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Diet for an Underactive Thyroid

Bhakti Satalkar Oct 3, 2018
If a person has an underactive thyroid, it is often seen that the person starts gaining weight. One should start with a diet to treat underactive thyroid, so that the thyroid functions well.
An underactive thyroid in medical terms is called hypothyroidism. It means an abnormally low production of thyroid hormone. About 3 to 5% of the population is affected with this condition.
When a person has an underactive thyroid, he has a lower metabolic rate, which leads to weight gain. The other symptoms noticed include tiredness, heavy and irregular periods, depression, constipation, dry skin and hair, etc.
In addition to under-performing thyroid glands, the adrenals too do not perform at par. When the body notices that there is a lack of adrenalin, it sends a message urging the glands to start producing more adrenalin. 
Then it so happens that all the glands start producing, rather over-producing the hormone, and this leads to an imbalance in the body. This imbalance leads to weight gain and other problems.
A lot of people resort to a number of 'fad' diets available in the market to treat this condition. However, this is not the right method of battling the problem. It is important to choose correct foods, which will help in treating the symptoms of low thyroid.
An underactive thyroid diet is the one, that boosts thyroid function, which in turn helps in balancing the hormones. At the same time, there are certain foods, which can slow down thyroid function, therefore should be avoided.

Constituents of the Diet

The diet for an underactive thyroid, if followed well, will help in keeping your weight gain in check. A certain amount of effort is required, but surely you will take the pains if you want to stay in good shape or lose weight, more importantly, maintain your health.

Whole Food Diet

If you have hypothyroidism, it is recommended that you consume whole grains, seeds, unpolished brown rice, legumes and millet.
Make vegetables and fruits your staple diet and have other food just to compliment the vegetables and fruits in your diet. If you are able to lay your hands on organically grown vegetables, it will be better.

Increase Iodine Consumption

In hypothyroidism people often suffer from low levels of iodine, therefore, it is recommended that you increase the consumption of iodine. Iodine rich foods include sea salt, iodized salt, eggs, dairy products and seafood. Other than these foods the vegan sources of iodine include onions, radishes and watercress.

Consume Vitamin E

Studies have shown that vitamin E consumed with iodine, increases absorption of iodine in the body. The results are remarkable and are observed immediately.

Consume Vitamin D

Along with vitamin E, it is important that your diet is also rich in vitamin D. There are a number of vitamin D rich foods, which can be a part of your diet. Along with these foods, you can also get your quota of vitamin D from the sun everyday.


Studies have shown that zinc helps in improving thyroid gland functioning. Many patients suffering from an underactive thyroid, normally have low levels of zinc, after zinc supplements were given to them, there was remarkable improvement in the functioning of thyroid gland.

Avoid Caffeine

Caffeine leads to an upset glandular system, causing further damage to the system. Hence, it is advised that you avoid caffeine intake. Remember a number of soft drinks also contain caffeine, therefore along with tea and coffee, consumption of soft drinks should be controlled too.

Avoid Alcohol

Like caffeine alcohol is also to be avoided in diet for hypothyroidism. As alcohol creates havoc with the functioning of the glandular system, therefore, alcohol should not be consumed to arrest further damage to the system.

Avoid Low Nutrient and High Calorie Food Products

Processed food, sugar, fried foods, meat, saturated fats, alcohol, caffeine, etc. are foods which might give you a temporary high, but it will give you a permanent weight high too. Hence, these low on nutrient value and high on calories foods are best avoided.

Avoid Fluoride and Chlorine

Fluoride and chlorine block the absorption of iodine in the body. Reduced iodine results in a reduced hormone production, which is said to be the main cause of hypothyroidism. Hence, a person suffering from hypothyroidism is advised to keep away from fluoride and chlorine.

Avoid Goitrogens

These foods are known to hamper functioning of the thyroid gland, as they stop iodine from reaching the thyroid gland, therefore should be avoided. The foods that come under this category include cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, turnips, Brussels sprouts, peanuts, kale and soy flour.

Use Natural Thyroid Supplement

Using natural thyroid supplements is recommended, as they well support thyroid functioning and at the same time nourish your body. There are herbs available in the market which are naturally rich in iodine. Iodine is required to bring balance to the thyroid glands.
If you are pregnant or nursing, you should speak with your health care professional, before you increase your iodine intake.

Points to Remember about Hypothyroidism and Weight Loss

Along with the diet rules, there are certain rules, which will prove to be of help in the weight loss process. For most people weight loss has to be instantaneous. However, it cannot be. It is best to aim for a slower weight loss process, than to be dejected and give up.
At the same time a crash diet does more harm than good to the system. It often results in loss of muscle mass, which further aggravates the problem. Having the right portion sizes is important. The ideal portion size of fruits and vegetables in a day is 5 portions and that of protein rich food is 2 servings.
Often it is seen that a lot of people change their medication in order to lose weight. However, it is not recommended. As is following a diet important, having an exercise program in place is equally important, if not more important.
It is important to follow the underactive thyroid diet to keep hypothyroidism under check. It is not difficult to follow the diet. It will not only help you improve the functioning of the thyroid glands, but will also help you keep your weight under control. Weight issues are commonly seen in patients suffering from both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.