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The Impact of Diet on Thyroid Health

Dec 23, 2023 | Blog | 0 comments

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the impact of diet on thyroid health

An estimated 20 million people in the United States have some type of thyroid disorder. Although all of the causes of thyroid disease remain unknown, researchers have begun to uncover mounting evidence that one major, primary cause is nutritional deficiencies. The impact of diet on thyroid health cannot be overstated. In addition, exposure to environmental chemicals (including pesticides), as well as to pathogens (including mold), maybe another major factor linked to unresolved thyroid problems.

How Does My Thyroid Affect My Health

Thyroid Health 101

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck. It plays a vital role in the proper functioning of your hormonal or endocrine system. The thyroid makes hormones that control how effectively you burn calories for energy. In other words, your metabolism. Thyroid hormones are chemical messengers that affect all the cells of your body. The two main hormones are known as T4 and T3. T4 is called inactive hormone because it must be converted to the active form, called T3.

Thyroid hormones are responsible for many critical functions in the body. Together, they work to regulate essential aspects of metabolism such as your heart rate, energy, fatigue, brain function, weight stability, and more.

The two main forms of thyroid disease are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism, also called a slow or underactive thyroid, occurs when the body doesn’t release sufficient levels of thyroid hormones. Your metabolism slows down, you feel fatigued and you often gain weight, among other symptoms.

In hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid, the gland produces high levels of hormones. This condition is less common and speeds up your metabolism. However, it is potentially dangerous as it also causes other symptoms like weight loss, rapid heartbeat, and insomnia.

Two major thyroid diseases are autoimmune-related (Hashimoto’s and Graves). In autoimmunity, the reason you are having thyroid problems is that your immune system is confused and attacks the gland! According to the American Thyroid Association, people with thyroid problems (and their doctors) find it difficult to realize they have the disease because symptoms are often attributed to other health conditions and because the symptoms vary greatly from person to person. Fortunately, the problem of poor thyroid function can be solved if you know the most effective nutrition to strive for, strategies to manage stress, and cutting-edge technology proven to remove the toxic substances that negatively affect thyroid function.

Recognizing Thyroid Disease Symptoms

Recognizing thyroid disease symptoms

Hypothyroid – Is This Your Broken Metabolism?

We all know people who can eat whatever they want, and yet they never seem to gain weight. You, on the other hand, just look at food (from across the street) yet continue to gain weight! What’s the difference? Certainly, low thyroid function is one of the many reasons for a poor (or slow) metabolism.
Many people (including those diagnosed with hypothyroidism) are unaware that low thyroid function frequently occurs when the body attacks its own thyroid gland. The confused immune system forms antibodies against its own normal thyroid tissue, negatively affecting thyroid hormone production and resulting in low thyroid function and subsequent symptoms. This Situation is Called Autoimmune or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

In other words, most people (again, including those diagnosed with hypothyroidism) don’t realize that they actually have an autoimmune disease. To be able to successfully lose weight, or resolve any low thyroid symptom (see a complete list below), you must address your confused immune system. You must calm it down, so to speak, so it does not attack your thyroid, or at least, attacks it less frequently.

Fortunately, addressing nutritional deficiencies, managing stress, and removing cellular toxicities can do this, resolving many symptoms, including the most prevalent one, stubborn weight loss resistance.

Common Symptoms When Your Thyroid Is Underactive (Hashimoto’s) Include:

  • Fatigue and sluggishness.
  • Unexplained weight gain.
  • Dry skin and hair.
  • Sensitivity to cold.
  • Constipation.
  • Depression and irritability.
  • Memory problems.
  • Slow heart rate.

Hyperthyroidism: When Your Thyroid Is Overactive (Grave’s)

Hyperthyroidism: when your thyroid is overactive

On the other hand, hyperthyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland is overactive, producing excessive thyroid hormones. Just like with Hashimoto’s disease, many people are unaware that high or overactive thyroid function frequently occurs when the body attacks its own thyroid gland. This is a condition known as Grave’s disease.

Symptoms of Overactive Thyroid Often Include:

  • Rapid and irregular heartbeat
  • Weight loss
  • Nervousness, anxiety, or irritability
  • Tremors in the hands and fingers
  • Increased sensitivity to heat
  • Changes in menstrual patterns
  • Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)

Symptoms of Thyroid Disease

While hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are the most common types of thyroid diseases, other disorders such as thyroid nodules, thyroiditis, and thyroid cancer may also exhibit unique symptoms, such as a lump in the neck, throat pain, and difficulty swallowing or breathing.

