Thyroid Disorders

Thyroid Disease

Any dysfunction of the butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck (Thyroid).

A lump in the thyroid, the butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck.

A condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone.

The overproduction of a hormone by the butterfly-shaped gland in the neck (thyroid).

Abnormal enlargement of the butterfly-shaped gland below the Adam’s apple (thyroid).

Inflammation of the thyroid, the butterfly-shaped gland in the neck.

A cancer of the thyroid, the butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck.


Hypothyroidism occurs when levels of the two thyroid hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), are too low. Although changing your diet alone isn’t enough to restore normal thyroid hormone levels, avoiding some foods and eating more of others can improve your body’s absorption of these hormones.

Foods to eat

Nutrient-rich foods that improve your health may also benefit your thyroid gland. Certain compounds and supplements may help as well. These include:

Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables

Blueberries, tomatoes, bell peppers, and other foods rich in antioxidants can improve overall health and benefit the thyroid gland. Eating foods high in B vitamins, like whole grains, may also help.


Tiny amounts of selenium are needed for the enzymes that make thyroid hormones to work properly. Eating selenium-rich foods, such as sunflower seeds or Brazil nuts, can be beneficial.


This amino acid is used by the thyroid gland to produce T3 and T4. Good sources of tyrosine are meats, dairy, and legumes. Taking a supplement may help, but ask your doctor beforehand.

Foods to avoid

Many common foods and supplements contain compounds that interfere with thyroid function. In general, it’s best to avoid the following:


Studies suggest that phytoestrogens in soybeans and soy-rich foods may inhibit the activity of an enzyme that makes thyroid hormones. One study found that women who consumed soy supplements were three times more likely to develop hypothyroidism.

Iodine-rich foods

Some forms of hypothyroidism are caused by a lack of sufficient iodine. In such cases, using iodized salt or iodine-enriched foods can be beneficialTrusted Source. But eating too much iodine can have the opposite effect and suppress thyroid gland activity. Check with your doctor before taking supplements.

Iron and calcium supplements

Taking iron or calcium supplements can also change the effectiveness of many thyroid medications.

High-fiber foods

Although a high-fiber diet is usually recommended, too much fiber eaten right after taking thyroid medicines may interfere with their absorption. Wait two hours before you eat a high-fiber meal (one with more than about 15 grams of fiber).

Certain vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables that are rich in fiber, like broccoli, cabbage, spinach, kale, and Brussels sprouts, may inhibit thyroid medication absorption. Reducing the amounts of such produce in the morning right after taking your medication may help.

Caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol can also influence the effectiveness of thyroid medicine. Ask your doctor for tips on how to regulate or reduce your consumption.

Diet plans and Herbal Supplements

Hypothyroidism doesn’t have to prevent or limit you from following a healthy lifestyle. People with hypothyroidism can choose to be vegetarian, eat protein-rich foods, and avoid ingredients that may cause an allergy.

You may also decide to use alternative medicines for hypothyroidism. Some plant extracts, like ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), coleus (Coleus forskohlii), gotu kola (Centella asiatica), and guggul (Commiphora mukul), may ease symptoms of hypothyroidism. Evidence to support these claims are limited, however. Always speak with your doctor before making any big changes to your eating habits or before taking any supplements. Having your doctor routinely check your thyroid levels can also provide insight into how your lifestyle changes are affecting your thyroid and your overall metabolism.

Hypothyroidism Exercise Plan

Hypothyroidism, or having an underactive thyroid, can cause many symptoms like fatigue, joint pain, heart palpitations, and depression. The condition also reduces overall metabolism, making those with hypothyroidism more prone to weight gain. Exercise can relieve many of the symptoms associated with hypothyroidism and can improve cardiovascular health and muscle mass.

Get Your Heart Pumping

If left untreated, having low levels of thyroid hormones can reduce cardiac fitness. Those with hypothyroidism are also at a greater risk of ventricular arrhythmias, or a rapid heart beat. In addition to medications, exercise also plays a key role in strengthening the cardiovascular system.

Regularly participating in activities like running, walking at a brisk pace, or playing a sport can improve cardiac health. The related mood-boosting benefits can also relieve other hypothyroidism symptoms including depression and fatigue.

