Vegetarian Diet Blamed for Thyroid Issues


Recent studies have pointed out that increasing number of thyroid troubles are being faced by the vegetarians. Does the vegan diet has direct relation to thyroid related health issues or is it something else which has been triggering off thyroid problems? The leading British newspaper, Scotsman has been emphasizing that increasing number of scots are being diagnosed with some or other thyroid disease and majority of these are vegetarians. In the following article, let’s probe into the direct or indirect relation between vegan diet and thyroid disease.

Suggested link between diet and thyroid

Some figures which have been of concern and have been the reason for promoting interest and research in this field, go like this. The consumption of thyroid drugs in 2001 in Scotland was about 1.2 million, while the amount has increased to 2.2 million (NHS Scotland) by the year 2011. Again when noticing the expenditure on treating thyroid patients, where only two million pounds were being spend, in 2001, the figure soared to about 8 million pounds as per 2011 data. The correlation between increasing thyroid cases and eating behavior of the patient can be judged from the prescription cost analysis. While the consumption of thyroid drugs is on an increase, the analyses of such bills reveal that most of vegetarians are being hit by this disease.

Thyroid expert from UK, Lyn Mycott, mentioned in one interview that thyroid generally affects those who have deficit iron stores in their body; and yes vegans have this tendency. A diet full of veggies, lentils, cereals and milk products is not sufficient to satisfy body’s iron needs. Red meat in non-vegetarian diet is a rich source of iron for them, unlike the vegetarians who survive on plant based food products

Apart from iron, soy is another causative agent of thyroid, as directed by some researchers of the field. Almost every vegetarian individual has a tendency to consume high amounts of soybean or similar products to be able to satisfy body’s protein needs (especially weight trainers, gym goers, active infants, and even sports-person). This high amount of soy protein has also been suggested to have relation with thyroid disease.

Other supportive evidences

Like Dr. Lyn Mycott, Prof. Peter Taylor of Dundee University and Dr. Damion Dowling (New Medicine Group, London) also emphasized that lack of iron and high amount of soya proteins are causing thyroid problems in people.

Possible explanation to above mentioned numbers and figures

The soy proteins are available in form of soya oil for cooking, soya beans, soya flour, and soya sauce. The high protein content and exclusivity of such products has made them gain popularity in Scotland, especially when they are used in making processed foods like cakes, breads, burgers etc. Such food items are listed as low calorie and easy-on-digestion foods in menu of junk food corners and bakeries and thus lure many customers.

Apart from increasing popularity and use of soya products in Scotland, another black mark in diet-thyroid relation is the longevity of thyroid drugs or dependency on thyroid drugs.

In more than ninety per cent of cases, patients once diagnosed with either hyper or hypothyroidism are suggested to stay on medication for the same throughout life. This adds to the expenditure and prescription analysis figures for the disease.

Insight into the problem

Actually, iodine and iron both play a role as precursors for proper functioning of thyroid gland, which is further responsible for body’ metabolic functions. When either of these precursors are present in insufficient amount, the body’s thyroid chain gets affected. Similar is the case when high amounts of soya proteins are present in the body.

Soya protein has been linked with the ability to limit body’s ability of processing iodide and absorption of iron from ingested food. This delimiting effect of soy protein is found to be more profound in women.

In both the cases, malfunctioning of the thyroid gland results into improper metabolic functions showing as unexplained loss or gain in body weight.

The research in the above context is still on. No particular or definite statements could be made now as of weather really a vegetarian will or will not have thyroid problem. The risk  stays but some researchers have also been challenging the vegan-thyroid relation by quoting evidences which suggest vegetarian diet is far more healthier and nutritious than the non-vegetarian diet. They also mention that soya, which has been blamed for causing thyroid trouble, itself is a rich source of iron (comparable to beef).

They only emphasize that vegetarians need to be conscious to include items and ingredients which can help cover up the gap between the nutritious values of veg and non-veg food items.

To conclude, it can be said that no kind of food when consumed in apt quantity and balanced amount can cause harm. Though every individual vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian should ensure consuming balanced diet which would help offer their body a optimum amount of all required and essential nutrients in correct amounts.

Eat healthy, stay happy and stay healthy!

Author Bio: Jason Phillips shared this post. He is an aspiring writer and professional blogger. Presently, he writes on health topics specially related to thyroid. Though he is not a medico by profession, he always consults his readers to go to thyroid doctor first whenever they feel abnormal change in their weight.


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