Thyroid Conditions

Eat Healthy for a Healthy Thyroid

Although the thyroid, a gland in the neck, is small, it can have “a profound impact on overall health,” according to experts from the Harvard Medical School. The thyroid produces hormones that are linked to metabolism, but if it overproduces (hyperthyroidism) or underproduces (hypothyroidism), there can be problems. Here, the Harvard experts, who produced a Special Health Report on the thyroid (click here to buy), tell you how to eat if you’ve been diagnosed with an under- or over-performing thyroid.

Musts to avoid include foods high in soy protein, which can interfere with the absorption of thyroid hormone, the Harvard experts say. And excessive amounts of iodine, either in medicine or supplements, can alter your thyroid level. However, iodine-rich foods such as fish are permissible.

Otherwise, while there are no dietary restrictions, the experts recommend aiming for a healthy eating plan that includes fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Eating that kind of diet, the Harvard experts say, helps your digestive system function well and your heart “pump efficiently” – essential components for supporting metabolism.

As for proteins, they should come from lean sources, including fish, beans and olive oil.

Minimize consumption of bad fats and simple carbs. Saturated fats are found in meat and cheese, while trans fats occur in processed foods and some margarines. “Good” fats, which help reduce LDL cholesterol, include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from vegetables as well as omega-3 fats in some fish. Other healthy choices include seeds, nuts and legumes.

Go for complex carbs such as those found in fruits, vegetables and whole-grain foods; avoid sugary beverages and junk food such as chips and candy.

Fill up on fiber. The Harvard experts emphasize that dietary fiber helps digestion. Sources of fiber include whole-grain foods, vegetable and fruits.

For information on thyroid function in older adults, buy Thyroid Disease, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.