Hashimoto’s disease, also called chronic atrophic gastritis, is an autoimmune disorder that can cause weight loss and fatigue. It is caused by the body making antibodies to the thyroid gland, leading to an underactive thyroid gland that makes less thyroid hormone. This can result in feelings of fatigue, depression, weight gain and lack of energy.
The most difficult part of life with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is knowing what to eat. It’s a fine line between healthy and unhealthy, a balance between what you can and can’t eat. But, one thing is for sure: You don’t want to eat too much sugar.
Diet for Hashimoto’s Disease
Yes, you can Improve Hashimoto’s through diet. One of the best things, and worst things, about Hashimoto’s, is that your diet has a powerful impact on how you are feeling.
But, as you will find, this is a double-edged sword. Good in the sense that you have control over how you are feeling (to some degree) but bad in the sense that you are accountable for everything that you put into your mouth! These are just a few of the issues that you can run into when trying to navigate the field of diet and your thyroid:
Want an extra donut today? Better watch out because that gluten may flare up your immune system.
Want a quick breakfast by eating a bowl of cereal? Better be careful because dairy can exacerbate Hashimoto’s symptoms.
Trying to eat healthily by consuming raw vegetables? Too many may actually be harmful to your thyroid gland.
It is incredibly important to be aware of the choices you make each day when living with an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto disease. In order to support your body and manage the discomforting symptoms, developing a thoughtful Hashimoto thyroid disease diet can be life-changing.
Of course, pursuing a balanced, healthy diet is key, but in the best diet for Hashimoto disease, you especially want to nourish your body with thyroid-friendly as well as gut-friendly foods that are supportive of the immune system.
10 Food Groups to Avoid if You Have Hashimoto’s Disease
If you’ve had Hashimoto’s for any length of time then you probably already know that you should avoid gluten. Gluten plays a major role in damaging the gut lining which can trigger inflammation, gut damage, and even trigger autoimmune disease by itself.
I’ve had the ability to treat many patients with Hashimoto’s over the years and it always surprises me when they say that they are not avoiding gluten or that they tried it and it didn’t work. But when I press further, I find that they only gave giving up gluten a half-hearted attempt for a few weeks but never succeeded in removing it from their diet 100%.
If you fall into this category then you need to re-think your strategy! Going gluten free only works if you are 100% successful at removing it and if you keep it out of your diet for at LEAST 1 month (preferably two or three).
If you have given up gluten for a grand total of three months then you can say that you gave it a fair shot. If you haven’t, then you need to go back and do it in this way.
Once you re-introduce gluten you can then determine how your body is feeling and if you are feeling worse (or better which does happen sometimes).
2. Iodized Salt
Next on the list is iodized salt! But I don’t want you to confuse iodized salt with iodine because they are NOT the same thing. Iodized salt is simply salt which has been fortified with iodine (iodine has been added to it).
As a patient with Hashimoto’s, you’ve probably been told that iodine is dangerous so it makes perfect sense while you would want to avoid iodized salt. But if you are thinking this then you are wrong. Iodine is NOT harmful to patients with Hashimoto’s, though it does have the potential to cause issues if it is used incorrectly.
The reason I recommend avoiding iodized salt is because consuming iodine in this way may actually be harmful to patients with Hashimoto’s. But it’s not harmful BECAUSE of the iodine, it’s harmful because consuming it in this way means that you are taking a dose of iodine without additional protective nutrients such as selenium.
Consuming iodine, without selenium, may actually trigger inflammation and damage to your thyroid gland. For this reason, I always recommend that iodine be taken either with selenium or after you’ve supplemented with selenium so you know that your body has enough selenium in storage.
But let me be clear: Iodine is NOT dangerous to Hashimoto’s patients and it’s not something that you should avoid. In fact, avoiding iodine may actually be harmful and can cause more thyroid problems down the line.
3. Dairy products
Dairy is another no-brainer food group to avoid if you have Hashimoto’s. Why?
Well, for starters, a huge percentage of people have problems digesting dairy and this number is as high as 70% of people when you look at studies. And when you dig deeper, you find that not only can people not digest dairy sugars, they also have problems with dairy proteins.
