5 common foods that cause thyroid dysfunction

Diet and thyroid health go hand in hand. Foods can either fuel health or cause some serious health issues including thyroid dysfunction. In this post, I am going to share five Hashimoto’s foods to avoid. These are foods that cause thyroid dysfunction that I come across in my practice regularly. These foods are inflammatory, and can even lead to leaky gut, and autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s. These are so commonly consumed and something that I see a number of thyroid patients consuming that I thought it was important to address each one.

If you are stuck on what you and should not be eating or dealing with a thyroid disorder and trying to get to the root cause of the issue, it may be time to take a look at diet. Let’s jump in and talk about the first food that can cause thyroid dysfunction.

#1 Gluten

Gluten is one of the first foods I recommend my patients remove from their diet. Not only is gluten inflammatory for the body but gluten can be especially harmful to those with thyroid disease. The issue with gluten consumption is that gluten can cause some mistaken identity within the immune system.

When someone with a thyroid issue consumes gluten, it can pass through the gut lining and then into the bloodstream in the case of leaky gut. Keep in mind that most people with an autoimmune condition also suffer from leaky gut. When the gluten gets into the bloodstream the immune system will mount an attack however the immune system often confuses gluten and the thyroid. What does this mean? This means that the immune system may not only attack the gluten but it will also attack the thyroid gland.

Another major issue with gluten is the fact that it can be detrimental for someone with leaky gut and I find that many of my thyroid patients also suffer from some sort of gut health issue such as leaky gut syndrome. When you consume gluten, the body produces zonulin which is a chemical responsible for causing those tight junctions in the gut to open up. In someone with a gluten sensitivity, this can cause a huge issue because those tight junctions are not able to heal as quickly as in someone who does not react to gluten. This will lead to further intestinal permeability.

This is another reason why I always recommend that patients with thyroid issues remove gluten from their diet as it has a ripple effect on health. Not only is it directly damaging for the thyroid itself, but it can lead to leaky gut which can ultimately lead to an autoimmune condition. The best thing to do is to keep it out of your diet altogether.

#2 Dairy

Those who suffer from thyroid dysfunction need to be careful as many people are not able to tolerate dairy products very well. Dairy is problematic for a number of reasons.

For one, many people with autoimmune conditions also suffer from gut health issues as we just talked about. Lots of people have a difficult time breaking down and digesting dairy so it can cause further gastrointestinal upset.

Dairy often pops up on food sensitivity tests as well and many people may not even know that they were reacting to dairy as detecting a food sensitivity can be a challenge. Food sensitivities can present themselves with symptoms such as coughing, asthma, mucus, and skin issues but they can pop up days after you consume the reactive food. For this reason, many people who are sensitive to dairy may not even know it since their symptoms present themselves days after they have consumed a certain dairy product.

One of the problems with dairy is that anyone with leaky gut may have an immune reaction to dairy consumption. Since the proteins found in cow’s milk are different from the protein in human milk, the immune system may view these proteins as foreign invaders and then make antibodies to the milk protein. The antibodies are mediated by the IgG portion of the immune system which is the same branch of the immune system that mediates thyroid antibodies. (1) This is one of the reasons I recommend that my patients remove dairy from their diet as there may be a true link between dairy consumption and thyroid antibody production and many patients usually start to feel better with keeping dairy out of their diet. Many people also notice that some of the symptoms they had been living with for so long such as bloating, skin issues, and acid reflux also start to decline.

#3 Soy

Soy is another hot topic when talking about thyroid health. Many people ask me what I recommend when it comes to soy consumption, and I recommend that it is kept out of the diet and here’s why.

Soy can cause some endocrine disruption which is the last thing that you want when dealing with thyroid issues. Soy contains isoflavones which are a type of phytoestrogen and closely resembles human estrogen. When someone consumes large amounts of soy it is possible to throw off hormonal balance and specifically estrogen in the body. Hormonal imbalance can lead to further thyroid issues.

Another problem with soy is that it is one of the largest GMO crops in the US and is commonly found in processed foods. It can be found under different names as well such as lecithin or emulsifier on a food label. These are commonly added to processed or hydrogenated oils. When we consume genetically modified foods, our bodies do not process them the same way we do whole foods that have not been genetically modified. When we consume these foreign foods, the immune system will likely respond which will then create inflammation. When we continue this pattern over and over again the inflammation can cause serious health issues. This immune response may also potentially lead to an autoimmune response when GMO foods are consumed such as soy. This can lead to things like Hashimoto’s.

#4 Sugar

Sugar is a major autoimmune trigger and something I always recommend eliminating or at least reducing from the diet. Sugar is an issue for a couple of different reasons.

