Home » The Paleo Diet in the Treatment of Thyroid Disorders – Does it really help?
Nutrition Treatment

The Paleo Diet in the Treatment of Thyroid Disorders – Does it really help?

Paleo Diet

Some even claim that following the right diet and exercise regimen can put their symptoms of Thyroid Disorder into complete remission. A recommended diet to follow is the Paleo diet.

Thyroid disease can be difficult to deal with. While many doctors may prescribe medications to help treat symptoms, there other, more natural forms of treatment available. Diet and exercise are great ways to reduce symptoms. Some even claim that following the right diet and exercise regimen can put their symptoms into complete remission. A recommended diet to follow is the Paleo diet. Read on to find out what the Paleo diet is and how it may help you in treating your thyroid disorder.

Foods that are eaten as a part of the Paleo diet will be used strictly for energy burn and are less likely to be stored as fat.

What Is the Paleo Diet?

So, to start off, let’s take a look at exactly what the Paleo diet is. The Paleo diet originated on the theory that you can only eat foods that you can hunt or gather. This includes foods like meats, fish, nuts, leafy greens, regional veggies, and seeds. Processed foods have to go, sugar is out and glucose is a four letter word!  Carbs can be obtained through fruits and vegetables. Dairy can be a personal decision. Though many are lactose intolerant, there is evidence that there has been some adaption to it throughout the years. In any case, intake of dairy should be modified.

The Paleo diet works on the theory that many of our ancestors had lean body types while now, a large percentage of the world is overweight. Foods that are eaten as a part of the Paleo diet will be used strictly for energy burn and are less likely to be stored as fat.

Foods that are eaten as a part of the Paleo diet will be used strictly for energy burn and are less likely to be stored as fat.

How Can the Paleo Diet Help My Thyroid Disorder?

Many people with thyroid disorders have sensitivities to certain foods. These foods include gluten dairy, eggs, and soy, all of which are eliminated if you stick to a true Paleo diet. Many of the foods that you are restricted from with the Paleo diet also cause inflammation which can aggravate thyroid related symptoms.

Iron is critical for thyroid function and without proper levels of iron, the thyroid hormone can not be produced.

Research on thyroid disease also suggests that autoimmune diseases which can lead to thyroid disorders originate in the gut. A disorder develops called ‘intestinal permeability’ which allows food to pass directly into the bloodstream. The food molecules trigger a reaction in the body causing it to attack those molecules. Following a Paleo diet can help heal intestinal permeability.

The Paleo diet also includes many foods that are rich in iron. Iron is critical for thyroid function and without proper levels of iron, the thyroid hormone can not be produced. Many who suffer from Hashimoto’s disease may be anemic and in need of iron. Supplements may also be necessary in addition to consuming foods rich in iron.

Essential fatty acids can also help those with thyroid disorders. These can be found in fish like salmon. A fish oil supplement can be helpful as well.

The Autoimmune Paleo Diet

If you have tried the Paleo Diet and are still having thyroid issues, you can try the Autoimmune Paleo Diet. Advocated by clinician Dr. Izabella Wentz, this diet takes the Paleo Diet a step further and can be effective in the complete elimination of symptoms. The Autoimmune Paleo diet can be hard to jump straight into, so Dr. Wentz recommends taking baby steps, starting out with a Paleo or gluten free diet and then making your way into the full-on AIP Diet.

Dr. Wentz says people can start looking forward to beneficial results of the diet within 30-90 days.

The AIP diet calls for the elimination of the following foods:

  • Gluten
  • Grains
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Soy
  • Fungi (mushrooms)
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Processed Foods
  • High Glycemic Index Foods
  • All Nuts and Seeds
  • Beans and Legumes
  • Nightshades
  • Seaweed and Other Sea Vegetables
  • Sugars
  • Canned and Processed Foods
  • High Glycemic Index Foods
  • All Nuts and Seeds

Dr. Wentz claims that foods like these can bind our endorphin receptors. She claims that when starting the Autoimmune Paleo diet, people can experience withdrawal symptoms as a result of weaning off the addiction of processed foods. However, she claims that once people adjust to this diet, they will begin feeling better as the foods which are eliminated from this diet have inflammatory properties which may worsen thyroid disorders. She says people can start looking forward to beneficial results of the diet within 30-90 days.

Starting the Autoimmune Paleo diet, people can experience withdrawal symptoms as a result of weaning off the addiction of processed foods.

Criticism of the Paleo Diet:

Many advocate the Paleo Diet in the reduction of symptoms of thyroid disorder and no one is arguing the fact that the elimination of foods like grains and gluten can minimize inflammation. However, thyroid disease patient and author, Mary Shomon also argues the point of the necessity of salt in the Paleo Diet.

