Beware of Millet

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist June 26, 2010

Gluten allergies are clearly on the increase in our modern society.   It seems like practically every other person I know these days has some sort of digestive issue that avoiding gluten would probably improve.

At the top of the list of gluten containing foods is wheat, the indisputable, primary staple of the Western diet and the very foundation of the hopelessly misguided USDA Food Pyramid.   Given how important bread and other wheat based carbohydrates are to our society’s basic food requirements, it’s no wonder that folks seek a quick and easy substitute for wheat bread and wheat based snacks when a gluten allergy or celiac disease has been diagnosed.

Millet:  An Ancient Whole Grain

Enter millet.   This ancient grain was cultivated in East Asia as far back as 10,000 years ago, according to archaeologists.  Surprisingly, cultivation of millet in prehistoric times was more prevalent than even rice, particularly in what is now China and the Korean peninsula.

Millet’s resistance to drought is perhaps the reason for its popularity in ancient times and its spread to Europe by 5000 B.C.
Despite the 5000 year difference in adapting this whole grain as a staple food, millet porridge is considered a traditional food in Russia as well as China!    Use of millet is also widespread in Africa, known for its drought prone climate.

Millet Bread:  A Logical Substitute for Wheat

The protein structure of millet is quite similar to wheat.   The one glaring exception is that millet is a non gluten grain.   Wheat contains copious amounts of this hard to digest plant protein.

When millet flour is used for baking bread, the resulting loaf is light, white, and quite similar in texture to wheat bread.   As a result, people who wish to avoid gluten tend to immediately gravitate to millet bread as the most logical and palatable substitute.

Millet bread is extremely popular in healthfood stores.   Sami’s Bakery and Deland Bakery are two local bakeries that sell an absolute ton of millet bread to these stores around my local metro area.   I recently corresponded with a person up the East Coast of the USA who was consuming a lot of the millet/flax chips from Sami’s Bakery as an alternative to wheat based snacks and had no idea of the potential health risks from consuming so much millet.

It was this discussion that led me to write this blog and warn folks about the dangers of consuming too much millet!

Beware of Millet – A Potent Goitrogen

While millet may not contain gluten, it does contain goitrogens.  Goitrogens are those substances in food that suppress thyroid activity and can lead to goiter, an enlargement of this very important gland which resides in the throat.  Low iodine intake can also lead to goiter.

Hypothyroidism is a serious and sometimes debilitating condition that accompanies a weak or enlarged thyroid such as what occurs with goiter. Depression, difficulty losing weight, loss of hair, cold hands/feet, and fatigue are common hypothyroid symptoms.  By some estimates, hypothyroidism is at epidemic proportions in Western society.

While the goitrogens in foods that contain them are usually reduced by cooking (such as cruciferous vegetables), cooking actually increases the goitrogenic effect of millet!  Therefore, when folks begin eating large amounts of millet bread with a wholesale switch over from wheat, the goitrogenic effects of this simple dietary change can be profound.

Eat Millet in Moderation

Protect your thyroid at all costs!  It is a real challenge to unwind the effects of hypothyroidism once this vital gland is weakened or enlarged.  Don’t take any chances with your thyroid health by consuming large amounts of millet bread or millet based snacks.  If gluten and/or wheat is a problem, then simply reduce bread consumption or use another grain that is both non gluten containing and non goitrogenic such as rice or oats.  Occasional millet bread consumption is fine if your thyroid is healthy – just don’t overdo!

Given how difficult it is in modern society to maintain thyroid and overall glandular health, taking a chance by eating a lot of millet bread is a risky proposition indeed.  Traditional peoples did not have the constant stresses and strains on their glands like modern people do with the pollution of our food, water, air and overall environment.  Therefore, we must be overprotective of our glandular health and avoid regular consumption of foods that might impair it in any way.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Photo Credits

 

Comments (144)

  1. Pingback: About Millet porridge - IndusLadies

  2. Pingback: Is Millet Paleo? | The Paleo Diet Food List

  3. Hi Sarah, TY for this information. I recently learned that I am allergic to the entire wheat plant (not just a sensitivity to its gluten part) and now cannot have anything that contains wheat at all. (Do you know how many, condiments, sauces, drinks and other stuff are made with wheat in them??? Most everything!) It’s so frustrating. I thought I’d simply make an easy “switch” to millet… but now have second thoughts on that idea. I’ll certainly research some more– Thanks again!

    Reply
    • Dina I have a simaler issue with wheat but I have switched to spelt and have had not problems. Also I would look into the blood type diet. I follow it and have had great results in my health. I am B blood type and Millet is proven through the studies of this diet by a MD that millet is a highly benacicial grain for Bs. I am curiouse to know the blood type of the person sighted in this post.

