Hypothyroidism – Diet Plan, Causes, and Symptoms

Alpa Momaya

December 29, 2022

Before jumping into what is good for your body and what isn’t, you should first understand the term hypothyroidism. 

The thyroid gland is located near the bottom of your neck, in the shape of a butterfly. This gland releases thyroid hormones into your blood, after getting thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) from your pituitary gland.

However, when your thyroid gland doesn’t release the hormone, even after stimulation, it is a condition known as primary hypothyroidism. In most cases, hypothyroidism occurs due to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune disease. Due to this illness, the immune system starts targeting your thyroid gland.

The other type is known as secondary hypothyroidism, a condition where the pituitary gland doesn’t function properly, due to which it doesn’t release TSH.

The most simple way to comprehend hypothyroidism is to explore its root meaning:

  • The term hypo implies “too little.
  • Thyroidism is a thyroid disorder.
  • As a result, hypothyroidism is defined as a disease of too little thyroid activity

Hypothyroidism Range

The normal range for TSH levels is between 0.4 and 4.0 milli-international units per liter. Also, for those already being treated for a thyroid disorder, these levels need to be in the range of 0.5-3.0 milli-international units per liter.

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A value above the normal range indicates underactivity of the thyroid. This is a sign of hypothyroidism. In such cases, the pituitary gland begins to release more TSH in order to try to stimulate it.

When there is a production of too much thyroxine hormone. It can increase metabolism and result in the condition called hyperthyroidism. In this case, the pituitary gland produces releases less TSH.

When there is a production of too much thyroxine hormone. It can increase metabolism and result in the condition called hyperthyroidism

Hypothyroidism Causes

Here are eight possible reasons which are responsible for hypothyroidism:

1. Congenital hypothyroidism

Sometimes, babies are born with congenital hypothyroidism, a condition where they don’t have a thyroid gland or it malfunctions.

Most of the time, newborns inherit this condition from their family members, who have autoimmune diseases. However, infants look normal after birth, which makes it important to conduct thyroid screening.

2. Inadequate exercise

You need to exercise on a regular basis, to manage your neurological function related to hormones and chronic stress.

Exercise helps you sleep better, maintain a healthy weight, and reduce stress. These are some of the risk factors responsible for hypothyroidism.

3. Inflammation of the gut

When the environment in your gut is unhealthy, it adds to nutritional deficiency. At the same time, it also increases autoimmune attacks in your body, which isn’t a good sign. If you are sensitive to dairy and gluten or suffer from allergies, there is a high chance of getting gut inflammation.

Other reasons which influence the health of your gut are the imbalance of bacteria, overload of toxins in one’s diet, and excess stress levels.

As a result, the small particles in the gut will enter the bloodstream through small openings. Your body responds through a surge in autoimmune attacks, which has a huge negative impact on your body.

4. Lack of vital nutrients in diet

Although this is extremely rare, there are chances that your diet doesn’t provide adequate amounts of nutrients such as selenium and iodine. As these nutrients are responsible for thyroid function, any shortage can lead to disorders.

Similarly, these nutrients protect your body against other problems. For instance, if there is a severe deficiency of selenium, there is a high chance of suffering from thyroiditis. It stops glutathione, a strong antioxidant from being active. Glutathione is responsible for fighting inflammation and oxidative stress.

5. Medication

There are numerous medications that are responsible for adding to the symptoms of hypothyroidism. For example, lithium is used by doctors to treat specific psychiatric disorders.

Also, the medications you consume for heart disease and cancer can decrease the production of thyroid hormone, which causes hypothyroidism.

6. Pregnancy

During pregnancy, women produce extremely large amounts of thyroid hormones. If doctors don’t treat this condition, it increases the chances of preeclampsia, premature delivery, and miscarriage. After delivery, the decline in production is quite rapid, which causes postpartum thyroiditis.

In most cases, the symptoms of this illness disappear within 12 to 18 months. However, there are situations when it leads to perpetual hypothyroidism.

7. Radiation therapy

When diagnosed with cancer on the neck or head, such as leukemia or lymphoma, the most common form of treatment is radiation therapy.

However, the downside of this treatment is that it impacts your thyroid gland, by stopping or slowing down thyroid hormone production. At the end of the treatment, one is likely to be affected by hypothyroidism.