The first problem has to do with the gut. You have probably picked up on the gut and thyroid connection by now. Without proper gut health, it is impossible to have healthy thyroid function. The issue with sugar and the gut is that it can lead to leaky gut but it can also cause an imbalance in the healthy bacteria in the gut which can lead to other gut infections such as Candida, or SIBO. Sugar is also very inflammatory and any type of inflammation in the body can trigger disease as inflammation is the root cause of nearly all disease seen today.

High sugar intake can also cause blood sugar imbalances which can ultimately affect the adrenal gland. Not only that but when sugar is consumed in large amounts that constant secretion of insulin can lead to insulin resistance. Constant insulin surges can have a negative effect on the thyroid gland.

I recommend removing all sources of refined sugar from the diet and opting for more natural options whenever possible. However, it is important to keep natural sugars in check as well. Things like pure grade B maple syrup or raw honey are ok in moderation but they should not be over-consumed. Same with high sugar fruits, try opting for lower sugar options such as berries, apples, and peaches.

#5 Processed Foods 

Processed foods are another group of foods commonly known to disrupt thyroid function. One of the major issues with these foods is that they often contain all four of the previous foods talked about all in one. This can wreak havoc on your health for more than one reason. These foods are so far from what our bodies can recognize that inflammation is triggered and the immune system may even react due to the fact that the body cannot recognize foods that are so far from their whole and natural state.

Foods that are packaged, frozen meals, snacks, pastries, and even some granola bars are best avoided. I recommend sticking to as many whole foods as possible that have not been manipulated in a lab. By skipping the processed and inflammatory foods and going for a more whole foods diet you will allow your body to reap all the benefits nutrient dense foods have while avoiding the foods that cause inflammation and disease. Opt for things like grass-fed animal products, organic fruits, and vegetables, and healthy fats like avocados, coconut oil, and sprouted nuts and seeds. Add these foods to your diet and slowly eliminate the packaged food options.

There you have it the five foods that can cause thyroid dysfunction. Removing these foods from your diet is an excellent way to safeguard your thyroid health but your overall health as well. By eliminating inflammatory foods from your diet you will do your whole body good.

If removing all of these foods all at once is intimidating to you, try removing one for 2 weeks and then move onto the next. Before you know it, your diet will be free from some of the most common foods that upset thyroid function. Once these foods are removed it may also be a great idea to start a Paleo style diet which is what I commonly recommend. This dietary approach is free from sugar, processed foods, gluten, dairy, and other inflammatory foods that are just downright toxic for thyroid health.

If you are ready to get started and remove these foods from your diet, here are some tips to help you get started.

  • Remove one food at a time and stick with it before moving to the next
  • Get outside and walk or meet up with a friend when you are feeling a sugar craving coming on
  • Replace common gluten containing grains with things like cauliflower rice
  • Opt for homemade almond milk instead of dairy milk
  • Snack on food rich in healthy fat and protein to keep you feeling full longer so you won’t crave sugar as much
  • Choose foods without food labels more often than foods with a label. This will help you add more whole foods into your diet

If you are suffering from weight gain, fatigue, hair loss and more, click here to schedule a phone call with me, so I can find out where you’ve been, where you want to get to, and how I can help you get there.

I know exactly where you are because I’ve been there myself…I remember being so tired that I could barely function. I gained 30 pounds out of nowhere and had a severe case of brain fog. I also started to get severe anxiety and panic attacks. I was driven and motivated…until I wasn’t. I didn’t know what was happening to me. All I wanted was to get my life back…

Finally, I learned about functional medicine and found a practitioner that I hoped could help me. They ran specialized tests that were far different than I had ever had before. When I got the results back, it turned out I had candida, parasites, high cortisol, the Epstein Bar Virus and many food intolerances. I also had an issue with my thyroid that no one found before because they were using the conventional medicine lab ranges which are way too broad….which I now know is one of the leading causes of hypothyroid misdiagnosis.

I went through treatment of all of these things and it completely changed my life.  I immediately lost the 30 pounds I had gained plus more, I had a lot more energy, and my brain fog was gone. I felt amazing and knew that I wanted to help people find the underlying causes of their symptoms and disease.

Resources

(1) Izabella Wentz. Going Dairy Free to Reverse Hashimoto’s

Dr. Amy Myers. Is Gluten to Blame for Your Thyroid Dysfunction?

Natural Endocrine Solutions (2013) The Impact of GMO on Thyroid Health

Dr. Mercola. (2010) Got Thyroid Problems? Then Stop Consuming Soy