6 Foods that Can Affect Your Thyroid

There are quite a few foods that can affect the normal functioning of the thyroid, both for better and for worse. It is important to get to know them.
6 Foods that Can Affect Your Thyroid
Saúl Sánchez

Written and verified by el nutricionista Saúl Sánchez.

Last update: 17 December, 2022

There are a number of foods that can affect your thyroid when introduced into the diet on a regular basis. However, this reaction can be both positive and negative. In some cases they have nutrients that benefit the thyroid, thus achieving a better response and a balance at the hormonal level. We’re going to show you which ones to include in your diet and which ones to avoid.

Following a varied and balanced diet is essential in order to maintain a good state of health. Even so, on certain occasions chronic and complex pathologies can develop. If this is the case, in addition to drug treatment, it may be necessary to make some nutritional changes in order to obtain better health management.

Foods that can affect your thyroid

Next up, we’ll discuss the main foods that can affect your thyroid. This doesn’t mean that the potentially harmful ones can never be consumed, but it does mean that their intake will have to be controlled so as not to interfere with the correct function of the gland.

1. Cereals with gluten

Gluten is a protein that has generated a lot of controversy among nutrition experts. In general, there are no reasons to advise against its consumption, at least when we talk about healthy people.

However, if there are neurological or autoimmune disorders, it might be necessary to limit their presence in the diet, so as not to cause an increase in symptoms. One option is to consume gluten-free cereals.

According to a study published in the Annals of Agricultural and Environmental Medicine, patients with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism should avoid the presence of gluten so as not to cause an overexcitation of the immune system that could negatively affect thyroid function. Why? Because the antigens could confuse the defense cells, producing unfavorable reactions.

However, in these cases, it’s always prudent to check individual tolerance. Some patients may not experience increased symptoms when the amount of gluten consumed is low.

At the end of the day, it isn’t always necessary to be as restrictive as when celiac disease develops. In case, it’s essential to totally limit contact with said protein and its traces.

2. Broccoli

Some broccoli.
In healthy people, regular consumption of broccoli has numerous health benefits.

Cruciferous vegetables are considered to be very positive for health. They have high-powered antioxidants that neutralize the formation of free radicals and their subsequent accumulation in the body’s tissues.

For this reason, it’s good for them to appear in your diet on a regular basis, to help create and maintain a good state of health. However, it’s necessary to limit its consumption in the case of people with hypothyroidism.

In general, cruciferous vegetables contain goitrogens, compounds that hinder the subsequent absorption of iodine. This mineral is key to the synthesis of thyroid hormones, so if it isn’t used as it should be, there may be problems when it comes to regulating the metabolic rate. This is evidenced by research published in the journal Endocrine, Metabolic & Immune Disorders Drug Targets.

However, it’s key to note that broccoli is a good source of fiber. Experts comment that it’s fine to include it on a moderate basis in the diets of people with thyroid disorders, as long as it isn’t abused. Therefore it shouldn’t be completely excluded. After all, we’re talking about one of the vegetables with the most beneficial properties for the body.

3. Soy

Soy has isoflavones, which are phytoestrogens that can alter thyroid function when you experience an iodine deficit. However, we’re talking about a vegetable that can aid good health in women.

Therefore, it isn’t necessary to avoid its intake completely, but only moderate it. In this sense, it’s vital to correctly manage the consumption of minerals to ensure that these phytoelements don’t cause negative reactions.

4. Foods with added sugar

Sugar is the main fuel for high-intensity activities. Athletes need a good amount of it in their dietary routines to perform and recover properly.

However, when we talk about sedentary people or those with pathologies, the situation changes. Why? Because this compound can increase the levels of internal inflammation, apart from making it difficult to control body weight.

As stated by a study published in the Current Diabetes Reports magazine , the regular intake of simple sugars would increase the incidence of type 2 diabetes if the person doesn’t take part in high-intensity sports practice.

The problem is further complicated in people with impaired thyroid function. In these cases, energy expenditure is depressed, which can facilitate accumulation in the form of fat and the subsequent increase in internal inflammation and oxidation.

Of course, we aren’t saying that dietary carbohydrates should be completely avoided. We just need to be careful with the simple type, so that they don’t create major metabolic alterations. You can continue to consume products such as legumes and tubers to ensure good energy levels and get a sufficient intake of fiber to avoid constipation.

5. Sausages

Foods that affect the thyroid include sausages.
Although the occasional consumption of sausages isn’t dangerous, abusing them is usually counterproductive.

Sausages usually have a high amount of poor-quality artificial additives inside, such as nitrites. These have been shown to increase the risk of developing complex pathologies when consumed frequently.

For this reason, it’s best to limit their presence in your diet, saving them for special occasions. Of course, not all sausages are poor quality, as some don’t contain preservatives. You’ll need to look closely at the labeling to differentiate them.

In addition to the additives, sausages are a source of very poor-quality fats. They contain trans-type fatty acids. These compounds increase the levels of internal inflammation, according to a study published in the journal Advances in Nutrition. Because of this, the different physiological reactions that take place internally can be hindered.

Normally this class of lipids should be avoided in any context. But when a pathology that affects the hormonal profile has developed, it’s be important to reduce its consumption even more. After all, they can interfere with the production of elements such as thyroid and sex hormones, as well as cortisol. This produces a series of negative implications for our health.

6. Red meat

Finally, we’re going to talk about a product that can positively affect the functioning of the thyroid – red meat. This food contains has a lot of selenium. This element is key to ensuring the gland works efficiently.

This is shown by research published in Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Obesity. It works as a powerful antioxidant, so it’ll be important to avoid chronic pathologies.

After all, when we refer to meat, we’re talking about an item with high nutritional density. It’s a source of several essential minerals and proteins of high biological value that have all the necessary amino acids, as well as being highly digestible. In general, we should eat it frequently.

At present, we know that fresh meat isn’t harmful to health. The problem is caused by the processing that it sometimes undergoes, and by the addition of poor-quality artificial additives, such as nitrites.

Of course, we need to be careful about cooking methods. It’s always preferable to cook it at moderate temperatures, avoiding coals and other things that can create smoke and toxic compounds.

Having said this, we shouldn’t eat meat to excess. It’s a source of essential micronutrients, but it may contain elements that must be subsequently purified by the liver and kidneys. In this way, the pressure on these organs could increase, which would lead to a worsening of their functions.

Know the foods that can affect the thyroid

There are quite a few foods that can affect the normal functioning of the thyroid, both for better and for worse. It’s important to get to know them, in order to manage their presence in your diet, focusing on the items that benefit your health. However, in many cases, foods considered harmful are only harmful in pathological conditions, and not when the gland is functioning correctly.

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  • Triggiani V, Tafaro E, Giagulli VA, et al. Role of iodine, selenium and other micronutrients in thyroid function and disorders. Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets. 2009;9(3):277-294. doi:10.2174/187153009789044392.
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  • Song P, Wu L, Guan W. Dietary Nitrates, Nitrites, and Nitrosamines Intake and the Risk of Gastric Cancer: A Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2015;7(12):9872-9895. Published 2015 Dec 1. doi:10.3390/nu7125505.
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  • Köhrle J. Selenium and the thyroid. Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2015;22(5):392-401. doi:10.1097/MED.0000000000000190.

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