Diet and Hashimoto's incidence: Too much meat... - Thyroid UK

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Diet and Hashimoto's incidence


Too much meat. more chance of Hashimoto's seems to be the gist of this new paper: I think several on here will say "well fancy that!"

Influence of Dietary Habits on Oxidative Stress Markers in Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

Rosaria Maddalena Ruggeri, Salvatore Giovinazzo, Maria Cristina Barbalace, Mariateresa Cristani, Angela Alibrandi, Teresa M. Vicchio, Giuseppe Giuffrida, Mohamed H. Aguennouz, Marco Malaguti, Cristina Angeloni, Francesco Trimarchi, Silvana Hrelia, Alfredo Campennì, and Salvatore Cannavò

Published Online:12 Nov


Background: There is a growing awareness that nutritional habits may influence risk of several inflammatory and immune-mediated disorders, including autoimmune diseases, through various mechanisms. The aim of the present study was to investigate dietary habits and their relationship with redox homeostasis in the setting of thyroid autoimmunity.

Materials and Methods: Two hundred subjects (173 females and 27 males; median age, 37 years) were enrolled. None were under any pharmacological treatment. Exclusion criteria were any infectious/inflammatory/autoimmune comorbidity, kidney failure, diabetes, and cancer. In each subject, serum thyrotropin (TSH), free thyroxine, antithyroid antibodies, and circulating oxidative stress markers were measured. A questionnaire on dietary habits, evaluating the intake frequencies of food groups and adherence to the Mediterranean diet, was submitted to each participant.

Results: Among the 200 recruited subjects, 81 (71 females and 10 males) were diagnosed with euthyroid Hashimoto's thyroiditis (HT); the remaining 119 (102 females and 17 males) served as controls. In questionnaires, HT subjects reported higher intake frequencies of animal foods (meat, p = 0.0001; fish, p = 0.0001; dairy products, p = 0.004) compared with controls, who reported higher intake frequencies of plant foods (legumes, p = 0.001; fruits and vegetables, p = 0.030; nuts, p = 0.0005). The number of subjects who preferentially consumed poultry instead of red/processed meat was lower in HT subjects than in controls (p = 0.0141). In logistic regression analysis, meat consumption was associated with increased odds ratio of developing thyroid autoimmunity, while the Mediterranean diet traits were protective. In HT subjects, serum advanced glycation end products (markers of oxidative stress) were significantly higher (p = 0.0001) than in controls, while the activity of glutathione peroxidase and thioredoxin reductase, as well as total plasma antioxidant activity, were lower (p = 0.020, p = 0.023, and p = 0.002, respectively), indicating a condition of oxidative stress. Stepwise regression models demonstrated a significant dependence of oxidative stress parameters on consumption of animal foods, mainly meat.

Conclusions: The present study suggests a protective effect of low intake of animal foods toward thyroid autoimmunity and a positive influence of such nutritional patterns on redox balance and potentially on oxidative stress-related disorders.

119 Replies

But we NEED red meat, Fish, dairy for vits and minerals......Moreso, when we have osteoporosis

Alanna012 in reply to Thyb

One of my biggest fears in the common 'ban culture' we're in, is red meat becoming so expensive due to people condemning the eating of it, and the popularity of plant based diets that it eventually becomes a gourmet food with the poor no longer able to afford it and big food companies coming out with laboratory meat instead. ( Sorry Diogenes I know you're not suggesting this)

geworgie3008 in reply to Thyb

We don't *need* any of those things. All the vits and minerals provided by meat and dairy are available in plant based sources.

It's just quicker to absorb them from meat and dairy and takes less meal planning.

helvellaAdministrator in reply to geworgie3008

Afraid there is no plant-based source of vitamin B12.

There have been numerous claims over the years but by far the majority have ended up at best identifying B12 analogs which cannot function as B12.

(Technically, B12 is made by bacteria. But not plants.)

That's the only one though and my understanding is that everyone should supplement B12 not just those avoiding meat & dairy.

I wasn't aware that everyone should supplement B12. It's only those with absorprtion problems, pernicious anaemia, plant only diets etc that actually need to supplement.

helvellaAdministrator in reply to StitchFairy

Agreed, StitchFairy.

General NHS advice mentions B12 under meat! No advice to supplement - though if you follow links you might eventually see some mention of supplementing.

Meat is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc and B vitamins. It's also one of the main sources of vitamin B12.

StitchFairy in reply to helvella

Unless you're a celeb of course. In which case, you need massive regular infusions!

Thyb in reply to helvella

Meat is necessary for many vitamins and minerals. Like most things in Life the best cuts of meats tend to be most expensive.E.g. Pork loin (yum), Organic grass fed lamb (yum), not sure whether the organic or 'grass fed' part are true. Rib eye steak, t bone steak, fillet steak, sirloin steak (all scrummy) to me.

British Chicken (not chlorinated of course).....

Halibut, cod loin, seabass (all yummy) and very nutricious full of vits and minerals.

Tinned 'skipjack' tuna chunks from responsibly sourced 'waters' is delicious with olive oil and avocado or with 'anything'...

For some time I have bought frozen veg:- spinach, sprouts, peas, carrots, broccoli/cauliflower, chunky mixed veg etc etc Because I have both heard and read so much about 'fresh or 'organic' veg being sprayed with 'rubbish pesticides etc plus that when you go to the Greengrocer or Supermarket we have no idea how long it has taken to come from the farm/transportation/sitting on shelves, hence, not really Fresh.

I guess only way to buy 'real fresh fruit and veg would be to pick it ourselves from a Farm or grow it ourselves....

A couple of 'Top Chefs' have said at least Frozen veg is frozen very soon after picking...

