What you eat may contribute to the health of your thyroid, a gland located in your neck that produces hormones responsible for energy and metabolism. Diseases that may affect your thyroid include hyperthyroidism, which abnormally speeds up your metabolism; hypothyroidism, often responsible for low energy levels and weight gain; and thyroid cancer. In addition to medical treatment, such as synthetic thyroid medication and surgery, a nutritious diet may help minimize your symptoms while promoting your overall health.
Vegetables are rich in antioxidants, which support your body's ability to defend itself from infection and disease. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, may interfere with thyroid function, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. If you have thyroid dysfunction, consume other antioxidant-rich vegetables, such as seaweed, tomatoes, squash and bell peppers. As high-fiber, relatively low-calorie foods, vegetables may also help you manage your weight, a common concern associated with hypothyroidism.
Colorful fruits also supply fiber and antioxidants. Increasing your fruit intake may help reduce your risk for cancer and help your body fight the disease once you have it, according to the National Cancer Institute. As naturally sweet foods, they provide nutritious alternatives to processed desserts and candy. Fruits particularly rich in fiber and nutrients include berries, cherries, citrus fruits, kiwi, cantaloupe, papaya, mango, plums and red grapes. Choose whole fruits over juice, which is lower in fiber and may offset blood sugar balance.
Whole grains, compared to refined grains, have not been stripped of valuable nutrients, fiber and protein during processing. As a result, whole grain foods have a more positive effect on your blood sugar levels, as well as digestive and heart health. There may be a caveat for some people, however. According to a 2010 article in "Today's Dietitian," eliminating gluten from the diet may h elp relieve symptoms of a form of hypothyroidism known as Hashimoto's disease. In addition, there may be a correlation between celiac disease -- a condition characterized by servere reactions to gluten -- and thyroid disease. If you suspect or have been diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease in addition to thyroid disease, incorporate gluten-free grains, such as brown rice, wild rice and gluten-free oats into your diet. Otherwise, gluten-containing whole grain foods, such as whole wheat or whole grain breads, pasta and cereals, are valuable sources of fiber and nutrients.
Cold-water fish, such as salmon, albacore tuna, herring, lake trout, flounder, halibut and sardines, contain omega-3 fatty acids -- essential fats linked with positive brain function and heart health. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends that people with thyroid disease consume omega-3 fats regularly for reduced inflammation and heightened immunity. Cold-water fish also provide nutritious alternatives to protein sources high in saturated fat, such as red and processed meats.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Hypothyroidism
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Hyperthyroidism
- "Today's Dietitian"; Research Connects Celiac and Thyroid Diseases and Suggests a Gluten-Free Diet Benefits Both; Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD, Gary Kaplan, DO; Nov. 2010
- National Cancer Institute: Antioxidants and Cancer Prevention