by: Dr. Craig A. Maxwell
If you have thyroid disease, you may have gotten some conflicting information about the best diet for your health. In my practice, I have seen many patients shun foods that could help improve their thyroid health while maintaining a diet that could potentially harm it.
5 Foods to Avoid with Thyroid Disease
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and certain types of oats. It is estimated that 1 out of every 100 people is intolerant to this protein. According to a 2007 study published by the World Journal of Gastroenterology[1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2111403/], patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis should be tested for celiac disease as an inordinate number of those with the condition have undiagnosed gluten intolerance.
Various studies have shown that the prevalence of celiac disease in patients with autoimmune thyroid disease is up to 15 times greater than that of the general population!
If you have the symptoms of autoimmune thyroid disease, remove all traces of gluten from your diet for a period of 6-8 weeks. This elimination diet can give you a general idea of how your body feels and functions when not burdened by this protein. Even if you do not have a serious intolerance to gluten, you may notice a reduction of inflammation and rising energy levels upon giving it up.
2. High Fructose Corn Syrup
High fructose corn syrup is a sweetener created by separating corn starch from the kernel with lye, an alkaline sterilizing solution often laced with mercury. When mercury enters your system, your body recognizes it as a deadly poison and stores it in the organ systems that will suffer the least damage over a short period of time. One of these systems is your thyroid. Over time, the mercury in your thyroid begins to break down enzymes necessary for function, which could contribute to the development of a malfunctioning thyroid.
Aspartame is a synthetic sweetener made from aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. Natural phenylalanine is important for the formation of thyroid hormones but an excess of it may prevent an essential amino acid (called tyrosine) from reaching your thyroid gland. This can affect the way it functions and over time may lead to the development of thyroid disease.
4. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a neurotoxic chemical commonly found in savory-tasting Asian foods, canned soup, salad dressings, cold cuts, highly-processed snack chips, and frozen dinners.
MSG has been shown to damage your hypothalamus, which sends signals to your pituitary gland that directs your entire endocrine system. When these glands malfunction, your entire body is affected. A common result of this endocrine disruption is thyroid disease.
It can be difficult to avoid MSG as it has been disguised by clever food manufacturers under over a dozen different names including:
- Autolysed Yeast
- Calcium Caseinate
- Glutamic Acid
- Hyrolyzed Protein
- Monopotassium Glutamate
- Monosodium Glutamate
- Sodium Caseinate
- Textured Protein
- Yeast Extract
- Yeast Food
- Yeast Nutrient
5. Red #3 Artificial Food Dye
In my opinion, all synthetic food dyes should be avoided. However, Red #3 was recognized by the Food and Drug Administration as a thyroid carcinogen in laboratory animals in 1990. Since then, this coloring agent has been banned in all cosmetics and externally-applied pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be found in oral medications, maraschino cherries, baked goods, sausage casings, and candies.
Always read food labels carefully to avoid increasing the risk that your thyroid disease will develop into thyroid cancer.
What About “Goitrogenic Foods”?
You might be wondering why the usual suspects, like broccoli and cauliflower, are not mentioned in the list of top 5 foods to avoid. This is because I do not recommend the avoidance of what have come to be known as goitrogenic foods. Never, in my 30 years of practice, have I seen a patient worsen by eating any of these foods. If anything, they are highly-beneficial in the treatment and healing of autoimmune disease!
I would only caution against the consumption of non-organic soy products as conventionally-produced soy is almost-always genetically-modified and can worsen autoimmune disease and inflammation.
Thyroid disease can cause a wide variety of troubling symptoms. Clearing your diet of highly-processed foods can be your first step to lasting recovery.