Many patients with Hashimoto’s often find that they are incredibly sensitive to the protein fragments found in dairy products. And these sensitivities can lead to inflammation and damage to the gut lining which can impair immune function and lead to more damage from your Hashimoto’s.
We even have evidence from medical studies to suggest that this is the case! Studies have looked closely at Hashimoto’s patients taking dairy and comparing these people to those who avoided it and they found that people with Hashimoto’s who avoided dairy had BETTER thyroid lab tests than those who didn’t.
As a Hashimoto’s patient, you SHOULD avoid dairy as well as dairy based products such as whey protein. Instead of using whey protein, use a plant based protein powder such as pea protein which is easy to digest and more friendly on the stomach.
Any product that contains soy should also be avoided if you have Hashimoto’s. This can be harder than you think because soy is often found in many foods and it’s not always obvious that it’s there.
Soy products are highly processed (which is one major negative) and they can cause problems with your thyroid gland by acting as a goitrogen. Goitrogens are substances that block the uptake of iodine into your thyroid and this prevents your thyroid from working properly.
As a patient with Hashimoto’s who is ALREADY suffering from inflammation and damage to the thyroid gland, the last thing you want to do is make your thyroid gland have to work harder to produce what it needs. You might be able to get away by using organic non GMO soy products but I would be cautious of using soy in general as most patients with Hashimoto’s do better without it.
Don’t shoot the messenger! Coffee is something that you should NOT be consuming if you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or any sort of thyroid problem.
People who drink coffee tend to be overly attached to it and I’ve seen them make all sorts of excuses as to why they NEED to have it on a daily basis.
If you are making excuses for why you need to drink coffee then there’s a good chance that you know you need to avoid using it but your desire for drinking it exceeds your knowledge that it’s harmful to your body.
Coffee, and the caffeine found inside of it, have been shown to cause low free thyroid hormone levels, may put an increased drag on your adrenal function, may reduce the quality of your sleep, and may have addictive properties.
Consume it at your own risk, but I can tell you from treating many patients with Hashimoto’s and hearing their stories, that getting off of coffee can be a huge benefit to your thyroid and overall health.
You can and should think of alcohol as poison to your thyroid gland. Alcohol not only has the ability to poison or damage cells in your body, it has a direct negative effect on your pituitary gland and thyroid function.
Consuming alcohol can also cause damage to your liver which reduces how well your liver functions. Why does that matter? Because your liver is the site of conversion of thyroid hormones!
The more damage to your liver, the less active your thyroid hormone will be. My recommendation is to avoid alcohol 100% if you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Your thyroid will thank you as well as the rest of your body.
7. Foods that has been processed
Processed foods should pretty much be avoided whether you have Hashimoto’s or not but they should DEFINITELY be avoided if you have Hashimoto’s.
What are processed foods? Processing is just a way to describe that the food you are about to eat has undergone some change or alteration prior to being sold.
For instance, if you go to the produce section of your grocery store you will find food that is NOT processed. An apple, for instance, just needs to be picked from a tree before its sold.
A processed food, on the other hand, goes through several steps before its sold which may include the addition of preservatives, the addition of flavor enhancements, the addition of salt, the addition of fat, and so on.
The benefit of processing food is that it has a longer shelf life but the downside is that processed food causes DAMAGE and INFLAMMATION to your body!
You don’t need to worry about processed foods as long as you are consuming a diet which is 100% whole food. But, in case, you weren’t already doing this, consider this section a reminder that processed foods, while more convenient, will cause serious long-term damage to your health.
8. Sugar that has been processed
Most people will tell you that you need to avoid sugar 100% if you have Hashimoto’s, especially if you are overweight.
There actually isn’t a lot of evidence to suggest that consuming sugar, healthy sugars anyway, is harmful directly to your thyroid gland. But there is some evidence to suggest that consuming too much sugar can cause inflammation and cause another harmful condition known as insulin resistance.
But, this doesn’t mean that you need to be fearful of sugar or avoid it like the plague. I am actually a big fan of using healthy carbohydrates in thyroid patients because I feel that many thyroid patients need more than they are getting.
