Hypothyroidism: Foods Sufferers Should Avoid


You’ll never give a passing thought to thyroid hormones when they’re in proper balance. But for millions of people, overproduction of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism) and under production of the hormones (hypothyroidism) disrupt metabolism and prompt reactions that are uncomfortable at best, and at worst quite dangerous.

One of our readers, Mary, recently wrote, ‘I have hypothyroid. I take a prescription drug for it but wondered if there are any dietary changes I can make that could further help?

Hormone treatments should always be taken under a doctor’s care and those patients who are currently taking synthetic thyroid medication should talk to their doctor before making any changes to their regimen.

In terms of diet, there are a couple of types of food that Mary might do well to avoid.

Hypothyroidism: So what is hypothyroidism?

Before Mary was diagnosed as hypothyroid she probably began to feel chronically fatigued. She may have also frequently caught a chill in warm environments, gained weight and felt depressed.

These are all typical symptoms of hypothyroidism, which depletes the energy of cells throughout the body.

Research shows that the thyroid hormone T3 is more active than T4 – in fact, it is roughly four times as strong as T4. In the body, all T4 hormones must be converted into T3 in order to control metabolism.

Many patients with hypothyroidism do not have the enzymatic capability to make that conversion, which is why they suffer from the above symptoms.

Hypothyroidism: Dietary landmines

Beyond treatment, there are a couple of foods that may present pitfalls for patients with hypothyroidism.

Another one of our regular readers, told us: ‘I have seen mentioned that broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower (cruciferous vegetables) should not be eaten more than three days per week if one has hypothyroidism.

What exactly goes wrong if this is not adhered to?

According to the Linus Pauling Institute, a high intake of cruciferous vegetables may prompt the development of a compound call goitrin, which has been shown to impede the synthesis of thyroid hormone.

Soy is the other food to be wary of.

Soy products can play havoc with hypothyroid patients because the soy isoflavones limit the cells’ ability to receive thyroid hormones.

Other isoflavone rich foods include legumes, grains and cabbage. Red clover (sometimes used to address menopausal symptoms) is also high in isoflavones.

You can find more information about the problems soy causes for hypothyroid patients at the web site for the Weston A. Price foundation (westonaprice.org).

Disclaimer: This article is part of the Daily Health's extensive research archive. The research and information contained in this article was accurate at the the time of publication but may have been updated since the date of publication. Consult our most recent articles for the latest research on alternative health and natural breakthroughs.

Bear in mind the material provided in this content is for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.


‘Armour Yourself Against Hypothyroidism’ William Campbell Douglass II, M.D., Daily Dose, 10/29/02, realhealthnews.com ‘Cruciferous Vegetables’ Linus Pauling Institute, lpi.oregonstate.edu

‘Slovak Doctor Says Solar Flares Could Raise Strokes’ Matt Reynolds, Reuters Health, 5/22/06, reutershealth.com

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  • I am hypothyroidic and an suffering infertility what natuaral foods can help me to conceive quickly

  • I have been taking Synthroid for 13 years for hypothyroid due to test results though I was not tired, overweight or depressed and do have rapid heart rate. I take toprolol and low dose aspirin. I’m too thin; would like to gain weight, but due to 3 years pre-diabetis have low carb diet; includes cruciferous veggies and strawberries daily. No change in thyroid. Also have severe osteoporosis and sleep apnea.

    so :
    People that are- Gaining weight. Tired. Fatigued. Sleeping. Mellow. Can’t focus well. Low blood pressure. Sweaty palms. Do not do well in cold/ and have low iodine (after doing, as you should, blood tests to check your thyroid TSH T1 T4 T3 levels – that is a MUST before you proceed with any medication or diet)
    you should base your diet on a IODINE RICH /formula.
    FISH. FISH EGGS. YOGURT.MILK.EGGS.SEAWEED.TABLE SALT. LEAN BEEF MEAT. BREAD. LAMB. (SELENIUM RICH FOODS since selenium helps with the intake of Iodine and proper thyroid function)
    For those suffering from hypothiroidism I recommend the above mentioned foods and I should add that EXCESSIVE INTAKE OF IODINE CAN CAUSE MORE COMPLICATIONS excessive consumption of iodine can actually inhibit the synthesis of thyroid hormones, thereby leading to the development of goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland) and hypothyroidism. Excessive iodine intake may also cause hyperthyroidism, thyroid papillary cancer, and/or iodermia (a serious skin reaction).

    So I recommend a balanced diet.

