There are many meal plans for Hashimotos Disease out there, but many of them are not very user friendly. I am here to help you get started with a helpful and easy meal plan for you. I hope that this helps you in your healing process and it works well for you.
Hashimoto’s can be tricky to manage. There are so many things to consider! In fact, it’s made more complex by the fact that there are many different diets designed to help aid it. Perhaps you’re close to a doctor who has already provided you with a diet plan.
Hashimoto Diet: Overview, Foods, Supplements, and Tips
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis — sometimes referred to as Hashimoto’s disease or Hashimoto’s — is one of the most common thyroid disorders in the United States and other developed countries
Even when treated with medication, its symptoms may significantly affect quality of life
Research shows that diet and lifestyle modifications, in addition to standard medication, may drastically improve symptoms. Every person with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis responds differently to treatment, which is why an individualized approach for this condition is so important
This article explains the diet and lifestyle modifications most likely to benefit those with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis overview
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune condition that gradually destroys thyroid tissue via lymphocytes, which are white blood cells that are part of your immune system
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland that sits at the base of your neck. It secretes hormones that affect nearly every organ system, including your heart, lungs, skeleton, and digestive and central nervous systems. It also controls metabolism and growth
The main hormones secreted by the thyroid are thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3)
Eventually, damage to this gland leads to insufficient thyroid hormone production.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune condition that affects your thyroid, eventually causing inadequate hormone production.
How diet and lifestyle affect Hashimoto’s
Diet and lifestyle play vital roles in managing Hashimoto’s, as numerous individuals find that their symptoms persist even with medication. Plus, many people who exhibit symptoms aren’t given medication unless they have altered hormone levels
What’s more, research suggests that inflammation may be a driving factor behind the wide range of Hashimoto’s symptoms. Inflammation is often tied to diet
Diet and lifestyle modifications are likewise key to reducing your risk of other ailments, as people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis have a higher risk of developing autoimmune conditions, high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes
Research shows that cutting out certain foods, taking supplements, and making lifestyle changes may significantly improve symptoms and quality of life.
Plus, these changes may help reduce inflammation, slow or prevent thyroid damage caused by elevated thyroid antibodies, and manage body weight, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels.
Diet and lifestyle changes may significantly decrease antibody levels, improve thyroid function, and reduce symptoms caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Evidence-based dietary tips
Here are some evidence-based dietary tips to help treat Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Gluten- and grain-free diets
Many studies indicate that those with Hashimoto’s are more likely to have celiac disease than the general population. As such, experts recommend that everyone diagnosed with Hashimoto’s be screened for celiac disease
What’s more, some evidence suggests that gluten- and grain-free diets may benefit people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
In a 6-month study in 34 women with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a gluten-free diet reduced thyroid antibody levels while improving thyroid function and vitamin D levels, compared with a control group
Many other studies note that people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis — or autoimmune diseases in general — likely benefit from a gluten-free diet even if they don’t have celiac disease
When following a gluten-free diet, you avoid all wheat, barley, and rye products. For example, most pastas, breads, and soy sauces contain gluten — though gluten-free alternatives exist.
A grain-free diet is more restrictive than a gluten-free diet, as it bans all grains. Although this dietary change may also offer benefits, research supporting it is limited.
The Autoimmune Protocol diet
The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet is designed for people with autoimmune diseases. It removes potentially harmful foods like grains, dairy, nightshades, added sugar, coffee, legumes, eggs, alcohol, nuts, seeds, refined sugars, oils, and food additives
In a 10-week study in 16 women with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the AIP diet led to significant improvements in quality of life scores and significantly decreased levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP)
Although these results are promising, larger longer duration studies are needed.
Keep in mind that the AIP diet is a phased elimination diet and should be prescribed and monitored by an experienced healthcare professional.