Having said that, there is a right way to use sugar and a wrong way. If you are going to use sugar you want to make sure you are getting it from NATURAL sources. This includes things like:
- Maple syrup
- Agave syrup
- And minor amounts of coconut sugar
These types of sugars can be used to satisfy a sweet tooth if used in moderation.
Just like there are sugars that you can consume, there are also many sugars that you should avoid. And sugars you want to avoid are processed sugars which have been ADDED to foods which are already processed.
Processed peanut butter with added sugar, would be an example of this but there are many others:
- Processed ice cream with added sugar
- Processed tomato sauce with added sugar
- Processed cereal with added sugar
- Processed “pre-made” dinners with added sugar and bad oils
Use MORE natural sources of sugar, in moderation, and zero processed and refined sugar.
9. Unhealthy Oils and Fats
If there is one section that I want you to take extra seriously it’s this section. Consuming bad oils, in my opinion, is one of the main reasons that the health of our nation has declined so rapidly over the last 20-30 years.
These bad oils are heavily processed and, when consumed, can cause inflammation which has a long lasting effect in the body. These bad oils, because they are fats, can get incorporated into the cell membranes of the cells in your body.
This incorporation weakens the integrity of the cells and leads to problems in cellular processing which results in things like long-lasting inflammation and hormone problems.
Not only are these oils bad for your body, but they are also found EVERYWHERE. And, even if consumed accidentally, they can stick around for months and months inside of your body.
If you have Hashimoto’s then you will want to avoid these oils at all costs:
- Soybean oil
- Peanut oil
- Corn oil
- Safflower oil
- Wheat-germ oil
- Canola oil
- Sunflower oil
- Cottonseed oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Rice bran oil
Instead, use THESE oils!
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Butter from grass-fed cows
These oils are more expensive but will help your body eliminate the bad oils and improve the function of your cells.
10. Particular Vegetables (if consumed raw in large quantities)
This is sort of a sneaky addition but it’s worth spending a little bit of time on. Vegetables, in general, are AMAZING for your thyroid health and your overall health. They should NOT be avoided, even if you have Hashimoto’s.
But, I should take some time to mention that consuming excessive amounts of certain types of vegetables (such as broccoli) has the POTENTIAL to cause minor thyroid problems. This effect stems from the fact that broccoli and other vegetables in that family contain some goitrogens.
The good news is that you can basically eliminate these goitrogens by properly preparing your food. Steaming your vegetables, instead of eating them raw, will eliminate this issue almost 100%. And, even if you don’t steam your vegetables, eating raw veggies isn’t a problem for most patients with Hashimoto’s.
Food List for Hashimoto Diet
An important part of your Hashimoto’s diet is adding in nutrients and food sources that are necessary for proper thyroid function and can provide healing relief. First we focus on making sure to add in those gut-healing foods which can benefit the immune system and overall health.
Then we add in other foods that include specific nutrients that provide thyroid benefits. Here is my Hashimoto diet food list of nutritious things to add into your Hashimoto’s diet plan.
1. Foods with probiotics
When trying to heal Hashimoto’s, it’s important to increase or rebalance gut flora (the good bacteria) Probiotics are good bacteria that can help you maintain your digestive system and boost immune health. You can take probiotics as a supplement, but there are natural food sources of probiotics that provide important benefits to your gut and Hashimoto’s. Yogurt is a great source of natural probiotics.
Just be sure to consume a natural kind, one without too much or any sugar (many yogurt brands include 4 ½ teaspoons of sugar per 6-ounce container!).
2. Foods that are fermented
Fermented foods promote the good bacteria in our guts and help to eliminate bad bacteria. Fermented foods are helpful in aiding digestion, helping essential nutrients to be absorbed into our bloodstream and provide healing benefits to the thyroid and entire body.
Include sauerkraut, kimchee, and other pickled veggies into your Hashimoto’s diet.
3. Collagen- rich foods
Our bodies natural collagen helps to maintain gut health, which is tied to immune health. However, since our bodies naturally lose collagen as we age, I recommend making sure you add in collagen into your diet to help reduce gut inflammation, aid in digestion and help to repair the intestinal lining.
Eat more foods with collagen in it such as bone broth, fish skin, chicken skin or taking daily collagen peptides can also help improve your gut health.
