1 in 5 women have underactive thyroid also known as hypothyroidism. Underactive thyroid is a condition where your thyroid gland is not producing enough of the thyroid hormone T4. The thyroid gland is situated just below the ‘Adam’s Apple’ or larynx, and is responsible for running the whole of your body’s metabolism. When the thyroid gland is under-functioning and all metabolic processes slow down, a multitude of debilitating symptoms can arise.
- Chronic constipation
- Temperature test below 36.6ºC
- Slow heart rate
- Sensitive to cold weather
- Chronic fatigue and weakness
- Excess hair loss
- Gain weight easily
- Skin problems (dry, flaky skin)
- Cold hands and feet
- Cry easily
- Feel worse in the morning
- Feel better after exercising
- Brittle fingernails
- Loss of libido
You can support thyroid health with good nutrition. Here I list the foods to avoid and foods for underactive thyroid.
Foods to Avoid
- Avoid raw goitrogens including Brassica-family foods e.g. cabbage, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, turnips and Brussels sprouts. If eaten cook these foods first to inactivate the goitrogens.
- Avoid consuming soya foods e.g. soy milk, tofu, miso, tempeh.
- Check for gluten sensitivity and if there is an issue avoid gluten containing foods e.g. wheat, barley, rye and oats.
Foods for Underactive Thyroid
- Iodine is an essential nutrient for thyroid hormone synthesis. Get the RDI for iodine of 150ug from iodised sea salt, shellfish, seawater fish and edible seaweeds such as kelp, dulse and Nori rolls.
- Tyrosine is an amino acid and an essential component for the synthesis of thyroid hormones. Good sources include cheese, all meats, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and eggs.
- Selenium is required by the enzyme that converts thyroid hormone T4 into the more active T3 thyroid hormone. Get the recommended daily intake of selenium by eating 3 brazil nuts per day.
- Eat zinc rich foods including fish, seafood and pumpkin seeds to support the conversion of the thyroid hormone T4 to the active form T3.
- Liquorice root provide herbal support for the adrenal glands. It is important to support the adrenal glands because they are closely linked to the thyroid gland.
- Take levothyroxine 30 minutes away from calcium rich foods e.g. milk which compete for absorption.
- Use relaxation techniques e.g. yoga, Tai Chi, massage or meditation. It is important to reduce stress which depletes the thyroid.
- Get adequate vitamin D levels by getting sunlight on bare face, arms and legs for at least 20 minutes daily.
- 30 minutes exercise at least 3x per week stimulates the thyroid. However avoid intense exercise on the treadmill.
- Use fluoride-free toothpaste to avoid fluoride which competes with iodine.
- Install a pure water filter to the main tap and shower to remove chlorine in tap water which completes with iodine.
- Moderate alcohol intake with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
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