Is The Low Carb Thyroid Myth True Or False?

Two types of coordinating systems are present in our body, the nervous and the endocrine system. The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system, producing its own hormones. Our diet plays a crucial role in this process. For our endocrine system to function properly, we need the correct ratio of macromolecules in our diet. 

So, is the low carb thyroid myth true or false?

The myth states that low levels of carbohydrates cause less amount of thyroid hormones to be produced. This may or may not be true. Also, low carb intake may be helpful for the body in some situations, and in some, it may be harmful.

Let me explain all the consequences related to the low-carb thyroid myth.

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What is A Myth?

Myths are perceptions based on the experiences of individuals or groups of people. 

As long as they’re not backed by scientific evidence, myths can’t be believed. In other words, if you believe a myth is true, it must have some scientific basis.

What Is The Low Carb Thyroid Myth?

Low Carb Thyroid Myth

People mostly adopt a low-carb diet to lose weight and get rid of obesity. This may prove helpful for them. They can observe a noticeable difference between the body mass before and after a low-carb diet

But when you have lost weight, you feel less energetic than before. This may be because of less thyroid gland activity and less production of the T3 hormone. 

Production of the T3 hormone is directly related to our body’s metabolism.

When we eat carbohydrates, our body produces insulin. The main function assigned to insulin is the metabolism of carbohydrates. But that’s not the end! Somehow production of insulin also influences the production of thyroid hormones. 

So the low carb thyroid myth symbolizes that if you take fewer carbohydrates in your body then less thyroid hormones ( T3 and T4 ) will be produced. Hence less production of these hormones will help to cure hyperthyroidism.

Still confused? Read on to learn the details.

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Does Low Carb Intake Affect The Thyroid Gland Activity?

Carbohydrates are a significant source of energy for our bodies. Most of the ATP produced in our body is by the breakdown of carbohydrates. 

When carbohydrate intake is restricted, our body produces less energy. When less energy is produced but more is spent, our body finds a balance between the two. The thyroid hormone lowers the production of its T3 hormone. As a result, metabolism is reduced by 5-15% to preserve the body’s energy.

Furthermore, Insulin is required to convert the T4 hormone into T3; it’s just like an activation process. So, low carbohydrate intake decreases the production of insulin. As a result, less T3 thyroid hormones will be produced.

So, now we know how low carb intake may affect hormone production by the thyroid gland.

Situations That May Occur Due To Less T3 Hormone

Less amount of T3 hormone will lead to hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a medical disease in which the thyroid gland releases fewer hormones than usual. 

Causes:

Some of the causes for hypothyroidism are as follows.

  • Dysfunction of the thyroid gland.
  • Overtreatment of hyperthyroidism.
  • Radiation therapy.
  • Medications.

Symptoms:

Symptoms of hypothyroidism are not very severe, but they may lead to severe problems.

Such as the following:

  • Goiter
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Puffy face
  • Weakened muscle
  • High blood cholesterol level
  • Depression

Complications:

Hypothyroidism may cause sterility if it occurs for a long time in infants and children. 

It may cause poor mental development and incomplete growth in teens, including sterilizing them.

Other complications are the following:

  • Myxedema
  • Infertility
  • Congenital disabilities
  • Goiter
  • Mental health issues
  • Heart problems

Is the Low Carb Thyroid Myth Helpful For Hyperthyroidism?

In the low carb thyroid myth, it is not clear whether it is helpful during hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.

But if we consider that the low carb thyroid myth is true, then it may be helpful for hyperthyroidism and its treatment. Considering that taking less carbs may reduce thyroid hormones.

Best Diet Schedule For The Proper Functioning of The Thyroid Gland

is low carb bad for thyroid

Food is essential for the development and growth of our bodies. So it is necessary to choose the food which may prove best for our body. 

The foods which are good for thyroid functioning are given below:

Dairy Products:

Products obtained from milk, like yogurt, butter, and ice cream contain iodine, which is required for the normal functioning of the thyroid gland. 

Try to intake low-fat index cold yogurt to get a sufficient amount of iodine.

Fresh Eggs:

Eggs contain a bulk amount of both selenium and iodine. 

Eat a whole egg, including the white part and yolk for better nutrition. This is because the yolk holds most of the nutrients in eggs.

Salted Nuts: 

Selenium and iodine both are important for thyroid hormone production. Mainly, Brazil nuts, macadamia, and hazelnuts are excellent for this purpose. 

You can make a packet of all related nuts and keep that packet in your bag.

Roasted Seaweed:

Seaweed is naturally rich in iodine. You can eat seaweed with sushi or get packaged seaweed snacks.

Baked Fish: 

Fish contains a large amount of omega-3 fatty acids and selenium. 

So if you are fond of seafood, this may prove helpful for you. In fact, omega 3 and selenium help lessen inflammation and enhance thyroid action.

Food to Avoid in Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism causes an increase in appetite. So, consuming more carbs may lead to weight gain even if more food is being metabolized.

To treat hyperthyroidism, you have to maintain your diet and eat specific types of food. 

If you take a high amount of food that stimulates the production of thyroid hormones, it may also have a harmful effect. 

So you should avoid food that is rich in iodine. For example:

  • Iodized salt.
  • Fish and shellfish.
  • Seaweed and kelp.
  • Food products containing red dye.
  • Baked goods with iodized dough.
  • Caffeine: caffeine can worsen the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. For that purpose, we need to avoid foods or drinks containing caffeine.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is low carb good for hypothyroidism?

Low carbohydrate intake may help you lose weight. Not only this, moderate or low amounts of carbohydrates are essential for managing weight. But according to the low carb thyroid myth, this will decrease the production of the T3 hormone. This will worsen hypothyroidism. So, extremely low carbs may be bad for hypothyroidism.

Do only carbohydrates play a role in producing thyroid hormones?

Yes, despite other macromolecules, only carbohydrates may play an essential role in regulating the production of thyroid hormones. Because insulin stimulates the output of T4 and T3 hormones, more insulin is produced when more carbohydrates are taken into the body, which will induce more thyroid hormones.

Does low carbohydrate affect the thyroid?

Yes, low carbohydrate intake helps treat diseases like hypoglycemia, hypertriglyceridemia, and obesity. These diseases may affect thyroid function.

Final Words

The low carb thyroid myth seems to be true if we think logically. But we don’t have enough scientific evidence to prove it.

Myth is just a perception or experience of some people, but scientific reasonings have an experimental basis. 

It is better to talk to a doctor about the treatment of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. This is much better than doing experiments on ourselves due to a myth.

Anika Zuberi

Anika Zuberi

I’m Anika Nawar Zuberi, a medical student and a fitness freak. Apart from studying medical science, I’m passionate about writing and learning new things side by side. I absolutely love maintaining a healthy lifestyle and like to inspire people to have a healthy life as well. Writing gives me immense joy and I really hope my readers find the same joy and health tips too to have a more easier blooming life. Anika Nawar Zuberi 4th year MBBS Armed Forces Medical College

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