Goitrogen is a substance that disrupts the function of the thyroid gland. Excess exposure to and consumption of goitrogen may lead to enlargement of the thyroid gland and eventually, thyroid symptoms. They say that cruciferous vegetables have goitrogens and many thyroid patients avoid this type of food. But, before you strike off cauliflower and broccoli off your diet, read this article to know more about goitrogen.
Things You Need to Know About Goitrogen
1. Goitrogen may Cause Issues with the Thyroid Gland
Studies show that goitrogens can interfere with thyroid function. Goitrogenic substances inhibit the release of thyroid hormones by blocking iodine in the thyroid gland. This can trigger the overproduction of certain hormones which may also lead to goiter.
2. Food is a Source of Goitrogenic Substances
— Margie Babon (@AtHyperkreeytiv) September 4, 2017
A variety of foods contain goitrogen such as cruciferous vegetables, soy-based food, and some nuts and fruits. So, how do they affect your thyroid health?
Cruciferous vegetables contain isothiocyanates, which may block or disrupt signals in thyroid cell membranes. Soy, meanwhile, contains isoflavones, which may inhibit thyroid peroxidase activity (TPO). TPO is important because it supports the thyroid’s uptake of iodine.
What we have below is not a complete list of goitrogenic foods. But they are common sources and many people include these in their diet.
- Brussel sprouts
- mustard greens
- bok choy
- soy milk
- bamboo shoots
3. Goitrogen is Not just Found in Food
There are also other sources of goitrogens, many of which are not food-based. Some misunderstand the meaning of the term, applying it only to goitrogenic substances found in food alone. Take note, the term goitrogen is non-specific and generally refers to substances that may affect thyroid function.
Products that contain polychlorinated biphenyls, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, bisphenol-a, and phthalates, often flagged as endocrine disruptors, are sources of goitrogen. Many of the items we use daily contain these harmful compounds. Examples of these are:
- electrical equipment like transformers and capacitors
- adhesives and tapes
- oil-based paint
- building materials
- motor vehicles
- food containers
4. Food-based Goitrogenic Substances are not Harmful to Everyone
The level of food sensitivity among people varies, so, the effect of food-based goitrogens are unique for each individual. A person affected by thyroid issues can still consume food with goitrogenic substances as they contain nutrients that are important to the body (and if they are cooked). They can eat goitrogenic food in moderation and boost iodine intake, Vitamin A, selenium, and iron instead.
That being said, goitrogens found in non-food items pose more of a threat to people, with or without thyroid issues, than food goitrogens.
5. Effects of Goitrogen can be Minimized
As mentioned above, people with thyroid problems do not have to eliminate goitrogenic food from their diet. They can minimize the effects by:
- Cooking and fermenting goitrogenic food
- Increasing intake of other nutrients like iodine and selenium
- Limiting portions of goitrogenic food
- Making sure to rotate food choices often.
Minimizing exposure to non-food goitrogens is challenging. These substances are practically everywhere in the environment and avoiding them completely requires a drastic lifestyle change. Still, there are little things you can do to avoid overexposure. For instance, you can limit your use of plastics and not apply cosmetics with harmful ingredients.
Learn some natural remedies to thyroid problems in this video by Dr. Axe:
As you know, food with goitrogen can still be beneficial to your health, so, it may not be the wisest decision to completely avoid them. Consult your doctor for a diet and lifestyle change plan suitable for your thyroid condition.
What type of diet do you follow for your thyroid condition? Share it with us in the comments section!