The thyroid gland plays a major role in metabolism, hormone regulation, and body temperature. When a person has Hashimoto's, their thyroid is chronically inflamed and cannot function as well as a healthy thyroid.
The thyroid often slows or stops the production of essential hormones, which can cause weight gain, dry skin, hair loss, fatigue, constipation, and sensitivity to cold.
Best Diets for Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
The following diets have helped some people with Hashimoto's:
- gluten-free diet
- sugar-free diet
- Paleo diet
- grain-free diet
- dairy-free diet
- autoimmune modified paleo diet
- low glycemic index diet
Gluten-Free or Grain-Free
Many people with Hashimoto's also experience food sensitivities, especially to gluten. There is no current research to support a gluten-free diet for all people with Hashimoto's unless they also have celiac disease.
With a gluten-free diet, many people reported improvements in digestion, mood, energy levels, and weight reduction. Gluten-free diets remove all foods with containing gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and other grains.
Gluten is commonly found in pasta, bread, baked goods, beer, soups, and cereals. The best way to go gluten-free is to focus on foods that are naturally gluten-free, such as vegetables, fruits, lean meats, seafood, beans, legumes, nuts, and eggs.
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A grain-free diet is very similar to gluten-free, except grains are also off-limits. These grains include amaranth, teff, quinoa, millet, oats and buckwheat
There is little evidence, however, that cutting out non-gluten grains is beneficial for health. Cutting out these grains may also eliminate fiber and other sources of essential nutrients, such as selenium, which are important for people with Hashimoto's.
The Paleo diet attempts to mimic the eating patterns of our early ancestors, with an emphasis on whole, unprocessed foods.
Grains, dairy, potatoes, beans, lentils, refined sugar, and refined oils are not allowed. Cage-free and grass-fed meats are encouraged, as are vegetables, nuts (except peanuts), seeds, seafood, and healthful fats, such as avocado and olive oil.
The Paleo diet aims to decrease foods that may cause inflammation and damage to the gut. It begins with the basic principals of the Paleo diet but also cuts out nightshade vegetables, such as tomatoes, eggs, nuts, and seeds.
A low glycemic index or low-GI diet is based on an index that measures how each food affects a person's blood sugar levels.
Some people with type 2 diabetes use this diet; the diet can also lower the risk of heart disease and may help some people lose weight.
For people who do not want to focus on what foods to cut out, opting for a nutrient-dense diet plan may be the best option.
A nutrient dense diet includes variety and focuses on whole foods with a selection of colorful fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, lean proteins, and fibrous carbohydrates. Foods include:
- leafy greens, such as kale and spinach
- fatty fish, including salmon
- a variety of colored vegetables, such as brussels sprouts, broccoli, carrots, beets, and red, yellow, and orange peppers
- fruits, including berries, apples, and bananas
- healthful fats, including avocado and walnuts
- lean proteins, including tofu, eggs, nuts, beans, and fish
- fibrous foods, including beans and legumes
Every person is different, but some people with Hashimoto's have reported improved symptoms when avoiding:
- foods with gluten
- foods with refined or added sugar
- processed foods
Anyone thinking about starting a gluten-free diet should talk to their doctor, as they may be able to help determine if a person has a gluten sensitivity.