04 Dec

Natural Remedies for Low Thyroid Levels

Today's post focuses on a question from my sister in-law.

Her good friend suffers from low thyroid and she wonders what she can do naturally to increase the function of the thyroid.

An under active thyroid system is a common health problem, causing symptoms such as low energy, weight gain, hair loss and depression. The good news is there is plenty you can do naturally.

1 in 10 women over the age of 50 suffers from this condition so you may want to forward this blog post to any friend in your life who matches the symptoms.

The most important nutrient for low thyroid is Iodine. The richest source on the planet is seaweed. Here is a seaweed salad recipe from my new book, Meals That Heal Inflammation.


Seaweed Salad

Seaweed has over 60 trace mInerals that help to nourish every part of the body. It is high in iodine, one of the most valuable minerals for metabolism because it is helps thyroid function. Calcium rich hijiki and arame are easier for westerners to get used to because they are sliced into thin ribbons, which create a more delicate texture. Remember that Japanese people who eat seaweed everyday are among the longest living humans!

2 cups (500 mL) . . . . . . . arame or hijiki (seaweed cut into thin strips)
4 cups (1 L) . . . . . . . . . . filtered water
1 . Rinse the seaweed well.
2 . Place seaweed and water in a small pot and bring to a boil for
5 minutes. If you suffer from digestive problems, it is best to turn off
the heat and let the mixture soak for 2-3 hours.
3 . Drain and place in large mixing bowl.
1 cup (250 mL) . . . . . . . . cucumber, quartered and chopped
1/2 cup (125 mL) . . . . . . . green onion, chopped
1/2 cup (125 mL) . . . . . . . fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbsp (30 mL) . . . . . . . . toasted sesame or extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp (30 mL). . . . . . . . . carrots, julienned or shredded
1/4 cup (60 mL) . . . . . . . lemon juice
2 tbsp (30 mL) . . . . . . . . tamari (wheat free)
1 . Add all ingredients to the seaweed and toss well. This salad last days
in the fridge well!

Check out this great article to get some background:


Foods for Low Thyroid Levels

By Rutuja Jathar

It is a shocking fact to know that more than 10 million American people suffer from at least one health problem that has direct connection to thyroid. Low thyroid levels prove to be dangerous if not treated with good low thyroid diet. Here is some information on food for low thyroid. Foods for Low Thyroid Levels - Low Thyroid Diet Thyroid hormone which is produced by hypothalamus, pituitary glands and mainly thyroid gland which is situated just below the larynx. Thyroid gland is the key function of the endocrine system. The basic function of the thyroid gland is to change iodine from the food into the thyroid hormones, that are essential in regulating the metabolism of the body. Thyroid, secreted in more than required amount as well as lesser than its demanded creates problems. Low thyroid, also referred as hypothyroidism is a disease found in living beings due to low production of the thyroid hormones. Low thyroid levels in infants is referred as 'Cretinism'.

Symptoms of Low Thyroid Levels
Low thyroid levels are caused when the thyroid glands produce less thyroid than the required amount, this is also referred as 'under-active' thyroid glands. Both men and women suffer from low thyroid levels. There are many symptoms of this silent disease, hypothyroidism, some of them include:

* Weakness and fatigue
* Immune system problems
* Constipation
* Dry skin
* Poor memory or dementia
* Nervousness
* Cold hands and feet
* Depression
* Obesity
* heavy menstrual periods in women

These and many more are the initial symptoms of low thyroid levels that people often tend to ignore. These symptoms might sound very casual at start but if not evaluated early, they can prove harmful later on. Hypothyroidism is primarily caused by incorrect eating habits. So, if one has some of the above symptoms then without further delay, consulting the physician and opting proper healthy diet plan gets very essential.

Low Thyroid Diet
People suffering from the problem of low thyroid must follow a strict thyroid enhancing food pattern. Under active thyroid diet mainly bank upon the hormonal supplements. It gets very essential to improve the functions of thyroid glands. Foods for low thyroid includes the following:

Protein and Fatty Acids
Food rich in protein proves very useful when it comes to control weight and thyroid levels. The main reason behind this is that most of the glands are made of protein, so food that is rich in protein must be constitute part of the daily diet. The fatty acids help the body to maintain its hormonal system, so, vegetables, especially green and leafy vegetables, food rich in fatty acids such as almonds, walnuts, whole grains, lean meat, milk and egg whites must be a part of the daily diet.