Conventional Treatment Options for Thyroid Diseases

Conventional treatment options for thyroid diseases

Hypothyroidism Treatment

For hypothyroidism, synthetic thyroid hormone Synthroid (levothyroxine) is commonly prescribed. This oral medication replenishes the lacking hormone levels, helping to reverse the symptoms of hypothyroidism. However, it does not address the reason why the hormones are so low.

Hyperthyroidism Treatment

Treatment for hyperthyroidism aims to reduce hormone production. Medications like methimazole and propylthiouracil are often used. In some severe cases, radioactive therapy or thyroidectomy (surgical removal of all or part of the thyroid gland) may be recommended.

Thyroid Nodule and Cancer Treatment

Thyroid nodules and cancer are usually treated with surgical intervention. Depending on the severity, this might involve removing the thyroid, either the nodule, part of the thyroid, or the entire gland. In some cases, radioactive iodine therapy might be used post-surgery to destroy any remaining cancerous cells.

Thyroiditis Treatment

Thyroiditis, an inflammation of the thyroid gland, can be caused by various factors like autoimmunity, viral infections, or postpartum hormonal changes. Treatments vary depending on the type and cause, ranging from observation and symptom control to medications or even surgery.

Monitoring Thyroid Health

Regular health checks, including thyroid function tests, can help in early detection of thyroid diseases. Any symptoms or health changes should be discussed promptly with a healthcare professional.

Looking for Root Causes – The Functional Medicine Approach

One main root cause of all thyroid problems is nutritional deficiencies. The importance of maintaining a healthy diet for individuals diagnosed with Hashimoto’s (autoimmune hypothyroidism) cannot be overstated. An anti-inflammatory diet that is simultaneously rich in nutrients is an effective way to manage autoimmune disease. The Western diet, aka Standard American Diet (SAD!), is known to increase inflammation and the risk of chronic degenerative disease, is a food plan that is counterproductive. In Functional Medicine, there is great emphasis on the power of whole food nutrition. However, there is rarely a single prescribed best diet for Hashimoto’s, as no one diet will ever prove to treat everyone with any particular autoimmune disease.

What Can You Eat If You Have Hashimoto’s?

What can you eat if you have hashimoto’s?

The foods you can eat on this diet include poultry, fish, lamb, vegetables that aren’t nightshades, and fruits in moderation. It is best to minimize fruit consumption due to its high sugar content. When consuming fruit, pair it with fiber, protein, or fat to slow down the absorption of sugar. Healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil should also be incorporated into your diet. Of course, even these healthy foods may be problematic for some people with specific food sensitivities or intolerances. Effective lab testing or careful monitoring by a food journal can discover these hidden triggers. Additionally, it is important to note that the quality of the food you consume also matters. Choosing organic, non-GMO, and locally sourced foods whenever possible can help reduce exposure to toxins and support overall health.

Go Gluten-Free

Most people with Hashimoto’s also experience persistent food sensitivities or food ‘intolerances’ to gluten. This is not quite as severe as celiac disease in most cases. However, for all intent and purposes, the symptoms can be just as relentless and problematic. The main symptoms of constipation, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, acid reflux, gas, fatigue, headaches, and brain fog are the most common unwanted reactions to gluten. Clinically, virtually all of our clients who (diligently) go gluten-free start to feel and function much better. Improvements in digestion, mood, energy, brain fog, sleep, and weight are common. Gluten is commonly found in pasta, bread, baked goods, beer, soups, and cereals. The best way to go gluten-free thyroid diet is to focus on foods that are naturally gluten-free, such as vegetables, fruits, clean animal proteins, seafood, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and eggs.


Besides gluten, there are other foods, goitrogens, which can interfere with thyroid function by inhibiting iodine uptake. These include cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. Cooking these vegetables can reduce their goitrogenic effect. Lastly, soy products can interfere with thyroid hormone absorption. Limit soy-based foods, especially if you have hypothyroidism.

Advanced Whole Food Supplements

Most of the time, a good diet is still not enough to overcome nutritional deficiencies! Over fifty percent of Americans take a nutritional supplement, but the majority don’t know why. Consulting with a Functional Medicine practitioner to determine your nutrient needs via vitamin and mineral deficiencies through the appropriate lab work (rarely done in conventional medicine) is key.


Your diet significantly impacts your thyroid health. By incorporating thyroid-friendly foods and avoiding those that can interfere with thyroid function, you can support your thyroid health. Remember, a balanced, nutrient-rich diet combined with professional medical advice is the key to managing thyroid health effectively.


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