      Reply
    • Dina, please be careful about trying spelt! Do research and speak with your doctor. Here is an article that has a lot of information: http://www.allergy-details.com/gluten-free-diet/spelt-safe-wheat-free-or-gluten-free-diet/

      My son is highly wheat allergic and I am wheat intolerant, though not tested for celiac. Neither my son nor I can have spelt. If your doctor says you can try spelt, please do so with another person present who knows what to do if you have a reaction. Allergies can be life-threatening.

      Reply
  4. Sourdough is one great solution to the gluten problem. The culture eats all of the gluten in wheat.

    I have always been a big fan of sourdough bread and now for the first time I am about to bake my own, because I have discovered a very simple way to make it. Kefir – water or milk kefir. No need to maintain a sourdough starter. The kefir which I always have growing in my kitchen anyway, because of its incredible health benefits is loaded with many different probiotic bacteria & yeast cultures, and it acts as the starter. I mixed water kefir with flour yesterday morning and by evening I had a bubbling mass of dough. I let it go another 16 hours to make it more sour and to be sure all gluten was gone. Now ready to bake. I used 80% whole wheat and 20% millet flour. I made a wet dough initially and added much of the millet flour this morning to get the right moisture content. I made it wet initially so that it would culture more quickly.

    Reply
  5. Millet contains high amounts of Vitamin B17,this Vitamin is actually on the controlled substance list in America,along with the chemicals that produce lab quality cocaine,meth,etc……While I agree with the limitations of access to the chemicals that help produce harmful drugs for society….Vitamin B-17 ?
    It is proven B-17 is a naturally occurring vitamin that the human body needs to be healthy,it is purposely removed by the FDA,why ? Idyuno …..As I research ,I have yet to find any valid reasons for it as of this date.
    Yes B-17 is proven to keep the body from harmful cancer effects,hence when the body is determining it is not getting the vitamin and mineral needs it requires,it goes into a natural shutdown process,of which is cancer .Cancer is simply to the bodies cells and the degenerative process of eliminating the body from planet earth,because it is not getting treated the way it should be in nature.
    Nature doesn’t care about it,nor does it have any sympathy for it….
    As far as any Thyroid issues developing,,,?

    I’ll take my chances OK.
    5000 years of history of generations of life, proves a little more to us than one vague ,unproven study of the recent age.

    Lastly,check out the rise in Cancer in America,since the removal of Millet as the flour of choice in America in 1977……

    That’s not a study its statistical proof….
    Any questions ?

    If you develop thyroid issues,your still not treating your body the way you should.

    Simple activity,rest,proper sleep with a varied healthy choice in the foods you eat.This is the key to a longer,healthier life,.It’ll never make you live till 200 years old,but while your here ,you should enjoy less of a nuisance from your body as Socrates quotes in the Symposium.

    Reply
    • “vitamin” B17 is not proven to protect from cancer or cure it. It isn’t even a vitamin, but calling it one is just an attempt at hiding what it really is.
      The reason it is banned is because it can be easily processed to produce cyanide. It is also toxic to humans and will produce cyanide in the body after ingestion.

      Apparently you didn’t go very far in your research.

      Reply
  6. I think the only “valid” study is the first listed…that being said, it concludes, “that in areas of iodine deficiency in which millet is a major component of the diet, its ingestion may contribute to the genesis of endemic goiter.” Iodine deficiency if very rarely a problem in western countries. As someone else stated, this study is from 1989…very old.

    I think it’s too bad that so many people take what others post in blogs and personal websites as truth. You should always do your own research.

    Reply
  7. Thanks for the information on millet. Any suggestion on diet for people with diabetes and hypothyroidism? Since wheat has gluten and millet has goitrogen, is rice the only healthy option for people with diabetes and hypothyroidism?

    Reply
  8. Thank you so much for the information about millet. Just found
    Sami’s millet sourdough bread, but I will limit myself to 2 slices per week for French toast on Sunday. (Also watching blood sugar levels.)

    Reply
  9. Actually Sarah, oats are not gluten free and should not be consumed by Coeliacs.
    I think we are all individual and too much of any food is bad for us, people have even died from consuming too much water.
    I follow the D’Adamo Genotype diet for Explorer individualised through SWAMI which suits me to a tee. I have a focus on maintaining an optimal PH balance towards slight alkalinity as despite eating a “healthy” diet I was highly acidic with symptoms of joint aches and pains.
    We need to start listening to our bodies as they will give us signs at to what is wrong, sadly all the food guidelines are horribly wrong and it grieves me to see clients with Diabetes following a low fat, high carbohydrate diet with very poor results.

    Reply
    • Actually Melanie, non contaminated oats ARE gluten free. Oats do not contain gluten, and are not even related to grains that do contain gluten.

      Reply
  10. Well, bread in general is to be ditched as a staple food. But occasional millet based foods, why not ? Like everything in nutrition, the dose makes the poison and looking into minutia will drive you crazy with unfounded worries. Unless you know yourself some specific allergies to this or that, I see no reason to avoid millet at all cost. Gluten bearing grains are another matter. Gluten is known to be very problematic even at small doses and is not worth the deal (as much as I liked my french baguettes …).