Consider avoiding dairy
Lactose intolerance is very common among people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
In a study of 83 women with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, 75.9% were diagnosed with lactose intolerance
If you suspect lactose intolerance, cutting out dairy may aid digestive issues, as well as thyroid function and medication absorption. Keep in mind that this strategy may not work for everyone, as some people with Hashimoto’s tolerate dairy perfectly well.
Focus on anti-inflammatory foods
Inflammation may be a driving force behind Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. As such, an anti-inflammatory diet rich in fruits and vegetables may significantly improve symptoms.
A study in 218 women with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis found that markers of oxidative stress — a condition that causes chronic inflammation — were lower in those who ate fruits and vegetables more frequently
Vegetables, fruits, spices, and fatty fish are just some examples of foods with powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Nutrient-dense, whole food diets
Following a diet low in added sugar and highly processed foods but rich in whole food, nutrient-dense foods may help improve your health, manage your weight, and reduce Hashimoto’s-related symptoms
Whenever possible, prepare your meals at home using nutritious foods like vegetables, fruits, proteins, healthy fats, and fiber-rich carbs.
These foods offer powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Other diet tips
Some research indicates that certain low carb diets may help reduce body weight and thyroid antibodies in people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
These particular diets provide 12–15% of daily calories from carbs and restrict goitrogenic foods. Goitrogens are substances found in cruciferous vegetables and soy products that may interfere with thyroid hormone production
Yet, cruciferous vegetables are highly nutritious, and cooking them diminishes their goitrogenic activity. Thus, it’s unlikely that they interfere with thyroid function unless eaten in extremely large amounts
Some evidence suggests that soy harms thyroid function as well, so many people with Hashimoto’s choose to avoid soy products. Nonetheless, more research is needed
Going gluten-free, avoiding dairy, and following a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet are just a few tips that may improve Hashimoto’s thyroiditis symptoms.
Helpful supplements for Hashimoto’s
Several supplements may help lower inflammation and thyroid antibodies in people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Plus, those with this condition are more likely to be deficient in certain nutrients, so supplementing may be necessary
Beneficial supplements include:
- Selenium. Studies show that taking 200 mcg of selenium per day may help reduce antithyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies and improve well-being in people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Zinc. Zinc is essential for thyroid function. Research suggests that when used alone or alongside selenium, taking 30 mg of zinc per day may improve thyroid function in people with hypothyroidism
- Curcumin. Animal and human studies have shown that this powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compound may protect the thyroid. Plus, it may help treat autoimmune diseases in general
- Vitamin D. People with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis have been shown to have significantly lower levels of this vitamin than the general population. What’s more, studies link low vitamin D levels with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis severity
- B complex vitamins. People with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis likewise tend to be low in vitamin B12. Taking a high quality B complex vitamin boosts levels of B12 and other important B vitamins .
- Magnesium. Low levels of this mineral are associated with an increased risk of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and higher thyroid antibodies. Plus, correcting magnesium deficiencies may improve symptoms in people with thyroid disease
- Iron. People with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are more likely to develop anemia. Iron supplements may be needed to correct a deficiency
Other supplements like fish oil, alpha-lipoic acid, and N-acetyl cysteine may also help people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
Note that supplementing with high doses of iodine in the absence of an iodine deficiency may lead to adverse effects in those with Hashimoto’s. Don’t take high dose iodine supplements unless a healthcare professional has directed you to do so
Many vitamin and mineral supplements, including zinc, vitamin D, and magnesium, may benefit those with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Foods to eat
If you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a nutrient-dense diet may help reduce the severity of your symptoms and improve your overall health. Focus on the following food:
- Fruits: berries, pears, apples, peaches, citrus fruits, pineapple, bananas, etc.
- Non-starchy vegetables: zucchini, artichokes, tomatoes, asparagus, carrots, peppers, broccoli, arugula, mushrooms, etc.
- Starchy vegetables: sweet potatoes, potatoes, peas, acorn and butternut squash, etc.
