Kale and Strawberries and Goiters – Oh My!

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A goiter?  I have a goiter?  Isn’t that something only malnourished people in third world countries get?  Apparently not, since I had one this summer.  Luckily, my doctor caught it in the early stages, so I didn’t have a big, lumpy elephant neck or anything terribly dramatic, but I had a goiter none the less. And once I found out, I had to find out how it got there and how to make it go away – pronto!

I thought eating lots of Kale and leafy  greens, raw hummus, the occasional tofu, tempeh and edamame, peaches, strawberries, all that healthy stuff was, well healthy.  In fact, my beautiful garden was full of all kinds of leafy goodness.

While these foods are very healthy, too much of them can be a bad thing if you have health issues.  It was for me.

goiter

According to WHFoods.org, While it’s important to note foods themselves are not “goitrogenic” in the sense of causing goiter whenever they are consumed, or even when they are consumed in excess. In fact, most foods that are commonly called goitrogenic do not interfere with thyroid function in healthy people.  The term “goitrogenic food” makes it sound as if something is wrong with the food, but in reality, the problems occurring for certain individuals is not the food itself, but the mismatched nature of certain substances within the food to their unique health circumstances.

Turns out my body needed iodine. Badly. While I suspect my gluten-intolerant gut and it’s inability to absorb nutrients efficiently may have also had something to do with this mess,  I learned goitrogenic foods can prevent your body from absorbing iodine, especially if you’re also deficient in selenium.  I’d also switched to sea salt which I thought was better than iodized. I rarely ate sea veggies, so I wasn’t getting much iodine and I was eating tons of goitrogenic foods.  For me, probably not the best move.

After researching and compiling a list of goitrogenic  foods and seeing they made up about 80% of my diet, I felt sick.  Being vegan, gluten-free and non-goitrogenic  – what would I eat? At first I cried big sobbing tears, thinking about how limiting my diet would be. But like my gluten-free challenge years ago, I reminded myself to think about what I could eat, not what I couldn’t. I worked hard to put together a couple lists – goitrogenic foods to avoid and non-goitrogenic foods that contain nutrients that promote healthy thyroid gland function.

The beautiful thing I learned on my own (not from doctors) was that after avoiding the goitrogenic foods for about a month, adding a few sea vegetables and small amounts of iodine, selenium and potassium supplements to my diet, the ultrasound showed the goiter was going away.  I’m slowly adding the goitrogenic foods back into my diet and trying to eat more of them cooked, rather than raw. And fingers crossed, I’m doing OK. I will be going back to see my endocrinologist again in a few months and advise anyone with thyroid issues to find a good doctor. But never stop advocating for your own health and learning about alternative treatments so you can make the best choice possible for YOU!

Gluten-Free, Vegan
Goitrogenic Foods

Gluten-Free, Vegan
Non-Goitrogenic Foods

Vegetables

African Cassava (used in tapioca)
Asparagus*
Bamboo Shoots
Broccoli
Brussel Sprouts
Cabbage (including Kimchi and Sauerkraut)
Cauliflower
Corn
Edamame
Garbanzo Beans
Kale
Kohlrabi
Leafy Greens (Turnip Greens, Mustard Greens, Collard Greens, Spinach)
Radishes
Rutabaga
Sweet Potatoes
Tempeh
Tofu
Turnips
Wasabi
Watercress
Azuki Beans
Avocados
Beet root and leaves
Bell Peppers
Black Beans
Carrots
Celery
Chard
Cucumber
Eggplant
Fennel
Garlic
Green Beans
Jerusalem Artichokes
Kelp
Lima Beans
Mung Beans
Mushrooms
Navy Beans
Onions
Peas
Pinto Beans
Red Kidney Beans
Romaine
Sea Vegetables
Squash
Tomato
Zucchini
 Fruit
Dates*
Grapes
Grape juice
Nectarines
Peaches
Pears
Strawberries
Apples
Apricots
Bananas
Blackberries
Blueberries
Cherries
Citrus Fruits
Cranberries
Guavas
Kiwis
Mangoes
Pineapples
Pomegranates
Raisins
Raspberries
Watermelon
Nuts, Seeds and Grains
Almonds*
Cashews
Flax Seed
Hemp Seed
Millet
Peanuts
Pine Nuts
Pumpkin Seed*
Walnuts
Amaranth
Coconut
Brazil Nuts (great source of selenium to help absorb iodine)
Buckwheat
Hazelnuts
Macadamia Nuts
Quinoa
Rice – brown, white, wild, etc..
Sunflower Seeds
 Other
Black Tea – leaves absorb fluoride from the soil
Green Tea – leaves absorb fluoride from the soil
Fluoride
Miso
Soy Milk
Soy Oil
Soy Flour
TVP (soy)
Many herbs have healing properties that can help thyroid and other body functions. Cayenne, Turmeric, Ginger, Mint, Cilantro, Parsley, Cinnamon are just a few good ones to add to your food.

* I checked many lists to create mine and found some foods to be listed as both goitrogenic and non-goitrogenic. To err on the side of caution, I’ve listed them on the goitrogenic side but they may have benefits to help with thyroid.

 

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8 Responses to Kale and Strawberries and Goiters – Oh My!

  1. Thyroid geek says:

    If thyroid volume is more than 18 cu cm for adult female it is considered a goiter.

  2. jmkay says:

    Thanks for the long list Janie. Very helpful. I hate the word ‘Goitre’ but I have just been told by my radiologist that the swelling on the left side of my neck which I only noticed 2 weeks ago is goitre. I use medications for high blood pressure and had been told by my doctor to avoid salt hence my iodine deficiency. In addition to eating iodine rich foods and using iodised salt, I have been trying to avoid goitrogenic foods but did not have a good list. Thanks for yours. I bought some almond milk recently to replace the soy milk I had been consuming for years. Unfortunately I will have to stop drinking almond milk now since almonds can be on both sides of the list. I might just stick to Quinoa milk. What do you think?

    • Janie says:

      So glad you found my list helpful! I have been eating goitrogenic food again but also taking iodine supplements and seem to be doing much better. Hopefully the supplements will help you. Quinoa, hemp and coconut milks are all good choices. Almond may be ok if you supplement. Avoid the soy until you are better and enjoy it sparingly once you’re well.
      Also make sure to get selenium too. It works together with iodine.

  3. So glad you are doing better!!! Thanks for this great information. I keep a jar of kelp to sprinkle on salads, etc. Good to know I need to keep this up and incorporate more from the non-gout list! Will try some of the other “milks” too….have loved the Almond! Food is our medicine, but I guess too much of one kind of medicine will tip the scales! :)

    • Janie says:

      Very true that food is our medicine. Almond milk is great. I also love rice and coconut, depending on what I’m using it for. Thanks for your comment!

  4. Linda says:

    Sounds like me, in love with leafy veg, sweet potatoes and switched to sea salt, big tears here also. Thank you for your research now I will focus on what I like from the Non-Goitrogenic Foods!!!

    • Janie says:

      Linda, I stopped eating goitrogenics for about a month so I could catch up on my iodine with a supplement and my goiter shrunk quickly. I can eat these foods again but make sure I take a bit of iodine (too little is bad and too much is bad, so just take the recommended amount to be safe.) I also don’t overload on kale even though I love it! Good luck and hope you feel better!

  5. Jenna says:

    Wish you list was a picture, I would Pin it. Thank you so much.

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