    Reply
  11. Tracy Timmerman Callow via Facebook February 4, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Just like anything… moderation. I’m always surprised how people follow the latest food fad and eat said food daily because it’s reportedly “good for them.” It’s the same with anything. Thanks for this info!

    Reply
  12. Yelena Zakharova via Facebook February 3, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this important information, Sarah! Ate some millet as a child growing up in Soviet Union, and did have goiter when came to live in the US, but I think my thyroid was affected by lots of stress- do take good care of it! So grateful for your page!!!

    Reply
  13. Laila LisaMarie Prescott via Facebook February 3, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    I only bought it once after reading that it promoted lactation – relieved it didn’t become popular in my kitchen!

    Reply
  14. Simple solution, when you make millet bread add a tsp of KELP powder to your bread.
    It doesn’t affect the taste or rising ability of the dough but adds enough iodine to the diet to help counteract the goitrogens effect on the thyroid.

    Reply
  15. Thank you so much for this information! My daughters and I have been gluten free due to auto immune disorders. We have struggled finding a bread we enjoy and pretty much gave up until we found the Deland bread last week. This article was sooooo important for me seeing that I suffer from Hashimoto and was just adjusted again with my meds in hopes of shrinking a nodule which has started to grow quicker recently. Having this knowledge will hopefully give me the best chance to avoid surgery. I can’t imagine not having known this until 2 months down the road for my next check up! I really can’t thank you enough for this life changing information!!!! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!!
    Gina

    Reply
  16. Goitrogens are found in a number of foods but in low levels. The levels may be higher in millet but the other health benefits of all of these foods are such that reducing or even cutting them out your diet can easily saddle you with a lot of other health problems. Well balanced diets even out the poor health effects of any food. Unless you have a serious problem with your thyroid do not take the article too seriously foods containing iodine will level out the goitregens just as the goitregens will level out the of too high an iodine diet. If you cut out all foods that have unhealthy effects then death by starvation will no doubt result. Such a death is not healthy.

    Reply
  17. In South Karnataka which is a part of southern India(300kms radius around bangalore) has been consuming Finger Millet as their Staple Food for thousand and thousand of years. They eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I do not see any Goitrogen effect. Anyone who consumes Finger Millet has the least health problem in this region. Please do not get panicked by this. Some time experience and history is better than research. Some thing missing in the research which cannot justify this Goitrogen effect in millet in this region

    Reply
  18. Pingback: millet chili (vegan and gluten free) | A Simple Life

  19. For many people dairy and animal products are more problematic than grains. Most healthy cultures do not eat a lot meat , but grains, beans etc.And is some even no dairy at all.

    Reply
  20. Important note. Bird seed is often Millet. Birds aren’t all getting Goiter or Health thyroid related problems are they? The rats are fed exclusively millet 95%. This can create Nutrient Deficiencies. These Deficiencies could cause problems for health. For example with many people a deficiency of Fat Soluble vitamins get many health issues. That doesn’t mean some toxic substance in those people’s diet is causing problems, rather the lack of a necessary nutrient. Lack of vitamin A can cause thyroid problems and 100 grams of millet contains 0% daily recommended intake of A, or E fat soluble vitamins..HOWEVER… the fact that unlike other grains, millet contains vitamin B -17, well known to cure cancer, is a strong motivation for a smear campaign of stupid lab tests to scare people away from millet. ( FACT: at least a dozen cancer cures have been suppressed as it’s a huge money making industry) Just eat a balanced diet including fat soluble vitamins (cold fermented cod liver oil) and I believe millet isn’t a problem. PS it seems grey colored millet is the worst according to the lab tests for anti thyroid affects, on the extremely restricted lab diet. I might be wrong but this is my current belief unless I learn more to change my mind. Ps thanks to the writer of this article as all facts should be researched and because of this article I’ve been doing some interesting research.

    Reply
  21. Thanks for the info. My research show almost all the tons of research papers about millet being bad for the Thyroid are probably only tested with Pearl Millet. Just 1 type out of at least 14 types of Millet!! Are all varieties of beans the same? Of course not! Why would all millets be the same? The anti-thyroid chemicals in the Pearl Millet are the Flavanoids which is from the Latin word Flavus meaning yellow. Pearl Millet is Yellow!! Why don’t you buy a healthy red millet such as Finger Millet, which has more calcium than milk (and any other food that I’m aware of), and is much healthier than Pearl Millet. Buy some 15% Lugols Iodine from Austrailia, (That strength was banned in America by corrupt officials on grounds that it could be used in a Meth lab to make drugs, Yeah right, as if that’s what people buy it for and a stick could be used to kill someone why don’t you ban sticks.) Supplement your Iodine and your good to go. Wash and drain millet or any grain before using as they do in Asia, you’ll drain colored water a few times till it stops coloring so easy, then cook or use. If you don’t feel safe, fine, do a grain free diet and don’t look back. It’s no big deal. A plate full of veggies and meat will fill you up and eat fruit, eggs, and milk or yogurt as well. You won’t even miss grains. Good luck.

