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The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland present in the throat, just below your Adam’s apple. The thyroid gland produces two hormones, T3 (thyroxine) and T4 (triiodothyronine), which are maintained by the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). The thyroid is one of the most important organs in your body, as the thyroid hormones regulate a number of functions from generating body heat to the smooth functioning of your metabolism.

Thyroid dysfunctions in the body can either present as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. In hypothyroidism, there is reduced production of thyroxine hormone in the body which slows down the metabolism, leading to weight gain and intolerance to cold. 

In hyperthyroidism, there is an increased production of thyroxine hormone in the body which stimulates the metabolism, leading to weight loss and intolerance to heat.

Thyroid dysfunctions can also occur when the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland, leading to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Grave’s disease. 

Hypothyroidism is most commonly seen in women: one in every 10 women worldwide has hypothyroidism. In addition to medication, people living with hypothyroidism need to manage their diet. Here in this article, we will talk about the food items and beverages that are recommended for people with hypothyroidism.

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  1. Which foods to avoid if you have low thyroid levels or hypothyroidism?
  2. What to eat if you have a low thyroid level or hypothyroidism?
  3. What to drink in hypothyroidism or low thyroid hormone
Doctors for Diet for hypothyroidism

You must avoid these food items if you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism:

Avoid vegetables like cabbage and cauliflower in hypothyroidism

Vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower and kohlrabi belong to the family of Brassica oleracea. They are also known as cruciferous vegetables and are rich in fibre. According to a study, excess consumption of these cruciferous vegetables can interfere in the production of thyroid hormone leading to hypothyroidism.

They believe that the breakdown of progoitrin, which is found in cruciferous vegetables, lead to the formation of a compound known as goitrin, which may interfere with the production of thyroid hormone. Another study depicted that high consumption of cruciferous vegetables in women, with pre-existing iodine deficiency, can lead to thyroid cancer.

Soybean can increase the chances of hypothyroidism

Different lab studies and animal data have confirmed that in people with compromised thyroid function and reduced iodine intake, soy foods may increase the risk of developing hypothyroidism. Soybean also reduces the ability of thyroid medication to be absorbed properly. People at risk of hypothyroidism should talk to their doctor about reducing their soybean consumption.

Cut down on the consumption of white rice if you have hypothyroidism

White rice is contraindicated in people with hypothyroidism as it interferes with the absorption of synthetic thyroid hormones. Doctors recommend people with hypothyroidism to eat brown rice rather than white.

Do not consume coffee or green tea if you have hypothyroidism

Studies have shown that coffee interferes with the absorption of thyroxine (T4) in the intestines, therefore causing hypothyroidism. Therefore, doctors recommend that people with hypothyroidism should not consume coffee as it can further lower the level of thyroid in their body.

There has been a debate about the use of green tea by patients of hypothyroidism. While some doctors allow patients to have green tea once a day, others advise against it. Various studies have shown that green tea has goitrogenic (substances that disrupt the production of thyroid hormones) and antithyroid properties, as it reduces the levels of thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) and increases the levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone, thus creating a state of hypothyroidism in the body.

Avoid alcohol if you have hypothyroidism

Alcohol consumption is known to reduce the levels of thyroid hormones in the body. It also suppresses the body’s ability to use the thyroid hormone that is released by the thyroid gland. People with hypothyroidism are usually asked to quit or moderate their alcohol consumption.

Organ meat should be avoided in hypothyroidism

Organ meat like liver and kidney are rich in cholesterol and saturated fats. When there is a low level of thyroid hormone in the body, the body is unable to metabolize LDL (low-density lipopolysaccharide) which is also known as the bad cholesterol. Therefore, people with hypothyroidism are asked to avoid organ meats.

You should include the following food items and drinks in your diet if you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism:

Iodised salt for a low thyroid level or hypothyroidism

Iodine is an important mineral which is required for the production of thyroid hormone in the body. In the case of iodine deficiency in the body, the production of the thyroid hormone in the body reduces, leading to hypothyroidism. Iodine deficiency can also lead to enlargement of the thyroid gland which is medically called a goitre. Deficiency of iodine in a pregnant woman can lead to intellectual disabilities in her child.

The body does not make iodine, so it is extremely important to include it in your daily diet. The easiest way to include iodine is by adding iodised salt in the food. Iodine is also found in sea vegetables, cranberries, fish and eggs.

Seafood for a low thyroid level or hypothyroidism

Selenium is a mineral which has an extremely important role in the working of the thyroid gland. Selenium helps in metabolising the thyroid hormones, which means it helps the hormones to work in different parts of the body. 

Zinc is another mineral which is important for the functioning of the thyroid gland. Just like selenium, zinc also helps in metabolising the hormones released by the thyroid gland. Zinc also helps in regulating the thyroid-stimulating hormone which manages the release of thyroid hormones.

Shellfish, lobster, shrimp and fish are all rich sources of zinc and selenium. Around 85 grams of shrimp contains about 40 micrograms of selenium. Adult men and women require 55 micrograms of selenium a day - this requirement goes up to 60 micrograms during pregnancy and 60 micrograms while breastfeeding. Adult men need 11 milligrams of zinc, while women need 8-9 milligrams - this requirement can up to 12 milligrams in pregnant women and 13 milligrams in lactating moms. 

Read more: How to get pregnant despite thyroid problems

Oils for a low thyroid level or hypothyroidism

Doctors recommend that olive oil and coconut oil are the best choices for people with hypothyroidism. 

  • Coconut oil: People with hypothyroidism excessively produce stress hormones. Coconut oil helps in regulating the blood sugar and stress hormones, which otherwise suppress the function of the thyroid gland.
  • Extra virgin olive oil: It helps in reducing inflammation, which is seen in people with autoimmune thyroid dysfunction such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Olive oil is known to maintain the levels of thyroid hormone in the body.

