It’s not a surprise that I’ve always been fascinated by the healing power of foods… after all, I am a nutritionist.
But it wasn’t until my Hashimoto’s diagnosis that I truly started to think about how the foods I was eating were either helping my body conquer the disease, or making it worse. So I’ve compiled a list of my personal “dos” and “don’ts” for eating when it comes to this all-too-common autoimmune disease.
Ultimately, it’s up to you and your body to decide what works best. Maybe give these a test and see how your body reacts, try eliminating or bringing in one thing at a time. But there are so many stressful aspects of dealing with Hashimoto’s, and I want to make deciding what to eat a little easier. So here’s what worked for me and what didn’t:
1. Assume gluten won’t upset your system, even if you’re not intolerant
It’s a little known fact that Celiac disease is actually an autoimmune disorder. And while you might not have Celiac disease, or any sort of gluten intolerance, eating this protein found in wheat, rye and barley can make your Hashimoto’s symptoms worse. Gluten is a huge contributing factor in leaky gut, a condition in which the lining of your gut thins and toxins and pathogens can make their way into the bloodstream, increasing your body’s attack on itself as it tries to get rid of these harmful intruders.
2. Depend on brazil nuts for your selenium intake
Getting enough selenium is crucial when it comes to healing diseases of the thyroid. Studies have shown benefits in immune function and quality of life for those with thyroid disorders who have supplemented with selenium. Brazil nuts, which do contain a decent amount of selenium (and are a delicious snack) shouldn’t be depended upon for total selenium intake. A typical serving of brazil nuts contains approximately 68-91 mcg, and most studies show positive thyroid results with doses over 200 mcg. I’m a fan of the Pure Encapsulations selenium supplement.
3. Fill your diet with processed, sugar-filled foods and dairy
Highly processed foods, those with large amounts of added sugar, and dairy can contribute to inflammation, which your body already has high amounts of with an autoimmune disease. Plus, these kinds of foods will likely only worsen some of the typical Hashimoto’s symptoms such as weight gain, anxiety and brain fog, so you’re better off doing without them. Also, try to stay away from carb heavy foods like bread and pasta, because too many carbs can interfere with protein digestion and contribute to the brain fog and fatigue many of us with Hashimoto’s experience.
4. Eat the same foods over and over
When you find those few foods that make you feel really great, it’s only natural that you’ll want to incorporate them into your diet as much as possible. However if you eat too much of certain foods, mainly the top allergens (nuts, soy, dairy, etc.), you have a greater risk of developing a sensitivity to them. And with the gut issues that often come along with Hashimoto’s, foods are more likely to start upsetting you. I see this a lot with almonds, in particular. As people try to lower their carb and gluten intake they start eating a lot of almond products; almond flour-based breads, almond butter, handfuls of almonds as snacks. This is where a possible almond sensitivity can arise. So try limiting your almond based products to a few times a week, and with all foods keep a good rotation of nutrient dense meals and foods.
1. Eat cruciferous veggies
Cruciferous veggies, like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts and many more get a bad rep when it comes to a healthy Hashimoto’s diet. Sure, extreme overconsumption of these types of vegetables can lead to thyroid problems, but when normal amounts are consumed, there’s really nothing wrong with them. Actually, in reality, by eliminating cruciferous vegetables from your diet, you’re stripping yourself of the vital nutrients that they provide. Kale and brussel sprouts contain powerful phytochemicals, and act as anti-inflammatories.
2. Add more garlic to your diet
While garlic may be notorious for causing bad breath, it actually has some powerful antibacterial and antiviral properties that can help kill bad bacteria and the Epstein-Barr virus that can contribute to Hashimoto’s development. When eaten, garlic has also been shown to help control high blood sugar levels and inflammation, both of which are common problems in those with Hashimoto’s.
3. Eat a balanced, mostly plant-based diet
Overall, you want to be including as many nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and proteins into your diet as possible. Your body is already fighting itself, and there’s no reason to add to the damage with heavily processed foods when there are so many amazing healing foods that are given to us directly from nature. Cucumber, leafy greens, wild caught fish, tempeh, avocados, bananas… the list goes on and on of all the foods that can do amazing things to help you heal. Just try to keep it as natural and simple as possible.
4. Add Atlantic sea vegetables into your diet
This is another food thats affects have been heavily debated in the Hashimoto’s community. Long story short: iodine is essential to proper thyroid functioning, and most people aren’t getting enough. It’s only when you get far too much that you can run into some thyroid issues. That’s why sea vegetables like kelp and nori are a great way to incorporate the recommended amounts of iodine into you diet. You should aim for around 1500-2000 mcg per day. If you’re not a fan of salty sea vegetables, give a bladderwrack supplement a try. It’s a form of seaweed that is naturally high in iodine and is often sold in capsule form.
To learn more about thyroid healing foods, read this post over on the Medical Medium’s site