Frozen Chantennay carrots from Tesco or Marks and Spencer truly taste superb 'like fruit', better than any fresh carrots I have bought..

Sadly, todays vegetables and many fresh meats Are nothing like they were 30-50 years ago when veg from greengrocer was fresh, joints of meat didn't 'shrink' when cooked etc etc


Lislaw in reply to StitchFairy

vegetarians generally need B12 supplements as farm animals are given B12 supplements so the meat eaters get theirs second hand. The way we process food has changed we used to get B12 from the soil on the vegetables we eat but now everything is so clean we don’t get it anymore so we have to supplement.

StitchFairy in reply to Lislaw

Really? Farm animals get given B12 supplements? I never knew that!

And we used to get B12 from the soil? Where did you get this info from? I think maybe you're confusing B12 with something else. Selenium maybe?

helvellaAdministrator in reply to StitchFairy

This product is an oral liquid for horses! - and also contains selenium:

Foran Muscle Max 1L

Vitamin B12 4mg/litre 240μg/60mL

Veterinary suppliers have B12 for injection in vast quantities.

:-) 🐎🐎🐎

StitchFairy in reply to helvella

Oh, right, so the B12 we get from red meat is only because the cattle have been fed or injected with B12? I don't eat horse meat :)

helvellaAdministrator in reply to StitchFairy

Well, you don't think you eat horsemeat...

It is often suggested that animals which are living in a very open "traditional" state can get enough B12.

Vitamin B12 is not produced by animals or plants. It is solely bacteria-based. Fungi, animals and plants are incapable of producing B12 on their own and must obtain it from outside sources. B12 is synthesized by bacteria and is therefore found in areas of bacterial growth, namely dirt and soil. Humans have been getting their B12 from the dirt for hundreds of thousands of years by eating plants that still had bits of soil on them.

So no, Lislaw isn't confused. :)

Ok, I obviously need to read up on this again, it was a long time ago that I originally read about it. I thought the bacteria producing B12 was something that happens in our digestive systems.

Cooper27 in reply to StitchFairy

It's one of these vicious circle type things. Supposedly humans actually do produce B12, but it occurs in our hind gut, where we're no longer able to absorb it, and then it comes out as waste.

I once heard of a group of monks (?) who worked to prove we don't need animals at all in the food supply chain, and so they grew their own vegetables without using manure fertilisers, and were found to have sufficient levels of B12. When their growing processes were looked at closely, they found the monks (?) were using their own excrement as compost/fertiliser though, and were eating dirty vegetables down the line, and that was where their B12 was coming from.

I don't think it's true to say all animals are supplemented with B12 these days - it's necessary if you're going to feed them an inappropriate diet (aka if they don't have access to grass), or if you're going to give them antibiotics that kill off the B12 producing bacteria, but some cattle are supplemented with B12.

TSH110 in reply to helvella

I understood that Comfrey is but it may cause liver cancer

tattybogle in reply to TSH110

wow, is there anything comfrey is not good at ...... i was looking at getting some of that for the bottom of the garden cos it's excellent to make compost tea for plant food out of ( but it takes over unless you get the variety that stays where you put it)

Alanna012 in reply to tattybogle

I get loads of wild comfrey in the Garden (weed patch) It started with one pretty fairly innocuous looking it's everywhere. Dies by late summer though. Is it good for tea then?

tattybogle in reply to Alanna012

compost tea, as in 'tea' to feed plants. Cut it , and put in in a bucket with water, leave down bottom of garden for a week or so... preferably far down the garden .... stinks rotten . Don't know about human tea . probably not , helvella's answer to TSH110 sounds like its poisonous .

TSH110 in reply to tattybogle

You couldn’t possibly drink it is just too hideous for words! All I can say is plants have very strange tastes! They love it a d grow like stink to use a very appropriate phrase

TSH110 in reply to tattybogle

The less invasive Russian comfrey is Bocking14. Blocking is where the Quaker who introduced it to the U.K. did trials on it as part of the tremendous Henry Doubleday Foundation. I have their ancient book (60’s maybe ?) on compost which is absolutely amazing it gives all the results of their very fastidious trials of all sorts of composted materials. It is very fascinating.

helvellaAdministrator in reply to TSH110

That is why I wrote as I did "no plant-based source of vitamin B12". :-)

The odd plant might contain some true B12, but if it would poison you if you took enough to get your B12 intake, it really doesn't count as a source of B12, in my view.

Spinach grown with lots of cow manure can have some B12. But you would need to consume unfeasibly large amounts (several hundred grams) every day.

Wolffia globosa and nori are claimed to contain enough to have potential.

Preformed vitamin A is also rarely available in plants (though some do contain some).

TSH110 in reply to helvella

May be it will be deconcocted from it one day. It’s not advised to eat it but I believe some vegans did. Perhaps that is how they know it can cause liver cancer but I hope not.

There are many things we don't need, but that we both like and enjoy. For me, that means fresh bread with a variety of cheeses such as Brie and Stilton, dairy milk lattes, dairy milk butter on toast and potatoes, and weekly roasts of beef, lamb or pork, eaten again as cold meat later in the week. For me there are no enjoyable equivalents. Also, for those with food intolerances, many so-called healthy foods can be impossible to consume, so meat and dairy products may be the mainstay of their diet by default. My partner, who has non-autoimmune hypothyroidism, has many debilitating food intolerances, meaning that most fruits and veggies are out of the question, and only the occasional egg or white coffee can be tolerated. Without meat, which he eats at least twice a day, his diet would be severely compromised. I do not have such severe intolerances, but still have to avoid most fruits and some veggies, so my cheeses, meats and milk are not only enjoyable, but necessary. There are doubtless those who might benefit from a change of diet, but not all of us are able to do this. Also, the anticipation and enjoyment of food can be of the utmost importance to some. Dairy products and roast meats are, for me, non-negotiable. Just out of interest, neither my (non-autoimmune) partner nor I were diagnosed until our sixties, despite always following a traditional diet heavy in meat and dairy products.