Protect Your Joints

Those with hypothyroidism frequently experience muscle and joint pain. Low-impact activities that minimize stress on joints such as the knee, hip, or back may be easier to do as opposed to more strenuous activities. Some options include yoga, Pilates, walking, swimming, and biking.

Build Muscle

Because hypothyroidism lowers your body’s resting metabolic rate, people with this condition are more liable to gain weight and suffer secondary problems caused by obesity. Building muscle through strength training can counteract these effects.

* Always discuss your exercise plan and goals with your doctor before starting a new routine or regimen.


Hyperthyroidism happens when there’s too much thyroid hormone in your body. This condition is also called thyrotoxicosis. An overactive or enlarged thyroid gland may produce more thyroid hormone.

Foods To Eat

Low-iodine foods

The mineral iodine plays a key role in making thyroid hormones. A low-iodine diet helps to reduce thyroid hormones. Add these foods to your daily diet:

  • non-iodized salt
  • coffee or tea (without milk or dairy- or soy-based creamers)
  • egg whites
  • fresh or canned fruit
  • unsalted nuts and nut butters
  • homemade bread or breads made without salt, dairy, and eggs
  • popcorn with non-iodized salt
  • oats
  • potatoes
  • honey
  • maple syrup

Cruciferous vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables and other types may stop your thyroid from using iodine properly. They may be beneficial for hyperthyroidism:

  • bamboo shoots
  • bok choy
  • broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • cassava
  • cauliflower
  • collard greens
  • kale
  • mustard
  • rutabaga

Vitamins and minerals

Several nutrients are essential for thyroid health and to balance thyroid hormone production.


Iron is important for many vital bodily functions, including thyroid health. This mineral is needed for blood cells to carry oxygen to every cell in your body. Low levels of iron are linked to hyperthyroidism. Get plenty of iron in your diet with foods such as:

  • dried beans
  • green leafy vegetables
  • lentils
  • nuts
  • poultry, such as chicken and turkey
  • red meat
  • seeds
  • whole grains


Selenium-rich foods may help to balance thyroid hormone levels and protect your thyroid from disease. Selenium helps to prevent cell damage and keep your thyroid and other tissues healthy.

Good food sources of selenium include:

  • Brazil nuts
  • couscous
  • chia seeds
  • mushrooms
  • tea
  • meat, such as beef and lamb
  • rice
  • oat bran
  • poultry, such as chicken and turkey
  • sunflower seeds


Zinc helps you use food for energy. This mineral also keeps your immune system and thyroid healthy. Food sources of zinc include:

  • beef
  • chickpeas
  • cocoa powder
  • cashews
  • mushrooms
  • pumpkin seeds
  • lamb

Calcium and vitamin D

Hyperthyroidism causes weak and brittle bones. Bone mass may be restored with treatment. Vitamin D and calcium are necessary for building healthy bones.

Calcium-rich foods include:

  • spinach
  • collard greens
  • white beans
  • kale
  • okra
  • calcium-fortified orange juice
  • almond milk
  • calcium-fortified cereals

Vitamin D is found in these low-iodine foods:

  • vitamin D-fortified orange juice
  • vitamin D-fortified cereals
  • beef liver
  • mushrooms
  • fatty fish

Healthy fats

Fats that are from whole foods and largely unprocessed may help reduce inflammation. This helps to protect thyroid health and balance thyroid hormones. Nondairy fats are important in a low-iodine diet. These include:

  • flaxseed oil
  • olive oil
  • avocado oil
  • coconut oil
  • sunflower oil
  • safflower oil
  • avocado
  • unsalted nuts and seeds


Some spices and herbs have anti-inflammatory properties to help protect and balance thyroid function. Add flavor and a dose of antioxidants to your daily meals with:

  • turmeric
  • green chilies
  • black pepper
Foods to avoid if you have hyperthyroidism

Excess iodine

Eating too many iodine-rich or iodine-fortified foods may lead to hyperthyroidism or worsen it in some cases.

A teaspoon of iodized salt gives you 284 micrograms of iodine. Seafood has the most iodine. Just 1 gram of seaweed contains 2 milligrams (mg) of iodine. The recommend dose of iodine is about 1.1 mg per day. A low-iodine diet requires even less.

