Thyroid:10 foods specialists avoid - and 3 they love

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the front of your neck. Its role is to use iodine in your diet to produce thyroid hormones that support virtually any bodily function you can think of - heart rate, blood flow, metabolism, internal clock, liver function - the list goes on.

Thyroid 10 foods specialists avoid - and 3 they love
Thyroid food to avoid

According to the American Thyroid Association, nearly 20 million Americans (and many more women than men) have hyperthyroidism or an underactive thyroid gland. Since more than half of them don't know, it's a good reason to know which foods thyroid professionals like and what to avoid.

They avoid ... kelp and algae

Even though kelp and other algae are considered green superfoods, these sea plants are not necessarily friends of the thyroid gland. “Algae is the richest source of dietary iodine,” says Dr. Richard Mack Harrell, an endocrinologist at Memorial Healthcare System in Florida. It may sound like a good thing, but too much iodine could be harmful.

For example, in a 2014 case study, a woman feeding on kelp ended up with hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) followed by hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).

“Typically endocrinologists tell people with diagnosed thyroid disease to be careful about their intake of kelp and other algae,” says Dr. Harrell. Endocrinologist Cheryl Rosenfeld, of Parsippany, New Jersey, says the risk of lacking iodine in food in the United States is low to zero because food is fortified with it.

They avoid ... kale

Another popular health food is kale (or kale) that may not be the best choice for those with thyroid issues. Kale is a cruciferous vegetable, and all vegetables in this category (e.g. cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and rutabaga) are considered goitrogens, substances that disrupt thyroid function. by interfering with the way the gland uses iodine, says Dr. Rosenfeld. “Eating too many cruciferous vegetables can make the thyroid overactive or underactive,” she says.

More often than not, people who eat them already have undiagnosed thyroid problems, and the excess of cruciferous vegetables tilts the scales. Cooking makes them harmless to the thyroid, but since kale is usually eaten raw - in salads and smoothies, for example - it can be problematic. “When people eat big kale salads every day, especially when their thyroid hormone levels are low, it can affect thyroid function,” says Cheryl Harris, registered dietitian, and nutrition coach in Fairfax, Va.

They avoid ... green juices

Juicing is more than a healthy fad, it's a movement. If you have thyroid problems, on the other hand, it may be best to avoid the habit, advises Dr. Rosenfeld. “When you turn your vegetables into juice, the goitrogens are even more concentrated,” she explains. Better to eat your vegetables and fruits than to drink them. "

They avoid ... soy

Soy is another goitrogen that can be a problem in people with already imbalanced iodine levels. "The biggest problem is that soy blocks the absorption of thyroid hormones taken by patients," says Dr. John Woody Sistrunk, an endocrinologist in Jackson, Mississippi. Avoid this scenario by taking your thyroid hormones alone and on an empty stomach, he concludes.

They avoid ... gluten

Many people with thyroid disease also have celiac disease, an autoimmune disease triggered by eating gluten. That's why many people with thyroid problems think it's worth avoiding gluten, says Cheryl Harris. Dr. Rosenfeld and Dr. Sistrunk warn, however, that in the absence of celiac disease, there is no evidence that a gluten-free diet has any effect on thyroid function.

They avoid ... sugar

If sugar doesn't already have a good health press, you can now add thyroid problems to the list of complaints about it. Cheryl Harris explains that people with thyroid disease have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Limiting sugar intake can help minimize this risk.

They avoid ... artificial sweeteners

Yes, sugar can be harmful to your health, but artificial sweeteners are no better if you are at risk for thyroid disease. “There are recent small-scale studies showing that artificial sweeteners can affect thyroid function,” says Cheryl Harris. Large-scale studies have yet to be done, but it is believed that artificial sweeteners may affect the gut microbiome, "a study published in Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism suggests.

They avoid ... flavored salts

The problem is not with what is in the salts, but rather what is not. Many table salts available in the United States have been iodized (added iodine to them) to help consumers get enough of the nutrient. But the popularity of sea and kosher salts means that some people might be short of them. “The only known use of iodine in the body is for thyroid hormones,” says Dr. Elizabeth N. Pearce, an endocrinologist at Boston Medical Center and former president of the American Thyroid Association.

They avoid ... millet and cassava

Not used in traditional American cuisine, millet and cassava flours have recently gained in popularity. "Millet is a grain found primarily in the United States as birdseed," says Cheryl Harris. But it's used much more often today, especially since more and more people are consuming gluten-free foods. Cassava is a root vegetable widely used in Central American cuisine, but it is also used in the United States to make flour and tortillas, among other things. "

They avoid ... processed foods

"There is a lot of speculation as to why thyroid disease is so common today, and whether the additives and chemicals in processed foods play a role," adds Cheryl Harris. As some believe that carrageenan and polysorbate 80 are additives associated with many autoimmune diseases, it could also cause thyroid problems. But this scenario has not been examined in depth. "

“It's a good idea to avoid processed foods,” says Dr. Cheryl Rosenfeld. A diet very rich in processed foods is associated with diabetes (type 2) and heart disease. ”

They love ... Brazil nuts

According to the National Institute of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements, a 30-gram serving of Brazil nuts contains 544 micrograms of selenium. “Data shows that if you have chronic Hashimoto's thyroiditis, but your thyroid is still functioning, its capacity will decrease more slowly if you consume adequate amounts of selenium,” adds Dr. Rosenfeld. As suggested by some findings published in Clinical Endocrinology. Chronic Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune condition that can slow down your thyroid function.

They like ... tuna

Since tuna and other fish like sardines are high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, the American Heart Association recommends eating two meals of fish (preferably fatty) per week. Tuna and sardines, in particular, are also a good source of selenium.

They love ... eggs

Being an excellent source of selenium, eggs can help keep your thyroid functioning well in the longer term. According to Dietitians of Canada, 2 cooked eggs contain 34 micrograms of selenium. “Multivitamins also contain the recommended daily dose of selenium,” concludes Dr. John Woody Sistrunk.

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