Iodine Rich Foods
More than 2/3 of the body iodine is secreted in the thyroid gland. Hence iodine deficiency is the most basic reason behind 'under active thyroid glands'. Consumption of iodine must be appropriate to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Food products like iodized salt, sea salt, most fresh fishes mainly cod fish and haddock fish, fish oil, sea weeds like see kelp, eggs, cheddar cheese etc. are rich in iodine percentage.

Selenium Rich Foods
Selenium is a great antioxidant with high amount of essential anti-aging and cancer enzymes. Selenium also helps to rebuild the immune system. Selenium is present in various natural forms such as cereals like rice, Brazil nuts and walnuts, onions, garlic, soybeans, animal products like cheese, eggs, chicken and beef and also in some fishes like tuna. Selenium is also present in other products like cod fish, turkey and oat. There are chances of side effects of selenium, if it exceeds 400mg in the body.

Fibers and Vitamins
Food products that contain vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B6 and vitamin C, are very essential to maintain good hormonal levels. These vitamins could be taken in the form of natural thyroid supplements. Certain natural food products like carrots, spinach, egg yolks, oranges, cantaloupe, figs, banana, broccoli, bok choy etc. are rich sources of vitamins and fibers, and must be a part of daily diet as per their availability.

Food to Avoid During Low Thyroid Levels
It is very essential to keep in mind about the food you should not eat when suffering from hypothyroidism. Patients suffering from low thyroid levels must avoid food products that can cause thyroid problems. So one must avoid excessive use of following food products:

* Excessive amount of sugar intake can actually destroy the thyroid as well as adrenal glands. So, sugar intake must be minimal.
* Sometimes the casein present in milk products can harm the endocrine system.
* Junk food, fast food, alcohol and vegetables like cauliflower and mustard that contain high amount of iron must be avoided.

What has been listed above is arguably the best diet plan for people with under active thyroid glands. Following a healthy diet, proper exercise, timely diagnosis, medication and mental peace are the best ways to avoid the troubles of low thyroid levels.


The article is excellent and I just wanted to add an area that was missed.

It is also important for thyroid patients to cook soy and Cruciferous vegetables. In their raw form they can reduce thyroid function.

Here is a expert from the Worlds Healthiest Foods Website about Goitrogens that can affect thyroid function:

Goitrogens are naturally-occurring substances that can interfere with function of the thyroid gland. Goitrogens get their name from the term
"goiter," which means an enlargement of the thyroid gland. If the thyroid gland is having difficulty making thyroid hormone, it may
enlarge as a way of trying to compensate for this inadequate hormone production. "Goitrogens," like circumstances that cause goiter, cause
difficulty for the thyroid in making its hormone.

Foods that contain goitrogens.

There are two general categories of foods that have been associated with disrupted thyroid hormone production in humans: soybean-related
foods and cruciferous vegetables. In addition, there are a few other foods not included in these categories - such as peaches, strawberries and millet - that also contain goitrogens. The table below shows a list of some foods that contain goitrogens.

Soybean-related foods

Included in the category of soybean-related foods are soybeans themselves as well as soy extracts, and foods made from soy, including tofu and tempeh. While soy foods share many common ingredients, it is the isoflavones in soy that have been associated with decreased thyroid hormone output. Isoflavones are naturally-occurring substances that belong to the flavonoid family of nutrients. Flavonoids, found in virtually all plants, are pigments that give plants their amazing array of colors. Most research studies in the health sciences have focused on the beneficial properties of flavonoids, and these naturally-occurring phytonutrients have repeatedly been shown to be highly health-supportive.

The link between isoflavones and decreased thyroid function is, in fact, one of the few areas in which flavonoid intake has called into question as problematic. Isoflavones like genistein appear to reduce thyroid hormone output by blocking activity of an enzyme called thyroid peroxidase. This enzyme is responsible for adding iodine onto the thyroid hormones. (Thyroid hormones must typically have three or four iodine atoms added on to their structure in order to function properly.)

Cruciferous vegetables

A second category of foods associated with disrupted thyroid hormone production is the cruciferous food family. Foods belonging to this family are called "crucifers," and include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, mustard, rutabagas, kohlrabi, and turnips. Isothiocyanates are the category of substances in crucifers that have been associated with decreased thyroid function. Like the isoflavones, isothiocyanates appear to reduce thyroid function by blocking thyroid peroxidase, and also by disrupting messages that are sent across the membranes of thyroid cells.

Examples of foods that contain goitrogens
Cruciferous vegetables including:

* Broccoli
* Brussel sprouts
* Cabbage
* Cauliflower
* Kale
* Kohlrabi
* Mustard
* Rutabaga
* Turnips

Goitrogens and health

In the absence of thyroid problems, there is no research evidence to suggest that goitrogenic foods will negatively impact your health. In fact, the opposite is true: soy foods and cruciferous vegetables have unique nutritional value, and intake of these foods has been associated with decreased risk of disease in many research studies. That's one of the reasons we've included both types of food among the World's Healthiest Foods!

