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What to Eat (and Avoid) to Promote Thyroid Health

Hypothyroidism is a common condition impacting many women today. When your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of certain hormones, it can lead to things like slow digestion, fatigue, dry skin, hair loss, infertility, irregular periods and other life disrupting ailments. Understanding how your thyroid works and being aware of what foods may impact it can help you take a more active role in your overall health and wellness. 


The thyroid is a butterfly shaped hormone gland found at the front of your neck under the voice box. It impacts metabolism, growth and your body’s development, regulating your body by releasing hormones into your bloodstream. When functioning properly, it will provide your body what’s needed depending on the situation. For example, it will provide you with more helpful hormones during pregnancy. 


Some foods, while otherwise recognized as healthy, may have a negative effect on your thyroid. This is because some foods contain compounds called goitrogens that interfere with the normal function of the thyroid gland in some of the following ways. 


Blocking iodine: Iodine is necessary for producing thyroid hormones.


Interfering with TPO: The thyroid peroxidase enzyme attaches iodine to the amino acid tyrosine, which together form the basis of thyroid hormones.


Reducing TSH: Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), helps the thyroid gland produce hormones.


Goitrogenic foods include the likes of broccoli, cauliflower, kale, strawberries, and soy products. Studies have also shown that it is helpful for those with thyroid issues to avoid gluten and ultra processed foods. If you still want to eat your vegetables, consider steaming, cooking, or fermenting them to deactivate the goitrogens.


Foods that contain certain nutrients, such as iodine, selenium, and zinc, can help maintain healthy thyroid function.


Foods rich in iodine include cheese, milk, iodized table salt, saltwater fish, seaweed and whole eggs.


Foods rich in selenium include Brazil nuts, tuna, shrimp, beef, turkey, chicken, ham, oatmeal and brown rice. 


Foods rich in zinc include oysters, crab, fortified cereals, pork, legumes, pumpkin seeds and yogurt.


Your thyroid gland plays an important role in your health and wellbeing, and consequently, can impact your quality of life. By being aware of how the foods you eat (or don’t) impact your thyroid, you can take active steps to minimize or prevent issues caused by hypothyroidism. Be sure to consult with a doctor to receive a proper diagnosis and before making any abrupt changes to your diet.