- Healthy fats: avocados, avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil, unsweetened coconut flakes, full fat yogurt, coconut yogurt, etc.
- Animal protein: salmon, eggs, cod, turkey, shrimp, chicken, etc.
- Gluten-free grains: brown rice, rolled oats, quinoa, brown rice pasta, etc.
- Seeds, nuts, and nut butters: cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, natural peanut butter, almond butter, etc.
- Beans and lentils: chickpeas, black beans, lentils, etc.
- Dairy and nondairy substitutes (fortified with calcium and/or vitamin D): coconut milk, coconut yogurt, almond milk, cashew milk, full fat unsweetened yogurt, goat cheese, etc.
- Spices, herbs, and condiments: turmeric, basil, rosemary, paprika, saffron, black pepper, salsa, tahini, honey, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, etc.
- Beverages: water, unsweetened tea, sparkling water, etc.
Keep in mind that some people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis avoid a few of the foods mentioned above, such as grains and dairy. It’s important to experiment with your diet to find out what foods work best for you.
Whole, nutrient-dense foods should make up the majority of any healthy diet and may be especially helpful if you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Foods to avoid
Eliminating or restricting the following foods may help reduce Hashimoto’s symptoms and improve your overall health
- Added sugars and sweets: soda, energy drinks, cakes, ice cream, pastries, cookies, candy, sugary cereals, table sugar, etc.
- Fast food and fried foods: french fries, hot dogs, fried chicken, etc.
- Refined grains: white pasta, white bread, white flour tortillas, bagels, etc.
- Highly processed foods and meats: frozen dinners, margarine, microwave dinners, bacon, sausage, etc.
- Gluten-containing grains and foods: wheat, barley, rye, crackers, bread, etc.
Some healthcare professionals suggest that people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis avoid soy and dairy as well — and sometimes even nightshades and all grains.
However, although these recommendations may help many individuals, it’s important to experiment with your diet to find the best method for you.
Working with a dietitian who specializes in autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can help you narrow down potentially problematic foods and set up an eating pattern that’ll help you feel your best.
Steering clear of added sugar, highly processed foods, and gluten-containing grains may help reduce Hashimoto’s symptoms and improve your overall health.
What Is The Best Diet For Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?
The thyroid gland plays a crucial role in metabolism, body temperature, and hormone regulation. People with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis have a chronically inflamed thyroid gland that slows the production of thyroid hormones. In extreme cases, the thyroid gland stops producing hormones altogether.
What is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?
People with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis have a chronically inflamed thyroid. The immune system attacks the thyroid and limits its ability to produce hormones, causing a gradual decline in function and eventual hypothyroidism.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, chronic autoimmune thyroiditis, or Hashimoto’s disease. It can affect anyone but is more common in middle-aged women.
What are the causes of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?
Hashimoto thyroiditis develops when the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland. The exact reason for this remains unknown, but the following factors may play a role.
Hashimoto’s disease affects seven times more women than men. Therefore, it’s reasonable to speculate that sex hormones play a role. Some women also experience thyroid issues within a year of giving birth, and 20% of them develop Hashimoto’s disease years later.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis tends to run in families, suggesting a genetic component to the condition.
Other autoimmune diseases
People with autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to develop Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
There are increased cases of Hashimoto’s disease among people who have been exposed to radiation, including radiation treatment for Hodgkin’s disease, the Chernobyl nuclear accident, and the atomic bombs in Hiroshima, Japan.
Elevated iodine levels
Excess iodine in the diet can trigger Hashimoto’s disease in people already at risk.
What are the symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis takes years to develop, and, as such, you may not notice any symptoms.
The first sign of a problem is goiter – an enlarged thyroid gland that causes the neck to bulge. A goiter causes problems like difficulty with speaking, breathing, and/or swallowing.
The gradual decline in thyroid hormone production causes the following symptoms;
- Weight gain
- Irregular and excess menstrual bleeding
- Dry skin
- Fatigue and sluggishness
- Joint and muscle pain
- Slowed heart rate
What are the complications of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?