Of course - but we're not talking about what you enjoy eating. The statement I made was in response to the idea that we *need* meat. What you enjoy eating is something very different from what you need to eat. I'm not sure though how the idea that roast meat being non-negotiable for you disproves that we don't need meat.

and of course, there will always be people that need different diets to sustain their own health but again, a single anecdote doesn't mean the statement "humans don't need meat to survive" is fatally flawed.

We are all incredibly privileged to live in a country where food is so abundant that we are free to choose what we eat at every meal.

We are all incredibly privileged to live in a country where research papers and information is free and easily accessible so we can make our own minds up as to what constitutes a healthy diet.

Thyb in reply to Partner20

Excellent! Love roasts, meats, dairy and deny myself zero.

A bit of what you fancy does you good (or a lot on occasion)...:-)

We don't get all amino acids from plant based sources. There was study about connection of degenerative brain diseases and red meat. They noticed that for example in MS disease a bit of red meat daily basis prevented MS. It wasn't a lot needed daily basis to fulfil the need of necessary amino acids but we can't make them from plant based sources.

Supplementing these essential amino acids of course is a detour but this as reminder that Plas nt based sources do not cover up for all important nutrients.

Thyb in reply to Justiina

You are spot on!! Perhaps, hydrolysed Collagen could help some folks get their protein :-)

helvellaAdministrator in reply to Thyb

If the amino acids of which collagen is composed are the ones needed, yes.

But the balance of amino acids in collagen appears to be somewhat skewed away from the overall balance of the rest of the body.

diogenes in reply to helvella

The essential amino acids are arginine , histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. These can't be made by the human biochemistry.

Thyb in reply to diogenes

The Only amino acid mentioned above which Great Lakes Collagen Hydrolysate Grass fed and pasture raised 'doesn't' contain is Tryptophan. ? Tryptophan is in TURKEY (nearly Xmas), :-) chocolate, oats, dried dates, milk, yoghurt, cottage cheese, red meat, eggs, fish, poultry, chickpeas, almonds, sunflower/pumpkin seeds, peanuts etc... :-)

Just mentioning this because approx 3 days a week I have very little appetite. Hence, a scoop of Collagen in tea or coffee (could be in water/juice/smoothie etc), on those days gives some protein/amino acids.


tattybogle in reply to Justiina

From my O level Food and Nutrition circa 1980's i seem to recall , that the 12? essential amino acids (which are found in meat) whilst not available in any single vegetarian food source, are available from the combination of a pulse and a wholegrain eaten in the same meal ... thus beans on wholemeal toast for example, is as complete nutritionally as meat.But presumably you'd have to eat much more to get the same quantity.

Of course i could have forgotten something in the last 40 years. But i thought i'd chuck it in to the conversation anyway.

Jenwillder in reply to Thyb

we actually do not need meat at all. That’s the last thing we need. nutrients come from plants, and that most certainly includes protein (where do you think cows get their protein?) and iron. And all the micronutrients and minerals. yes, meat eaters and non-meat eaters like should be supplementing with B12, as both are similarly likely to come up short on that one. also, populations with the highest consumption of cow milk have highest risk for osteoporosis. that is an association, not an explanation, but there’s really nothing less healthy than cow milk if you’re a human.

helvellaAdministrator in reply to Jenwillder

As I understand, cattle manufacture their own proteins.

They consume plants which contain proteins and amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) and other nitrogenous substances. But the majority of protein in cattle gut is produced by microbes. These proteins are later broken down into amino acids and absorbed. The cattle then assemble proteins as needed.

Thyb in reply to helvella

Spot on! Maybe, folks who don't like meat/foodstuff with high protein.

E.g. certain fish/halibut/cod should consider getting their protein 'amino acids' from Hydrolysed Collagen Powder *albeit*, perhaps not as usual source is either shellfish or bovine :-)

Wow, according to your theories, it's nothing short of a miracle that all of us here exist at all. If consuming meat and cow milk is so bad for us, how is it that humans are living longer and longer? I bet if you did thorough unbiased research into the diets of people living into their nineties and beyond (in the Western world), you would find the majority are not vegan or vegetarian.

A few places in the world are called “Blue Zones.” The term refers to geographic areas in which people have low rates of chronic disease and live longer than anywhere else. People who live in blue zones eat a 95% plant-based diet.

Lots of information comes up with a Google search for anyone who is interested in learning more.

Yes, I've have heard something like this before. But my comment specifically related to the western world where the majority are meat eaters, and yet we have plenty of centenariums plus :)

helvellaAdministrator in reply to susanmhall62

One of the Blue Zones is Ikaria, about which is claimed:

The diet is high in vegetables and beans and low in meat and sugar.


GOAT MILK: The team found that people on the island who live beyond age 90 drink goat's milk almost every week.

Which is not exactly doing without meat and dairy. Low is not the same as none.

Bearo in reply to StitchFairy

Increasing life expectancy has actually stalled in the western world and has reversed a little in recent years. I’m not saying there’s any connection with meat eating or vegetarian diets.

