739 food quality over caloriesAlthough we Americans seem to love a diet,  a recent 12-month study found simply following a whole foods diet void of sugars and processed foods resulted in weight loss and improved health for the subjects. This is important if you have Hashimoto’s low thyroid and want to better manage your thyroid health.

The study showed it didn’t matter whether the diet was low-fat, low-carbohydrate, or what the blood type, body type, or genetic markers were.

Here is what subjects in the study ate:

  • Nutrient-dense whole foods cooked at home as often as possible
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Fresh fruits
  • Legumes and whole grains for the low-fat group
  • Grass-fed meats and salmon for the low-carb group
  • Lean meats for the low-fat group
  • Nuts and nut butter
  • Healthy fats for the low-carb group

Here is what they avoided:

  • Refined flour products: Breads, pasta, bagels, muffins, etc.
  • White rice
  • Sugary snacks and beverages
  • Fruit juice
  • Processed foods, even if they were low-fat or low-carb

Participants were also told to follow national guidelines for physical activity but they did not really change their exercise routines.

After 12 months the low-carb group lost the most weight — an average of 13 pounds. However, the low-fat group also lost weight, an average of 11.7 pounds. Both groups also saw body fat, blood sugar, and blood pressure markers improve. These are all important factors when addressing Hashimoto’s low thyroid.

Those were the averages; weight loss was more extreme on an individual basis for some, with a few subjects losing as much as 50 to 60 pounds. These subjects also said their relationship with food changed. They no longer snacked in the car or in front of the television and they cooked at home more often.

The researchers concluded in the study article that it is time to shift the national focus from calories to nutrient-dense foods.

What this study means for patients with Hashimoto’s low thyroid

Although we emphasize a whole foods diet in functional medicine, people managing Hashimoto’s low thyroid usually need to go beyond that to manage thyroid autoimmunity.

For instance, dairy and gluten are common triggers Hashimoto’s low thyroid autoimmunity and many patients significantly improve thyroid health by avoiding them. Many people also react to other grains, such as corn, soy, eggs, or the lectins in legumes.

This study is great because it shows how important basics human nutrition is.

If you suffer from autoimmune Hashimoto’s low thyroid, you may need to temporarily follow an autoimmune diet to identify dietary triggers of inflammation. Ask my office for more advice on how to manage Hashimoto’s low thyroid.