    Reply
  22. How discouraging! I just switched to millet to offer a hearty side dish to my always-hungry husband and growing boys. For those of us trying to avoid inflammation, all grains (including rice) are out. Some people are saying now that oats are extremely toxic and should be completely avoided – read Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel. Heavy sigh.

    Reply
  23. I have experienced severe pains after taking millet porridge for three consecutive days because my friend had suggezsted that it helps to supress ulcers. How after three days it turned a nightmare. Severe pains in the upper part of the abdomen like burning fire! A Ugandan lady told me that millet porridge is not good for people with ulcers or hypergastric. May be thos prepraring the millet flour mix with othe substances to make more money at the expense of our health. That the challeneg of urbanisation even in Africa, my continent.

    Reply
    • I ate millet porridge one time and threw it all up and felt extremely ill. Plus it tastes horrid. I don’t throw up as a rule, only when I tried millet, and then gin one time, and sherry on another occasion, in my lifetime… I am in my late fifties.

      Reply
  24. I’m sure your heart was in the right place but, you need to provide references. I work in research. This is the first I’ve heard of millet causing health issues. I’ve searched the web, even called a good friend who has a PhD in Health science and Nutrition. Everyone else talks about the health benefits. And My PhD Friend said Millet is a “Light” goitrogen, which matches what I’ve read online. You need to make sure the places you are finding information are valuable. While your intentions may have been good, there are people who have read this and might stop eating millet when it is actually good for them.

    Reply
  25. Thanks for the article, Sarah. I’m wondering if the consumption of high iodine foods such as kelp, seaweed, etc. might help to counter the effects of goitrogenic foods?

    Reply
    • Before you remove Millet from your diet, do your own research. This is the first I’ve heard of millet causing health issues. I’ve searched the web, even called a good friend who has a PhD in Health science and Nutrition. Everyone else talks about the health benefits. And My PhD Friend said Millet is a “Light” goitrogen, which matches what I’ve read online. I’m not sure Sara made sure the places you are finding information are valuable.

      Reply
    • On iodine and goitrogens. Get -adequate- iodine but don’t overdo it, because consuming too much iodine can also cause thyroid problems.

      Reply
  26. Pingback: Comparing Gluten Free Flours - HealthNut Nation

  27. My 2.5 yr old son is allergic to wheat and intolerant to gluten and oats. We gave him a Millet flour sandwich and an hour later he broke out into hives. It was a strange reaction since he gets rashes or severe itching (eczema) when he eats (or has eaten) foods he is allergic or intolerant to.

    Reply
  28. Hi Sarah,

    Thanks for the extra info on millet, but your mention of oats as gluten free is not correct, because being some one who suffers from gluten allergy, oats is also a problem for me. But you can buy special gluten free oats on the market or shops, though the cost is sky high. I love oats very much, but I have had to stop eating it because of it’s effect on my digestive organs, and it’s the same as wheat. Right now my diet consists mainly of rice; rice bread, rice cereal, just riceeeee! I can’t imagine adding more rice to my diet. Any other ideas? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Oats are gluten free if you buy those that are not contaminated by wheat. Just because you have issues with oats does not mean they are not gluten free, it just means you have an issue with oats.

      Reply
    • Before you remove Millet from your diet, do your own research. This is the first I’ve heard of millet causing health issues. I’ve searched the web, even called a good friend who has a PhD in Health science and Nutrition. Everyone else talks about the health benefits. And My PhD Friend said Millet is a “Light” goitrogen, which matches what I’ve read online. I’m not sure Sara made sure the places you are finding information are valuable.

      Reply
      • I’ve never researched Millet, but my mother-in-law (old-school Farm-girl and 1/2 Cherokee) always told me that if you had nothing else to eat you could survive on millet because it’s got every nutrient a body needs. I’m going to research more on this. thanks for your reply.

        Reply
  29. Pingback: Beware of Millet

  30. Laura Cortes via Facebook October 17, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Thanks for the info I do eat Grain free and have been on meds for 20 years for hypothyroid..About 6 mon ago I stared using coconut oil and I have seen improvement my doc lowered my meds I was happy..learning more very day about it thanks to sites like your’s

    Reply
  31. Becky Sher via Facebook October 17, 2012 at 8:22 am

    According to people’s experience in the Hashimoto’s 411 group, you can try the goitrogenic food and see which one bothers you. It may not affect you. Everyone is different. Plus if you cook it or ferment it, it destroys most of the goitrogenic substance, except millet and soy. Dr. K also mentioned that it should not cause problem except if you a lot of it.

    Reply
  32. Firstly, I really appreciate your WAPF videos. I bought ‘Nourishing Traditions’ recently and the videos are a big help. Have a question though – a lot of the focus is on hypothyroidism, which is apparently more widespread, but how about HYPERthyroidism (which my mom has)? Does eating goitrogenic foods like bok choy and broccoli actually help in this case? Trying to find some answers. If anyone knows, please share. Thanks!

