These Top 5 Healthy Food Habits May Be Destroying Your Thyroid!

Cooking healthy foodEvery day I hear from “healthy” eaters that don’t understand why their thyroid is not functioning properly even though they are eating so well.

That’s actually part of the problem!

Before you reach for the vegetable crudite at the next party you may want to continue reading.

1. Too Many Raw Vegetables

Many plants contain anti-nutrients that can inhibit thyroid function. The Brassicaceae (Cruciferous) family of vegetables contains glucosinolates that can inhibit iodine uptake, resulting in hypothyroidism and promoting goiter formation.[1]

This family of plants includes some of the healthiest and most noble vegetables including kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.

Now, this doesn’t mean you need to completely avoid these powerhouse veggies – just make sure they are prepared properly. Cooking with heat and salt can help deactivate some of their anti-nutrient properties. And, if you are eating an iodine rich diet, that helps as well.

But, if you are currently suffering with hypothyroid or goiter, I would steer clear of the raw cruciferous vegetable platter and kale juice for a while because that may be a recipe for disaster.

2. Eliminating Fat

Many health conscious folks eschew fat thinking fat will make them fat, or worse yet, lead to a heart attack! The truth is, a no-fat or extremely low-fat diet can negatively affect thyroid health.

Vitamins A, D, E and K are all fat soluble. Vitamins A and D are required for protein and calcium assimilation, build hormones, and support endocrine functions. If you are one of those folks eating no-fat or low-fat on a regular basis, this could be inhibiting your body’s absorption of essentials vitamins.

Some of the best and most easily absorbable sources of vitamins A and D are in many of the foods that have been labeled “unhealthy” for the past few decades. These foods include whole eggs, organ meats like liver, and grass-fed butter.[2] Current studies have confirmed that these formerly unhealthy foods are actually pretty darn healthy for us.

So put a little pat of butter on your vegetables and let it nourish you on a deeper level.

3. A Strict Vegan Diet

Many health-obsessed people have adopted a vegan diet. That may be a pretty good idea because we are overeating meat and under-eating plants. But, too often I’ve witnessed people taking on a strict vegan diet and suffering from nutritional deficiencies that can lead to thyroid disease.

“One of many results of lack of protein is hypothyroidism because animal protein is required to make the thyroid hormone and to convert it to its active form in the liver.”[3]

My advice to the vegans is to continue eating plants because they are really good for you, and to supplement with naturally raised grass-fed animal proteins because they are good for you, too. Your thyroid gland will love you for it.

4. So Much Soy

Healthy folks in the know already understand that non-fermented soy foods can be problematic for the thyroid and promote goiter. Those foods include soy milk, soy meats, soy nuts, soy chips, tofurkey, and other non-fermented soy products.[4]

Traditionally fermented soy, on the other hand, can be quite healthy for many people and includes miso, shoyu, tempeh, natto and tamari.

But, what people do NOT realize is that they may be eating non-fermented, non-traditional soy ingredients and they do not even know it! Soy can be disguised as isolated soy protein, textured vegetable protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, lecithin, bouillon, natural flavors, msg, Mono-diglyceride, and plant protein.[5]

Soy is pervasive throughout our food supply and we don’t even realize it. Those energy bars, natural snack bars, protein powders, and healthy breakfast cereals often contain highly processed soy ingredients that could be damaging your thyroid.

No matter how healthy a food claims to be, read the label and check the ingredients. You may be surprised at what you discover.

5. Frequent Smoothies

I saved the best for last – smoothies! These are quick and easy and smooth and creamy, and every health fanatic is drinking them.

Many of those smoothies contain frozen fruit and fresh or frozen greens, plus some type of milky substance like almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk or rice milk. This can be a triple whammy for the thyroid!

First off, many of those smoothies contain raw greens like kale or raw green powders that contain the anti-nutrients that can inhibit iodine uptake.

Secondly, if that smoothie contains coconut milk, soy milk, rice milk or almond milk, they may also have carrageenan listed as an ingredient. Carrageenan has been linked with cancer, inflammation and digestive distress.[6]

Many thyroid conditions, especially autoimmune conditions like Hashimotos and Graves, can stem from poor gut health and digestive problems.[7]

Thirdly, humans are not designed to drink carbohydrates and proteins. Our food needs to be partially broken down by the process of chewing and by the chemical action of mixing it with salivary enzymes. If we don’t mix our food with saliva to start the process of digestion in the mouth, it can contribute to a whole host of tummy troubles (and blood sugar imbalances).

