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.
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!
|African Cassava (used in tapioca)
Cabbage (including Kimchi and Sauerkraut)
Leafy Greens (Turnip Greens, Mustard Greens, Collard Greens, Spinach)
Beet root and leaves
Red Kidney Beans
|Nuts, Seeds and Grains|
Brazil Nuts (great source of selenium to help absorb iodine)
Rice – brown, white, wild, etc..
|Black Tea – leaves absorb fluoride from the soil
Green Tea – leaves absorb fluoride from the soil
|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.