Hyperthyroidism is a serious condition that can bring about permanent lifestyle changes. While the causes of hyperthyroidism vary, as do the treatment options, this condition is often lifelong. It’s not an entirely uncommon affliction; as many as 12 percent of Americans suffer from some sort of issue or another involving the thyroid. Dietary changes are a large part of the lifestyle modifications when it comes to hyperthyroidism. While there isn’t a specific diet for hyperthyroidism, certain foods can affect the way the body handles replacement hormones that make up for deficiencies in the thyroid. As such, it pays to be careful when making dietary choices.
In learning about foods to moderate or even avoid, you may be surprised to see a lot of high-fiber foods on the list. While fiber is generally very beneficial for the body in that it can help with controlling cholesterol, as well as contributing to digestive system function, an excess of fiber can cause problems for the thyroid. Other foods are those you might expect to avoid with a number of medical conditions. Many such foods have harmful effects when eaten in excess, regardless of a thyroid condition. Fried foods, or those with added sugar, certainly come to mind here.
As mentioned earlier, there isn’t a specific diet for those with thyroid problems. However, there are definitely foods that should be moderated and others that you should avoid altogether. Additionally, there are certain supplements and medications that you will need to be careful about using with your thyroid medications. In such situations, it’s best to talk to your doctor and figure out a plan that works for you. Not sure where to start? Cut down on these foods and supplements to help manage hyperthyroidism.
15. Soy Foods
Soy products are generally known as a healthy food. For vegans and vegetarians, soy offers a solid, reliable source of protein, as well as other beneficial nutrients. However, those who suffer from thyroid conditions should be careful about how they handle soy products. Specifically, isoflavones, a type of compound found in soy, may interact negatively with the thyroid, particularly in relation to iodine deficiency. Soy products may make it more difficult for your body to absorb thyroid medications. This isn’t to say that you can’t consume soy products if you suffer from hyperthyroidism, but you will want to avoid them within four hours of taking your medication.
14. Cruciferous Vegetables
Much like soy products, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower are known to be healthy. Cauliflower is a popular substitute for carb-heavy foods, such as pizza crust and rice, and both cauliflower and broccoli pack a nutritional punch with their various vitamins and minerals. However, like soy, these foods may cause problems with thyroid hormone production if you suffer from an iodine deficiency. You may want to limit your intake of these vegetables, as well as kale, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, and make sure you cook them thoroughly to reduce any interference with your thyroid hormone production.
13. Gluten Products
These days, gluten allergies are becoming more and more common, so you may already be avoiding foods with gluten, namely bread, pasta, rice, and other foods made from grains like wheat, rye, and barley. However, if you experience trouble with your thyroid, you will definitely want to cut back on gluten. According to an article published in May 2017 in the journal Endocrine Connections hypothyroidism and celiac disease often occur together, and the latter can create intestinal problems if you consume gluten. If you’re not suffering from celiac disease, you can still have gluten, just be careful about your intake. Aim for whole-grain foods, and make sure you wait several hours after eating fiber-rich meals before taking thyroid medication.
12. Fatty Foods
In excess, the wrong kinds of fatty foods are already known to cause all kinds of problems in the body. They’re linked to obesity and high cholesterol, both of which can cause other complications. If you need yet another reason to moderate fats, consider that too much fat in your food may prevent your body from absorbing thyroid medication properly. Of course, such foods may also interfere with your body’s ability to make the appropriate hormones in the first place. Fried foods are definitely to be avoided, while other sources of fat, like butter, should only be consumed in moderation.
11. Sugary Foods
It goes without saying that sugary foods are a lot like fatty ones. They can also lead to obesity, and may contribute to serious illnesses like diabetes. Because sugary foods often provide the body with an excess of calories and not much in the way of nutrients, lots of high-sugar meals can cause serious weight gain in people with hyperthyroidism, which causes the metabolism of the body to slow down. While ordinarily, exercise might help prevent this weight gain, hyperthyroidism can create an intolerance for exercise (the body may overheat) As such, if you have hyperthyroidism, it only makes sense to cut back on the sugary treats; if you can, cut out all excess sugar.Related: 6 Thyroid Cancer Signs and Symptoms
10. High-Fiber Foods
Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes all provide fiber, and are generally healthy foods. However, as mentioned earlier, foods that are high in fiber can also cause problems for people with thyroid issues. While normally healthy, high-fiber foods can cause interference with thyroid medication by limiting your body’s ability to absorb thyroid replacement hormones. If you can, limit your fiber intake to somewhere between 20 and 30 grams each day. If you’re stuck on a high fiber diet, you may need to increase your medication dosage. This is an important conversation to have with your doctor.
