I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism back in 2010 and was prescribed 50 mcg of Levothyroxine. The doctor then advised me to have my thyroid hormone levels checked every year and pretty much sent me on my marry way with no other plan of action.
At the time I didn’t know much about the condition, only that the people I knew had it always talked about how much weight they gained. From that point on, I decided to get informed and pursue a healthier diet to try to get this disease under control.
Having hypothyroidism means that I have an under active thyroid gland, in other words my gland can’t produce enough thyroid hormone to maintain some of my body functions. As I learned about some of the symptoms, I was baffled to discover I had been experiencing several (for a couple of years) without being aware of the cause. Below you will find a list of symptoms as well as food do’s and don’ts.
Some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism include the following:
- Fluctuations of body temperature
- Slow metabolism and weight gain
- Bowel irregularity
- Cold fingers and toes
- Hair thinning/loss
- Menstrual cycle changes and infertility
I didn’t make huge changes to my diet but I made a list of some food items that compromise my thyroid hormone levels. I always try my best to avoid them since I know they are detrimental to my overall health.
FOODS TO AVOID
- Soy: I consider soy my enemy number one. I found out it is safe to consume unless you have a thyroid condition or iodine deficiency, which I do. Soybean oil is listed as a main ingredient in several food items; Mayonnaise is an example. I always look at the label ingredients before buying anything and consider better options. Soy can obstruct the absorption of the thyroid medication and mess up with my treatment.
- Raw cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, turnips and Bok choy, etc. contain a natural chemical compound called goitrogen. Goitrogens can also interfere with the thyroid hormone replacement therapy as soy does. The antioxidant and cancer protective benefits that cruciferous vegetables offer are enormous, so I don’t take them away from my daily diet. If I don’t eat them in large amounts, steaming and cooking them will make them safer to eat.
- Sugary and fried foods: There is no denying that sugary and processed foods have lots of calories with very few nutrients. If consumed often, this type of food will expedite the issue of slow metabolism and weight gain.
- Processed foods: Something I discovered recently is that people with hypothyroidism can suffer from hypertension. Eating too much salt, which most processed foods have, causes water retention which contributes to an increase in the blood pressure. Restricting sodium intake to 1500 mg/day, which is the daily recommended sodium intake for people with hypertension, will keep this problem under control.
- Coffee: The consensus is that drinking coffee within 60 min of taking thyroid medication will block its absorption. From the beginning, I was advised by the pharmacist to take my meds on an empty stomach and to wait at least 30 min (preferably 60 min) before eating or drinking anything besides water. I have my medication and a glass of water next to my bed. so I created the habit of taking my levothyroxine as soon as I wake up.
One crucial modification I made to my diet was to add certain food items that nurture my body. These foods relieve some of the hypothyroidism symptoms, as well as decrease inflammation and strengthen my immune system.
FOODS TO ADD TO DIET
- Increase intake of water: This is the easiest and most recommended tip for pretty much any diet. With hypothyroidism comes slow metabolism and bowel irregularity. So I increased my water intake to aid metabolism and digestion problems.
- Coconut Oil: Consuming coconut oil increases the metabolism rate, so it helps boost the energy level. In addition, it has antimicrobial, antibacterial and antioxidant properties that aid the digestive functions and inflammation. I usually cook my vegetables in coconut oil, it also adds sweet and nutty notes to the dish.
- Wild caught Salmon: Autoimmune hypothyroidism happens when a person immune system attacks the thyroid gland. Eating foods high in Omega 3, like wild salmon, assists the body in reducing inflammation and supporting the immune system to achieve better neurological function.
- Rich fiber foods like beans, lentils, quinoa, brown rice, oatmeal, apples, etc. My goal here is to aid digestion and constipation.
- Fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants: The goal here is to fight free radical damage and lower inflammation. Dark green veggies, blueberries, red berries, beets, etc. are great examples.
- Seaweed: A deficiency of Iodine will disturb the normal function of the thyroid gland. The best natural source of iodine is kelp and nori. I usually buy dry seaweed in the Asian food section at my local supermarket or enjoy it with sushi.
- Probiotics: Having a healthy gut environment is important to keep my immune system in check. Adding Kefir, organic goat’s milk, yogurt, kombucha and other fermented foods to my diet help to accomplish an optimal gut environment.
Before being diagnosed, I was gaining weight without a change in lifestyle or diet. After taking charge of my diet I began to feel better. I am 5’6 and weight 125 pounds, so I can say that somewhat my changes have worked. There are times when some of the symptoms such as fatigue, bowel irregularity, slow metabolism and weird body temperature changes return. Usually when that happen its because I have gone away from what I know is good for my body; it is a reminder that I need to stay focused.
I hope this article helps you in some way wherever you are in your journey with hypothyroidism. Please feel free to comment below with any questions or tips. I would love to know more about your story.