If you’re living with Hashimoto’s — an autoimmune disease that involves the body essentially attacking the thyroid — then you know how important it is to make choices that help you feel good every day. Trying to deal with symptoms such as weight gain, chronic fatigue, muscle weakness, joint pain, and more, can feel overwhelming and, on some days, defeating. So, it’s crucial to be aware of your daily behaviors, including what you’re choosing to eat. Some foods can aggravate symptoms and cause more thyroid problems, while other foods can be an important healing component of your Hashimoto’s diet plan.
Foods To Avoid In Your Hashimoto’s Disease Diet
The 5 foods listed below should raise a red flag to anyone with Hashimoto’s. Here’s why you should avoid or limit your consumption of them as part of your Hashimoto’s diet.
1. Cruciferous Vegetables – Avoid Them Raw
If you have Hashimoto’s, think twice about eating these raw. This group of vegetables, including cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, contain glucosinolates (substances known as goitrogens that disrupt the production of thyroid hormones). More specifically, these glucosinolates are blocking iodine, which is essential in making those hormones. Small amounts of raw goitrogenic veggies have not been found to aggravate the autoimmune thyroid, so don’t eat them raw. However, and eating these cruciferous vegetables cooked is a much safer option.
2. Canola Oil – Avoid Completely
Speaking of goitrogens, canola oil is another that should be avoided. Although it’s considered a good alternative oil for cooking at high heat, it’s also highly processed and refined. Try avocado oil or coconut oil and beware of processed foods that may contain canola oil, like salad dressings, mayonnaise, margarine and others. Read the labels and specifically the ingredients label!
3. Soy- Avoid Completely
Yet another goitrogen that can be detrimental to Hashimoto’s patients. Unlike with cruciferous vegetables where cooking them eliminates the concern, soy contains the goitrogens even after cooking. For some, consuming soy can cause a thyroid crash, leaving you feeling drained and exhausted the day after eating it.
4. Avoid Excessive Amounts of Omega 6 Foods
Our bodies require both omega-3 (reduce inflammation) and omega-6 (promote inflammation) fats, but it’s important to strike a balance and most of us are consuming way too many omega-6 fats. This can be problematic for most people, but even worse for those with Hashimoto’s, who already have some level of inflammation. Vegetable oils, for example, have a high content of omega-6 fats. Opt for olive and sunflower oils, or flaxseed oil, known for its omega-3 content. For those who enjoy meat, organic, grass-fed beef has fewer omega 6 fats than corn-fed beef.
5. Gluten – Remove as Much as Possible
Gluten increases intestinal permeability, which can lead to what is called “leaky gut.” If you have Hashimoto’s, you more than likely have some degree of gluten intolerance. Removing gluten from your diet helps reduce inflammation and increases the absorption of many nutrients. If you have leaky gut already, explore repairing it with the addition of collagen peptides into your diet, as collagen can help repair your intestinal lining.
Foods To Include In Your Hashimoto’s Disease Diet
Another important part of your Hashimoto’s diet is adding in nutrients and food sources that are necessary for proper thyroid function and can provide healing relief. First we focus on making sure to add in gut-healing foods which can benefit the immune system and overall health. Then we add in other foods that include specific nutrients that provide thyroid benefits. Here is my list of foods to add into your Hashimoto’s diet plan.
- Probiotics: When trying to heal Hashimoto’s, it’s important to increase or rebalance gut flora (the good bacteria) Probiotics are good bacteria that can help you maintain your digestive system and boost immune health. You can take probiotics as a supplement, but there are natural food sources of probiotics that provide important benefits to your gut and Hashimoto’s. Yogurt is a great source of natural probiotics. Just be sure to consume a natural kind, one without too much or any sugar (many yogurt brands include 4 ½ teaspoons of sugar per 6-ounce container!).
- Fermented foods: Fermented foods promote the good bacteria in our guts and help to eliminate bad bacteria. Fermented foods are helpful in aiding digestion, helping essential nutrients to be absorbed into our bloodstream and provide healing benefits to the thyroid and entire body. Include sauerkraut, kimchee, and other pickled veggies into your Hashimoto’s diet.