    Reply
  33. Becky Sher via Facebook October 17, 2012 at 12:36 am

    Other goitrogenic foods:
    Cassava and Cabbage both due to the foods containing thiocyanate[6]
    Soybeans (and soybean products such as tofu, soybean oil, soy flour, soy lecithin)
    Pine nuts
    Peanuts
    Millet
    Strawberries
    Pears
    Peaches
    Spinach
    Bamboo shoots
    Sweet Potatoes
    Vegetables in the genus Brassica [7]
    Bok choy
    Broccoli
    Broccolini (Asparations)
    Brussels sprouts
    Cabbage
    Canola
    Cauliflower
    Chinese cabbage
    Choy sum
    Collard greens
    Horseradish
    Kai-lan (Chinese broccoli)
    Kale
    Kohlrabi
    Mizuna
    Mustard greens
    Radishes
    Rapeseed (yu choy)
    Rapini
    Rutabagas
    Tatsoi
    Turnips

    Reply
  34. Question: Are there any other gluten-free grains that would work better for the occasional treat? (Spelt is on my list of things to avoid.)

    Reply
  35. hypothyroid is also usually in direct correlation with Adrenal fatigue/exhaustion. Building up the adrenal glands usually balances out the hypothyroid as well! Adrenal support supplements are great! Example…when youre in overloaded stress, the adrenals pump out the sympathetic hormones, which are going to suppress and shut down the thyroid, and then people tend to take care of the thyroid when the adrenals are usually the hidden culprit. It makes complete sense with food too, because different foods can send your body into this sympathetic overstimulation of the adrenals when you have allergies, not to mention when you eat foods that are inflammatory. Just thought I’d share! I literally just learned all of this in school the past week in patient management :)

    Reply
  36. Good to know, I have autoimmune hypothyroidism, wheat allergy, and gluten intolerance that hasn’t progressed to full blown Celiac because I caught it soon enough. I eat a wide variety of replacement grains in small doses, but millet shows up in a lot of places. Considering I also eat bok choy sometimes (I LOVE it), a known thyroid suppressing veggie, I should probably be extra careful with millet.

    Reply
    • My 8 month old Granddaughter has ‘leaky gut’, which I never heard of until she got diagnosed. I’ve learned so much about it, and you’re right, there is definitely a difference between the two.

      Reply
  37. Annie Atkin Rasmussen via Facebook October 16, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Oooh, thanks for the heads up! You know, I would really love a break down comparison between various grains and grain alternatives. I am (at this moment!) making soaked spelt muffins for my non-grain-sensitive family to eat tomorrow, but I have no clue as to whether they are a better choice than soaked wheat.

    Reply
  38. Kathryn Zochert Berg via Facebook October 16, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Good to know. I don’t use it much….but I will cut back. I have learned better choices since but have been a bit lazy in making the switch.

    Reply
  39. Hi Sarah, I just tried millet for the first time and felt that something was not feeling right. I have a gluten sensitivity, and must eat gluten free, but after eating the millet, I got the bloated feeling, and even my liver seems to be sensitive to the millet. So I decided to check it on the internet where I found your warning to “Beware of Millet”. I am glad I came across your warning, because I think my body was trying to tell me something, now I know what it is. Thank you very much for the info. I love the taste and texture of the millet, but my health is more important. Thank you again and keep up the good work.

    Reply
  40. Sorry this is the biggest BS article I have read. Where is the support for this? You shouldn’t write a article on such little support when there are countless articles on the wonders of millet. Get your facts straight before you post something like this.

    Reply
      • I have to agree also. A “potent” goitregen? Hardly! Research does not support this! The article you linked doesn’t support it either, saying that it “may” cause goiter in populations with low iodine, not that it does. And as usual, they didn’t feed the rats just millet, they fed them extracts. I’m very disapointed with the sensational way you blog about healthy foods as if they are dangerous (green smoothie blog comes to mind) with little to no fact or research to back I up. Many in the whole food/healthy community are on restricted enough diets without someone blasting healthy foods as if they are evil.
        Millet has been a staple in diets for thousands of years with no ill effects, as have fermented cabbage and other veggies.

        Reply
        • Found a thread on millet titled “Looking for Gluten Free? Millet could be the perfect whole grain for you”:
          http://www.hawkeshealth.net/community/showthread.php?t=10065&page=1

          The ‘goitrogenic” aspect is addressed there, and this seems sensible:

          “It would be impossible to avoid goitrogens and eat a healthy diet. It’s really only an issue for those with borderline or undiagnosed hypothyroidism. People with normal function, especially if getting enough iodine, are not really at risk. If you are on thyroid replacement be it T3, T4, both or Natural Thyroid, goitrogens become a non-issue because your thyroid isn’t making much anyway and you are taking replacement hormones. I cannot find my source at the moment, but I vaguely remember, when researching millet, that it and soy were the highest goitrogenic foods and that goitrogens in millet actually increase when it is cooked rather than decrease as in all other foods. The primary thing is to make sure you are getting enough iodine.”