Because carefully controlled research studies have yet to take place on the relationship between goitrogenic foods and thyroid hormone deficiency, healthcare practitioners differ greatly on their perspectives as to whether a person who has thyroid problems, and notably a thyroid hormone deficiency, should limit their intake of goitrogenic foods. Most practitioners use words like "overconsumption" or "excessive" to describe the kind of goitrogen intake that would be a problem for individuals with thyroid hormone deficiency. Here the goal is not to eliminate goitrogenic foods from the meal plan, but to limit intake so that it falls into a reasonable range.

Limiting goitrogenic intake is often much more problematic with soy foods than with cruciferous vegetables, since soy appears in so many combination and packaged food products in hidden form. Ingredients like textured vegetable protein (TVP) and isolated soy concentrate may appear in foods that would rarely be expected to contain soy. A standard, one cup serving of cruciferous vegetables 2-3 times per week, and a standard, 4-ounce serving of tofu twice a week is likely to be tolerated by many individuals with thyroid hormone deficiency. It's worth it to try and include these foods in a meal plan because of their strong nutritional value and great track record in preventing many kinds of health problems.

The effect of cooking on goitrogens

Although research studies are limited in this area, cooking does appear to help inactivate the goitrogenic compounds found in food. Both isoflavones (found in soy foods) and isothiocyanates (found in cruciferous vegetables) appear to be heat-sensitive, and cooking appears to lower the availability of these substances. In the case of isothiocyanates in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, as much as one third of this goitrogenic substance may be deactivated when broccoli is boiled in water.

Practical tips

Although for many people goitrogens do not seem to pose a health concern, certain individuals who have thyroid problems may be advised by their healthcare practitioner to limit excessive consumption of foods that contain these compounds. As cooking seems to help to inactivate the goitrogenic compounds found in food, it seems reasonable to conclude that for individuals with deficient thyroid hormone production, steaming of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli makes good sense, as does consumption of tofu in cooked versus raw form.


Conaway, C. C.; Getahun, S. M.; Liebes, L. L.; Pusateri, D. J.; Topham, D. K.; Botero-Omary, M., and Chung, F. L. Disposition of glucosinolates and sulforaphane in humans after ingestion of steamed and fresh broccoli. Nutr Cancer. 2000; 38(2):168-78.

Fowke, J. H.; Fahey, J. W.; Stephenson, K. K., and Hebert, J. R. Using isothiocyanate excretion as a biological marker of Brassica vegetable consumption in epidemiological studies: evaluating the sources of variability. Public Health Nutr. 2001 Jun; 4(3):837-46.

Getahun, S. M. and Chung, F. L. Conversion of glucosinolates to isothiocyanates in humans after ingestion of cooked watercress. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1999 May; 8(5):447-51.

Liggins, J.; Bluck, L. J.; Runswick, S.; Atkinson, C.; Coward, W. A., and Bingham, S. A. Daidzein and genistein contents of vegetables. Br J Nutr. 2000 Nov; 84(5):717-25.

Toda T, Uesugi T, Hirai K, Nukaya H, Tsuji K, Ishida H. New 6-O-acyl isoflavone glycosides from soybeans fermented with Bacillus subtilis (natto). I. 6-O-succinylated isoflavone glycosides and their preventive effects on bone loss in ovariectomized rats fed a calcium-deficient diet.Biol Pharm Bull 1999 Nov;22(11):1193-201

Hak AE, Pols HA, Visser TJ, Drexhage HA, Hofman A, Witteman JC, “Subclinical hypothyroidism is an independent risk factor for atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction in elderly women: the Rotterdam Study,” Ann Intern Med 2000 Feb 15; 132(4): 270-8.




Meals That Heal Inflammation

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+2 # Guest 2010-05-11 08:24
That is such a nice information about natural remedies for thyroid. Thank you so much for sharing.
# Guest 2010-07-08 01:27
Where can one find hijihi or arame seaweed in Toronto?
-1 # Guest 2011-04-10 22:11
If I boil the seaweed for the salad and let sit then drain will I be losing most of the nutrients?
+1 # Guest 2011-06-23 08:47
Would sauteeing vegetables such as kale in olive oil count as the same process as steaming or boiling? I do like to eat it like this (3 or 4 times a week) and have recently been told that my thyroid levels are low and am wondering if there is a connection?
+1 # Julie Daniluk 2011-06-25 22:45
Hello P,

Thanks for writing in with you question. It is best to steam green leafy vegetables like kale and add the olive oil after. This preserves the nutrient and health benefits of the oil. I don't think that sautéing your vegetables in olive oil would be connected to low thyroid levels.

