One of the most common questions people ask me is “what type of diet is the best for me”. Of course the question might be worded differently, but many people with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions want to know what foods they should eat, and which foods they should avoid. While everyone should eat a diet consisting of whole foods, and at the same time minimize the refined foods and sugars, the “thyroid diet” will vary from person to person.
For example, let’s look at two people who have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Both have a high TSH and positive thyroid antibodies, with the thyroid hormone levels on the low side. What is the ideal “thyroid diet” for each of these people? This really isn’t enough information to come up with a specific diet plan, but here is some general information I would recommend for everyone with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis:
- Eat mostly whole, organic foods. No surprise here, as everyone should eat mostly whole foods, and when possible eat organic to minimize the toxins.
- Avoid the refined foods and sugars. Also not a surprise, as if you eat mostly whole foods then you obviously will be avoiding processed foods.
- Avoid genetically modified foods. This may seem obvious to many people reading this, and it’s something I’ve spoken about before in past articles. But some people continue to eat non-organic corn and soy, which in most cases are genetically modified.
- Consider a gluten free trial. Some will argue that everyone should avoid gluten, and I agree that everyone should at least minimize their consumption of gluten. But those with an autoimmune thyroid condition such as Graves’ Disease or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis should consider going on a gluten free trial, and in some cases will need to avoid gluten on a permanent basis.
- Consider a dairy free trial. Many people have a dairy allergy, and so it also is a good idea to go on a dairy-free trial. While some forms of dairy should be completely eliminated from one’s diet (i.e pasteurized cow’s milk), other forms of dairy can eventually be reintroduced (eggs, raw dairy products, etc.).
- Make sure to eat enough protein. Many people aren’t getting enough protein. You want to make sure you’re consuming enough protein throughout the day. While you ideally want to get your protein through the food you eat, for some people, adding a healthy type of protein powder to a smoothie once or twice a day is a way of sneaking in some protein.
This is some basic information, but many people would feel significantly better if they did nothing else but follow the above recommendations. This not only includes people with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, but those with hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease as well. However, the following are a few circumstances when someone might need to eat a different diet:
Food Sensitivities. If someone has certain food sensitivities then they of course should avoid those foods. There are numerous tests available for food sensitivities and intolerances, but you usually can’t rely on these, as false results are common. And the ones which seem to be more accurate are quite expensive. Then again, there are very expensive tests for food sensitivities which have been proven to be unreliable, yet many people still do this type of testing. If someone is going to get food allergy testing done then I usually recommend a combination of IgG and IgA testing. However, in most cases I just recommend an elimination diet initially.
Gut Problems. Having problems with the gut can mean being on a different diet. For example, grains, nuts and seeds, as well as beans are difficult to digest. As a result, someone who has a problem such as “leaky gut syndrome” will need to either avoid these foods, or at the very least minimize their consumption of such foods. In addition, having a leaky gut may cause someone to develop certain food sensitivities. As I’ve mentioned in past articles, if someone is allergic to many different foods and/or has problems taking certain supplements then this can mean they have problems with intestinal permeability.
Toxic Overload. If someone has a lot of sensitivities to foods and/or supplements, this might be due to gut problems, or it can also be due to problems with toxins. If this is the case then it will be necessary to detoxify the body. While I recommend a 21-day liver detoxification program to some of my patients, if someone is overloaded with toxins then this might not be enough. In fact, in some cases it can take many months, and sometimes a year or two in order to obtain maximum benefit from detoxifying the body.
Eating According To Your Blood Type?
As you know, there are many different types of diets out there, and you can go crazy trying to choose the best diet for you. However, some people are familiar with the different diets that are based on your blood type. The “eat right for your blood type” diet is controversial, and so I wouldn’t rely on this diet alone to determine what you should and shouldn’t eat.
In summary, when it comes to determining which diet is appropriate for you, many of the same rules apply to everyone with a thyroid or autoimmune thyroid condition. After all, while there are many different variations of diets, those that are the healthiest have three things in common. The first is that they involve eating mostly whole foods, the second factor is that they involve avoiding refined foods and sugars, and the third commonality is that they involve minimizing one’s carbohydrate intake. However, sometimes other factors need to be considered such as food sensitivities, gut problems, and toxins.