Hashhash in reply to Thyb

No. We don't. With a balanced whole food plant based diet we get all but two of the essential nutrients. These two are vitamin D and B12, none of which comes from animal sources. Vitamin D comes from sunshine and B12 comes from bacteria from the soil. Check out for more details. My autoimmunity greatly improved from a gluten free, no SOS (no added sugar oil, salt), whole food plant based way of eating. Now my TPO antibodies are close to normal and most of my symptoms are gone. Last year a functional medicine professional wanted to put me on the "paleo autoimmune protocol" and the autoimmune markers went up.

helvellaAdministrator in reply to Hashhash

There are several non-animal sources of vitamin D (D2 and D3).

Even if soil bacteria form B12, getting it from those bacteria into us is not readily achievable by eating plants that we can just go out and pick or buy at the shops.

Hashhash in reply to helvella

I'm supplementing B12 and vitamin D, and my levels of both are in the normal range with a 100% plant based diet. Even those who eat animals should take B12 supplements over the age of 65. From the transcript of the video:

"Starting at age 50, everyone––meat-eaters and vegans alike––should be taking B12 supplements or eating B12-fortified foods. But over age 65, 50 a day may not do it. Even 100 a day doesn’t seem sufficient. Researchers investigated three doses, and found that most didn’t normalize their MMA until after the 1,000 microgram dose. (MMA suppression is a measure of B12 sufficiency.) But they just tested 25, 100, and 1,000. Maybe 250 or 500 would do it? Researchers set out to find an adequate dose at that age, and it seems we need at least about 650 to 1,000 a day in most people, hence my 1,000-a-day recommendation after age 65."

Noelnoel in reply to Hashhash

That’s interesting that most of your symptoms are gone. Do you not take thyroid medication?

Hashhash in reply to Noelnoel

No, I don't take any meds because my thyroid hormone levels are normal. Only my TPO antibodies are higher than normal.

Noelnoel in reply to Hashhash

That’s amazing. Are you saying you have Hashimoto’s and without medication (of any sort?) you’re almost symptom-free? If so, what were your symptoms before and how long have you had it? Maybe I should pm you actually, as it might be considered rude that I’ve interrupted this thread

Hashhash in reply to Noelnoel

Feel free to pm me. But I think lots of people could learn from my experience.

I've been ignored by my GP for years so I spent a lot of time reading available research and based on that I started my own regime end of July this year to fix it.

People forget that hypothyroidism is a thyroid disease but Hashimoto is an autoimmune disease. To heal it, you need to get rid of the inflammation in your body and you can't do that with animal protein.

I've been symptomatic for at least 5 years, all the usual Hashimoto stuff, before I was diagnosed:

Gained a lot of weight even though I ate very little, and I couldn't lose weight, no matter how hard I tried.

Extreme cold sensitivity: I got hives even from the mildest cold breeze when I went outside.

Hair loss.Itchy skin.

Muscle pain and oedema.

Mild depression.

I cut out gluten from my diet a year ago which helped with some of my symptoms. But I still couldn't lose weight. I went to see a private endo and she recommended intermittent fasting (8 hours eating window and 16 hours fasting when you only drink water, plain black coffee or tea) . It helped me to lose a stone in about two months. But then the weight loss stopped after a while so I needed another change. So I went fully on a whole food plant based diet (no processed food) with no added salt, sugar and oil, following the instructions of the Daily Dozen App minus grains. I only eat quinoa, GF oats and buckwheat and I almost fully "de-floured" my diet. I don't eat any pasta, bread, pastries, wraps. I make my own quinoa flat bread or savoury zucchini bread if I feel I need to eat something bread-like. None of these contain any grain flour. I rarely use chickpea flour but that's ground beans, not grains.

I eat one brazil nut a day to top up selenium levels, I add dulse flakes to my soups for iodine and a handful of pistachios for melatonin. I add 1 Tbsp flax seed a day to my salad or porridge for Omega 3 and I take 200UI vitamin D a day and 250microgram B12 a day in supplements.

I do regular exercise, body weight, weights and cardio 5 x a week and try to walk about 3-4 km a day

My hives are nearly fully gone. I lost about another stone since July and I keep losing weight (less then one stone to go to reach optimal BMI), my hair is fuller, I sleep much better, my mood is better and so is my blood work (37.8

kIU/L, the normal level is under 34, so I'm very near to it) and I have lots of energy.

I hope this helps.

I started moving towards a vegetarian/vegan diet in March 2020 after watching multiple films about the China Study, plant based nutrition, ultra runners like Rich Roll, Fiona Oakes and Scott Jurek who eat plant based diets, as well as, factory farming. There is plenty of research to support a plant based diet for optimal health.

Runner Dan King age 60 just broke the age group record for the one mile run in 4 minutes and 50 seconds on a plant based diet.

You do however have to be fairly vigilant about eating across all food groups i.e. legumes, nuts, fruits & vegetables, flax seed, berries & whole grains to get all of the required nutrients particularly protein. I eat a lot more bean burritos with rice & avocado for protein.

I take Thorne B Complex #12, Thorne Vitamin D & Nordic Naturals Algae Omega 3 as it is somewhat challenging to get these nutrients from a plant based diet.

Interesting. These days we are so fortunate to be able to import food from all over the world, making it easier to get hold of the many different foods needed to support such a diet. Going back to my parents generation and beyond, this would have been impossible. My own grandmother died in her early forties from malnutrition. Granted that was in part due to poverty, but again, this is indicative of how much we take for granted now. We don't have to rely on the foods grown in our own local area, we can get almost any foodstuff we care to try, as long as we can afford it.

Noelnoel in reply to Hashhash

it helps tremendously even though I’m not yet ready to go plant-based, it’s always there in the back of my mind. At the moment I’m doing well, my thyroid hormones are very high in the range (metavive in part is responsible for that) and b12 and d3 are excellent. Folate and iron need work (started eating liver) but they’re not dire and my antibodies are sometimes out of range and other times within

So have you ever taken medication and can you pm me your endo’s details please, just for future reference as you never know when one is going to be needed and my current endo ...

