For people diagnosed with a thyroid condition, the options may seem bleak. Some patients live with hypothyroid symptoms for their entire lives, even while taking Synthroid or other drugs. Others never get the right diagnosis and suffer through borderline low thyroid problems for years. One powerful way to address hypothyroid symptoms is with diet, by choosing the right foods that feed the thyroid instead of hindering it.
Hypothyroid symptoms include a long list of apparently unrelated problems. Some of them might seem trivial, like dry skin, while others – such as depression and chronic headaches – can change lives dramatically.
The connection between all of these symptoms is the tiny thyroid gland in the throat, which produces hormones that control metabolism, energy levels, body temperature, mood and weight. According to Dr. Stephen Langer, low thyroid is one of the most common health conditions today – and it resolves all kinds of other problems when properly treated.
The most common symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- fatigue and lethargy
- weight gain
- dry skin
- hair loss
- chronic headaches
- low sex drive
- cold sensitivity
- feeling chilled or cold when other people don’t
- allergies and food sensitivity
- menstrual or reproductive problems
For people suffering from diagnosed or suspected hypothyroidism, the most common solution is a pharmaceutical drug like Synthroid, or some form of natural thyroid supplementation. But there are safe, healthy dietary changes that can also make a big difference, boosting the function of the thyroid and lessening or eliminating hypothyroidism symptoms.
- Kelp and other seaweeds boost thyroid function.
- Coconut oil helps boost thyroid function for some people.
- Foods like soy, sugar, walnuts, and cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, mustard, kale, cabbage, bok choi) may block or suppress thyroid function.
For hypothyroid patients who want to lose weight, it’s very important to consume enough calories to keep your metabolism functioning. A low-calorie diet can actually sabotage weight loss, especially for thyroid patients. The best plan is several high-protein meals, scattered throughout the day, to keep the metabolism active and burning calories. Raw fruits and vegetables, loaded with vitamins and enzymes, are also helpful. This diet provides energy in a consistent, stable way throughout the day.
Although the Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Todd Nippoldt disagrees with the very idea of a thyroid diet, he does recommend avoiding walnuts, soybean flour, and cottonseed meal, as well as iron and calcium supplements, which may interfere with the body’s uptake of thyroid hormone from synthetic or natural supplement sources.