Five Foods to Avoid for Thyroid Issues
Your thyroid is an underrated powerhouse of the body.
Indeed, your thyroid controls and regulates many of the normal day-to-day functions of the body, including regulating your metabolic rate, heart and digestive functions, muscle control, and brain development.
Unfortunately, millions of Americans suffer from thyroid conditions every year, throwing their entire body out of balance and sending them racing to the doctor looking for a solution.
Little do these people realize that the solution to many thyroid problems lies in lifestyle changes, specifically as they relate to your diet! We’ve done the heavy lifting and found the five foods you should avoid if you’re dealing with symptoms related to thyroid issues.
Symptoms of a Thyroid Problem
Before getting into your eventual dietary changes, it helps to know whether or not you may actually be dealing with a thyroid issue.
Of course, only a licensed professional can provide you with an accurate diagnosis, so if you find yourself suffering from any combination of these symptoms, it’s wise to schedule a visit with an experienced professional. If you live in the Kingwood, Texas area, Dr. Lewis Clark can help.
Thyroid problems stem from either an overactive or underactive thyroid, resulting in hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, respectively. Each condition has its own set of symptoms, so we’ll tackle symptoms of hyperthyroidism first:
- Nervousness, agitation, or irritability
- Inability to concentrate
- Racing heartbeat or palpitations
- Intolerance to heat
- Enlargement of the thyroid gland
- Hair thinning
Symptoms of hypothyroidism, on the other hand, are quite different:
- Brain fog or sluggishness
- Fluid retention
- Joint aches and pains
- Weight gain
- Memory problems
- Slowed heart rate
Now that we’ve tackled the symptoms, let’s dive into what you sort of changes you can make (i.e. what you can start to avoid) when it comes to your diet.
As many of us eat a largely “western” diet, sugar is no stranger to our bodies.
Indeed, even the smallest transgressions, such as a donut for breakfast or a milkshake after dinner, can absolutely wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels and throw your entire body off balance.
While they may taste great (and we know they do), sugars can be your WORST enemy when it comes to dealing with a thyroid problem.
When you decide to indulge in a sweet treat, the glucose levels in your blood rise. Your body, being the loyal vessel that it is, attempts to lower those levels back to normal to help regulate body functions. The body accomplishes this by releasing insulin into the bloodstream.
The trouble comes when these excess levels of sugar force the body to panic, and do anything in its power to lower your blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar drops, you become fatigued, so of course, your body craves more sugar to gain its energy back.
This vicious cycle can result in adrenal fatigue, which in turn causes the stress hormones of your body (aka cortisol) to become unbalanced – leaving your thyroid off-kilter as well. Over time, this can cause severe damage to your thyroid, forcing it to regularly underperform.
The best way to combat these excess sugars? Read your nutrition labels! You’d be stunned to see how much-added sugar is hidden in things such as fat-free dressings and lean deli meats.
2. Simple Carbs
Let’s be honest – who doesn’t enjoy a good simple carb?
We’re talking about your bread, pasta, flour, and other baked goods of the sort. I know I find it hard to resist a delicious, hearty piece of bread, so we can’t blame you if you indulge too.
HOWEVER, these comfort foods all have one thing in common – gluten. Gluten contains a protein known as gliadin, which shares a strikingly similar structure to that of the thyroid gland. For those dealing with leaky gut, this becomes a HUGE problem.
Basically, these gluten particles can seep through your intestinal lining, leaving your immune system ratcheted up well beyond normalcy. As a result, it will begin to attack these gluten particles – but since gluten and the thyroid are so similar in structure, your thyroid also finds itself under siege.
This can leave you will a whole host of problems, ranging from autoimmune conditions to depression, and the more gluten you ingest the worse the condition will get. You may find yourself feeling tired, sluggish, or just generally not well.
Gluten hides in many products, so again, nutrition labels will be your best friend. Many stores now carry gluten-free items, but even items that you’d assume would be free of gluten (like pasta sauces) can be the worst offenders.
Dairy and gluten sort of go hand in hand with each other when it comes to their negative impact on the thyroid – again, unfortunate since dairy is responsible for both cheese AND ice cream.
Gluten isn’t just found in the baked goods we mentioned before, it’s also found in milk and dairy products, along with the A1 casein protein. If you have an increased sensitivity to these elements, both can cause leaky gut syndrome, which leads to inflammation of the thyroid and a whole host of uncomfortable side effects.
If your gut health is suffering or you’re a person with gluten issues, it’s probably best just to avoid dairy altogether. Luckily, many dairy-based products now come with plant-based alternatives, such as almond milk and coconut ice cream.
4. Artificial Sweeteners
Ah yes – artificial sweeteners, the scourge of the universe.
Indeed, those “sugar-free” alternatives that everyone is so fond of can actually be doing way more harm than good, especially when it comes to thyroid conditions.
Splenda, Sweet-N-Low, and Equal are some of the worst offenders, commonly recognized by their colorful packaging at coffee stations.
These sugar substitutes can put a hurting on your thyroid. Recent research has shown that the chemicals contained in these sweeteners halted the production of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). This led to a slower functioning thyroid and all of the symptoms that come along with hypothyroidism such as irritability and sluggishness.
These sweeteners can also impact, you guessed it, your gut health (noticing a trend here? You are what you eat!).
These sugar substitutes disrupt the balance of good bacteria in your gut, which in turn can cause autoimmune dysfunction and deterioration of the thyroid – it’s best to just avoid these nasty little sweeteners altogether, especially if you’re someone dealing with a previous autoimmune condition.
The biggest offenders here will come from your “sugar-free” dressings and treats, and ESPECIALLY diet soda.
5. Fast Food
Last but not least is a category of food that appears on nearly all of the “do not eat” lists when it comes to optimal nutrition – fast food.
While all fast food may not be created equal, you really have to do some digging to find something with any sort of nutritious value on a value menu.
Aside from being absolutely loaded with bad fats and simple carbs (another bad offender), fast food items are by and large very low in iodine. Of course, your thyroid relies on iodine to function properly, so eating virtually anything on a fast-food menu is bound to do some damage to your normal thyroid function.
Even the seemingly “healthy” choices at a fast-food restaurant aren’t all that healthy (shocker, we know). Dressings are loaded with sugars and fat, and processed meats are pre-made with the aid of gluten and harmful additives and artificial substances.
All of these elements combine to increase inflammation in a big way, and a direct result of this inflammation is the disruption of the thyroid’s ability to convert T4 to T3, which leaves you feeling like you’ve just run a marathon, but without any of the positive side effects.
There’s really no trick when it comes to fast food, your best bet is to avoid it altogether and focus on working more wholesome choices into your diet.
It’s easy to see how so many people can make careless mistakes when it comes to their diet – many of the ingredients listed here sneakily appear in common food items. The best defense is a good offense, so be on the lookout for nutrition labels before planning your meals, and avoid eating fast food as much as possible!
Want to learn more about thyroid problems? This post goes into more depth regarding common thyroid problems and autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s.
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