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, kale juice, and brussel sprout slaw for a little while because that may be a recipe for disaster.

Keep in mind that if you are eating an iodine-rich diet, raw cruciferous veggies may not have a negative impact on your health.

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.

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