Which Foods Are Good and Bad for Thyroid Patients?

Jul 20, 2019

Much like how a teacher presides over a class or a boss facilitates what his workers do, the thyroid gland is the master of our body’s metabolism. Thyroid hormones mainly dictate the rate of metabolism, and in doing so, they also determine our body temperature and the rate at which calories are burnt.

A thyroid disease indicates either an overabundance or a deficit of thyroid hormones - And knowing the difference may just prevent you from worsening your condition.

Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism: What’s the difference?

Hypothyroidism is diagnosed when the thyroid produces an insufficient amount of thyroid hormones. It is the exact opposite of Hyperthyroidism, which is an influx of hormones. Their symptoms are compared and contrasted in the table below:

Hypothyroidism Hyperthyroidism
  • Slow metabolism
  • Quick metabolism
  • Fatigue
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Intolerance for heat
  • Constipation
  • Increased bowel movements
  • Dry skin
  • Excessive sweating
  • Weight gain
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Heart palpitations
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle pain
  • Anxiety and Irritability
  • Depression
  • Light menstrual periods
  • Heavy menstrual periods

Hyper- and Hypothyroidism differ not only in their cause but also in their effects. So it only makes sense that their solution branches out as well. This is where things get a little bit tricky. There are some foods you should eat if you are hyper, but avoid if you are hypo, and vice versa. At the same time, some dishes are beneficial or harmful to the thyroid regardless of affliction. All of these will be distinctively discussed as you read on.

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These are dishes you should eat regardless of whether you have an inactive or overactive thyroid. They contain nutrients that cancel out the negative effects of thyroid disease, or aid in keeping the thyroid gland healthy. Here are some food that are good for thyroid disease

Best Food for thyroid patients

1. Meat

Muscle weakness or pain is one of the effects of thyroid disease. Protein-rich foods are filled with energy, and they are also essential in muscle-building and maintenance. Popular culinary choices include lamb, beef, chicken, and the like. If you’re the type to avoid meat, beans and nuts may serve as protein-rich alternatives. However, practice caution as beans and nuts can be harmful to people with hypothyroidism. On the other hand, egg whites are a perfectly safe food alternative for  both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.

2. Berries

Berries are rich in anti-oxidants. These help remove toxins that have accumulated in our bodies. This feature is particularly helpful to the thyroid, the one in charge of food metabolism. In addition, berries are also rich in fiber and rank lowly on the Glycemic Index food, which indicates that consuming it will not cause spikes in one’s blood sugar level. Alternatives include tomatoes and bell peppers.

3. Gluten-Free Grains

Celiac disease, an ailment primarily caused by gluten, has been repeatedly linked to thyroid disease. Gluten-free diets are known to stabilize antibody levels, which ultimately lead to more consistent thyroid hormone production. Examples are gluten-free rice, buckwheat, and quinoa.

4. Water

Hydration is never a bad thing. Water ingestion helps regulate body temperature, loosen stool, and eliminate fatigue – all of which are effects of thyroid disease. Alternatives include de-caffeinated beverages.

Foods You should avoid Eating

These are foods you should avoid regardless of the type of thyroid disease.

1. Soy-based Consumables, Coffee, and Alcohol

These lessen the effectiveness of thyroid medicine. While there is no need to completely stop eating or drinking these, make sure to steer them away from your medicine schedule. Wait a few hours after ingesting medicine before you eat soy-based foods or drink coffee/alcohol. Examples of soy-based foods include tofu, edamame, and soy milk.

2. Kelp and Seaweed

These oceanic leafy greens are rich in iodine – too rich, perhaps, for an imbalanced thyroid to handle. Although there is no need to completely cut these off from your diet, especially since they are integral to some recipes, remember that too much will damage your thyroid gland. Always eat in moderation.

3. Processed Food

Hotdogs, cakes, cookies, and the like. As painful as it is to remove these beloved munchies from our diets, these tend to contain hard-to-digest and empty calories. This can be especially inconvenient to those with hypothyroidism, as this causes them to gain weight more quickly and easily.

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Hypothyroidism vs. Hyperthyroidism Diet

1. Fish and Seafood

These foods are recommended for people with hypothyroidism and advised against those with hyperthyroidism. These contain a sufficient amount of iodine to increase thyroid hormone production, which would be beneficial if you have a hormonal deficit and harmful if you have a hormonal surplus. A good middle-ground is salmon, which is rich in Omega-3 acids (a nutrient that our body cannot produce) and Vitamin D.

2. Cruciferous Vegetables

Recommended for people with hyperthyroidism and advised against those with hypothyroidism. These are veggies that belong to or are related to the cabbage family. They interfere with thyroid hormone production, causing it to slow down. Examples include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, and the like.

3. Milk and Dairy

Recommended for people with hypothyroidism and advised against those with hyperthyroidism. Dairy promotes the growth of gut bacteria, effectively increasing the body’s metabolism. Examples of dairy products include cheese, yogurt, etc.

A Simplified Version

To make things easier to understand, here is a table of what foods positively and negatively affect your thyroid disease, depending on its type:

Foods Hypo- Hyper-
Gluten-Free Grains
Soy, Coffee, and Alcohol
Kelp and Seaweed
Processed Food
Fish and Seafood
Cruciferous Vegetables
Milk and Dairy


The Takeaway

Doctors can and will provide you with medicine and therapy in order to battle your thyroid disease, but to truly rid your body of such ailments, self-discipline is a necessity. This article tells you what you should and shouldn’t eat, but it is ultimately up to you whether you will or you won’t.

It is an uphill battle, but not an impossible one.

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