How to Manage Your Hypothyroidism with a Healthy Diet
written by: weborglodge
• edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski
• updated: 10/20/2010
What is a good diet for hypothyroidism? While it can only be treated rather than cured, a healthy diet that maximizes your body’s metabolism will help counteract the effects of hypothyroidism. You can control your weight by healthy choices that balance deficiencies in thyroid hormone production.
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Function of the Thyroid Gland
Hypothyroidism describes a condition when the thyroid gland is not producing enough thyroid hormones to adequately fuel the breakdown of food and nutrients. The result is slow metabolism and weight gain. Other symptoms may include hair loss and fatigue.
The thyroid gland is located on the trachea, just below the larynx or voice box. The hormones produced by this gland regulate several body processes including metabolism and basal metabolic rate. A good diet for hypothyroidism will counter the effects of impaired metabolism by using the body's own physiology.
A good diet for hypothyroidism will maximize your body’s ability to metabolize food. First, concentrate on removing “empty" calories from your diet such as soft drinks and bakery items. With thyroid hormones in limited supply, your best diet strategy will focus on foods that provide that are nutrient dense.
Eliminate or at least cut back on foods containing white flour and sugar. Eating these foods elevates your blood sugar rapidly and sets up a scenario where blood sugar levels will drop quickly after the food is ingested. This cycle can lead to overeating.
Likewise, lower your fat intake by choosing lean proteins such as chicken and low-fat beef cuts. Like sugar, fat is processed quickly in the body. Bear in mind that you do not want to eliminate fat in your diet, but rather opt for the maximum return on what you eat with healthy choices.
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Diet Options for Hypothyroidism
Complex carbohydrates found in whole grains such as barley and quinoa stabilize blood sugar levels and help you feel full longer. Include complex carbohydrates in every meal to help your control your appetite. To balance your nutrition intake, add plenty of fruits and vegetables to your diet.
Certain foods can aggravate hypothyroidism and lead to complications. As the body tries to compensate for low thyroid levels, the pituitary gland releases another hormone to stimulate the thyroid. The result is an enlargement of the thyroid gland called a goiter.
To prevent this condition, avoid foods believed to interfere with thyroid function such as soy products and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Another good diet strategy for hypothyroidism is to make up for the low iodine-containing thyroid hormones. Add foods high in iodine in your diet such as shrimp and seafood.
Another way to maximize metabolism is to include selenium-rich foods such as Brazil nuts as part of your diet. Selenium is a trace mineral that your thyroid uses to convert its hormones to their active form. Because it can be toxic in concentrated doses, increase your selenium through diet rather than supplements.
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Tips for Dieting Success
Dietary restrictions can be difficult to sustain for the long term. The important thing to remember is that you will stop craving sugary snacks and high-fat foods over time. It takes willpower and resolve to get through the period of adjustment. Concentrate on making good choices when shopping or eating out. A good diet for hypothyroidism includes foods that will you manage your blood sugar levels and keep you feeling full longer.
Hypothyroidism does not have to dominate your life. Rather, take back control with a diet that is high in fiber and complex carbohydrates. Help your body by following a good diet that compensates for hormone deficiencies due to hypothyroidism.