I’m astonished at your achievement and wish you continued success in staying fit and healthy and long may your hair continue to thicken!

Cooper27 in reply to Hashhash

That is interesting, as on the flip side I followed through with the AIP diet, and my antibodies normalised on that. The AIP diet is only intended to be short term, and if markers/symptoms don't improve after 3-6 months, then the suggestion is that there are other issues going on that need to be addressed too (for example I still had gut issues, and then discovered gut candida). I'm no longer AIP, but my levels are all still managing to remain normal after just a few months on the diet 2 years ago, which is great :)

Noelnoel in reply to Cooper27

What’s the AIP diet and can I ask did you resolve your candida and if so, how?

Cooper27 in reply to Noelnoel

It's short for the autoimmune protocol.It doesn't resolve candida on its own, as you reply need to crowd out the candida with other supplements (I think oregano and saccromyces Boullardii were amongst the recommended supplements for me). You also need to reduce oxalate foods (although that's not as important as the supplements).

Here is a link to a small-scale clinical trial of the diet for those with hashimotos:

Noelnoel in reply to Cooper27

Thank you Cooper, I’ll take a look

Noelnoel in reply to Hashhash

You had symptoms and your antibodies were abnormal; what about your thyroid hormone levels, were they within normal range? I.e., T4, T3 etc

Thyb in reply to Hashhash

Time to research perhaps. Try hydrolysed collagen :-)

Not sure this makes sense to me. I was vegetarian from around 15 till 38 years old. The only animal products I ate for 10 years of that was dairy and eggs then I added occasional fish in hope diet would improve my wellbeing. I was finally diagnosed at 40 after over a decade of suspected thyroid issues dismissed by doctors.

But the paper doesn't say 'not eating meat will prevent thyroid issues'. It says eating less meat is a protective factor.

If you'd eaten a diet heavy in meat then perhaps you'd have had thyroid issues in your 20's instead of your 30's.

I think that trying to associate something so common as consuming meat with a relatively frequently occurring disease is bound to find some correlation. Shame they didn’t also review the consumption of bread or apples when they were at it😉

Absolutely! But one anecdote suggesting the opposite doesn't prove the paper fatally flawed either! 😉

Anecdote to you, real case to me😉

I wasn't suggesting it wasn't a real case. But it still doesn't disprove the paper.

Amy Myers, specialising in autoimmunity, ascribes her Graves to being vegetarian for very many years. Heavy consumption of grains and beans, etc.

I think trying to disprove the whole paper with individual anecdotes is disingenuous.

I'd be interested though to read the paper that finds a diet low in meat and high in grains and beans a cause of thyroid issues.

I was only giving my impression from personal experience, which does not seem to support this, rather than disproving anything. Your choice to find the findings of this study plausible is as valid as my doubting them.

Of course but just because I find it plausible doesn't mean I can't be skeptical too. 😉

TSH110 in reply to Sybilla14

I was a veggie since 23 but I had atropic autoimmune thyroiditis - most women in my maternal line (mostly meat eaters) get some sort of thyroid disorder so you are not completely what you eat, genetics must play a role in my case. Perhaps it would have accelerated the demise of my poor thyroid gland which is nothing but a useless crisp of a thing if I had eaten lots of meat & fish.

Sybilla14 in reply to TSH110

Yes I do agree that the triggers of autoimmune diseases will be different in people hence I don’t like these type of studies which try to narrow it down putting us all in one box. Also, even if there was a strong correlation between meat consumption and the incidence of Hashimoto then maybe this was because of less vegetable consumption or something else in their lifestyle?

There are a lot of doctors, mostly functional medicine but not only, who don’t support vegetarianism for health. Terry Wahls is another example of a long-standing vegetarian who fell ill with debilitating MS, recovered and attributes her health problems to the diet.

TSH110 in reply to Sybilla14

The other thing that occured to me is that thyroid disorder is less common in Africans but many tribes like Maasai eat animal product like their milk and blood porridge (they don’t kill the cattle for the blood they just bleed them - quite clever eh?) I don’t think vegetarianism is big in the continent it certainly isn’t in Kenya. It would be interesting to see if this theory held true on a more global scale. I think it’s so complex it must be multifaceted, with little things adding up.

Sybilla14 in reply to TSH110

Very interesting about the blood! I think the criticism of vegetarianism comes from the high consumption of grains, like wheat and inflammatory plants like soya or legumes. Alessio Fasano’s research implicates leaky gut caused by gluten, stimulating zonulin in the gut, in autoimmune diseases. Lectins in plants are believed to be toxic for most people and soya has its own issues. There’s also the issue of nutrition and the difficulty to obtain some nutrients from plant food like b12, iron and complex amino acids, for example.

It appears the ancient Egyptians, whose diet was based around wheat, were riddled with disease.

Does correlation prove causation?


This study appears to confuse frequency with quantity. I offer the suggestion of two possible extremes: One person has a few crumbs of crispy bacon as part of breakfast, a beef liver capsule for iron (and B12!), and a vestige of peperoni on a pizza. And rings variations on that theme every day resulting in a frequency of 21 a week. Another person has two 72 ounce steaks a week but no meat between them giving them a frequency of 2 a week.


We see a high percentage of Hashimoto’s patients on here who are vegetarian or vegan, often with low B12 / iron / ferritin

Would expect to see far more B12 deficiency and low iron/ferritin or anaemia in coming years, with current increasing vegan trend

Its unusual to meet a vegetarian or vegan who’s aware they will likely need to supplement missing nutrients and that should regularly retest at least B12, iron and ferritin at least annually

Whilst I agree that vegetarians/vegans (myself included) need to supplement, my experience is the majority of the ones I know are aware they need to and do supplement, especially B12. The issue is that people are not aware that there is a difference in quality and absorption of vitamins, so are often taking a poor supplement.

