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by Joanna Foley, RD, CLT June 07, 2023 4 min read

If you've ever suspected you have a slow metabolism, you've likely been wondering what may be causing it — and what you can do about it? A sluggish metabolism can often be linked to an imbalance in the way your thyroid produces the hormones that regulate your body's ability to burn calories - one of it's primary functions.

But can diet affect thyroid function? The short answer is yes.

There are foods that provide key nutrients your thyroid uses to function optimally, and there are also foods that can impair thyroid function. Let's take a closer look at how food can be a natural method to support thyroid function and a healthy metabolism overall.

How Your Thyroid Works

Your thyroid gland is located in your neck. It helps regulate important body functions such as metabolism, body temperature, energy levels, and growth and development by producing and releasing the appropriate amount of thyroid hormones required into your bloodstream. It can be thought of as your body's main regulator. There are many things that can interfere with the way your thyroid functions including chronic stress, poor gut health and an unhealthy diet.

Estrogen Dominance, is one of the most common female hormonal imbalances that can also disrupt normal thyroid function. Estrogen is a hormone closely linked to the thyroid, it is also required for reproductive, cardiovascular and bone health. Everyone, including men, produce estrogen. Estrogen dominance occurs when the ratio between Estrogen and Progesterone is imbalanced. Most often, there is too much estrogen (levels can be normal or elevated) in relation to progesterone (usually too low). Progesterone is the other reproductive hormone that works with estrogen to control the menstrual cycle in females, and it is needed by males to produce testosterone.

While there are many things that can contribute to estrogen dominance, diet is one of them. More refined sugars and processed foods can contribute to excess fat storage in your body, and these fat tissues store estrogen. This is why estrogen dominance can also lead to weight gain.

Can Diet Affect Thyroid Function?

Certain nutrient deficiencies can be an underlying root cause of thyroid issues. Eating a predominantly whole food diet, that is rich in essential vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, fiber, lean proteins and healthy fats is so important for our overall health.

Some of the best foods to support your thyroid include:

  • Brazil nuts. These nuts are a rich source of the mineral selenium, with just 1 ounce providing almost 1,000% of the recommended daily value. Selenium is an antioxidant that is highly concentrated in the thyroid and required for the production of thyroid hormones. Just adding 1-2 to your morning smoothie will provide the selenium your body requires.

  • Seafood. Foods including halibut, shrimp and sardines are also rich in selenium. Other seafood like crab, lobster and oysters also provide an excellent source of zinc, which is another mineral essential to thyroid function. Low levels of zinc can contribute to an underactive thyroid. Many seafood choices are also a great source of lean protein.

  • Dried seaweed. Seaweed is one of the best sources of the mineral iodine. Iodine is also required for the production of thyroid hormones, and, like zinc and selenium. Iodine deficiency is one of the underlying root causes of thyroid issues. You can enjoy seaweed in foods like sushi or dashi broth, or buy prepacked dried seaweed to eat as a snack.

  • Seeds. Pumpkin, flax, sesame, sunflower, chia and hemp seeds are all great sources of minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats and protein. They also provide a good source of fiber, which supports a healthy gut. The practice of seed cycling may help balance out levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body and also support thyroid health.

On the other hand, some foods and beverages can impair optimal thyroid function, and you may want to limit or avoid:

  • Alcohol. High alcohol consumption with an unmanaged thyroid issue, can interfere with thyroid functioning and make matters worse over time.

  • High-sugar foods. As mentioned, excess sugar (unused energy) will be stored as fat in the body, which can increase estrogen levels, potentially making thyroid function worse.

  • Food Sensitivities. The most common thyroid offenders include gluten/wheat, dairy, egg (mainly the whites), corn and soy. So if you suspect you have thyroid issues, eliminating these foods is a good place to start. If you want to be certain about your food sensitivities, a simple at-home Food Sensitivities Test can confirm this for you.

A Delicious Recipe To Help Your Thyroid Thrive

For a nutritious hormone-balancing smoothie to start your day, try this recipe:


  • 2 scoops all-in-one protein powder (our top recommendation is Daily Nutrition Support)
  • 1-2 cups low glycemic fruit (mixed berries or cherries) - fresh or frozen

  • 1/2 - 1 frozen banana (optional)

  • 1-2 Brazil nuts

  • 1 tablespoon maca root powder

  • 8-12oz of water or nut milk if tolerated (carrageenan free)

  • Ice cubes (optional)

Simply place all the ingredients into a blender, and blend thoroughly until the desired consistency is reached. Enjoy and know you're giving your thyroid and body the nourishment it needs to promote balance. Because food has a direct impact on our hormones, it can impact thyroid function and our health overall.

Want to learn more about The 7 Foods to Feed Your Thyroid and Boost Metabolism, listen to this podcast.

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