Thyroid hormones are essential to the proper function of several body systems. Therefore, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can cause various complications if left untreated, including;
The enlargement of the thyroid gland is one of the initial complications of Hashimoto’s disease. In addition to interfering with swallowing and breathing, a goiter can affect your appearance.
Mental health issues
People with Hashimoto’s disease can develop mental health problems, which only become more severe with time.
Poor pregnancy outcome
Reduced levels of thyroid hormones increase the risk of preterm birth and miscarriage. Moreover, babies born to women with hypothyroidism are at risk of developmental disorders like speech delays, autism, and/or decreased intellectual abilities.
Hypothyroidism increases the risk of irregular heartbeat, an enlarged heart, and poor heart function. It also increases lipoprotein cholesterol levels, which is a risk factor for heart failure and cardiovascular disease.
Sexual and reproductive dysfunction
Women with Hashimoto’s disease experience reduced libido, irregular and excessive menstrual bleeding, and problems with ovulation. Men may suffer erectile dysfunction and lower sperm count.
This life-threatening condition starts with drowsiness and can develop into profound lethargy and even unconsciousness. It develops due to long-term, untreated hypothyroidism and requires immediate medical attention.
What is the prognosis for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?
Hashimoto’s disease may be a chronic disease and a major risk factor for hypothyroidism. However, it doesn’t have to take over your life. You can live a long, fulfilling life with the proper treatment and coping strategies. One of those strategies is a healthy diet and exercise. This post focuses on diets that can help people with Hashimoto’s disease.
What is the best diet for Hashimoto’s disease?
There is a clear relationship between health and food – healthy food will protect you against various diseases. What you eat can significantly impact your quality of life and the success of your treatment plan for Hashimoto’s disease.
The best diets for this autoimmune disease focus on reducing inflammation. And because it’s a lifelong condition, any dietary changes that improve your symptoms should be permanent. Otherwise, the benefits will cease when you deviate from the diet.
Experts recommend¹ the following diets for Hashimoto’s disease:
- Paleo or autoimmune modified
- Low glycemic index
People with Hashimoto’s disease should cut down on amaranth, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, teff, and oats (note that processed oats can contain gluten).
It’s worth noting that cutting grains from your diet can reduce essential nutrients like fiber and selenium, which are essential for treating hypothyroidism.
Some people with Hashimoto’s disease are sensitive to gluten. A gluten-free diet can prove helpful, especially for those with celiac disease.
A recent survey of 2232 people found that 80% of the respondents felt better after trying a gluten-free diet. They reported improvements in energy levels, mood, digestion, and weight reduction.
A gluten-free diet eliminates all gluten foods, such as pasta, baked goods, including bread, cereals, and soups. It focuses on naturally gluten-free foods – fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, eggs, legumes, lean meats, and seafood.
Low glycemic index diet
The low GI diet considers how different foods acutely affect your blood sugar levels. A GI diet can help you manage your weight² and improve glycemic control³, which helps to prevent systemic inflammation.
Otherwise known as the autoimmune diet, the paleo diet attempts to replicate the eating patterns of our ancestors. The main goal is to reduce inflammation and damage to the gut.
It doesn’t allow for grains, potatoes, lentils, refined oils, refined sugar, beans, or dairy. It encourages grass-fed and cage-free meats, vegetables, nuts, seafood, and seeds. Healthy fats like olive oil and avocado oil are also allowed.
Some people with Hashimoto’s disease are also lactose intolerant. In addition, dairy products interfere with the absorption of thyroid hormone medication⁴.
If you want to ease your symptoms without focusing on what to cut out, a nutrient-dense diet is your most suitable option. It includes a variety of whole foods, fruits and vegetables, fibrous carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lean proteins, and they offer a range of benefits.