          I for one get plenty of iodine (I supplement with Lugol’s, plus I eat seaweed regularly)
          so I’m not going to “beware of millet.”

          Reply
          • Unfortunately, now that the Fukushima disaster has resulted in a continuous massive flow of radioactive water into the Pacific, eating seaweed, (and fish and any other ocean life) at least out of the Pacific, is unwise. You may want to be very selective about where you get your seaweed, if at all (and miso as well). Currently I am using iodized Mediterranean sea salt for my iodine intake.

  41. Sarah,
    In my recent comment about gluten and wheat spraying – I forgot to add that the article stated that the grain was sprayed while in STORAGE. Does anyone know anything about this?

    Reply
  42. Sarah,
    Regarding gluten intolerence becoming an epidemic……………..quite some time ago I read about wheat and perhaps another grain being sprayed………………perhaps due to FDA regulations………..am not sure. Cannot remember where I read it. Could it be that chemicals are the real reason behind the gluten problem? This problem is growing like wild fire – even among people who have had very healthy digestion…… there has to be something behind it. Any comments?

    Reply
  43. Hi Sarah! It is the first time I read your articles and it is WOW! I discovered I have low tyroid and I have been on BED diet for two years, eating lots of fermented cabbage, miso soups, and the ogi (millet cereal)… etc. Just read what you had to say about goitrogens in miso. How about goitrogens in fermented cabbage and broccoli and kale? Some health experts say that fermentation eliminates (minimizes) the goitrogens in veggies in fermentation. Please help. Thank you!
    Isabelle

    Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Hi Isabelle, fermentation does NOT reduce goitrogens in cruciferous veggies. They should be consumed in moderation especially for those with thyroid issues! Even for those with no thyroid issues, they should be consumed only when the rest of the diet is sufficient in iodine(as in contains grassfed dairy). Shame on the doctor who is putting you on these foods with your condition!

      Reply
      • Does anyone know what fermented veggie, if any is good to eat? I’ve been trying to get good probiotics without dairy, and this is very disheartening.

        Reply
  44. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism:
    http://jcem.endojournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/68/4/707

    The last sentence of the abstract says, “We conclude that in areas of iodine deficiency in which millet is a major component of the diet, its ingestion may contribute to the genesis of endemic goiter.”

    I know that I get plenty of iodine, and I eat a variety of grains, so I plan to continue enjoying moderate amounts of millet without worrying. It may be different for someone who has a history of hypothyroidism, but for the rest of us, I don’t think this should be a concern.

    Reply
  45. Traditional people ate millet and give to small babies in asia a a light porridge. i dont think i know many people in these places who has thyroid as a major problem. everything in moderation is the key. its not like we stop eating cabbabe, saurkraut, brocolli or cauliflower because it has goitrogenic effect. ofcourse, we dont. likewise millet is ok too to consume in moderation.

    Reply
  46. Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
    Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist November 30, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    Hi Marina, fermented cabbage is still goitrogenic. If consumed in small amounts in the context of an iodine rich diet, it is fine. But, people with existing thyroid issues may choose to avoid this food altogether for a time. Glad you like the new look of the blog!

    Reply
  47. Hi Sarah!
    I love the new look of your blog!
    Great article – I had no idea that cooking millet actually increases the amount goitrogens! And you are right, I am currently doing a practicum for my nutrition Diploma and doing case studies on real people, and most of the women who volunteered to be my case studies suffer from thyroid issues, I cannot believe how wides spread this condition is!! I was recommending they cooked any goitrogenic foods they consume raw, but I guess this will not help and I will now recommend they avoid them until they get their thyroid normalized.
    Another thing. I know raw cabbage is a goitrogen, but do you know if fermented cabbage (saurekraaut) is ok to eat for people with thyroid issues? I would love your response to this!
    Thank you!

    Reply
  48. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist October 15, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    Hi Anonymous, actually you are wrong – the endosperm of millet is goitrogenic also. Here is an excerpt from a research paper by Chris Masterjohn on this very subject:
    "Although the bran is more goitrogenic than the endosperm, traditionally prepared millet that is dehulled (and thus has its bran removed), fermented and cooked into a porridge is exactly the type of millet that is associated with goiter in human populations."

    Reply
  49. The salient fact omitted in this post is that the goitrogen is in the bran. It the traditional preparation of African ogi, millet porridge, the millet is soaked, ground wet, and passed through a cloth to sieve out the bran. The liquid is then fermented and cooked into porridge. As with most foods, look to traditional preparations to learn the healthiest ways to consume them.
    Personally, I love millet and have eaten it daily for several years to no ill effect. I find it the most digestible of all grains. My favorite way to serve it is with a raw egg yolk, a spoonful of red palm oil, and paprika. I soak a jar of millet overnight, blend it the blender, pour it through an unbleached cotton bag that hangs over a jar to sieve out the bran. The jar sits, covered with a piece of cloth and a rubber band, on the counter to ferment and be used as needed.

