Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Underactive Thyroid High Fiber Diet

A person with hypothyroidism may benefit from a diet that is high in fiber.

High Fiber Diet
Dietary fiber is a plant material that humans cannot digest. Fiber absorbs water, which keeps the stool soft and promotes rapid passage of material through the intestines. This may reduce exposure to toxic substances and improve the health of the intestines. Fiber also binds fat and cholesterol, and reduces the risk for heart disease. As an added benefit, high fiber foods usually contain important vitamins and minerals.

Fiber comes in two forms, based on whether it will dissolve in water. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. About 3/4 of fiber in the diet should be the insoluble fiber.

Water Soluble Fiber

ExamplesDietary Sources
Pectins, gums, & mucilagesfruits, vegetables, oats, bran, barley, legumes

Insoluble Fiber
ExamplesDietary Sources
Cellulose, hemicellulosevegetables, wheat bran, & whole grains

High Fiber Diet
A healthy diet should include more than 25 grams of fiber each day.

A high fiber diet can prevent and treat the following:

General Guidelines
Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are high in fiber, but peeling the skin from fruit and vegetables removes fiber. Dried fruits, beans, black-eyed peas, bran and oatmeal are high in fiber. Bran is the outer layer of the wheat grain.

Strategies for adding bran to the diet:
  • Add 2-3 teaspoons of bran per serving, in order to increase the fiber content of casseroles, meat loaf, and baked goods.
  • Use whole grain flour: it has 6 times the fiber of bleached flour.
  • Use oat bran to replace of 1/3 of the flour in recipes.
  • Use fiber supplements, such as Citrucel and Metamucil.

Change your diet slowly. Rapid changes in the diet can cause bloating, gas and diarrhea.

Example High-Fiber Diet
Eat 3 to 10 servings of whole grain food every day.

Examples include:
  • Barley
  • Brown rice
  • Oatmeal or oat bran
  • Rye bread
  • Wheat germ
  • Whole grain bagels
  • Whole grain breads
  • Whole grain muffins
  • Whole grain or bran cereals
  • Whole grain pita bread
  • Whole wheat crackers
  • Whole wheat pasta

Eat 3-4 servings of fruit each day.

Examples include:
  • Apple
  • Banana
  • Berries
  • Grapefruit
  • Nectarine
  • Orange
  • Peach
  • Pear

Eat at least 3-5 servings of raw, unpeeled vegetables per day.

Special note on brassica vegetables
  • This includes cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, rutabaga, pak-choi, and turnips.
  • These vegetables contain compounds that may interfere with iodine uptake in the thyroid gland.
  • For those who are not iodine deficient, receive adequate iodine in the diet, and are cooking these vegetables prior to consumption, this rarely presents a problem. Consult your doctor for guidance.

Continue to Underactive Thyroid Low Fat Diet

Last Updated: Dec 16, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Underactive Thyroid References
  1. Escobar-Morreale HF, Botella-Carretero JI, Escobar del Rey F, Morreale de Escobar G. REVIEW: Treatment of hypothyroidism with combinations of levothyroxine plus liothyronine. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Aug;90(8):4946-54. [15928247]
  2. Rovet J, Daneman D. Congenital hypothyroidism: a review of current diagnostic and treatment practices in relation to neuropsychologic outcome. Paediatr Drugs. 2003;5(3):141-9. [12608879]
  3. Simon NM, Blacker D, Korbly NB, Sharma SG, Worthington JJ, Otto MW, Pollack MH. Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism in anxiety disorders revisited: new data and literature review. J Affect Disord. 2002 May;69(1-3):209-17. [12103468]
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