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Hypothyroidism

written by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 7/11/2011

Foods to avoid with hypothyroidism include foods that interfere with the thyroid gland and the hormones it produces. Learn more about hypothyroidism to better understand why you should avoid specific foods.

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    Hypothyroidism

    The thyroid gland is located at the base of the beck and produces hormones necessary for control of your metabolism. Hypothryoidism occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. This condition is also known as underactive thyroid.

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    Symptoms

    The symptoms of hypothyroidism vary from one patient to the next, but occur as the result of the thyroid hormone deficiency. Common symptoms include fatigue, coarse hair, hair loss, weakness, dry skin, weight gain, difficulty losing weight, depression, constipation, muscle cramps, memory loss, irritability, decreased sex drive and abnormal menstrual cycles.

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    Causes

    Lack of thyroid hormone occurs for several reasons. One is the result of thyroid gland inflammation, which damages that thyroid and makes it unable to produce enough thyroid hormone. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, also known as autoimmune thyroiditis, is a common cause of thyroid gland failure. This condition occurs when your immune system fails to distinguish between healthy cells and infectious organisms. This causes the immune system to attack the cells of the thyroid and cause thyroid gland failure.

    Some medical treatments lead to hypothyroidism because they require removal of the thyroid gland or damage thyroid tissue. Conditions that require partial or total removal of the thyroid include thyroid cancer and suspicious nodules in the neck. Radiation therapy to the neck also damages the thyroid gland and can contribute to the development of hypothyroidism.

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    Diagnosis

    Doctors diagnose hypothyroidism by ordering a blood test that measures thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). Your doctor may also order blood tests to check the levels of T3 and T4 in your blood.

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    Foods to Avoid with Hypothyroidism

    The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that there are several foods to avoid with hypothyroidism. Avoid possible food allergens, like soy, corn, chemical additives and dairy products. Some foods interfere with thyroid function, so you should avoid them if you have hypothyroidism. These foods include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, peanuts, soybeans, pine nuts and mustard greens. Soy may also interfere with the absorption of thyroid hormone.

    If you have difficulty losing weight due to your hypothyroidism, adjust your diet. Avoid processed foods such as pasta and white brad. Reduce your consumption of red meat and replace beef and steak with fish and lean meats. Reduce your trans fat intake by avoiding cookies, cakes, onion rings, French fries, crackers and processed foods. Get 30 minutes of exercise at least five days per week.

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    Supplements

    Dietary supplements may reduce the symptoms of hypothyroidism and help you have more energy. If your doctor approves, take a multivitamin that contains B-complex vitamins, calcium zinc, selenium, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, and E. Add omega-3 fatty acids to your diet to improve your immunity and decrease inflammation. Avoid iodine supplements, as too much iodine can actually cause hypothyroidism.

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    References

    University of Maryland Medical Center: Hypothyroidism - http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/hypothyroidism-000093.htm