Your thyroid is an important gland at the base of your neck. It creates and produces hormones that work with many different systems throughout your body, including releasing and controlling thyroid hormones that control metabolism– the process where the food you take into your body is transformed into energy. If you suffer from thyroid disease, it’s because your thyroid is producing too much or too little of these hormones.
There are several types of thyroid disease, such as hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, thyroiditis, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, all of which can be caused by different things such as an iodine deficiency or even genetics. Registered dietitian Molly Hembree, MS, RD, LD, a member of our Medical Expert Board notes that that the most common thyroid condition is an underactive thyroid, or “hypothyroidism.”
“Often a primary hypothyroidism side effect is weight gain,” says Hembree. “It is important if you experience unintended weight gain, particularly if it doesn’t seem to align to current food and exercise habits, that you speak with your doctor to address any underlying issues, which could include hypothyroidism in some cases.”
Watching what you eat can play a big impact on the effects of your thyroid condition, and according to Hembree, the #1 worst food if you have been diagnosed with thyroid issues is food that contains goitrogens.
“Goitrogens are foods that contain a compound called ‘goitrin,’ which can interfere with the synthesis of thyroid hormones, when alongside an iodine deficiency,” says Hembree.
According to Hembree, goitrogens include uncooked cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, as well as soy and millet. However, to get rid of some of the potential negative effects of vegetables, you can simply heat them up.
“Heating the cruciferous vegetables eliminates its goitrogenic activity,” says Hembree. “And if you are eating uncooked cruciferous vegetables, and soy in moderation, it does not seem to pose a threat to thyroid health. However, most dietitians advise completely eliminating millet from the diet.”
In a paper published in the British Medical Journal, researchers found that a balanced diet plays an important role when focusing on your thyroid issues. Eating excesses of a food in one direction while excluding another can impact your gland’s job. For example, too many fats, lime, and iodine.
Also, certain unidentified nutrients found in vegetables can be goitrogenic when ingested in large amounts. Just like Hembree also stated, they are present in cabbage and other members of the Brassica family. Including some in Cruciferae as well.
As always, before making any significant changes to your diet, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider.