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How your diet can affect your thyroid

Apr 22nd 2019 at 5:27 AM

The thyroid is a hormonal gland present at the front of the neck. Thyroid releases hormones which are crucial for vital body processes such as metabolism and growth. Hormonal activity is a very precise process. A subtle change in the amount of hormonal release can have a huge impact on a person’s health.

A thyroid with appropriate hormone release is critical for a healthy body. Thyroid disorders are manifestations of abnormal activity of the thyroid gland. Thyroid disorders may cause the thyroid gland to either secrete too much or not enough hormones. Thyroid disorders have repercussions and can cause serious growth and weight fluctuations.

In Pakistan, thyroid disorders are fairly common. A local study was recently conducted at Punjab Institute of Cardiology where the incoming patients were tested for thyroid disorders. Out of 968 participants of this study, 26.3% had thyroid disorders. The hypothyroid disorder was the most common disorder and the females were the most vulnerable population.

Another study conducted for the population of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also showed similar results. According to this study, 75.8% of females and 24.2% of males suffered from thyroid disorders in the province. Such a high prevalence of thyroid disorders in the country is a cause for concern. They show that the Pakistani population has a genetic disposition and is making some poor lifestyle choices as well.

Diet plays an important role in determining the healthy functioning of the thyroid gland. Some foods can keep the thyroid gland in a healthy shape while others can impact it negatively. In this article, we will analyze both of these dietary patterns and also suggest some food choices for a healthy thyroid.

The information in this article is only for people who have a healthy thyroid and are hoping to keep it that way or have minor thyroid dysfunction. For people who have already developed thyroid disease, it is mandatory to look for a doctor by condition according to their specific thyroid disorder.

Iodine is the key

Iodine is the key factor which the thyroid gland requires to produce its hormones. Thyroid gland cells are the only ones that can absorb iodine. The thyroid cells provide iodine the site to combine with the amino acid known as tyrosine. Tyrosine then converts iodine into thyroid hormones.

The human body does not produce iodine. A diet rich in iodine is thus essential for the appropriate performance of the thyroid gland. Iodine deficiency will lead to a slow thyroid which is also known as hypothyroid. Too much of iodine will result in an over-efficient thyroid which is also known as hyperthyroid. Hyperthyroid cases are rare and are usually due to genetic factors rather than iodine excess. It is safe to say that iodine-containing foods should be a part of your diet. The recommended amount of daily iodine is 150 micrograms for adults

Foods to avoid

Here are some foods to avoid if you want to maintain thyroid health


Gluten is present in all processed products such as white bread, pizza dough, ice-creams, and syrups. Gluten consumption is usually not a problem but it can impair thyroid functioning in people with celiac disease. Gluten reduces absorption of iodine in the thyroid cells and as a result leads to a slow thyroid. Excess of gluten is also not good for blood sugar and thus should be avoided.


Soy products such as tofu and soybeans can be harmful to the thyroid gland. Soy products release a substance known as isoflavone which hinders the production of thyroid hormones. It is important to avoid soy products. If necessary, they should only be taken in small amounts.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and cabbage are known for their health benefits. They can, however, damage thyroid functioning if taken in excess. These vegetable release substances known as goitrogens which increase the need for iodine. As a result, you should use cruciferous vegetables in moderation. Cooking these vegetables before eating can get rid of the goitrogens along with reserving the nutritional value.

Foods to include in your diet

Some iodine-containing foods are as follows:

Iodized salt

Iodized salt is one of the cheapest and easiest ways of obtaining iodine. Governments of developing countries are promoting iodized salt so that poor people who cannot afford fruit or fish can meet their daily iodine needs. Given high statistics of thyroid disorders in Pakistan, it is advisable to replace common salt with iodized salt.


Fish such as cod and tuna are rich in minerals including iodine. They are also sources of good fat and thus promote better health overall

Dairy products

Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are great sources of iodine. Three servings of dairy every day are enough to meet iodine as well as calcium requirements of adults.

Fruits and vegetables

Vegetarians and vegans who cannot eat meat and dairy can fulfill their iodine needs by consuming iodine rich fruits and vegetables. Potatoes, bananas, strawberries, plums, and corn are excellent sources of iodine.

The thyroid gland is responsible for regular metabolism and growth. Regular functioning of the thyroid gland is thus necessary for a healthy body. Diet can seriously affect the thyroid gland. The body does not create iodine which is the main ingredient of thyroid hormones. It can only come from certain foods. It is hence important to eat an iodine-rich diet and avoid foods which hinder the production of thyroid hormones.

If you still find it hard to recover, please consult a thoryoid specialist near you and get a professional advice.

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