9 Foods to Avoid with Hypothyroidism

examination of a woman's thyroid gland to illustrate foods to avoid with hypothyroidism
Medically Reviewed
April 8, 2024

Balancing your diet to manage symptoms and improve your thyroid function can be overwhelming. Let’s take a closer look today at the key foods to avoid with hypothyroidism.

Understanding Hypothyroidism

Various possible toxicants are involved in thyroid dysfunction, both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism – particularly Hashimoto’s thyroiditis which is the most common cause of hypothyroidism – is an autoimmune condition where your body mistakenly attacks its thyroid gland. Improving your thyroid function involves diet, lifestyle changes, and medication where necessary. Both exercising well and bearing in mind the foods to avoid with hypothyroidism will contribute to your overall health.

Foods to Avoid with Hashimoto’s

The following are the foods we’ve identified has having unwanted effects when you have hypothyroidism – and especially if you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. We’ll explain why they affect you, rather than just tell you to avoid them. That’s because

  • knowing the reason is a good motivator to keep an eye on what you eat and
  • understanding will help you manage your condition.

So let’s dive in…

9 Foods to Avoid with Hypothyroidism

Incorporating these dietary changes can support your thyroid health and improve your quality of life.

  1. Soy Products

Soy products contain isoflavones that can interfere with thyroid hormone production. For individuals with hypothyroidism, consuming soy in large amounts might exacerbate thyroid dysfunction. It’s not just tofu and soy milk to watch out for. Many processed foods contain soy as a hidden ingredient. Watch out for these and read ingredient labels.

  1. Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts contain goitrogens – substances that can interfere with thyroid hormone synthesis. While these vegetables are healthy, moderation is key, especially if your iodine intake is low.

  1. Gluten – Choose Gluten-free Foods for Hypothyroidism

Gluten can trigger inflammation and autoimmune responses, potentially worsening thyroid function. Gluten-free foods may therefore be beneficial in managing your symptoms and improving your overall wellbeing. We’ll talk more about gluten further down.

  1. Processed Foods

Highly processed foods often contain unhealthy fats, sugars, and sodium. These can contribute to weight gain and inflammation – which further complicates hypothyroidism management. Another reason processed foods are among the top foods to avoid with hypothyroidism is because they can contain soy and gluten, adding to the strain on your thyroid functioning.

  1. Sugary Foods

Excessive sugar intake often leads to weight gain, increases inflammation, and disrupts the delicate balance of your hormones. If you’re managing hypothyroidism, cutting back on sugary foods can help in controlling your weight and reducing your symptoms of fatigue and sluggishness.

  1. Excessive Fiber

While fiber is essential for digestive health, too much fiber can impair thyroid hormone absorption. If you’re on thyroid medication, monitoring fiber intake is crucial to ensure it doesn’t interfere with your medication and lower its effectiveness.

  1. Iodine-Rich Foods

While essential for thyroid hormone production, too much iodine can exacerbate hypothyroidism in certain individuals. We advise you only to consume foods high in iodine in moderation – such as seaweed and fish.

  1. Coffee and Alcohol

Caffeine and alcohol can both affect thyroid production. Coffee, in particular, can interfere with the absorption of your thyroid medication if you consume it too closely to when you take your medication. Alcohol, on the other hand, can contribute to thyroid inflammation and exacerbate your symptoms of hypothyroidism.

  1. Fatty Foods

Fats can interfere with your body’s ability to produce thyroid hormones and can also affect your body’s ability to absorb thyroid medication. We advise you to limit intake of fried foods, butter, and high-fat meats.

So – those are the nine food types to avoid with hypothyroidism. It can seem limiting – but it’s a small sacrifice to help you feel better daily. However, at Nava Health, we do understand how everyone is unique – and we’re happy to discuss any aspect of nutrition and hypothyroidism with you. Call us if you’d like to consult.

In the meantime, we said we’d look into gluten and hypothyroidism more closely…

The Connection between Gluten and Thyroid

The relationship between gluten and thyroid function, particularly in individuals with autoimmune thyroid diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, is an area of increasing interest and scrutiny within the medical and nutritional sciences.

Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, can trigger an inflammatory response in susceptible individuals. Research has revealed, however, that a gluten-free diet group had reduced thyroid antibody titers. This could mean that consuming gluten may trigger or exacerbate autoimmune thyroid conditions.

Why avoid gluten? The symptoms of non-celiac gluten sensitivity can range from gastrointestinal discomfort to fatigue and joint pain – mirroring those of hypothyroidism and complicating your hypothyroidism symptom management. So, avoiding gluten makes sense.

Gluten-Free Foods for Hypothyroidism

Eliminating gluten can lead to an improvement in your thyroid function and a reduction in symptoms. This points to a direct impact of “gluten-free” on thyroid health:

  1. Reduced autoimmune flare-ups: By eliminating gluten, the potential trigger for autoimmune attacks on the thyroid gland can be minimized, reducing the frequency and severity of flare-ups.
  2. Decreased Inflammation: A gluten-free diet can help lower systemic inflammation, a key factor in thyroid dysfunction, thus potentially improving thyroid function and overall wellbeing.
  3. Improved nutrient absorption: Gluten sensitivity can lead to gut inflammation and damage, which impairs nutrient absorption. A gluten-free diet can aid in gut healing, improving the absorption of vital nutrients necessary for thyroid health.

Creating a Hypothyroidism Diet Plan

Creating a gluten-free hypothyroidism diet plan doesn’t have to be overly complicated. It should focus on whole, unprocessed foods rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, gluten-free grains, and healthy fats. Consulting with a nutritionist will help you find a diet plan suited to your needs, ensuring you receive all necessary nutrients while managing your thyroid health.

How to Improve Thyroid Function with Nava’s Nutritionists

Navigating your diet with hypothyroidism can be challenging, but understanding the foods to avoid with hypothyroidism is a significant first step. Moreover, incorporating the dietary changes we’ve outlined above can support your thyroid health and improve your quality of life. But if you’re stuck for ideas on how to do this, nutrition counseling can help make it easier.

At Nava, we work with each person uniquely. We test for thyroid issues, and our Functional Nutritionists can help you create a comprehensive and personalized approach to managing your condition. Schedule an appointment and let’s talk!

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9 Foods to Avoid with Hypothyroidism
Understanding the foods to avoid with hypothyroidism is a significant first step in managing your diet with the help of a nutritionist.