The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate your metabolism, or the rate at which food is converted into energy. One in eight women between ages 35 and 65 have a thyroid condition, according to women's health expert Christiane Northrup, MD. After age 65, the risk increase. Thyroid conditions include hypothyroidism, or under-active thyroid, hyperthyroidism, or over-active thyroid, thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer. A healthy diet may help to improve your health and thyroid function.
Foods with a low glycemic index have a less dramatic impact on blood sugar levels than high-glycemic index foods. A diet rich in low-glycemic foods may be helpful for people with thyroid problems, according to M. Sara Rosenthal, author of "The Thyroid Sourcebook." To follow a low-glycemic diet, replace refined carbohydrates with fiber-rich whole grains and starchy vegetables, such as whole wheat bread and sweet potatoes. Protein foods, such as poultry and fish are also low on the glycemic index and may help reduce the glycemic load of a carbohydrate-rich meal, such as pasta and rice dishes. Most fruits and vegetables fit in a low-glycemic diet. Limit high-glycemic index foods, including processed snack foods, candy, sugar-containing soft drinks and candy.
Dietary fiber promotes digestive regularity and fullness between meals. Fiber may also support thyroid health, says Rosenthal. Choose whole grains, beans, legumes, fruits and vegetables. Replace low-fiber carbohydrate foods, such as white bread, sugary cereals and pretzels with high-fiber foods, such as 100 percent whole grain breads and cereals. Select fresh or dried fruit instead of fruit juices. Fruits and vegetables particularly high in fiber include plums, prunes, bananas, potatoes with skin, avocados, carrots, Lima beans, garbanzo beans, eggplant, kale, canned pumpkin, apples and berries.
Certain nutrients are particularly important for thyroid health. To reduce symptoms of hypothyroidism, the University of Maryland Medical Center suggests a diet rich in B-vitamins and iron. Consume lean meats, dairy products, whole grains and vegetables. Antioxidant rich-foods, such as red, green, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables, can help your body defend itself against disease. Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as wild salmon, lake trout, sardines, albacore tuna and herring, to prevent or reduce inflammation. Ground flax seed, walnuts, flax seed oil and canola oil also contain omega-3 fats in lower quantities.
- "The Thyroid Sourcebook"; M. Sara Rosenthal; 2008
- Christiane Northrup, M.D.: Thyroid Disease: What You Need to Know
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Hypothyroidism