8. Surgery

In case of problems with the thyroid gland, the medical practitioner may choose to remove the gland itself, in order to prevent any complications in the future. Due to this, one may suffer from hypothyroidism, making medicine intake a necessity.

However, if only a small portion of your thyroid gland was removed during the surgery, there is a chance that it can produce some of the hormones.

Hypothyroidism symptoms

The signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism may vary, based on how severe the deficiency is. Initially, it is possible that one may barely notice hypothyroidism symptoms, such as fatigue and weight gain. However, as the metabolism continues to slow down, one can develop more evident problems.

Here are some of the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dry skin
  • Enlarged thyroid gland (or goitre)
  • Puffy face
  • Hoarseness
  • Elevated blood cholesterol levels
  • Muscle aches
  • Pain, swelling, or stiffness in your joints
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Thinning hair
  • Slower heart rate
  • Depression
  • Impaired memory

Hypothyroidism Treatment

The standard treatment for hypothyroidism needs the use of the synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine. This helps restore the necessary hormone levels and reverses the symptoms of hypothyroidism.

The patient is likely to start feeling better soon after the treatment is started. The medication gradually lowers cholesterol levels that would have risen thanks to the diseases, and may reverse weight gain, if any.

Treatment with levothyroxine is likely to be lifelong. However, since the dosage may change, the doctor would need to keep checking one’s TSH levels.

Foods to Eat with Hypothyroidism

Any individual with hypothyroidism should ideally keep an eye on the kind of food they consume. Here is a list of foods that one can eat while fighting the disorder:

1. Fruits

As hypothyroidism has an impact on your digestion, you should consume a diet with high fiber content.

The advantage of eating fruits is that it has a positive impact on your heart health and balance out blood sugar levels. Also, high amounts of fiber will make you feel full for longer, making it easier to lose weight.

2. Probiotics

The bacteria present in your digestive tract are extremely important for your well-being. When you have a healthy gut, it will protect you against parasites, toxins, undigested food, and other types of invaders.

When there is an imbalance in your gut, your body won’t be able to absorb all the minerals and vitamins. Also, some of the bacteria produce toxins, which are quite harmful.

Keep the environment in your gut healthy at all times by consuming probiotics. For example, you should have sauerkraut, which the manufacturer has fermented properly over a period of time.

Stay away from the ones soaked in vinegar, as they don’t provide the same benefits. You can also have kombucha tea, kefir, kimchi, and kvass.

3. Coconut oil

Coconut oil provides capric acid, caprylic acid, and lauric acid, which will keep your metabolism healthy while increasing energy levels.

Your body will feel nourished, thanks to its antibacterial, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties. It increases your immunity, stabilises your blood sugar, and increases endurance and brain function.

4. Fish

As fish provide DHA and EPA, essential omega-3 fatty acids, they balance out your hormones, while helping your thyroid function properly. Also, when you get adequate amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, it reduces inflammation and boosts neurological functionality.

5. Seaweed

One of the best ways to get iodine into your body and prevent any deficiencies is to consume seaweed. Make it a point to have seaweed in your meals, at least once every week. As you can get the dried variants in the market, you can add them to different dishes.

6. Nuts

Another excellent source of selenium is nuts, which also make a portable snack. They are also delicious in stir-fries or salads. According to a 2017 review in the International Journal of Endocrinology, foods high in selenium, such as Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, and hazelnuts, support healthy thyroid function. 

You only need to consume one or two Brazil nuts, while a modest handful of other nuts will provide you with all the nutrients you need each day. However, keep in mind that nuts are also very heavy in fat, so it’s important to watch your portion sizes. One thing to keep in mind is that eating walnuts at the same time you take your prescription can affect thyroid hormone absorption.

7. Whole Grains

One typical sign of hypothyroidism is constipation. Foods made from whole grains, such as cereal, bread, pasta, and rice, are rich in minerals and fibre, both of which can promote regular bowel movements. 

8. Dairy products

A 2018 study in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism reported that vitamin D supplements like cow’s milk can help increase thyroid antibodies in patients with autoimmune thyroiditis as well as TSH levels in those with hypothyroidism. 

In addition to vitamin D, fortified milk also contains considerable levels of calcium, protein, and iodine. Foods like yoghurt with healthy bacteria may help manage other bacteria because Hashimoto’s may also produce positive changes that contribute to stomach disorders like heartburn. 

