essential for normal thyroid function. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, you would need to consume a significant amount of cruciferous vegetables for it to truly impact iodine uptake.
If you have been diagnosed with both hypothyroidism and iodine deficiency, there are some things you can do to make these vegetables less harmful. Cooking them can reduce the effect that cruciferous vegetables have on the thyroid gland, and limiting your intake of these vegetables to 5 ounces a day may help as well, since that amount appears to have no adverse effect on thyroid function.
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Is Hyperthyroidism During Pregnancy A Problem
Thyroid hormone levels that are just a little high are usually not a problem in pregnancy. However, more severe hyperthyroidism that isnt treated can affect both the mother and the baby. If you have hyperthyroidism, be sure your disease is under control before becoming pregnant. Learn more about causes, diagnosis, and treatment of hyperthyroidism during pregnancy.
What Other Health Problems Could I Have Because Of Hyperthyroidism
If hyperthyroidism isnt treated, it can cause some serious health problems, including
- an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related problems
- an eye disease called Graves ophthalmopathy that can cause double vision, light sensitivity, and eye pain, and rarely can lead to vision loss
- thinning bones and osteoporosis
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Is It Safe To Breastfeed While Im Taking Beta
Certain beta-blockers are safe to use while youre breastfeeding because only a small amount shows up in breast milk. The lowest possible dose to relieve your symptoms is best. Only a small amount of thyroid hormone medicine reaches your baby through breast milk, so its safe to take while youre breastfeeding. However, in the case of antithyroid drugs, your doctor will most likely limit your dose to no more than 20 milligrams of methimazole or, less commonly, 400 mg of PTU.
Gluten: Do You Need To Avoid It
Gluten is a protein which gets a lot of attention in the general press and alternative health-care industry.
If you talk to most conventional doctors they will probably tell you that consuming gluten is perfectly fine as long as you don’t have Celiac’ disease.
If you talk to doctors who are functional or integratively minded then they will probably tell you that gluten is the source of all of your health problems.
Like most things in life, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
Gluten can absolutely be a problem for people with thyroid disease but it may not be an issue for everyone.
In fact, newer studies have shown that going gluten-free may have a negative impact on your cholesterol, your risk of heart disease, your bank account, and your blood sugar .
On the other hand, this same study has shown that going gluten-free can be obviously beneficial if you suffer from IBS, NCGS, fibromyalgia, obesity, and certain mental health conditions.
You’ll probably notice that thyroid disease wasn’t mentioned anywhere in that study so we will have to extrapolate some information and apply it to your situation.
Instead of focusing on the rule that all thyroid patients should automatically go gluten-free, it’s probably better to take a more measured approach.
Instead of focusing on your thyroid disease, you should focus on the myriad of other conditions that can also accompany thyroid disease and those in which going gluten-free may be beneficial for.
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Foods With Soy Including Edamame Tofu And Miso
Theres long been concern over the potential negative effects that certain compounds in soy called isoflavones may have on the thyroid. Some researchers believe that too much soy may increase a person’s risk for hypothyroidism. A study published in March 2019 in Scientific Reports, however, found that soy has no effect on thyroid hormones and very modestly raises thyroid stimulating hormone levels.
So there are no specific dietary guidelines, but some research does suggest that consumption of soy may interfere with your ability to absorb thyroid medication. For that reason, you may want to wait four hours after eating soy-based foods before taking your regular dose. Check with your doctor to see whats best for you.
What Should I Eat During Pregnancy To Help Keep My Thyroid And My Babys Thyroid Working Well
Because the thyroid uses iodine to make thyroid hormone, iodine is an important mineral for you while youre pregnant. During pregnancy, your baby gets iodine from your diet. Youll need more iodine when youre pregnantabout 250 micrograms a day.1 Good sources of iodine are dairy foods, seafood, eggs, meat, poultry, and iodized saltsalt with added iodine. Experts recommend taking a prenatal vitamin with 150 micrograms of iodine to make sure youre getting enough, especially if you dont use iodized salt.1 You also need more iodine while youre breastfeeding since your baby gets iodine from breast milk. However, too much iodine from supplements such as seaweed can cause thyroid problems. Talk with your doctor about an eating plan thats right for you and what supplements you should take. Learn more about a healthy diet and nutrition during pregnancy.
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Myth No : You Cant Eat Cruciferous Vegetables If You Have A Thyroid Disorder
Cruciferous vegetables, which include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kale, have been thought to interfere with how your thyroid uses iodine. Iodine plays a role in hormone production in the thyroid gland. The truth is, you can and should eat these veggies.
Cruciferous vegetables are part of a healthy and balanced diet, and I encourage patients with thyroid disorders to continue eating them in moderation, says Dr. Bakar. You would have to consume an excessive and unrealistic amount of these vegetables for them to interfere with iodine and thus hormone production in the thyroid.
Eight Foods To Avoid If You Have Thyroid Problems
Thyroid problems are becoming increasingly prevalent.
At the front of your neck sits a 2-inch butterfly-shaped organ called the thyroid gland.
This small gland is a major player in your endocrine system and affects almost all your other organs.
Its responsible for brain development, blood calcium levels, cholesterol levels, the heart and nervous system, menstrual cycles, regulating fat and carbohydrate metabolism, respiration, body temperature, skin integrity, and much more.
Thyroid problems can come in one of two forms: Hypothyroidism or Hyperthyroidism .
Hypothyroidism is more common and is usually caused by an autoimmune response in your body. This autoimmune response prevents your thyroid gland from releasing enough T3 and T4 hormones which your body needs to function properly. This leads to fatigue, difficulty concentrating, dry skin and hair, and weight gain as your metabolism slows down.
In fact, many people with thyroid problems experience chronic fatigue. If that sounds like you, here are 12 Tips To Efficiently Treat Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms.
Hyperthyroidism also stems from an autoimmune response but does the exact opposite. The autoimmune response instead triggers the thyroid gland to release too much T3 and T4 hormones. This leads to a rapid heartbeat, diarrhea, high blood pressure, and weight loss.
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How Do Doctors Treat Hypothyroidism During Pregnancy
Treatment for hypothyroidism involves replacing the hormone that your own thyroid can no longer make. Your doctor will most likely prescribe levothyroxine, a thyroid hormone medicine that is the same as T4, one of the hormones the thyroid normally makes. Levothyroxine is safe for your baby and especially important until your baby can make his or her own thyroid hormone.
Your thyroid makes a second type of hormone, T3. Early in pregnancy, T3 cant enter your babys brain like T4 can. Instead, any T3 that your babys brain needs is made from T4. T3 is included in a lot of thyroid medicines made with animal thyroid, such as Armour Thyroid, but is not useful for your babys brain development. These medicines contain too much T3 and not enough T4, and should not be used during pregnancy. Experts recommend only using levothyroxine while youre pregnant.
Some women with subclinical hypothyroidisma mild form of the disease with no clear symptomsmay not need treatment.
If you had hypothyroidism before you became pregnant and are taking levothyroxine, you will probably need to increase your dose. Most thyroid specialists recommend taking two extra doses of thyroid medicine per week, starting right away. Contact your doctor as soon as you know youre pregnant.
Your doctor will most likely test your thyroid hormone levels every 4 to 6 weeks for the first half of your pregnancy, and at least once after 30 weeks.1 You may need to adjust your dose a few times.