Avoid the following seafood and seafood additives:

  • fish
  • seaweed
  • prawns
  • crabs
  • lobster
  • sushi
  • carrageen
  • agar-agar
  • algae
  • alginate
  • nori
  • kelp

Avoid other foods high in iodine such as:

  • milk and dairy
  • cheese
  • egg yolks
  • iodized salt
  • iodized water
  • some food colorings

Some medications also contain iodine. These include:

  • amiodarone (Nexterone)
  • cough syrups
  • medical contrast dyes
  • herbal or vitamin supplements


Chemicals called nitrates may causeTrusted Source your thyroid to absorb too much iodine. This can lead to an enlarged thyroid and hyperthyroidism.

Nitrates are found naturally in some foods. Processed foods may contain added nitrates. They may also be found in drinking water. Avoid or limit foods such as:

  • processed meats (sausage, bacon, salami, pepperoni)
  • celery
  • lettuce
  • beets
  • spinach
  • parsley
  • leeks
  • endive
  • cabbage
  • fennel
  • dill
  • turnip
  • carrots
  • cucumber
  • pumpkin


In some people, gluten may harm the thyroid by causing inflammation. Even if you don’t have a gluten allergy or intolerance, it may be beneficial to restrict or limit gluten. Check food labels for gluten-containing ingredients such as:

  • wheat
  • barley
  • brewer’s yeast
  • malt
  • rye
  • triticale


While soy doesn’t contain iodine, it’s been shown to interfere with some treatments for hyperthyroidism in animals. Avoid or limit foods with soy such as:

  • soy milk
  • soy sauce
  • tofu
  • soy-based creamers


Foods and beverages that contain caffeine, such as coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate, can exacerbate the symptoms of hyperthyroidism and lead to increased anxiety, nervousness, irritability, and rapid heart rate.

If caffeine has this effect on you, then avoiding or limiting your intake may be a good option. Try replacing caffeinated beverages with natural herbal teas, flavored water, or hot apple cider.

Diet plans and Herbal Supplements.


Bugleweed is a plant that’s historically been used to treat heart and lung conditions.

Some sources suggest that bugleweed is a thyrosuppressant — that is, it reduces the function of the thyroid gland.

B-complex or B-1

While vitamin B-12 supplements can help you manage some of these symptoms, they don’t treat hyperthyroidism on their own.

Although B-12 and B-complex vitamins are available over the counter, it’s best to talk to your doctor before adding in a new supplement.


Some researchTrusted Source suggests that selenium can be used to treat the symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

Selenium is a mineral that naturally occurs in water, soil, and foods like nuts, fish, beef, and grains. It can also be taken as a supplement.

Graves’ disease, the most common cause of hyperthyroidism, is associated with thyroid eye disease (TED), which can be treated with selenium. Remember, though, that not everyone with hyperthyroidism has TED.

It’s best to consult your doctor before taking a supplement like selenium, as there are some possible side effects and selenium shouldn’t be taken in combination with certain medications.

Lemon balm

Lemon balm, a plant that’s a member of the mint family, is thought to be a treatment for Graves’ disease. In theory, this is because it reduces thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).

However, there’s a lack of research on this claim. There’s insufficient evidence to assess whether lemon balm effectively treats hyperthyroidism.

Lemon balm can be consumed as a tea or in the form of a supplement. Relax with a cup of lemon balm tea may at least be healing as a stress management technique.

Lavender and sandalwood essential oils

While many people swear by using essential oils to manage the symptoms of hyperthyroidism, there’s insufficient research on this claim.

Lavender and sandalwood essential oils can, for example, reduce feelings of anxiety and help you feel calm. This might help you fight nervousness and sleeplessness, both symptoms of hyperthyroidism.


A dietary fiber, glucomannan is found in the form of capsules, powders, and tablets. It’s often derived from the root of the konjac plant.

One promising study from 2007Trusted Source suggests that glucomannan could be used to lower the levels of thyroid hormones in people with hyperthyroidism, but more evidence is needed.

The Take Away

Hyperthyroidism generally requires medical treatment and monitoring by a health professional.

While these natural treatments may help you manage your symptoms and can complement thyroid medication, they can’t replace it.

Eating well, exercising, and practicing self-care and stress management can all help. When managed with medication and a healthy lifestyle, thyroid function can return to normal.


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