However, one must not overuse these oils and they should be used as per the nutritionist’s or doctor’s recommendations.

Spices for a low thyroid level or hypothyroidism

Spices such as turmeric, liquorice (mulethi), rosemary and sage are known to be effective for people who are suffering from autoimmune thyroid diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Grave’s disease.

  • Turmeric: Turmeric has proven health benefits. The curcumin in turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties, and the polyphenols present in it have antioxidant properties. These properties help in lowering inflammation in the body. (The inflammation is caused due to the attack of the immune system on the thyroid gland.)
  • Liquorice: Licorice (also known as mulethi) helps in protecting the thyroid gland from oxidative damage (damage caused by free radicals in the body) and lowers the levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is otherwise formed in abundance in hypothyroidism patients. 
  • Rosemary: Rosemary has high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is known to relieve inflammation caused due to autoimmune thyroid diseases. It is also said to improve thyroid function.

Vegetables you should eat in hypothyroidism

There are some vegetables which are recommended to a person with low thyroid levels:

  • Ginger and garlic: Ginger and garlic have potent anti-inflammatory actions. These help to stabilize the thyroid gland and reduce the risk of underactive (Hashimoto’s) and overactive (Grave’s disease) thyroid conditions.
  • Tomatoes: Tomatoes are a rich source of the antioxidant lycopene, which reduces oxidative damage caused to the thyroid gland. Tomatoes are also rich in selenium, which helps in the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. 
  • Fibrous vegetables: The thyroid hormone helps in maintaining cholesterol levels, which gets difficult to manage in case of hypothyroidism. Fibrous foods like mushrooms, carrots and potatoes can help in lowering the levels of cholesterol which may increase due to low levels of thyroid hormone in the body. 
  • Bell peppers: Bell peppers are an excellent source of antioxidants and six different carotenoids (alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin) which helps in maintaining the thyroid gland. They are available in various colours such as green, yellow, white, red and orange.
  • Pumpkin: Packed with antioxidants, fibre, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium and zinc, Pumpkin also has L tryptophan which has an anti-inflammatory effect. This vegetable also helps in maintaining good organ health.

Fruits for a low thyroid level or hypothyroidism

There are some fruits which are recommended to a person with low thyroid levels:

  • Pineapples: Pineapples helps in relieving oxidative stress and activate thyroid gland functions. The fruit is used as an adjunct to hypothyroidism therapy.
  • Apple: Citrus fruits, pears, plums and apples are rich in pectins, a gelatinous fibre that helps clear the body of heavy metals, especially mercury, which has been associated with thyroid disorders. Studies show that pectins significantly increase the excretion of toxic metals and can reduce heavy metals in the body by 74%.  
  • Kiwi: Kiwi is rich in vitamin C and vitamin C helps in improving the abnormalities in the levels of thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) and thyroid-stimulating hormone.
  • Papaya: Antioxidants and carotenoids found in papaya reduce oxidative stress in the cases of mild hypothyroidism.

Nuts and seeds for a low thyroid level or hypothyroidism

There are a few nuts and seeds which are recommended to a person with low thyroid levels:

  • Almonds and cashew are a rich source of iron, thus they are necessary for balancing the levels of the thyroid-stimulating hormone even if the patient is on medications for hypothyroidism.
  • Walnuts are rich in selenium, thus they help in the functioning of the thyroid hormones. However, they should not be eaten before taking the thyroid medications as they can interfere with the thyroid hormone absorption.
  • Flax seeds, hemp seeds and chia seeds are rich in alpha-linolenic acid, which is an omega-3 fat that boosts thyroid function and maintains the hormonal balance in the body.

There are various drinks which are recommended to a person with low thyroid levels: 

  • Coriander seeds water: Coriander (seeds) water is known to be one of the most common and oldest home remedies for hypothyroidism. It has been used excessively in Ayurveda for the treatment of hypothyroidism. The vitamins and antioxidants in the coriander seeds are known to heal the thyroid gland and regulate the production of the thyroid hormones. Thyroid patients are advised to have coriander seeds soaked in warm water once daily.
  • Amla juice: Amla juice has proven anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which protect the organs from the oxidative stress and inflammation caused due to hypothyroidism. Having amla juice early in the morning can prove beneficial for hypothyroidism patients.
  • Bottle gourd juice: Bottle gourd juice helps in lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) which might be high in the patients of hypothyroidism. Moreover, bottle guard is rich in vitamin C, thus it helps in maintaining the levels of thyroid hormone in the body. 
  • Wheatgrass juice: Wheatgrass juice is rich in selenium, magnesium, calcium and is a natural liver cleanser. Wheatgrass helps in the functioning of the thyroid gland. This juice also has amino acids which help the liver to convert thyroid hormone T4 into T3. 
  • Other drinks: There are various other drinks that can be made which help in maintaining the levels of thyroid hormone in the body. Some of those drinks are cucumber and coriander juice, apple; carrot and walnut juice; and even turmeric tea (boil a few shavings of fresh turmeric in water for 5 minutes to draw its colour out, strain it and drink).
Dt. Surbhi Upadhyay

Dt. Surbhi Upadhyay

Nutritionist
3 Years of Experience

Dt. Manjari Purwar

Dt. Manjari Purwar

Nutritionist
11 Years of Experience

Dt. Akanksha Mishra

Dt. Akanksha Mishra

Nutritionist
8 Years of Experience

Surbhi Singh

Surbhi Singh

Nutritionist
22 Years of Experience

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