Why is a hypothyroid diet so essential? 

A person’s overall health depends on their diet. However, it is especially crucial for those who have thyroid disease because a bad diet can actually cause poor thyroid function in the first place.

Your metabolism doesn’t function as well if you have hypothyroidism. This is so that your cells will know when to convert food into energy thanks to the thyroid hormones (T3 and T4). Unexpected weight gain will occur as a result of your metabolism being slowed by hypothyroidism.

While they are dealing with an underactive thyroid, many people want to lose weight. But a hypothyroidism diet is vital for more reasons than just losing those excess pounds.

Hypothyroidism Diet Chart Plan

Maintaining a diet is necessary for anyone with hypothyroidism. We’ve put together a diet plan that can be followed by individuals suffering from the disorder. However, it is advised that one consult with a certified nutritionist before making changes to their diet.

Keep in mind that every person with hypothyroidism has unique nutritional and health needs. Your calorie requirements are influenced by a number of variables, such as your age, level of activity, gender, height, and whether you’re trying to gain or lose weight.

This broad meal plan, however, might give you a general concept of what healthy eating might entail for someone with hypothyroidism.

7:00 AMCoriander Seed Water (1 glass)Almonds Soaked Overnight In Water (5 piece)
8:30 AMPoha with Peanut (0.75 bowl)Moong Sprouts (0.5 katori)
11:00 AMPomegranate (0.5 cup)
1:30 PMRice (0.5 bowl)Cooked Moong Dal with Bottle Gourd (1 katori)Curd, Low Fat (0.5 cup (8 fl oz))Beetroot Salad (1 katori)
5:30 PMRoasted Makhana (1 cup)Green Tea (1 tea cup)
8:00 PMNamkeen Daliya (1 bowl)Stuffed Parwal (150 gram)Mixed Veg Raita (1 katori)
10:00 PMSkimmed Milk (1 cup)

While this diet plan would work for anyone with hypothyroidism, you can get the best Indian diet plan for weight loss here.

Foods to Avoid with Hypothyroidism

Fortunately, if you have hypothyroidism, you don’t need to avoid many foods. However, some persons with hypothyroidism may experience problems from particular foods like the following. 

1. Goitrogens

The goitrogens present in certain foods can potentially decrease thyroid hormone production in the body when eaten raw. Foods that contain goitrogens are mainly green, cruciferous vegetables. Some of them are:

  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Russian Kale

2. Gluten

Hypothyroidism may possibly have links to an underlying autoimmune disorder. Therefore, people with hypothyroidism may be at risk of developing other autoimmune disorders, like celiac disease.

Celiac disease leads to chronic inflammation and damage to the small intestine. This is thanks largely to the ingestion of gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other grains, such as barley, oats, and rye.

Celiac disease is treated with a gluten-free diet. People that have autoimmune-related hypothyroidism can try to cut gluten out of their diet, and check if there is any improvement in the symptoms.

3. Soy

Researchers have suggested that soy may interfere with how the thyroid hormone is produced in the body.

One published case study showed how a woman developed severe hypothyroidism upon consuming a healthy drink that contained high amounts of soy for about 6 months.

However, her condition improved once she stopped drinking the health drink and started taking medication for thyroid hormone replacement.

Some popular foods that include soy and must be avoided in case of hypothyroidism are:

  • Soy milk
  • Tofu
  • Soy sauce
  • Miso

4. Processed Foods

Processed foods tend to be calorie-dense and offer little in the way of nutritional benefits.

These foods promote weight gain and must be avoided in the case of hypothyroidism. Processed foods like fast food, cookies, cakes, and doughnuts are to be kept at bay.

HealthifyMe Note

There are a few things that those who have hypothyroidism must avoid. However, a gluten-free diet might be advantageous for those who have Hashimoto’s disease. To improve general health, people with hypothyroidism should restrict ultra-processed foods and stay away from items that are goitrogenic in significant quantities.


Keeping hypothyroidism in check can be seen as a combined effort of medication and lifestyle. It is necessary to maintain one’s diet while ensuring that the required medicines are being consumed. Keeping one’s thyroid levels within the normal range is essential to maintaining good health.

The thyroid is a lifestyle disorder that may be treated holistically, more frequently, and with change unlike anything else. Essentially, a person with thyroid issues should be aware of what to consume and what to avoid. 

