Foods for an underactive thyroid

An underactive thyroid condition occurs when your thyroid gland becomes enlarged and is not able to produce enough hormones throughout your body. It is treatable through medications your doctor can prescribe.

Although diet alone will not treat an underactive thyroid entirely, there are certain foods that can help your underactive thyroid function at a more optimal level.

Foods to Consume

Iodine is essential for proper thyroid function. In a healthy thyroid, there is approximately 20 mg to 30 mg of this mineral stored in the gland. A depletion of iodine results in your thyroid gland not being able to produce enough hormones. This leads to the condition of an underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism.

One way to replenish iodine levels is by consuming it in foods. The easiest solution is to use iodised salt in your diet. Iodine also naturally occurs in foods like cow's milk, yoghurt, seaweed and seafood.

Whole grains found in whole-wheat breads and pastas also help and underactive thyroid, as they contain zinc and vitamin B, which aid hormone production within the thyroid.

Certain vegetables combat hypothyroidism, especially those that are rich in beta-carotene, such as carrots and winter squash. These contain vitamin A, which acts as an antioxidant that can help reduce inflammation of the thyroid.

Also, eat omega-3 rich foods, such as eggs and salmon. They contain an amino acid called tyrosine, which combines with iodine to create thyroid hormones. Other sources of tyrosine include bananas, oats, almonds and avocados.

Foods to Avoid

There are certain foods that a person with an underactive thyroid should avoid. These include soybeans, cabbage, peanuts, pine nuts, kale and processed foods. Such foods contain goitrogens that prevent iodine intake, thus preventing your thyroid from producing hormones. Cooking some of these foods, such as broccoli, can help to eliminate the goitrogens. However, you still should limit goitrogen-rich foods as much as possible.

Also, someone with hypothyroidism should not drink water that contains fluoride, as is found in most tap water. According to Thyroid-Info, fluoride directly harms hormones in your body. Hence, consuming fluoride can further damage an underactive thyroid. Minimise the consumption of green and black teas, as they also contain traces of fluoride. Chlorine is another substance found in tap water, and can have the same effects on hormones that fluoride does. Opt for distilled water, as it is free from unnatural substances.