    Reply
  50. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist June 28, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    Thanks for popping over from Kelly the Kitchen Kop! Kelly is definitely one of my favorite people and I am a big fan of her blog!

    Reply
  51. Wow! I knew that millet is goitrogenic, but I didn't know about the increased goitrogens with cooking thing. Millet is a guilty pleasure of mine- but I guess I'll be tossing out what's left in my bag (family history of hypothyroidism- hence why I know about goitrogens).

    For those who are interested- other goitrogens are cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower (I think there are others?), in which the goitrogens are reduced (but not eliminated) in cooking. And soy- which cooking does not reduce, though fermenting does. So, don't eat tofu, but tempeh and real fermented soy sauce are ok in moderation. I can't remember if miso counts or not, since it's a by-product of fermenting the soy sauce…

    So- fermented soy= ok, cooked soy= bad, cooked veggies= ok, fermented veggies= bad (in other words, only eat sauerkraut if you also cook it!).

    Thank you so much for this post! I really thought that cooking the millet would make it relatively ok. :-/ (I came over from Kelly the Kitchen Kop's link)

    Reply
    • There is no way you can say that fermented veggies are bad! Have you read Donna Gates and Body Ecology? Eating Raw and including fermented veggies is the way to go and has changed my life.

      Reply
  52. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist June 28, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Hi Amy!!!! Thanks for commenting. You were actually the inspiration for this blog – when you mentioned that you ate those Sami's bakery millet chips on our walk around the river. I couldn't remember who it was exactly as I get so many email questions everything tends to blur together sometimes. I am so glad you know now – those chips are so delish but I would hate for it to make your thyroid worse. Hope to see you again when I am up that way in the future!!

    Reply
  53. Hi, Sarah.
    It was nice to meet you in Rockford last week!
    Thanks for the info about millet.
    I do have low thyroid issues and never knew this about millet.
    God bless,
    Amy

    Reply
  54. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist June 28, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Spelt is one of the best choices for grains, I think. It is non hybridized unlike wheat, much lower in gluten and truly delicious. Sprouted organic spelt flour is a wonderful use for this healthy grain.

    Reply
  55. Thanks again, Sarah, so good to know this. We have to be very careful with grains, which are not the ideal food for us humans.

    We eat mainly animal foods, but we use sprouted organic Spelt flour for what baking we do. Do you know anything bad about Spelt in this form?

    Reply
  56. Fresh Local and Best June 27, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    This information is very helpful. I haven't jumped onto the millet bandwagon, but this is a good reminder that everything should be eaten in moderation.

    Reply
  57. Most GF people seem to do better without appreciable amounts of any grain in their diet. Rice is the least problematic. But don't try to reproduce the wheat-based diet with other grains.

    Adding sea vegetables to a meal with millet would help neutralize the goitrogenic effect though.

    Reply
    • Through Rami Nagel, I learned that rice is high in phytates as well and soaking it doesn’t help much. He did say you could make a rice starter by saving some of the liquid each time you soak it, which helps break down the phytates. But rice doesn’t seem to be a good alternative and it seems to be the most used by those who are gluten-free. It’s also probably one of the starchiest grains.

      Reply
      • The book mentions brown rice as the rice high phytates, not, white rice. White rice is okay to consume and won’t deplete your body of minerals.

        Reply
        • All.

          I have been using whole organic brown rice and brown rice pasta as a substitute for general carbs and pasta for decades, and I am thriving. I eat a vegan, all organic Mediterranean style diet with lots of organic legumes (mainly lentils and mung beans) brown rice, brown rice pasta, a -lot- of cooked kale and collards, small amounts of potatoes, leeks, olive oil and flax oil after cooking, tomatoes, and a little tamari, with all of these in most of my meals; and I am doing just fine.

          So eat brown rice to your heart’s content.

          Reply
  58. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist June 27, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Unfortunately, fermentation appears to have no effect on millet's goitrogenic effect either. If you have normal thyroid function, then you can continue to enjoy it in strict moderation, but if you suspect any glandular issues, then do not eat it at all. I myself have no thyroid issues, but still will not eat it as I think the stresses of modern life already pose a heavy burden to the thryoid even under the best of circumstances.

    Reply
  59. earth_friendly_cleaning June 27, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Sarah, I know you said that soaking and sprouting don't make a difference, but what about fermentation? I have a source of local slow fermented millet bread, and I am wondering if that is any better than regular millet bread.

    Reply
  60. UGH! I had NO idea! And having been diagnosed with wheat, corn, oat, and rice allergies, millet seemed the natural alternative! We have been one of those Deland-bakery bread-consuming families you reference. We are getting ready to start GAPS, so this will all go out the window anyway, but sad to hear that our millet zucchini bread that we so enjoy could be damaging to our thyroids … definitely don't need anny help with that! Thanks for the continued great info, Sarah!