    Eat 4-5 times a day, small portions. Drink water, tea, coffee but no carbonated sugary beverages avoid diet coke and diet beverages if possible. Eat fish or seaweed or crawfish or red meats (lean beef) lamb or turkey twice/three times a week. I eat meat every day. Do not consume alcohol in excess. But I recommend one glass of red wine a day, or at least once or twice a week. CHOCOLATE. Indulge in one, two pieces of chocolate / DARK not MILK / a day. And by that, I say a small piece not half a bar 🙂 ELIMINATE STRESS. There is a strong connection between the levels of cortisol (stress hormone) and your thyroid . WALK. GO TO GYM or have any activity that increases DOPAMINE levels (or the love hormone ) so SEX SEX SEX yeah people, have some good old fashion SEX.
    There is the back and forth with cruciferous veggies and how good they are. Once a week I’d say you can have some cabbage. I personally love raw red cabbage salad 🙂
    Then again. I was HYPERTHIROIDIAN (too much iodine) but was misdiagnosed as HYPO (gained weight based on adrenal and renal malfunction, not thyroid. meaning, gained water weight, and also had improper nutrition, excessive drinking, ate once a day, was dieting like crazy, ate fast foods mostly, etc) so I was given SUPPLEMENTS.
    In just two months. I gained 25 pounds! I was feeling horrible. I developped GOITERS and my thyroid ENLARGED. I took then STIMULANTS and more SUPPLEMENTS to INCREASE THE IODINE AND MY METABOLISM and in other 2 months, my ESTROGEN LEVELS were up the roof and I discovered other than thyroid nodules I got uterian FIBROMS. UGH. So my advice to all of you fussing about weight gain and etc. Make sure first and utmost you DO have hypothiroidism before taking any supplements etc.
    I followed the above diet. I started breathing more and worriyng less. I walked. I tried to get out and socialized (in spite of my bad weight self image) laughed had some chocolate, wine, sex and 8 months later my hormone levels were back to normal. I still have the nodules, but they actually REDUCED in size!!!! Do not have a double chin (had actually NO NECK for so long was horrific) and I lowered moderately my weight to a semi normal level (from 180 to 165).
    and just after all that and when all my hormones were equilibrated and ok levels~!
    I started following a stricter caloric diet. No WHITE CARBOHYDRATES. ONE DAY OF WEEK, FULL BENDGING ON SUGARS (spiking your sugar intake once a week prevents your body from slowing down your metabolism rate so you keep loosing weight) I eat 4 times, normal (to what in the states is considered SMALL) portions. I drink water and tea and yeah coffee, but stay away from cola and others. NO FRUIT JUICES as they are a caloric killer. Any kind of BEANS INSTEAD of BREAD RICE OR POTATOES (although as i say, saturday is my all foods galore day so i have some toast or potatoe chips) I eat EGGS once a day A YOGURT and some cheese – feta every two days. Mozarella also is great for both iodine and selenium.
    Hope this helps
    Cheers and Good Health everyone!

  • i had hyperthyroid after a radiation treatment iam hypothroid.my doc is just changing dosses.i have gain 27 ibl in 2 months plz some advise.

  • Hi i have got my TSH level above 7 but T3 and T4 are normal. Not sure whether it is hypo or hyper thyroidism. I have put on lot of weight in my belly area,, previuosly i was thinking because of my 2 cesarean sections… because the tummy area never flattened for me.. its still the same.. need guidance please.

  • i have hypo thyriod since 4yrs and gained lot of weight and want lost weight can u ps help me to lose weight by giving a good diet chat

  • Hi all!
    I have suffered from Hypothyroidism for over en years now and have struggled with the medical professions ignorance of this condition. Several doctors and a nutritionist who’s only help was to proscribe hormones and tell me my weight problem was my own fault I finally gave in to a life of drudger concerning this condition. BUT THEN!! recently I discovered that Fluoride not only reduces thyroid function but interferes with thyroxine medication (pills stopped working after dentist proscribed fluoride and consequently become ill and gained about a stone in a month! ) Tea also contains fluoride so should be avoided (also some areas add it to the water supply!!) I have personal experience of this and as soon as I stopped the fluoride am feeling much better and the weight gain has stopped. I am now researching my diet and will post any findings here.
    All the best
    Shealagh 🙂

  • Having suffered 10 yrs with hypothroidism I was told to AVOID iodine that it was dangerous for sufferers could someone clarify this please?

  • I have for the last 12 months had under active glands, It has been under control with meds but my weight has increased and i feel so down inthe dumps every day with the problem, i walk over an hour every day but no loss, is there any thing out there to help me lose the weight i have gained? PLEASE HELP

  • As a naturopath who works with Blood group diets. I have found that many of my patient’s thyroid function improves immensely on a diet to suit their blood type.

  • Is there a substitute for coconut oil which is recommended? I have hypothyroidism and have gained 10kgs and have pain in my joints

  • I’m suffring from hypothyroidism gaining weight and having irregular menstruation and migraine.

  • I am Hypothyroid, and have been putting on weight at a rapid rate I have gone from 11st to 14st in 18 months. I didn’t know until today that I should avoid Brassicas, but I am also Diabetic Type 2, and Dr’s say I must eat more fresh fruit and plenty of greens. I am so confused but I feel at the moment quite ill, as I have Brassicas almost every day, please I need advice regarding my diet with Diabetes & Hypothyroidism.

  • Iodine (from fish and sea vegetables) is vitally important for thyroid function and should be included regularly in the diet of someone suffering from hypothyroidism. Part of the problem could be something as simple as insufficient dietary intake, or in fact poor absorption of these. There are some 16 or so nutrients involved in thyroid metabolism and attention should be paid to all of them!

  • I’ve been told that cooking cruciferous vegetables reduces their goitrogenic properties. It is also important to make sure you get enough of the B vitamins, so use things like whole grain rice, meat, beans, nuts and seeds.

  • Hi, is it ok to take soya milk and soya flora spread while suffering with hypothyroidism. What foods are good to take.

  • I am looking for a ton of foods that I can have. I see that broccoli and cauliflower are on the list that I “Can’t have”. My midwives have prescribed me medication that seems to be making my chest hurt ever since they upped it to 125mcg. They lowerd my dosage after they told me not to take it for three days straight. Now, the pain has been coming on a little stronger again. I am needing more foods that I can have that will help cure this aweful and aggravating problem. Can I eat different colored peppers, lettuce, onions, canned greens that are seasoned, bagged/frozen veggies, wheat breads, oatmeal, wheat cereals such as rasin bran? I need help!

  • I am looking for real solid recipes that I can try that will work for my Hypothyroidism. All I can find are a grocery list of things I can and cannot have. Is there such a thing as a wealth of recipes for this problem?

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