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9 Foods to Avoid if You’re Diagnosed With Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism can be a tricky condition to manage, and what you eat can interfere with your treatment. Some nutrients heavily influence the function of the thyroid gland, and certain foods can inhibit your body’s ability to absorb the replacement hormones you may take as part of your thyroid treatment.

Having a thyroid condition is no picnic, but you’re not alone with this health issue. According to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12 per cent of the population may end up dealing with a thyroid condition at some point in their lives. And thyroid issues can be sneaky: Of the nearly 20 million Americans living with the disease, as many as 60 per cent don’t even realize they have it.

As with many health conditions, some factors are out of your control, including your family history and the environment around you. But diet also plays a prominent role — and since you’re the one in charge of your plate, you can decide which thyroid-friendly foods to choose.

Some items on this list may strike you as odd, like fibre and coffee, because they’re considered ‘healthy’ or ‘safe’ picks for many other diets. You can still enjoy these foods groups, but moderating your intake is a good idea when managing hypothyroidism.

But many of the others to watch out for already falling into the no-no category as part of an intelligent diet, so skipping them, or at least cutting way back, is a no-brainer. These include fried fast-food meals, salty processed foods, sugary treats, pastry, cake, cookies, ice cream, and excessive alcohol.

So while there’s no such thing as a “hypothyroidism diet” that will make you well, eating smart can help you feel better despite the condition. Here are nine foods to limit or avoid as you manage hypothyroidism:

1. Foods With Soy, Including Edamame, Tofu, and Miso

Are you a fitness freak or want to switch to a healthy lifestyle? Confuse about what to eat, oats or roti? Then we have a solution we are trying to solve your problem. We Indians are very much attached to our food, and our food is incomplete without roti. Still, in the modern diet, we see that rotis being replaced by oats, but do we really need to quit roti! Because rotis are nutritious and healthy. It’s a part of our food culture, so let’s see if we can go for a healthy lifestyle without quitting our favourite roti?

2. 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 thyroid hormone production if you have an iodine deficiency.

So if you do, it’s 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 impact iodine uptake truly.

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. Limiting your intake of these (cooked) vegetables to 5 ounces a day may help since that amount appears to have no adverse effect on thyroid function.

3. Gluten, Found in Bread, Pasta, and Rice

Those with hypothyroidism may want to consider minimizing their gluten intake, a protein found in foods processed from wheat, barley, rye, and other grains, says Ruth Frechman, RDN, a dietitian in 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 hamper thyroid hormone replacement medication absorption.

In May 2017, Endocrine Connections noted that hypothyroidism and celiac disease are often present together. 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 choose to eat gluten, be sure to choose whole-grain varieties of bread, pasta, and rice, which are high in fibre and other nutrients and help improve bowel irregularity, a common symptom of hypothyroidism. 

Also, be sure to take your hypothyroidism medication several hours before or after eating high-fibre foods to prevent them from interfering with the absorption of your synthetic thyroid hormone.

4. Fatty Foods Such as Butter, Meat, and All Things Fried

Fats have been found to disrupt the body’s ability to absorb thyroid hormone replacement medicines, says Stephanie Lee, MD, PhD, associate chief of endocrinology, nutrition, and diabetes at Boston Medical Center and an associate professor Boston University School of Medicine in Massachusetts.

Fats may also interfere with the Thyroid’s ability to produce hormone as well. Some healthcare professionals recommend that you cut out all fried foods and reduce your intake of fats from sources such as butter, mayonnaise, margarine, and fatty cuts of meat.

5. Sugary Foods Like This Delicious Chocolate Cake

Hypothyroidism can cause the body’s metabolism to slow down, Frechman says. That means it’s easy to put on pounds if you aren’t careful. “You want to avoid foods with excess amounts of sugar because it’s a lot of calories with no nutrients,” she says. It’s best to reduce the amount of sugar you eat or eliminate it from your diet.

6. Processed Foods in Packages and the Frozen Aisle

“Processed foods tend to have a lot of sodium, and people with hypothyroidism should avoid sodium,” Frechman says. Having an underactive thyroid increases a person’s risk for high blood pressure, and too much sodium further increases this risk.

Read the “Nutrition Facts” label on the packaging of processed foods to find options lowest in sodium. According to the American Heart Association, people with an increased risk for high blood pressure should restrict their sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams a day.

7. Excess Fiber From Beans, Legumes, and Vegetables

Getting enough fibre is good for you, but too much can complicate your hypothyroidism treatment. The government’s Daily Guidelines for Americans currently recommends that adults up to age 50 should take 25 to 38 grams of fibre a day.

Amounts of dietary fibre from whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, and legumes that go above that level affect your digestive system and interfere with the absorption of thyroid hormone replacement drugs.

If you’re on a high-fibre diet, ask your doctor if you need a higher dose of thyroid medication. Your maintenance dose may need to be increased if you aren’t absorbing enough medication.

8. Coffee: Time Your First Cup Carefully in the Morning

Per a study in the journal Thyroid, caffeine has been found to block absorption of thyroid hormone replacement. “People who were taking their thyroid medication with their morning coffee had uncontrollable thyroid levels, and we couldn’t figure it out,” says Dr Lee. “I now have to be very careful to tell people, ‘Only take your medication with water.'” You should wait at least 30 minutes after taking your medication before having a cup of joe.

9. Alcohol Doesn't Play Well With Your Thyroid.

Alcohol consumption can wreak havoc on both thyroid hormone levels in the body and the ability of the Thyroid to produce the hormone, according to a study in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism. Alcohol appears to have a toxic effect on the thyroid gland and suppresses the ability of the body to use thyroid hormone. Ideally, people with hypothyroidism should cut out alcohol completely or drink in careful moderation.

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