There was a small scale clinical trial for the autoimmune protocol diet, that found all participants improved whilst following it, and I think that study would contradict this one to an extent. The AIP diet is essentially a meat and veg only diet basically, so it would be unusual for participants to see their markers improve on it, if it were truly meat that caused their issues in the first instance.

What jumps out to me is that the common link between the AIP diet and the study you have shared, is the high prevalence of plants, which I think is the real thing to focus on.

We need to consider that those on vegan diets, til now, have largely been health conscious people following a whole food plant based diet, either for health or for cost reasons. Those who eat meat often cover a far wider spectrum. It will include health conscious meat eaters (who often limit red meat), but it's also more likely to include those who subsist on takeaways and heavily processed foods. I'd generally like to see these studies break the diet down further to make the diet profile clearer.

haggisplant in reply to Cooper27

Yes, what jumped out at me was “the Mediterranean diet” which has been implicated (positively) in many other disease factors for a variety of reasons.

It’s recommended for peri menopausal women, good blood sugar control, cholesterol control etc. Olive oil is a big part of that diet, fish and poultry over red processed meat.

Fish is higher in omega oils and also iodine.

Wide ranges of colourful vegetables providing lots of different antioxidants.

Does meat expose women to more hormones in meat and milk? My aitd was discovered after starting the pill; it’s possible I had something brewing but that significantly worsened it as I obviously then needed more t4/t3 that my body couldn’t make.

Where does iodine fit in? That’s a risk in vegan diets unsupplemented (I know less necessary if on thyroxine but still some is needed for homeostasis I was told by a researcher in the field.)

I have always gone through phases of craving meat / fish so I personally feel it’s important. I have hypermobilty too though so that might be a factor, body wanting protein.

The best diet for brain health through studies is a diet heavy in good grains, nuts, vegetables, berries, and a small amount of meat.

MIND diet, similar to tbe Mediterranean diet. (Can’t seem to link!)

Interestingly it’s everything what I like to eat left to my own devices!

RedAppleAdministrator in reply to haggisplant

haggisplant I don't know where you wanted to link to, but this is quite a good explanation of the MIND diet

I like that it allows wine in moderation :)

I've always let my cravings guide my diet too, mostly i'm a bit of a mediterranean type veggie , cos that's what i like eating, but occasionally i just really really want some roast lamb and so i have one, it just always seems to me that a craving like that is trying to tell me something i should listen too. The only ones i'm not guided by (but do quite often give in to) , are sugar cravings, as i think that's usually more of a drug addiction problem than a real need.

I also find that since i don't buy meat very often , when i do ,i don't mind spend the extra money to get an organic one from somewhere with quality livestock rearing practices.

I'm lucky where i live , there's really good local salt marsh reared lamb.

Cooper27 in reply to haggisplant

I'm not so sure about red meat being bad for us, there's good arguments from both sides on the subjects, however the gist of it is:

This study lumps red and processed meats together, which is very common, but they are two quite different things. Essentially it groups someone who may eat a clean diet with someone whose red meat typically comes between a processed bread roll with chips on the side or on top of a pizza.

There's something they call the healthy user bias. Red meat has been demonised for so long, that those who eat it despite being told it's bad for them, are also likely to have other bad habits on the side, like smoking or drinking too much.

It's anecdotal, but I followed an AIP diet with a fair amount of red meat, but nothing processed or cooked in PUFA oils, and my hormones regulated after 10 years of irregularities. I started following intuitive eating advocates just before lockdown though, who persuaded me it was ok to eat all the crisps, chocolate and comfort foods in this stressful time, so my processed food and alcohol intake went up, and exercise levels went down (red meat intake was roughly consistent). Just a few months of that, and my hormones went off-kilter again. For me, it's the other parts of the diet that have a greater influence, but if someone were to take a snapshot of my health right now, I feel like they'd point the blame finger at the meat intake...

helvellaAdministrator in reply to haggisplant

Fish is higher in omega oils and also iodine.

Does rather depend on the fish!

Food   Portion    Average iodine/portion (mcg)

Haddock     120g    390

Cod       120g    230

Plaice     130g    30

Salmon fillet    100g    14

Canned tuna    100g    12

Freshwater fish can have dramatically lower iodine content.

RedAppleAdministrator in reply to helvella

That is an interesting list. The no1 and 2 chip shop fish in the UK is Cod and Haddock. I hope battering and then deep frying them doesn't destroy the iodine :D

haggisplant in reply to RedApple

Yes, I did know that, too exhausted to remember which fish!! Yoghurt is a feature of the med diet I think?

I grew up eating very little meat and I ended up with Hashimoto's which I believe started when I was a teenager. Seems like meat is really being demonised these days. Perhaps it's not the meat itself that's the problem, but the quality of it? Use of antibiotics and type of feed? Many industrially-farmed animals are fed soy, for example. This may influence the proteins in the meat itself and cause it to be inflammatory, rather than meat inherently being inflammatory.

StitchFairy in reply to Zazbag

Red meat was not in abundance during my childhood either, and then as a student it was unaffordable. I also feel certain I had thyroid 'swings' starting in my teens, which I now understand would have been autoimmune. So no correlation in my personal experience.

