Thyroid Friendly Foods

One in 20 people in the UK suffer from thyroid disorders, according to the British Thyroid Foundation. The most common thyroid condition is hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid.  The Menopause Woman page on  Thyroid and Menopause has received over 30,000 visits from our readers looking for information on under active thyroid or low thyroid.

To help you make the right food choices and improve your thyroid health, see the Thyroid  infographic below. The Thyroid Food Swap infographic walks you through some of the foods you should avoid and offers you alternative foods that can help strengthen thyroid function. It includes some of the causes why low thyroid (hypothyroidism) may happen, the common symptoms, and the vital hormonal connection that many women in their forties are unaware of. If you are looking to strengthen thyroid function, keep on reading.

Thyroid Food Swap

Thyroid Food Infographic

Thyroid Food Infographic

Is it my thyroid or the perimenopause?

Women are more susceptible to different hormonal fluctuations than men. Life events such as childbirth and menopause greatly impact and challenge the balance of female hormones, which puts a woman at a higher risk of thyroid disorders than men. And in fact, women are 5 to 8 times likely to have thyroid disease.
It is a well-known fact that women in their forties tend to be more affected than their male counterparts. And in fact, many midlife cases of hypothyroidism have been linked to oestrogen dominance (when oestrogen overrides progesterone). Numerous cases of hypothyroidism go undetected and untreated, mainly because many doctors, and women for that matter, are unaware of the hormone/thyroid connection in perimenopause/menopause.
Interestingly, research demonstrates that approximately 25 percent of women, in or near perimenopause, are diagnosed with hypothyroidism.

So, is there such a thing as a Thyroid Diet?

Whilst there isn’t such a thing as a ‘Thyroid Diet’, there are foods that can damage or strengthen the thyroid gland and its function, together with general hormone production. The thyroid needs certain vitamins and minerals that are accessible in many foods. A healthy diet of real foods consisting of a plant-based, whole-food regime, provides active nutrients which can help to protect the thyroid. However, try and make sure you eat organic or buy your food from a local farm, as conventional-agricultural methods have left our soils depleted in essential and important nutrients that dictate our health.

Why certain minerals and vitamins matter

A deficieny in certain vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, B-complex, zinc, selenium, and iodine can cause the thyroid to malfunction. This is when we see unexplained weight gain, foggy thinking, poor blood control, and a myriad of other symptoms; brittle nails, joint pain, allergies, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibrocystic breast disease (noncancerous changes in the breast tissue), hair loss, and diminished sex drive to name a few.

Without iodine, the thyroid will be unable to work at optimum!

The majority of people are deficient in iodine – in fact, nearly 72% of the world’s population. The function of the thyroid gland is to take iodine and convert it into the thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). The thyroid cells combine both iodine and the amino acid, tyrosine, to manufacture T4 and T3. Without iodine, the thyroid gland is unable to function correctly! Good thyroid function is vital to hormone balance.
Using iodized salt isn’t sufficient to remedy this deficiency. The use of iodine that was once added to foods greatly helped to reduce the incidence of goiter (an abnormally enlarged thyroid gland). Nevertheless, in the 1960s the use of iodine in bread, for example, was discontinued, largely because it was thought to be bad for you, and so, was replaced by bromium.

The problem with Bromium

Bromium is now found in such things as bread, vegetable oils, energy and fruit drinks and many other products. Bromium can actually dislodge iodine in a healthy thyroid, provoking it to dysfunction, which may then cause hypothyroidism. To explain further, bromium, as well as fluoride, are chemically similar in structure to iodine and are considered toxic halides.They mimic and compete with iodine, blocking its absorption into the cells. When this happens, thyroid disorder will occur.
Also, today, processed and convenience foods, present a significant problem because they are so depleted in important nutrients that help maintain a fully functioning and healthy thyroid, and therefore, body. Continual consumption over the years of these ‘nutritionless toxic foods’, will eventually affect thyroid function and slow it down!
Keep away from these non-nutritional foods – eat real food!

The problem with fluoride

Fluoride found in our waters and our toothpaste can block iodine binding, as mentioned above. Drink filtered water and buy fluoride-free toothpaste! And apart from that, high fluoride levels have been linked to various mental and physical health issues; impaired brain development, which include lower IQ in children, weaker bones, and more fractures, genetic damage and cell death, an increased tumor and cancer rate, and damaged sperm and increased infertility.

Thyroid friendly foods

Hormone friendly foods include organic, wild or free-range proteins, such as salmon, chicken, eggs, and beef. Other sources are raw nuts and seeds, and fresh fruit, along with pure cold-pressed organic oils, including borage oil, olive oil, sesame oils. And importantly, organic green vegetables which help to boost thyroid function.

What about soy?

Consuming organic soy foods such as fermented soy sauce, fermented soy yoghurts, and miso, in small quantities, are also hormone friendly foods. However, you should avoid all regular soy foods that contain genistein, which ultimately decrease iodine absorption.


Dr Dzugan

British Thyroid Foundation

Dr Northrup on Thyroid Disease