How Can a High Fiber Diet Help with Thyroid?

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A healthy diet is important to lose weight and stay well.  Many thyroid patients face the extra challenge of sluggish metabolism and slow weight loss. One way you can balance wellness when you have a thyroid condition is to make sure you have a healthy diet that is rich in fiber.

You may have heard that high fiber foods interfere with absorption of thyroid medication--and that is true.  So does that mean you should not include high fiber foods at mealtime?

Absolutely not!!! Here are a couple of things to remember:

  • If If you are already eating a high-fiber diet regularly, and have regular TSH testing done, your dosage level is appropriate for you, given your diet.
  • If you are starting a new regimen of eating high-fiber, plan to get tested around six to eight weeks after you change your diet, to make sure you're receiving the proper amount of thyroid hormone.

High Fiber and Thyroid:  Here is Why it is Good For You!

Including high fiber foods in your diet is a good habit for life. Here is the low down on questions you may have about high fiber:

Are high fiber diets healthy?  People who regularly consume high fiber foods lose weight at about the same rate as those who follow the heart smart, low fat diet recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA). Eating high fiber foods is pretty simple and generally involves eating less processed foods.

How does the body deal with high fiber food?  Fiber, or roughage, is plant material that the body processes, or ferments, in a unique way.

Some fibers pass through your digestive tract largely intact, adding bulk that helps you feel full,  for a longer period of time. Other fiber dissolves in water to create chemically helpful components that aid in digestion. Gradually adding fiber to your diet reduces your chance of constipation, and the likelihood of painful inflammations in the intestinal wall called diverticulitis.

A high fiber diet can help you lose weight, keep blood sugar better balanced--and some types of fiber are food for the helpful bacteria that live in your gut. So you can feed you, and trillions of your closest friends that live inside of you.

What do I need to know about high fiber and my thyroid medication? Your best bet is taking your thyroid hormone first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, and wait an hour to eat. If you already take thyroid medication, and eat a high fiber diet, and you have no thyroid symptoms, keep up the good work. If you are thinking about incorporating more fiber into your diet--go slow--and do not eat an hour before, or after, taking your medication.  If you start feeling sluggish--or like you did before you were prescribed your thyroid medication--you may want to plan on getting tested within four to six weeks after you change your diet

Types of fiber--and where to find it: There are two types of fiber:

  • Soluble fiber absorbs water during digestion, and turns into a gel. This slows the digestive process and may reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. You can find soluble fiber in citrus fruits, beans, carrots, oats, apples, cooked peas, prunes, pears and other foods.
  • Insoluble fiber also absorbs water, and adds bulk to stools, helping food pass more quickly through the body to elimination. Look for insoluble fiber in spinach, berries, flax, figs, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, and many other fruits and vegetables. 

Most people should try to eat about 25 grams of fiber a day. This sounds easy, but that represents about eight bananas, or five apples, or about 80 baby carrots.That said, you can easily work high fiber foods into your diet through whole-grain breakfast cereals, breads, or muffins.  At lunch, try fruit, veggies, beans, or nut butters.For dinner, baked potatoes, chickpeas, lentils, and whole grain side dishes add taste--and fiber.

Altogether, fiber is more than it appears. Fiber works with, and within, the body to maintain gut health. As research continues to associate gut health with immune function, fiber and improved gut health may provide some protection from autoimmune disorders.

For anyone, the key to a healthy diet is consistency. For a thyroid patient, it is especially important to be sure you are receiving the right amount of thyroid hormone. 

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