TSH110 in reply to Zazbag

Perhaps it’s the issue of killing sentient beings for food that does not rest easily with some. It’s an industrial scale execution operation I cannot feel good about I’m afraid. These creatures often have a truly miserable life before ending up as food. It’s ok if you think of them as things to be exploited rather than beings, but I think it reveals the nub of many of our problems. Still there’s nothing like animal manure for the garden. It’s a massive dilemma to my mind. I wouldn’t kill an animal for the pot so I don’t eat them but it’s not at all straightforward in our crazy modern world where we are insulated against the reality of how we get cheap meat. I can’t imagine it is good for anyone. I’m ok with organic if they have to die for the table at least give them a decent life. I hear people say we can’t afford it but I would suggest we can’t not afford it. A modern conundrum if there ever was one.

Zazbag in reply to TSH110

Everyone knows industrial farming is horrible, but that's not the only way to produce meat and it shouldn't influence the robustness of scientific research.

Shockingly poor piece of work. Typical of nutrition studies generally. This is a quote from the paper:

"Overall, the nutritional pattern of HT subjects according to the survey was characterized by increased consumption of animal proteins, higher intake of saturated fats and refined sugars, and lower intake of fibers and antioxidants compared with healthy subjects."

So, could have been the sugar then? I'll stick to my mainly animal product (definitely no sugar) diet thank you.

Jenwillder in reply to loueldhen

correct. I’m only seeing the abstract, but this is clearly not a well-designed, high-quality study. nothing to be concerned about one way or the other. That’s evident them from the abstract. I wouldn’t get too bent out of shape over this report. and yes, nutrition studies are challenging, party because of the confounding factors.


Whatever else, it perpetuates the "blame the patient" attitude.

Might not actually say "You <patient> caused your own illness." - but if you tell someone that their diet is implicated, even if only as a part of the cause, you are implying that, had they acted otherwise, they might not have become ill.

Cant help feeling there might be a link between people who eat a lot of meat and a poorer diet more generally.

Whereas the mediterranean diet is light on meat and high in plant based foods. Maybe we should all just try to eat less meat and more plant based foods, rather than cutting meat out completely.

I visited my friend in canada last year and couldn’t believe the amount of meat they ate, along with processed food, and not a lot of fresh fruit and veg - the latter of which was really expensive compared to meats and pork in particular.

My pal been vegetarian for thyroid removed due to red headed ..there is a huge genetic link for hashimotos

TSH110 in reply to Mags2909

Really red hair and thyroid disorder are linked? That is interesting to me. My grandma who appears to have been a family thyroid disorder super spreader had tremendous red locks. They said she was mercurial because of her red hair....perhaps not as far fetched as one might think if it was also related to the thyroid disorder.

Mags2909 in reply to TSH110

Yes...I'm also family riddled with auto immune disorders😱😁...sister and father rheumatoid arthritis..mother chronic auto immune hepatitis...While tracing family tree a few women on my mother's side died of cirrhosis of liver...which was probably autoimmune...they were not drinkers ...So .. genetic pre disposition plays a big part...just depends if those genes get switched on...due to stress diet or environmental factors...

The medical clinic Paleomedicina in Hungary are curing many autoimmune diseases with their nutritional protocol based on meat and fat only I would be careful of the typical correlation=causation that so many studies use. They generally use food questionnaires and try to tease out common factors in both health and disease, which is flawed from the very beginning since people rarely remember what they ate only a couple of days ago - and also something called "healthy user bias" - essentially that the diet is secondary to a person already having healthy habits:

Humans are omnivores, we should be able to eat both animal sourced foods and plant foods - the former is digested with 99% efficiency, the latter can be affected by the individuals gut health, stress levels and metabolic state - and hence, gut microbiome.

Most can digest fruits and berries better than vegetables, the fiber and phytochemicals in most vegetables can cause problems for many people.

So the nutrient content of food is one thing, but whether the body can digest and assimilate those nutrients is another. This is probably why most traditional food preparation techniques throughout the world incorporate some type of fermentation (sauerkraut, sourdough bread), soaking (nuts, legumes), sprouting (grains) and/or Nixtamalization etc to pre-digest plant foods and grains which are harder for the human gut to digest.

The entire paper can be read here :

When first diagnosed with hashimotoes I was almost meat free. Maybe once a week as my budget didn’t allow more unless I found a knockdown bargain , plus I’ve never really enjoyed it. I have to fancy it and that’s rare. I have always enjoyed cheese and ate that regularly, still do though have been keto for last five yrs and feel better for it. Maybe as it’s gf but it works for me.

TSH110 in reply to DeeD123

I always loathed meat but was made to eat it because it was “good for you” I much preferred veg and cheese, and was allowed to eat less meat than the others. My teeth were much superior to my siblings and I was taller (not by today’s standards but in my own time I was regarded as a giant but I never grew after 12) too overtaking my two elder sisters at just 3 years old. As soon as I could I abandoned meat eating and I have never once fancied eating it again. I don’t miss it at all. Bar the autoimmune hell I have endured I am pretty healthy otherwise. I found going gf very beneficial. I don’t think I could face eating meat but I have the luxury of choice in the matter.

Looks like I've stirred up a hornet's nest. The trouble with papers like this is that they assume everyone will respond the same way to a diet change. There would have to be a large trial well designed to convince me that this is a substantial suggestion. However even if there are small improvements, that will be useful. I don't want to get too deep into the murky waters of nutrition but this seemed at least open to discussion and possibly better more focussed studies. Just because one is suspicious doesn't always make suspicion justified.

helvellaAdministrator in reply to diogenes

I think it can be very useful to have a discussion about papers like this.

While there has been much disagreement, it has been pretty civil. :-)

TSH110 in reply to helvella

It’s been fascinating to read all the comments and see how passionate people are about what they eat. Variety is the spice of life as they say 🤣🤣🤣

Cooper27 in reply to diogenes

Any debate around the subject of nutrition (especially along the meat/vegan lines) always tends to go like this :D the biggest issue is that we are all very different, and have different triggers and/or lifestyle needs. Testament to why there is such conflicting research and advice out there!