Fruits and vegetables
Incorporating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables into your diet can ensure that you’re getting enough of the essential vitamins and minerals.
Reach for fish, chicken, tofu, nuts, or beans for healthy proteins without saturated fats.
They are essential for weight management, blood sugar control, and a healthy heart. Foods high in fiber include whole grains, legumes, beans, fruits, and vegetables.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in salmon, nuts, chia seeds, albacore tuna, and avocados help reduce inflammation.
Key nutrients for Hashimoto’s disease
Certain nutrient supplements can help reduce thyroid antibodies and inflammation in people with Hashimoto’s disease. Beneficial nutrients include;
Research suggests that taking 200mg of selenium each day can reduce anti-thyroid peroxidase antibodies⁵ in people with Hashimoto’s disease. You can get selenium from supplements or foods like halibut, Brazil nuts, sardines, lobster, sunflower seeds, liver, grass-fed beef, and eggs.
This powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound help protect the thyroid gland.
This mineral is essential to healthy thyroid function and, when taken alongside selenium, can ease symptoms of hypothyroidism.
B Complex vitamins
People suffering from hypothyroidism tend to have low levels of vitamin B12. Taking vitamin B12 supplements can boost your levels of B complex vitamins.
There is a higher risk of anemia among people with Hashimoto’s disease. Iron supplements can help correct the deficiency and lower the risk of anemia.
People with Hashimoto’s disease have significantly lower levels of vitamin D. Moreover, a study⁶ has shown a link between low vitamin D levels and the severity of Hashimoto’s disease. The best food sources for this nutrient include salmon, cod liver oil, sardines, mushrooms, fortified milk, and swordfish.
Severely low magnesium levels are associated with higher thyroid antibodies⁷ and an increased risk of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Correcting the deficiency can improve symptoms and your overall well-being.
Foods to avoid with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
Below is a list of foods to limit or avoid if you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis:
Foods containing soy
There has long been debate over the effects of isoflavones – compounds found in soy – on the thyroid gland. And while some studies⁸ found that soy has no impact on thyroid hormones, other research suggests that soy can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb thyroid medication⁹. Consider waiting three to five hours after eating foods with soy before taking your medication.
Consider minimizing gluten intake if you have thyroid problems. Gluten is a protein found in foods processed from grains like barley, wheat, and rye. It can hinder the body’s ability to absorb thyroid medication and irritate the small intestine in people with celiac disease. If you choose to eat gluten, choose whole-grain pasta and bread varieties.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can lead to weight gain. As a result, you should avoid any foods that offer empty calories as they are low in nutrients, such as those high in sugar.
Fiber may be good for your health, but too much of it can complicate Hashimoto’s treatment. Anything above 25-38 grams a day¹⁰ can affect the digestive tract and inhibit the absorption of hypothyroid drugs.
Excessive consumption of alcohol can wreak havoc on your thyroid gland and suppresses the production of thyroid hormones. Ideally, limiting or avoiding alcohol can benefit Hashimoto’s disease patients.
Broccoli, cabbage, and other cruciferous vegetables can affect the production of thyroid hormones in people with iodine deficiency if eaten in very large amounts. They inhibit the body’s ability to absorb iodine, which is essential to healthy thyroid function. Cooking these vegetables can help reduce their impact on the thyroid gland.
Fat contributes to weight gain and interferes with the production of thyroid hormones. You can reduce your intake by avoiding fatty cuts of meat, margarine, mayonnaise, butter, and fried foods.
Processed foods are high in sodium, which is bad for your thyroid gland. It leads to an underactive thyroid and increases the risk of hypertension.
It is best to avoid processed foods altogether. If purchasing them, check the nutritional information and choose foods with the lowest sodium content.
A recent study¹¹ found that coffee can block the absorption of thyroid hormones, and this is particularly true for people who take their thyroid medication with coffee. Consider taking your medication with water and waiting at least 30 minutes before drinking your morning cup of coffee.