Soy has been linked to the development of autoimmune thyroiditis
Goitrogens are substances that suppress the thyroid gland by interfering with thyroid hormone production. As a compensatory mechanism, the thyroid will enlarge to counteract the reduced hormone production. This enlargement is also known as a goiter.
You may have heard that you should avoid goitrogenic foods if you have a thyroid condition. This is only partially true, as all goitrogens are not created equally. Different goitrogenic substances are contained in various foods.
Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower contain glucosinolates, substances that block iodine uptake into the thyroid. Eating too many in the raw state can cause symptoms of hypothyroidism in someone with otherwise well-controlled symptoms.
People with iodine deficiency-induced hypothyroidism may find that goitrogens cause further suppression of thyroid activity, however, most patients with Hashimoto’s do not have an iodine deficiency, and the goitrogenic mechanism in these otherwise very healthy vegetables is not of particular concern to Hashimoto’s.
That said, some people with subclinical hypothyroidism (when their thyroid is still producing its thyroid hormone and TSH is slightly elevated) may find that eating lots of goitrogens may suppress some of their thyroid hormones production.
Luckily, cruciferous vegetables are only goitrogenic in the raw state. Cooking or lightly steaming will deactivate the glucosinolates, as will fermenting the vegetables (as in sauerkraut), thus diminishing the goitrogenic activity. While consuming fermented and cooked cruciferous vegetables is preferred, occasionally eating small amounts of these foods in the raw states should not aggravate autoimmune thyroid conditions.
Goitrogens and thyroid medications
Some professionals have said that goitrogens don’t matter in those who take medications. Again, this is only partially true once more.
If you are not taking thyroid medications or taking a low dose of medication where your thyroid is still making some of its hormones, you will be more sensitive to eating crucifers. If you feel cold, this would be one sign that you had too many. If you are on a high dose of thyroid medication where your thyroid is no longer making its hormone, raw crucifers should not matter.
Soy and canola are two goitrogens that should be avoided in those with Hashimoto’s. Canola should be avoided in all individuals with Hashimoto’s as it’s highly processed and made from genetically modified crops. Soy is a goitrogen that works a different way; it blocks the activity of the TPO enzyme. Soy has been linked to the development of autoimmune thyroiditis and should be avoided by those with Hashimoto’s.
List of Goitrogens
- Bamboo shoots
- Bok Choy
- Brassica genus veggies
- Brussels sprouts
- Canola oil
- Choy sum
- Collard greens
- Mustard greens
- Pine nuts
- Sweet potato
Therefore, although everyone is different, most people with Hashimoto’s should be able to eat most goitrogens, even in their raw state, (with the exception of soy and canola).
I wish you all the best in your healing journey!
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