If you suffer from hyperthyroidism, you may want to cut down on your coffee intake, as having a lot of caffeine, especially early in the morning, can cause problems. Taking your thyroid medication with coffee in the morning leads to out of control thyroid levels, so it’s best to avoid using anything other than water to take your medication. Furthermore, if you just can’t get away from having that morning coffee, make sure to wait at least half an hour after taking your medication before having coffee.
8. Processed Foods
Much like fatty and sugary foods, processed foods can prove very unhealthy if eaten in excess. Oftentimes, they have a number of harmful ingredients, and are notably high in added salt. Too much sodium can raise blood pressure, as it causes the blood vessels to stiffen; worse, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes tend to exacerbate each other. For the person with an underactive thyroid, this is all very problematic, because those with hypothyroidism are already in danger of having high blood pressure. Too much added salt increases this risk. The American Heart Association recommends that such individuals should keep their salt intake below 1500 milligrams a day.Related: 7 Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure
If you’re health conscious, you already know that alcohol is bad for you, especially in excess. Aside from impaired judgment in the short term and organ damage in the long term, people who suffer from thyroid problems face additional risks when they indulge in alcohol. Alcohol causes problems at both ends of the equation; it prevents your thyroid from producing the hormones it should, and it keeps your body from making use of the hormones that are present. All in all, it’s better to cut alcohol out entirely if you can.
6. High-Calcium Foods
When you think of foods that are high in calcium, dairy products come to mind. However, this mineral is found in other foods like spinach and the aforementioned broccoli as well. While calcium and other minerals are important for strong bones, consuming large amounts of calcium-laden foods around the time that you take thyroid medication is a bad idea. Calcium can interfere with the absorption of the medication. It’s definitely not recommended that you cut out calcium completely. Instead, wait at least 45 minutes or so after taking your thyroid medication before reaching for milk, cheese, or yogurt.
5. Iron Supplements
Generally speaking, thyroid medication should be taken on an empty stomach if possible. This way, the medication will break down faster and be more readily absorbed by the body. Given that thyroid problems may mess with the minerals in your body, such as iron, iodine, or others, you may be tempted to take multivitamins or supplements at the same time, since you’re taking your medication anyway. However, these minerals can prove harmful if they are taken at the same time, as they interfere with the dissolving and absorption of the medication. Be sure to wait at least two hours before taking supplements.Related: Be Judicious With The Use of Multivitamins For Sustainable Health
Much like certain supplements, antacids can cause problems for your thyroid as well. This is because many antacids include aluminum or magnesium, two minerals that may inhibit the absorption of thyroid medication. Aside from these harmful interactions, long-term antacid use can contribute to osteoporosis and potentially kidney stones, so as it is, you’re better off using them sparingly. Other dietary changes will hopefully make them less necessary, and if you take your medication by itself (as mentioned in the previous point), there should be no chance for the two to interact.
3. Cottonseed Meal
While cottonseed meal is super nutritious, it can be somewhat problematic for those with thyroid conditions due to that nutritional content. 100 grams will net you half your potassium RDA, and nearly as much vitamin B. Like soy, cottonseed meal also packs quite the protein punch. Unfortunately, also like soy, it is best to wait a while (at least 45 minutes to an hour) before eating after taking medication. This is likely due to the significant mineral content found in cottonseed meal. The levels of calcium, iron, and magnesium surpass about 50%, 70% and 190% of the RDA in 100 grams respectively.
Depending on who you ask, grapefruit has minimal interaction with thyroid medications, only slightly delaying their absorption by the body, or it has more significant, even dangerous effects. However, thyroid replacement hormones are not the only medications for which grapefruit may be ill-advised. For example, it can increase the dosage of cholesterol-lowering drugs, or decrease the dosage of allergy medication, both of which may prove harmful, or at least inconvenient. While the jury is out on grapefruit’s effects on thyroid medications, considering the numerous warnings, it’s better to be safe and cut down on grapefruit, or avoid it entirely.Related: 10 Nutritious Facts About Grapefruits
1. Cholesterol/Ulcer Medications
When you see a commercial advertisement for medication, you’ve probably noticed that they tend to mention side effects and warn viewers about mixing medication. This is because medications often cause chemical changes in the body. Two or more medications may interact with each other, even if they are being taken to deal with two separate issues. This may result in reduced effectiveness of those medications, or worse, harmful or life-threatening interactions. If you’re taking medication for other conditions, talk to your doctor about appropriate dosing and medicinal interactions, and notify your doctor if you notice any changes.