Do you consume green or black tea? The fluoride in tea can interrupt the absorption of iodine and cause thyroid problems. You may want to talk to your doctor about checking your fluoride levels. Thou I recommend green tea for many people (as an appetite suppressant), I caution those with thyroid issues.

Hope this helps, Julie
-1 # Guest 2011-07-11 16:28
Are you talking about the water used in making green tea? Or does the tea itself contain fluoride?
# Julie Daniluk 2011-07-12 01:50
This is a quote from an article my sister wrote on the subject of green and black tea...

"A 2009 study conducted in Turkey showed that "herbal and fruit infusions were characterized by low values of fluoride (0.02–0.04 mg/L) after 5 min of brewing and increasing brewing time to 10 min caused only slight increases in some infusions."(7) Tea grown in the same area had a very large amount of fluoride by comparison. It appears that the tea plant has the specific ability to absorb sodium fluoride from the environment that other plants do not possess. It not a matter what is put on the plant in the way of pesticides, herbicides or fertilizer, the plant collects this toxic mineral from the soil and water. In other words drinking organic tea may not be helpful. It is also hard to know what constitutes 'organic' in places such as China, Turkey, Sri Lanka, India and Kenya. Though the tea plants may not be sprayed with pesticides, herbicides, etc. the soil and water the plants grow in is contaminated. "

I hope this information helps answer your question,

# Guest 2012-04-23 20:47
Is it best not to take cruciferous vegetables in juice form also?
# Julie Daniluk 2012-04-23 21:01
Hello Gin,

I would agree that taking a large amount cruciferous vegetables in a raw juice form would have an effect on thyroid function.

Yours in good health,

# Guest 2013-04-05 17:17
Informative article, although your inclusion of soy products does not seem up to date. Here are some reasons why soy in all forms (except perhaps, properly fermented, such as miso) should be avoided.
- High levels of phytic acid in soy reduce assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. Phytic acid in soy is not neutralized by ordinary preparation methods such as soaking, sprouting and long, slow cooking. High phytate diets have caused growth problems in children.
- Trypsin inhibitors in soy interfere with protein digestion and may cause pancreatic disorders. In test animals soy containing trypsin inhibitors caused stunted growth.
- Soy phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function and have the potential to cause infertility and to promote breast cancer in adult women.
- Soy phytoestrogens are potent antithyroid agents that cause hypothyroidism and may cause thyroid cancer. In infants, consumption of soy formula has been linked to autoimmune thyroid disease.
- Vitamin B12 analogs in soy are not absorbed and actually increase the body's requirement for B12.
- Soy foods increase the body's requirement for vitamin D.
- Fragile proteins are denatured during high temperature processing to make soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein.
- Processing of soy protein results in the formation of toxic lysinoalanine and highly carcinogenic nitrosamines.
- Free glutamic acid or MSG, a potent neurotoxin, is formed during soy food processing and additional amounts are added to many soy foods.
- Soy foods contain high levels of aluminum which is toxic to the nervous system and the kidneys.
Source: Weston A. Price Foundation http://www.westonaprice.org/soy-alert
# Julie Daniluk 2013-04-05 18:36
Hello D,

Thanks very much for writing in. The information from the Weston Price Foundation is excellent! It is great that you included it here. You are correct. This is an old blog and it needs to be updated.

# Guest 2013-04-23 07:26
Perhaps to be mnore wary when suggesting increasing iodine intake for hypothyroidism - the most frequent cause of this condition in the Us is hashimoto's disease and increasing iodine intake caqn aggravate the condition - http://perfecthealthdiet.com/2011/05/iodine-and-hashimotos-thyroiditis-part-2/ - better to advise your readers to have the qpproproiate checks first
# Julie Daniluk 2013-04-23 13:25
Hello Sh,

Thank you for writing in. I am not a doctor and all of the information I give on my website is meant to be used as for information only. If you review my other blogs you will see that I consistently recommend that people discuss an suggestion with their health practitioner.

Cheers, Julie
# Aliya Funda 2013-08-18 13:15
I love what you have shared here regarding signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism that is very helpful not only to me but also to many people who are having problem with the condition of their thyroid.
# Julie Daniluk 2013-08-19 00:18
Thank you Aliya!

Wishing you well.

Cheers, Julie

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