Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones. Because thyroid hormones help control growth, cell repair and metabolism, people who don’t produce enough may experience fatigue, hair loss, weight gain, depression and feeling cold. The condition affects 1-2% of the population and is 10 times more likely to affect women than men.
While no diet can cure hypothyroidism, there are some nutrients you can introduce, alongside medication, to help restore thyroid function and minimize symptoms.
Which Nutrients Should You Eat?
There are several nutrients that can help boost thyroid health.
People with iodine deficiency are at risk of hypothyroidism because iodine is an essential mineral for the production of thyroid hormones. Iodine deficiency is very common worldwide, affecting approximately one-third of the population. It is less common in developed countries, like the U.S., where iodized salt and seafood are widely available.
If you are low on iodine, add iodized table salt to your meals, and incorporate foods such as seaweed, fish, dairy and eggs.
Iodine supplements are available over the counter, but they are unnecessary, as it is easy for most to get a sufficient level of iodine from diet alone. In fact, some studies have shown that too much iodine can actually damage the thyroid gland.
Selenium is a mineral that helps activate thyroid hormones so the body can use them. This nutrient also has antioxidant benefits, meaning it can protect the thyroid gland from damage by free radicals.
Selenium-rich foods include Brazil nuts, tuna, sardines, eggs and legumes.
Like iodine, avoid taking a selenium supplement unless advised by a doctor; supplements are sometimes provided in large doses, and selenium is toxic in large amounts.
Zinc, like selenium, helps activate thyroid hormones. Studies also show that zinc helps the body regulate TSH, which is a hormone that tells the thyroid to release the hormones. Zinc deficiencies are rare in developed countries.
Try to incorporate zinc-rich foods like oysters, other shellfish, beef and chicken.
Which Nutrients Should You Avoid?
Goitrogens are compounds that can interfere with thyroid function. They get their name from the term goiter, which is an enlarged thyroid gland that sometimes accompanies hypothyroidism.
Avoid foods with goitrogens like tofu, cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, spinach, sweet potatoes, peaches, strawberries, pine nuts and peanuts. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call ENT of Georgia today!