For many, the intake of table salt is their number one source of iodine which is necessary for thyroid function. The Paleo diet can eliminate foods that are rich in salt and lower iodine levels. This has been proven in a research study conducted in Sweden. Those who followed a Paleo diet were compared with others who followed a Nordic Nutrition Diet, a diet with similar foundations that was not as strict on limiting salt intake as well as other restrictions presented by the Paleo diet. The study found that those on the Paleo diet experienced a significant decrease in iodine levels as well as a rise in TSH levels and a decrease in free T3 levels.

Those who wish to follow a Paleo diet but want to avoid an iodine deficiency should try to incorporate foods that are iodine rich and nondairy. These include:

  • Sea vegetables
  • Cranberries
  • Strawberries
  • Navy beans
  • Codfish
  • Turkey Breast
  • Tuna
  • Eggs
  • Baked Potato

Personal Stories on the Paleo Diet:

Those with thyroid disorders who are interested in following a Paleo diet may be curious to find out about others who have tried the diet to help their thyroid issues. Read on to find out how some overcame their symptoms with the Paleo diet method.

Natalie

Natalie Hanson, PHD and blogger relates her fight with thyroid disorder. She claims that she was resistant to trying the Paleo diet but once she started, it yielded great results. After being diagnosed with a thyroid disorder, Hanson was having violent reactions to some of the foods she was eating including heart palpitations and headaches. She knew something had to be done. After taking food sensitivity tests, she noticed that most of the food she was eating was causing adverse reactions. Hanson now sticks to an Autoimmune Paleo diet and found that after about 21 days of following the diet, her thyroid was completely mended.

[the_ad id=”2554″]

Kymberly

Kymberly is another woman who suffered with thyroid disorders. Her problems caused her irregular menstrual cycles, infertility, mood swings, anemia and weight gain. One day, while watching TV, Kymberly learned about the Paleo diet. She decided to try it. Although it was a difficult transition for Kymberly, who was raised on processed food, she found that she began sleeping better, her digestion improved and she looks forward to creating new recipes.

Angela

Angela also has a personal story of how the Paleo diet helped her with her thyroid disorder. Angela suffered from weight gain and depression. One day she began experiencing heart palpitations, numbness and difficulty swallowing. She ended up in the hospital as a result. Angela knew something had to be done to help her with her symptoms and ended up turning to a Paleo diet. Since making this life changing decision, Angela has experienced significant weight loss as well as an overall improvement of health and energy levels.

Make sure you are getting enough starch and B vitamins which will help your energy level.

FAQ’s

If you are thinking of starting the Paleo Diet, here are some commonly asked questions which may clear some things up for you:

1) How Can I Overcome My Sugar Cravings?

It can take some time to overcome cravings, but if you are still having problems with sugar cravings after a week or so into the diet, you may want to take a look at what you are eating. Make sure you are getting enough starch and B vitamins which will help your energy level. Also, there are books available which can help you adjust in the early stages of your Paleo diet.

2) I’ve Been On the Paleo Diet for Some Time and I’m Not Losing Weight. What should I do?

If you are on the Paleo Diet and you are not losing weight, here are some suggestions:

  • Check your thyroid.
  • Make sure you are getting enough fat. If you don’t have enough fat intake you may be eating excessively to make up for this.
  • Make sure you are eating Paleo recommended baked goods and sugars.
  • Make sure you are exercising.

3) I’d Like to Start the Autoimmune Paleo Diet but I am Very Thin and Don’t Want To Lose Too Much Weight. What Should I Do?

If you are afraid you will lose too much weight on an AIP diet, start off with regular Paleo and see how you are doing. Be sure you are eating an adequate amount of fats and starch. Adding coconut oil to hot drinks and using it as a cooking oil is another way to ensure you are getting enough calories.

4) Are Sugar Sources Like Maple Sugar, Honey, and Stevia Okay for a Paleo Diet?

This is a touchy subject. Although these are natural sources of sugar, they can still cause inflammation and should be kept to a minimum in diets.

5) I’m on the Paleo Diet and I Don’t Feel As Hungry as I Used To. Is Everything Okay?

Yes. You can expect to be a lot less hungry than you used to be. In fact, some people claim not to crave food for 16+ hours at a time. Although going for prolonged periods of time without food may not be healthy, dieters can figure out a schedule that works for them.

The Paleo Diet in the Treatment of Thyroid Disorders - Does it really help?
9/10

Conclusion

Paleo diets can be strict and difficult to follow but they seem to yield proven results for most people. If you are suffering with a thyroid disorder, it may be a good idea to start on a Paleo diet slowly and figure out what does and doesn’t work for you. Dealing with a thyroid disorder is difficult but it is fortunate that there are natural treatments available. Good luck finding something that works best for you.

Like what you read?

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing on Thyroid Central.

Something went wrong.

What do you think?

About the author

Thyroid Central

Thyroid Central is a free resource with a wealth of information and breaking news about thyroid health and other health and lifestyle issues.

Like what you read?

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing on Thyroid Central.

Something went wrong.