Please keep in mind that this information doesn’t mean that you can never drink a green smoothie again, or you must forgo the raw veggie platter at the party, or that you can’t eat a low-fat or vegan inspired meal, it just means that if your thyroid is not functioning well, it’s time to make some shifts within the “healthy” diet you are already eating.

With knowledge comes power!

It’s possible to continue eating healthfully and really, truly feel healthy and vibrant at the same time.

Want more great info on what the thyroid needs to function optimally?

Pick up my latest book:

Happy Healthy Thyroid – The Essential Steps to Healing Naturally. 




[3] Thyroid ResistanceBy Lita Lee, Ph.D.






  • I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism about 20 years ago and have been struggling with my weight every since. This blog described my diet to a “T”. I start off everyday with a fresh smoothie that I make with kale, vegan protein powder, coconut milk, frozen blueberries, pineapple, chia seeds, and hemp seed, follow a strict vegan diet. The only thing I have gotten right is that I don’t many packaged/prepared foods and avoid non-fermented soy. I jut ordered the 3 book/2 DVD package and can’t wait to get started. Praying this is the answer to my question: how could I be eating such a clean and healthy diet and still be fat?

    • I’m happy you could see yourself in the diet I described. Awareness is the first step to healing. Remember to be patient and loving with your body as you go through the process of healing. You’ve had thyroid disease for 20 years, so it’ll take some time to heal.

      • Julie

        Andrea I always love reading your posts. I am an IIN graduate and I find planning a food lifestyle everyday is so utterly confusing ! So many pros and cons to so many foods. I feel like it’s becoming a constant source of stress, trying to decide what to eat! I am A positive blood type, I am not sure what foods are best for me to eat anymore ! I like having a protein shake for breakfast with handful of spinach and coconut oil or almonds and have used coconut milk or almond milk. So many comments now about “grain brain” so I gave up my Ezekiel toast with almond butter and cinnamon ! Help. This is all so confusing !! And I’m suppose to be the health coach
        Julie ~ confused !

        • @Julie – you are not alone. So many folks are confused about what to eat. Here’s where you have to start paying attention to your own body and disregard the things that you read (including my blog and books). You are living inside your body – it will give you the signs and symptoms you need to know for your body’s particular needs. It’s time to get to know you better. Start a journal and write down how you feel, physically and emotionally, after eating. That’s the best way to cut through the confusion.

  • Deborah

    I have your DVD & like it, but I would like to see an updated version.

    • @Deborah – my Thyroid Book will be coming out later this year. I’ll keep you posted!

  • Dawn Lovisa

    I didn’t know about the problems associated with carrageenan. No more smoothies based on coconut milk. Thank you Andrea!

  • Thanks so much for this, Andrea. People do not believe me when I tell them that I avoid eating too many raw veggies and smoothies because they’re not good for me (I have a good health coach locally). There aren’t enough people talking about the possible drawbacks.

    I started making my own nut milks at home because of the carrageenan and have been avoiding poor soy products for many years. It works well for me.

    Interesting to note that many of the things you mention are bad for thyroid also irritate my gallbladder. Is there any connection you’re aware of? Maybe the “tummy troubles” you mention.

  • conmary

    I try to have a glass of combined carrot, apple, lemon, ginger and turmeric juice every day. Is that a good choice or not?

  • imhotep

    Where does a vegan animal get its protein from? A lot of vegetables have more protein per 100 calories than meat.

  • Ingredients Solutions

    Regarding the safety of carrageenan, there has been an
    amazing amount of misinformation being blogged about carrageenan being unsafe
    as a food ingredient. In spite of this misinformation, carrageenan continues as
    the safe food ingredient it has always been. If it were not, the principal
    regulatory agencies of the world (US FDA, FAO/WHO JECFA, EU EFSA, and Japan
    Ministry of Health) would not approve its use, and all of them give the
    necessary approvals.

    Why all the concern about the safety of using carrageenan in foods? Starting in
    the 1960s there have been research studies showing that if excessive doses of
    carrageenan are consumed in animal trials inflammation can be induced in the
    small intestine. Likewise, inappropriate methods of introducing the carrageenan
    into the animals, i.e. in the animals’ only source of drinking water, have
    induced an inflammatory response in the small intestine. However, there has
    never been a validated inflammatory response in humans over the seventy plus
    years carrageenan has been used in foods. The anecdotal “upset tummies”
    reported in blogs as coming from consuming a food containing carrageenan are

    reliable sources of information on the safety of carrageenan.