Diogenes what to you make of the fact that 81 of the 200 participants Euthyroid and positive for Hashimotos?

helvellaAdministrator in reply to WildDeer

I couldn't work out how they selected the 200 people in the first place!

But for over 40% of any population to be diagnosed with euthyroid Hashimoto's seems extraordinary.

(Bear in mind, they had already excluded from the study anyone already diagnosed with a thyroid issue. So this is 40% of those who were left.)

tattybogle in reply to helvella

I was astonished by that % too... i wondered if they were only selecting from people with sparse eyebrows sitting down and looking tired outside the supermarket ?

TSH110 in reply to tattybogle

Lol I was one of those once walking fifty yards felt like a marathon ....I did think gosh that’s a lot of people with a thyroid problem but didn’t dwell on it.

Anecdotally - I have been the healthiest since following a plant based diet - approximately 18months - my levels are all stable, my dose has remained at 100mcg Levo +20mcg Liothryonine. I feel the "closest to normal" since diagnoses, the excess weight has shed (I was 74kg and am now once again my "normal weight" of 60kg) - I do take a daily Multivit and once or twice a week a Bcomplex. I think that for me system was struggling without adding "modern farming methods" into the mix e.g. antibiotics, growth boosters and (dairy cow) hormones.....I reduced processed food in general and focus largely on fresh, vegetable based meals, limited soy intake, a focus on Chickpeas, beans etc, almond/ oat milk (never soy) But this is just anecdotal and my personal health gain....

I started moving towards a plant based diet in March 2020 and have noticed similar results inc with lab work. Hemoglobin A1c dropped from 5.7% to 5.4% and I'm no longer in the pre-diabetes range.

It took me a while to work the bugs out of the vegan/vegetarian diet i.e. eating adequate protein and supplementing with B12. I still use eggs for baking but other than that and the occasional tunafish sandwich or pizza I'm vegetarian.

That would be entirely consistent with my experience. Hashimoto's showed up after 10 years on a diet that was largely meat, dairy and vegetables with few carbs, a version of Keto or Atkins.

Yet another epidemiological study based on "...questionnaire on dietary habits..." confusing corelation with causation nad jumping to conclusion.

No proof of causality and usual poor science so common in studies of nutrition.

Give me evidence based, randomised, double blind proper science and I will start getting interested.

Everything else is no better than "expert opinion".

Cattle are routinely injected with antibiotics. Feedstuff can easily be contaminate with pesticides, herbicides and although, as far as I am aware, hormone injections to promote growth and muscle production are banned in the UK, The US allows them and no doubt other countries we import meat from. Most of us have no idea where our food comes from but we should because all the rubbish put into animals eventually gets into us.

helvellaAdministrator in reply to Ruane

I believe that routine antibiotic injection of cattle is not allowed in the UK. Of course, that does depend on the selected meaning of "routine" but I don't think that cattle are all injected with antibiotics - only when needed. I think there is a minimum required period between dosing and slaughter.

The EU, hence for a little while longer, the UK, doesn't allow importation of hormone injected beef.

I know where a lot of my food comes from. Most meat from within about fifteen miles. Turkey about six miles. Bread I make from flour ground about 18 miles away using wheat grown somewhat further away (up to 80 miles) - an organic crop of Paragon wheat. Many of my potatoes are grown close enough that I drive past the fields. I can see a dairy which makes some of our cheese almost without going outside!

Yes, it could be far, far better. And it depends hugely on where you are and what effort and money you put in.

TSH110 in reply to helvella

R4 farming today this morning said our farmers have reduced antibiotic use by 50% since 2017 we are the fifth lowest users in Europe and U.K. farmers are finding getting to the bottom of why antibiotics are needed and addressing the root causes has led to more profitable farming.

I grow all my own spuds - tried Andean types this year - very successful 😋. I never buy an onion and the sprouts are looking promising.

This is a really poor paper, one that finds associations through self-reporting by participants, a notoriously unreliable reasearch method. No causative correlation was found, and none could be given the methodology employed.

Humans evolved to eat meat and fish - the fattier, the better - with occasional seasonal sources of sugar and starch, e.g. wild honey, the very low sugar precursors of the fruits we eat now, and starch from foraged roots during times of shortage.

There are obvious ethical and welfare problems with industrial scale animal farming, but that is not an argument for not eating meat - rather, it's an argument for sourcing high-welfare meat if you can afford to do so. Advocates of plant-based diets overlook evolved human physiology - unlike gorillas, for instance, we are not hind-gut digesters - and the fact that soil loss is the Number Two global ecological crisis. Without animal farming, and especially grazing by large numbers of ruminants, we cannot replace soil.

This is not cause and effect. It concludes saying "it suggests". This is not s study that proves anything. Especially when you have people reporting what they supposedly ate. IMO this "study" is useless. Sorry, but not scientific.

The trouble with all these studies is deciding on "cause and effect". Which comes first, chicken or egg? Nutrition is a particular place for such dilemmas being interpreted one way when the opposite is equally possible. Peoples' lifestyle can often upset meaningful results from these studies - that is, some may be careful about life and food, whereas others not so careful. Thus it can be health implications arising from these attitudes that can outweigh other findings. Like the interest this has caused - it's like a viral outbreak. The vaccine is of course large pinches of salt!

Most nutritional research isn't worth looking at as it's based on food questionnaires which are notoriously inadequate as people forget what they've eaten or make it up. I can't get the full access to see their questionnaire and criteria for the dietary groups, Mediteranean etc., which would be interesting.

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