Thus, with HealthifyPro, you can track your diet and see a complete breakdown of each food item into proteins, carbs, fats, and fibre to get started on your fitness path. Then, get a comprehensive health checkup with a metabolic panel that evaluates several health indicators, get a complete report, and get the best in-person coaching from qualified coaches with a personalised diet and activity plan.

Such corrective dietary approaches not only help to manage or reverse metabolic abnormalities, but they also make weight loss more rapid.

Furthermore, entering your meals into the most trustworthy nutrition tracker like the Healthify Pro food tracker will assist in analysing your intake of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and fibre. Additionally, you get access to several simple and wholesome home recipes.

Join the Healthify Pro health revolution now, to undergo a transformation unlike any other and to regularly and thoroughly improve your health.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Can one cure hypothyroidism naturally?

The symptoms of hypothyroidism can be managed with a proper diet and exercise regime, and normal functioning of the thyroid can be enabled. However, medications may be needed depending on multiple factors like age, stress levels, lifestyle, and other metabolic disorders.

Q. What vitamins are good for hypothyroidism?

A: Ideally, a well-balanced diet with all food groups can help in the proper functioning of the thyroid. For additional support, Vitamin B complex or a multivitamin along with essential fatty acids will help.

Q. Is Egg useful for thyroid patients?

A: Eggs contain iodine and selenium, both of which are needed for regulating thyroid hormones. So including eggs in a thyroid patient’s diet can be extremely helpful.

Q. How do I check thyroid levels at home?

A: A blood test is a good way to check thyroid function. However, there is a self-test to check for an underactive thyroid gland. Keep a thermometer by your bed at night. When you wake up in the morning, the first thing you place the thermometer under your arm and hold it for fifteen minutes. Keep very still and quiet. A temperature of 97.6F or lower may indicate an underactive thyroid. 

Q. Can I drink water before thyroid test?

A: Yes, one can have plain water, along with thyroid medication, if it is taken before a thyroid test.

Q. How does hypothyroidism affect day-to-day activities?

A: Your metabolism, brain functions, level of energy, and bowel movements can all be impacted by hypothyroidism. Your symptoms could range from mild to severe depending on how low your thyroid hormone production falls. Constipation, weakness, and other symptoms of exhaustion can occasionally be difficult to distinguish from those of other diseases.

Q. Do I seem older if I have hypothyroidism?

A: Yes, it will give you a little older appearance. Your skin will typically get dry if your thyroid gland is underactive. As a result, the earlier onset and greater visibility of fine lines and wrinkles.

Q. Do I get more sleep while I’m hypothyroid?

A: Yes, if you have hypothyroidism, you will sleep more. It may result in hypersomnia, which is the constant urge to sleep or daily lapses into sleep.

Q. What may lead to the worsening of hypothyroidism?

A: For people who already have hypothyroidism, too much iodine might exacerbate the illness. People frequently don’t consume enough iodine in some regions of the world.

Q. Can hypothyroidism affect my appearance?

A: Yes, hypothyroidism can have a variety of negative effects on the face, particularly swelling around the eyes, facial puffiness, and hair loss from the outer area of the brows.

External sources:

Selenium and Thyroid Disease: From Pathophysiology to Treatment (2017)

The Effects of Vitamin D Supplementation on Thyroid Function in Hypothyroid Patients (2018)

Soy isoflavones inducing overt hypothyroidism in a patient with chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis: a case report (2017)

About the Author

As the holder of a Post Graduate Diploma in Dietetics from the University of Mumbai, Alpa Momaya has always understood the value of good nutrition in an individual's life. She is a Registered Nutritional Practitioner (Canada) with over 15 years of experience in the field. Specializing in Clinical Nutrition, Pre & Post Natal Diets, and Weight Management, Alpa found her calling as a Sr. Nutritionist with HealthifyMe. Alpa's love for cooking and good nutrition has seen her contribute several recipes to the HealthifyMe database over the years. Additionally, she takes a keen interest in reading and painting.

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10 responses to “Hypothyroidism – Diet Plan, Causes, and Symptoms”

  1. I have gone through the blog post and I must admit it is very informative. I liked the writing style too. Keep up the good work and share more contents. Cheers!

    • Hi Amit, We are so grateful for your kind words. Thanks for sharing your feedback with us. Keep following our blogs.

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