    Inflammatory responses in animals only occur when carrageenan can cross the
    blood membrane barrier of the small intestine. This only occurs when the
    extreme feeding conditions mentioned above are employed. Normal feeding regimes
    induce no such response.

    Over the last decade a group of molecular biologists at the University of
    Illinois at Chicago lead by Dr Joanne Tobacman have been exploring the in vitro
    interaction of carrageenan with various genes and conclude that carrageenan can
    cause inflammation in the gut via a binding mechanism involving TLR-4
    receptors. This group also concluded that carrageenan degrades in the gut and
    the degraded carrageenan can permeate the membrane barrier. Recent studies refute
    both of these claims, and furthermore this recent research questions the
    validity using in vitro studies to mimic the in vivo events in the GI tract
    when a human consumes a food containing carrageenan.

    The bottom line on the safety issue is that in spite of all the efforts to
    downgrade or question the safety of carrageenan, particularly by bloggers,
    carrageenan is a safe food ingredient in all of the major regulatory
    jurisdictions of the world.

    • Miquiztli

      You’re obviously a paid online troll.

      • @Miquiztli – omg… laughing my head off over here.

  • Denise Osborne

    How about coconut milk out of a carton with an ingredient like strawberries for instance? Is that safe for swollen thyroids? I also have a little mass on one. I like fruits and ice mixed during the summer. It feels good to my throat.

  • Lainer

    I make mine with organic fruit, pea protein, and coconut flakes. That’s it. Sometimes I use RAW protein. That’s my smoothie. For juice I use, lemon, apples, carrots, ginger, celery. Sometimes a beet goes in there. Other than that, nothing else.

  • Judi Arbuckle Curry

    Thank you Andrea. I have been struggling more with my weight this year as I have been eating healthier… more raw foods, more green smoothies filled with kale…. soy, almond, coconut milk. I have stopped most dairy (still haven’t stopped all cheese but more goat), gluten free, less meat, little caffeine except green tea, almost no package foods.
    And I have managed to gain 20 lbs. So frustrated after losing 70 lbs.
    Always tired and losing direction. Even after the best year with IIN.
    IIN classmates redirected me back to you. I loved your lectures but didn’t think it was about me. Now I will start a new healthier me with cooked foods and occasional smoothie. 🙂 and read your articles again…

    • @judiarbucklecurry:disqus – you’re in the process of learning how your body works. Just as the 20 pounds came on, it’ll come back off after you make some adjustments. You can do it! Keep up the great work on yourself!

      • Judi Arbuckle Curry

        Thank you Andrea. Changing up things a bit. 🙂

  • Lucy

    Any advice for vegans who choose that diet for moral/ethical reasons?

  • AK

    There is significant research pointing to the issues with animal proteins and I absolutely don’t agree that you are telling vegans to add animal proteins to their diets. Ethically, that is absolutely not alright and there is also significant research pointing to the benefits of a plant-based diet. One of the those being the China study. (that is NOT referenced, nor are multiple other studies stating the benefits of a plant based diet) You do not need to eat meat to survive or to have a healthy functioning thyroid. This kind of “advice” should really not be given to the public in this manner, its very focused on one thing: thyroid, but there are several other reasons you can have a thyroid problem other than diet. I really think you have done the public a disservice with the way this article is written. I also think its insulting that the “vegan sect” is told to add animal proteins despite often ethical/health and environmental reasons for veganism and plant based diets. Please reconsider how you choose to advise.

  • Kim Silverman

    Great insights! Now I know, raw vegetables isn’t bad, I just
    have to cook it well and must add a little pat of butter.

  • Hi Andrea! Some folks may use this thyroid thing to justify their practice of eating meat only meal after meal after meal and avoiding veggies all together. But this should not be so. As you have pointed out, to get the most from veggies (without compromising the thyroid function), proper preparation for the kind of vegetables to be eaten must always be considered. Second, you are right by saying that we need fat to absorb vitamins such as A, D, E and K. But we can also use healthy fats derived from non-animal products such as olive oil to improve the absorption of the said vitamins within our system.

    • @waisttrimmers:disqus – yes, of course! Use the fats that call to you. Whatever they are, just make sure you get them so you can absorb nutrients on a deeper level.

  • Patricia

    Spirulina is good or bad for hypothyroidism ?
    Thank you so much !

  • Tamian

    UG – I don’t do any of those things. So arrrggg, what the heck is wrong with me? So perplexing.