4. High selenium Foods
Selenium is a trace mineral needed for converting thyroid hormones and which helps reduce inflammation. The thyroid hormone T4 is an inactive form of the hormone which needs to be changed into the active form of the thyroid hormone T3.
In order for this change from inactive to active (T4 to T3) to occur, selenium is needed. Without proper selenium intake in diet and nutrition, the conversion of T4 to T3 cannot take place, thus slowing the function of the thyroid, which controls energy metabolism.
Selenium is essential in this process so it is important to have an adequate intake of selenium in our diets in order to properly support our thyroid. Brazil nuts are one of my favorite sources because one nut supplies you with a days worth of selenium. Other sources of selenium include Brazil nuts, oysters, sunflower seeds and crimini mushrooms.
5. Zinc- rich foods
Just like selenium, zinc is necessary for conversion of the thyroid hormones from inactive to active. When zinc intake is low, not only is hormone production diminished, but the absorption of the zinc being ingested is also inhibited. Additionally, zinc is necessary for the production of the hormone TSH, which produces T3 and T4.
Individuals who eat solely a plant-based diet are more likely to have a zinc deficiency.
This is because whole grains and legumes contain high amounts of a chemical called phytates which block the ability of zinc to function, thus further impacting the production of hormones by the thyroid. Maintaining a diet high in zinc is essential for proper thyroid function. Good sources of zinc include chickpeas, cashews, pumpkin, spinach and kefir.
6. Foods with high iodine
Iodine is a trace mineral that is responsible for the production of thyroid hormones in the body. The thyroid cells are the only cells that are able to absorb and utilize iodine, making iodine an important nutrient necessary for the conversion of T4 to T3. Worldwide, iodine deficiency is the leading cause of issues with the thyroid, including hypothyroidism, thyroid enlargement and goiter.
However, there is current research that shows that excessive intake of iodine can have negative effects on the thyroid. Since table salt is typically fortified with iodine, it is found that many people with high added-salt diets may have thyroid issues due to excessive iodine intake. Thus, maintaining a correct intake of iodine is necessary for the proper production and function of thyroid hormones.
Keep in mind that the recommended daily amount of iodine is 150mcgs. Additionally, it is recommended that you consume no more than 2300 mg per day of sodium (under 1300mg if you are a heart patient.). Make sure to include some of the following foods that are chock full of iodine: table salt, sea vegetables (kelp, seaweed, arame, kombu), cranberries, yogurt, navy beans and strawberries.
These are great for your Hashimoto’s disease diet.
7. Vitamin B12- rich foods
B12 is an essential vitamin that is necessary for nerve signaling and function of the brain and spinal cord. According to one study, there is a high prevalence of Vitamin B12 deficiency and hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune disease.
Since autoimmune diseases result in the body attacking itself, the digestive tract is affected. Specifically, inflammation in the digestive tract can affect absorption of Vitamin B12, often leading to a deficiency.
Even people who have adequate intakes of B12 can experience a deficiency due to this altered absorption. To get enough Vitamin B12, eat cottage cheese, grass-fed beef, nutritional yeast, salmon, eggs, fortified cereals, low-fat milk and cheeses and sardines.
Chronic illnesses can feel defeating. Autoimmune diseases seem as though your body is working against you. Implementing an appropriate routine for managing a chronic condition is the key to making your life easier.
When you have Hashimoto disease, your immune system is preventing your thyroid from making hormones that help your body carry out certain functions. In order to combat this, you must give your body what it needs: nutrients that can support your thyroid, your gut, and your immune system.
At the same time, you should also avoid specific foods that can worsen your condition. Don’t feel discouraged — there are so many recipes out there that fit the Hashimoto’s diet just fine!
While you can make a significant impact on the health of your thyroid gland by avoiding certain foods, you should be aware that just avoiding foods should not be the only therapy that you use.
You should also be looking at therapies that include supplements designed to treat Hashimoto’s, certain prescription medications such as LDN, the use of thyroid hormones (if necessary), and so on.
A nourishing, healthy diet for Hashimoto’s disease can help you better manage and prevent the various symptoms that may come with the illness. Following a Hashimoto diet plan will help you help your body.