- Collagen: Our bodies natural collagen helps to maintain gut health, which is tied to immune health. However, since our bodies naturally lose collagen as we age, I recommend making sure you add in collagen into your diet to help reduce gut inflammation, aid in digestion and help to repair the intestinal lining. Eat more foods with collagen in it such as bone broth, fish skin, chicken skin or taking daily collagen peptides can also help improve your gut health.
- Foods High in Selenium: Selenium is a trace mineral needed for converting thyroid hormones and which helps reduce inflammation. The thyroid hormone T4 is an inactive form of the hormone which needs to be changed into the active form of the thyroid hormone T3. In order for this change from inactive to active (T4 to T3) to occur, selenium is needed. Without proper selenium intake in diet and nutrition, the conversion of T4 to T3 cannot take place, thus slowing the function of the thyroid, which controls energy metabolism. Selenium is essential in this process so it is important to have an adequate intake of selenium in our diets in order to properly support our thyroid. Brazil nuts are one of my favorite sources because one nut supplies you with a days worth of selenium. Other sources of selenium include Brazil nuts, oysters, sunflower seeds and crimini mushrooms.
- Foods High in Zinc: Just like selenium, zinc is necessary for conversion of the thyroid hormones from inactive to active. When zinc intake is low, not only is hormone production diminished, but the absorption of the zinc being ingested is also inhibited. Additionally, zinc is necessary for the production of the hormone TSH, which produces T3 and T4. Individuals who eat solely a plant-based diet are more likely to have a zinc deficiency. This is because whole grains and legumes contain high amounts of a chemical called phytates which block the ability of zinc to function, thus further impacting the production of hormones by the thyroid. Maintaining a diet high in zinc is essential for proper thyroid function. Good sources of zinc include chickpeas, cashews, pumpkin, spinach and kefir.
- Foods High in Iodine: Iodine is a trace mineral that is responsible for the production of thyroid hormones in the body. The thyroid cells are the only cells that are able to absorb and utilize iodine, making iodine an important nutrient necessary for the conversion of T4 to T3. Worldwide, iodine deficiency is the leading cause of issues with the thyroid, including hypothyroidism, thyroid enlargement and goiter. However, there is current research that shows that excessive intake of iodine can have negative effects on the thyroid. Since table salt is typically fortified with iodine, it is found that many people with high added-salt diets may have thyroid issues due to excessive iodine intake. Thus, maintaining a correct intake of iodine is necessary for the proper production and function of thyroid hormones. Keep in mind that the recommended daily amount of iodine is 150mcgs. Additionally, it is recommended that you consume no more than 2300 mg per day of sodium (under 1300mg if you are a heart patient.) Make sure to include some of the following foods that are chock full of iodine: table salt, sea vegetables (kelp, seaweed, arame, kombu), cranberries, yogurt, navy beans and strawberries.
- Foods High in Vitamin B12: B12 is an essential vitamin that is necessary for nerve signaling and function of the brain and spinal cord. According to one study, there is a high prevalence of Vitamin B12 deficiency and hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune disease. Since autoimmune diseases result in the body attacking itself, the digestive tract is affected. Specifically, inflammation in the digestive tract can affect absorption of Vitamin B12, often leading to a deficiency. Even people who have adequate intakes of B12 can experience a deficiency due to this altered absorption. To get enough Vitamin B12, eat cottage cheese, grass-fed beef, nutritional yeast, salmon, eggs, fortified cereals, low-fat milk and cheeses and sardines.
Understanding how your Hashimoto diet impacts your thyroid function can be of great benefit to help your thyroid function optimally. It is equally important to avoid foods that can aggravate Hashimoto’s, and to make sure you add in foods that can ensure proper thyroid function. As part of this Hashimoto’s diet, you will feel better, have more energy and achieve overall wellness.
Read some of our inspiring stories about Hashimoto’s:
Note: PLEASE consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
- Duntas LH. The Role of Iodine and Selenium in Autoimmune Hypothyroidism. (2015) US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26361258
- Jabbar, A, et al. “Vitamin B-12 Deficiency Common in Primary Hypothyroidism.” JPMA. The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association. 58.5 (2008): 258–61. Web. 23 Aug. 2016.
- Dharmasena, A. (2014). Selenium supplementation in thyroid associated ophthalmopathy: an update. International Journal of Ophthalmology, 7(2), 365–375. http://doi.org/10.3980/j.issn.2222-3959.2014.02.31
- Iodine. Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. (2018). National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iodine-HealthProfessional/#h8