  • Jeanne Geroux

    My recent understanding is:
    One study done back in 1983 on rabbits, not humans, showed that a high consumption of cabbage caused goiters and the ones with goiters were iodine deficient! The rabbits that were not iodine deficient did not get goiters. So I’m guessing… one of the largest misconseptions going on right now is that cruciferous vegetables can cause goiters!
    Any insight? I know everyone is different, but would hate for people to avoid certain veggies because they thought they would cause goiters when the issue might be iodine deficiency.

    • @jeannegeroux:disqus traditionally cruciferous vegetables were cooked, which reduces their goitrogenic properties. If someone is eating a high iodine diet, eating raw cruciferous veggies may not be problematic. But, if someone is already low in iodine plus eating raw cruciferous veggies, this could contribute to goiter and hypothyroid.

      • Jeanne Geroux

        Thank you for your response Andrea! I think your the best and really enjoy reading your articles.

    • Cruciferous veggies aren’t the problem, severe iodine deficiency is. I honestly think it’s a ridiculous focus. We’re bombarded with goitrogens every day in the form of toxic bromide, flouride, and chlorine that show up in our furniture, clothes, plastics, computers, phones, cars, food, and water. These halides bump out whatever tiny amount of iodine we may be consuming from sea vegetables and fish, making iodine deficiency a serious concern. We are iodine-starved. Iodized salt is a moot point since it’s heavily processed and most of the iodine is evaporated by the time you use it. Especially in terms of goiter and hypothyroid (but also with glandular health overall, which is in trouble nowadays for this very reason), we need to recognize the importance of iodine in our diets and stop demonizing the brassicas.

  • Lisa Mair

    I’d love to see the research that you need animal protein specifically for your thyroid. Sounds bogus.

  • Judith L Powell

    You might also want to investigate Dr. David Brownstein, Thyroid expert. He’s developed a product: THYROID Dr Brownstein’s product ACTALIN,
    and his homepage where you can learn about him, and his work, books, blog, etc:
    His work is also on many other dis-eases.
    I first saw him on Dr. Richard Becker’s TV show, Your Health.

  • Judith L Powell

    I heard a long time ago, “chew your liquids and swallow your foods” – meaning even liquids need enzymes released in mouth thru chewing to digest them properly – even water; and of course have to or should chew solid foods to liquid state to swallow to get digested.

  • Cynthia Robinson

    there is so much info out there on thyroid issues and not all of it is good! I came across one today by Dr. Mark Hyman:
    I have a lot of respect for him, he is a medical doctor and his 10 Day Detox diet has done wonders for me when losing weight seemed almost impossible it became possible with him. He has been pushing vegan diet preferences lately though… and it is confusing the heck out of a lot of people. I am part of FBk 10 DD page that is closed and we support each other without the pressure of feeling like you “need to follow after whatever he is pushing at the moment” from the Luvo frozen meals delivered to your door for those who don’t have time to cook… MAKE TIME! We now selll those meal @ J&J in the ready made food section of the cafeteria. I read the label… ummm NO! We have an amazing catering service that makes all our food fresh EVERY day and with a very WIDE variety of choices.

    Dr. Hyman did contradict some of what you teach but… I am sticking with you Andrea because you lived it… proof enough for me! Iodine was an issue for me, and I went back to making miso soup and adding Wakame… love it! Hair was falling out in pieces the size of a six stranded embroidery floss… that stopped! I also found an herbal supplement that includes some of the Ayurvedic herbs needed… WHAT A DIFFERENCE! I no longer have 10am crash and burn, can’t keep my eyes open moments. (yay!) Kind of hard when you are at work and your head wants to hit the keyboard!!! lol! My energy level has taken quite a boost, I FEEL like cooking when I get home at the end of the day and not taking a nap… I am getting chores done as well… it was a BIG problem for me. I am on my way to healing thanks to you Andrea… I can’t sing your praises ENOUGH!

    MY smoothie recipe:
    Cashew milk… but I need to go and re-read the label
    or… coconut water (which I need because I cramp something awful)
    Garden of Life Organic Raw Green Food powder
    Organic Hemp Protein Powder
    Organic Maca Root Powder
    ” Chia Seeds
    ” Goji Berries
    ” Raw Cacao powder
    Frozen Dark Cherries OR mixed berries
    liquid stevia

    I drink this 5 days a week. Weekends it is Frittata time!!! Vegetable packed frittata’s… just the best morning, noon or night…

  • Riley Lee

    I have a lot of digestive issues and trouble with lot of cooked foods. Smoothies are something I can tolerate well. I make my own and use some lacto-fermented ingredients to support digestion. And because I know about things like goitrogenic and carrageenan, those aren’t an issue in my smoothies. Some advice gets overly simplistic.