When it comes to avoiding certain foods, if you do enough research you can find a reason to not eat anything. It can become frustrating, as if you do enough reading and searching on the internet it may seem as if most foods are harmful for you. Many people reading this are already gluten free, while others are grain free. Many others are avoiding dairy. Due to the mercury some people avoid fish. Other people avoid meat entirely. Numerous sources recommend for people with hypothyroid conditions to avoid the goitrogenic foods (cruciferous vegetables, spinach, strawberries, etc.). And of course you should also avoid fruits with a high glycemic index (bananas, watermelon, cantaloupe, etc.). Let’s not forget my recent post where I spoke about the dangers of lectins and phytic acid, and so you also need to be careful about eating beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds.
What I’ve decided to do here is give a breakdown of some of the different “controversial” foods, and for whatever it’s worth give you my opinion as to whether you should eat these foods freely, minimize your consumption of them, or avoid them altogether.
Grains. Many sources recommend for people with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions to avoid gluten, while other sources will recommend avoiding ALL grains. I’ve written about gluten in the past, and I still don’t feel that every single person needs to avoid gluten on a permanent basis. However, I do think that everyone should at least go on a gluten-free trial for a minimum of four to six weeks. If someone has a condition such as leaky gut syndrome that is due to a gluten sensitivity issue, then they probably will need to avoid gluten for at least three to six months, and perhaps longer than this. And of course some people will need to avoid gluten on a permanent basis. This of course includes those with Celiac Disease, but some other people who are gluten sensitive will also need to avoid gluten for the rest of their life.
As for avoiding all grains, just as is the case with gluten, I don’t think that avoiding all grains is necessary for everyone. But I do think that people definitely need to minimize their consumption of grains, as they will also spike the blood sugar levels, which in turn will lead to numerous problems with your health. So when someone is avoiding gluten but is freely eating quinoa, millet, and other gluten-free grains, I don’t think this is a good thing. Many people need to avoid corn completely, as this gives a lot of people problems from a digestive standpoint, and many people are allergic to corn. And of course most of the corn in the United States is genetically modified. Some people will do fine when eating organic corn, but won’t do well when eating genetically modified corn. And the same concept applies to other genetically modified foods as well
Dairy. Just as is the case with gluten, I recommend for most people to avoid dairy for at least a period of four to six weeks. With regards to pasteurized milk, I think that this is something which should be avoided completely, even if it’s organic. Healthier alternatives to cow’s milk include almond milk, coconut milk, and even raw milk. As for yogurt, many people do fine eating this, but the problem is that most people buy yogurt which has way too much sugar. This admittedly includes my wife, who likes to eats Stonyfield organic yogurt, but the sugar content is way too high. But many people are unwilling to eat plain yogurt. Many cheeses are okay to eat as well, although when going on a “dairy-free trial” I think it’s best to avoid all types of dairy during this time. As for eggs, most people can eat eggs, although some people are allergic to them, which is why they also should be avoided when going on a dairy-free trial. But eggs are very healthy foods, and of course if you eat eggs I would make sure they’re organic.
Fish. Many people avoid fish due to the high mercury content. Of course the type of fish you eat plays a big role, as smaller fish such as sardines and salmon will have a lower mercury content than larger fish. And as many people reading this already know, if you eat salmon then you ideally want to avoid eating farm-raised salmon, and instead eat wild Alaskan salmon. I think it’s fine for most people to eat a few servings of fish per week. Perhaps the exception to this is if someone has been tested for high levels of mercury. In this case they will definitely want to make sure they’re taking a quality fatty acid supplement, and to be honest, most people who consume fish probably still need to take such a supplement on a daily basis.
Other types of meat (chicken, turkey, beef). As you know, some sources recommend for everyone to avoid meat and to become vegetarians. I completely respect people who avoid eating meat for ethical reasons, as after I read the book “Diet For A New America” many years ago I admittedly avoided meat for awhile. But I don’t agree that eating meat is unhealthy. Of course just like everything else, the quality of the meat makes a big difference, as well as how much meat you eat. If someone eats most of their meat in the form of fast food, then they are consuming hormones, antibiotics, and who knows what else. So organic and grass fed is definitely the best way to go. In my opinion a small serving or two of organic chicken or turkey each day is fine, and having a small serving of organic or free range (and grass fed) beef once or twice a weeks is also okay. Of course there will be exceptions to this, as some people might be allergic to beef or other type of meat, and thus should avoid eating it.
Goitrogenic foods. Broccoli, kale, cauliflower, spinach, strawberries, peaches, and some other healthy fruits and vegetables have the potential to inhibit thyroid activity when consumed raw. Cooking these vegetables will help them to lose some of their goitrogenic activity. But most people, even those with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, can eat a normal amount of raw goitrogenic foods on a daily basis without a problem. After all, we’re talking about very healthy foods, and so I would try to steam some of the foods mentioned here, but having a serving of strawberries or a couple of servings of raw cruciferous vegetables each day usually won’t cause any problems. On the other hand, if you have a large amount of raw goitrogenic foods then this might cause problems with the thyroid gland.
All other fruits. Some sources claim that you should avoid eating fruit altogether. After all, fruits have sugar, and can therefore cause problems with your blood sugar levels. I disagree with this, as I think it’s fine for most people to eat some fruits on a daily basis. Eating foods such as apples, blueberries, raspberries, etc., are not a problem for most people if eaten in small amounts, although there are exceptions to this. On the other hand, foods such as bananas, cantaloupe, and watermelon do have a higher glycemic index, and as a result will spike the blood sugar levels. Does this mean that you can never eat these foods again? Of course not, but I wouldn’t consume them on a regular basis, and would stick with fruits with a lower glycemic index. Also make sure you eat at least twice as many vegetables than fruits each day.
Beans, nuts, and seeds. You can take away the grains and dairy, and even the meat, fish, and goitrogenic foods, but there is no way you’re going to tell me to stop eating nuts and seeds! I just wrote about this recently in a previous post, and so I ‘m not going to go into great detail about this. But the problem with these foods is that they contain lectins and phytic acid, which in turn can cause issues with digestion, including problems with absorption, etc. If you eat a lot of these foods raw then they can cause health issues to develop, but in my opinion they are fine to eat raw in small quantities. There are exceptions, as if someone is following a gut repair protocol or doing a liver detoxification then it’s best to avoid these foods. Other than this, if you have concerns about the impact of lectins and phytic acid on your health, then you can ferment and soak these foods, which will help greatly to decrease both the lectins and phytic acid.
So hopefully after reading this you have a better understanding with regards to what you can and cannot eat. I of course didn’t cover every single type of food out there, but this should still give you a pretty good idea about which foods you can continue to eat without a problem, and which ones you might want to consider avoiding, or at least minimize your consumption of. Obviously there will be a difference in opinion between healthcare professionals, as some will agree with my recommendations, while others will disagree with me. As a result, you probably will need to do some of your own research, and ultimately will need to decide for yourself what’s best for your health.