    Reply
  61. Wow, I had no idea about millet. When I found out I needed to stay away from gluten, we naturally gave millet a try. We never got too much into it though (thankfully), only very occasionally. Quinoa became our favorite alternative for sides and cold salads, so millet got put on the back burner. Spelt, although does contain some gluten, has become our main bread grain, since I can tolerate it. It makes excellent sourdough (sourdough also helps with the gluten).

    Reply
  62. I've been considering starting a food diary to see what triggers upset stomachs with me, and I have a feeling it will include wheat!! :-\
    It seems even pasta upsets my stomach too, not that I eat it a ton, but often when I do, within an hour or two I'm crippled over in pain–think some ingredient in the pasta is really off-setting to my digestive tract?

    What would be a better alternative than millet to wheat? For breads and such?

    Reply
  63. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist June 26, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Unfortunately, no. Soaking, sprouting does not lessen millet's goitrogenic effects. I know, what a bummer. I enjoy millet myself but will no longer eat it except in very small amounts occasionally.

    Reply
  64. I know of a good gluten free flour and grain substitute that has been historically proven to work. It is chestnuts and chestnut flour. They were the primary carbohydrate source for several healthy groups of middle eastern and european peoples until the corn and potatoes from the Americas came over in the age of exploration and the chestnut tree's succeptability to disease caused it's use to decline. I am currently experimenting with making a grain free bread with chestnut flour and chia seed, though i cannot get the ratios down.

    Reply
    • Hi,
      I was browsing internet for some additional data on millet, particularly if there are any drawbacks – since everybody talks how wonderful& healthy are all these alternatives to the usual waterfall of wheat&rice in the supermarkets. An additional nag was a little sequence from Kurosawa’s movie “Seven Samurai” where millet is mentioned in rather negative terms (as opposed to rice) by one of the characters.
      Thank you for taking the time and sharing all this information ; it is very interesting and made me investigate more.

      Regarding the links above – I have certain doubts about the second one, not because it’s not from a medical journal, but because there are no references attached to that article and it has lots of recommendations & warnings made on the “trust me I know what I’m saying” base. While it’s always good to keep an eye on the “dark side” of everything, it’s even better to have it acknowledged and agreed by others too; or at least mentioned on the “reportedly” base if only the folklore is the source.

      Reply
      • So, the only actual study listed in this article is based on one poorly designed study conducted on rats back in 1989? I am sure that you mean well. But, the results of this study are beyond questionable, cannot be properly extrapolated to humans and most certainly should not be used to give people dietary warnings. There is no legitimate evidence that millet is unhealthy with moderate consumption or that it causes thyroid suppression.

        Approximately one in one hundred adults have Celiac disease (with roughly 90% currently undiagnosed) and as many as one in seven adults are believed to be gluten sensitive. Wheat is also a very common allergen. Millet bread is a reasonable and healthy alternative to breads containing wheat and/or gluten. There is no legitimate reason for most adults to avoid moderate consumption.

        Reply
        • This person knows whats up. Don’t take health guru advice on the tip of the tongue, Millet has been used for thousands of years, scaremongers only help big industry by seeding doubt and confusion. Intentionally or no, you shouldn’t be casting this web of ignorance over the grains without sourcing proper and up to date studies.

          Reply
          • The only reason I can see this smear article against millet coming up at the top of google search is because millet contains laetrile (Vit B17) which is known to fight cancer. Vitamin B17 has been banned in many places including Canada and the US and it has all but been removed from the general food supply…. hence… more than one in three people are getting cancer. Cancer is big business and a sick population is more submissive and manageable to the overlords. .

    • Bull..stop adding more to peoples basket of what to avoid, as the bucket is already full and spilling over…
      Millet has been consumed both as a staple and a comfort food by people in east Africa and the rest of Africa for centuries. Thyroid and its concomitant issues is not a common prevalence amongst this people as has been attested by medical research.
      maybe these ill effects are geographically race or ethnic specific, but not a general one.

      Reply
    • Dear Health Home Economist there are three millets commonly ingested by human beings Pennisetum-pearl millet,Panicum-proso millet and Setaria-foxtail millet. Pennisetum is the millet implicated in thyroid dysfunction Panicum is by far the most widely grown in the US for both human and animal consumption. However if one goes to Africa the pearl Millet implicated in thyroid dysfunction is more often encountered.

      Reply
  65. Sarah, Can you give us some references on the science exploring the goitrogenic effects of millet? I would be interested in exploring this further. Thanks.

    Reply
    • I would also like to know more about it too, because lately I have been experimenting on millet a lot lately. Please and thank you.

      Reply
  66. Lisa Wallen Logsdon June 26, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Thanks for the heads up on this Sarah. While I do not consume large quantities of millet it's still good to know considering I am borderline on thyroid issues. I had no idea millet contained goitrogens until now.

    Reply

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