The thyroid gland is a vital hormonal gland which is located in the front part of the neck below the voice box and has the shape of a butterfly. The thyroid gland plays various roles – such as controlling the rate of use of energy sources, protein synthesis and controls the body’s sensitivity to other hormones. The thyroid gland produces two hormones:
- Triiodothyronine or T3
- Tetra iodothyronine, also called thyroxine or T4
Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland is overactive and makes excessive amounts of thyroid hormone. High amounts of thyroid hormones in the blood can lead to excessively high metabolic rate. Women with hyperthyroidism tend to lose weight as the body burns up extra food without using it for anything, but producing heat.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces insufficient amounts of thyroid hormones. Low levels of thyroid hormones can lead to low metabolic rate; hence leading to increase in the weight.
Dietary Management Of Hypothyroid
There are no particular foods or supplements that can help in treating thyroid disorder. One can however manage thyroid very well by managing the weighing scale.
Hence, it is important to have the right variety of foods in a balanced proportion. It is advisable to consume fresh, local foods than the ones high in calories, packaged and loaded with preservatives. However you need to watch out for foods that can be your best friends and enemies while suffering from hypothyroidism.
Foods That Can Be Consumed In Moderation
Goitrogenous veggies like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, etc, are said to contribute in the formation of goitre (enlargement of the gland) in few cases, but the quantity required to have any effect on thyroid is very high.
As mentioned, just because these foods are high in goitrogens does not mean you should avoid them; in fact, the benefits far outweigh the downsides (except for soy). If you want to have broccoli once or twice a week, go ahead!
Just make sure you do not eat it raw; cooking reduces the goitrogenic substances by up to a third, except for soy and millet. Do not eat several foods off the list in one day; they have a cumulative effect.
Cabbage and cauliflower is widely consumed by the the North Indian population. Aloo gobhi, gobhi parathas etc, are a staple with them. If the effect of these vegetables were so strong – half that belt would have hypothyroid.
Similarly, broccoli is a popular food in the west and is also fed to children. The benefits of the same are far more than the nominal effect it has on thyroid.
Soy is known to interfere with the absorption of T4 hormone. However, it can be consumed occasionally. Soy and it’s products are a staple in Japan – if soy was so bad, they would all have had hypothyroid then.
Iodine is an important trace element that is required by our thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones. For the same reason, a deficiency of iodine can lead to an under-active thyroid. It is therefore, a good idea to include iodine-rich foods in the diet.
Foods like navy beans, eggs, milk, fishes and iodized salt are great sources of iodine. Beware of adding too much of iodine in the diet as it can cause further damage.
Hypothyroidism: Foods To Avoid/ Reduce
1. Reduce Your Intake Of Fats
Fats have been found to disrupt the body’s ability to absorb thyroid hormone replacement medicines. Fats may also interfere with the thyroid’s ability to produce hormones. It is beneficial for you to cut out all fried foods and reduce your intake of fats from sources such as butter, mayonnaise, and oil.
2. Cut Down On Sugary Foods
Hypothyroidism causes the body’s metabolism to slow down. Hence it is best to avoid foods with excess amounts of sugar because they are high on empty calories.
3. Avoid Processed Foods
Processed foods have a lot of sodium, and people with hypothyroidism should avoid sodium. Having an underactive thyroid increases a person’s risk for high blood pressure, and too much sodium will only worsen it.
4. Cut Down On Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol consumption can wreak havoc on both thyroid hormone levels in the body and the ability of the thyroid to produce hormone. Alcohol appears to have a toxic effect on the thyroid gland and suppresses the ability of the body to use thyroid hormone. Ideally, people with hypothyroidism should cut out alcohol completely or drink in careful moderation.
Essential Tips To Maintain Thyroid Health
1. Include Foods Rich In Tyrosine
- Tyrosine is an amino acid that is found in a lot of goitrogenic foods like wheat, peanuts, and soybeans. It is important to get tyrosine without those goitrogenic properties tagging along. Some good sources include pumpkin seeds, fish, dairy products, eggs, bananas, walnuts, poultry and almonds.
- These animal-based foods high in protein also tend to be good sources of Vitamin B12 and selenium, which are also important for thyroid health.
- Salmon is also an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory and can help with proper thyroid function.
2. Include Non-Cruciferous Veggies And Fruits
- Some of the best foods you can eat are non-cruciferous vegetables and fruits. They contain high amounts of antioxidants, especially when eaten fresh. Think pumpkin, tomato, beans, peas, cucumber, eggplant, carrots, and celery.
- Antioxidants help protect your body against damage from free radicals. Most of them also have high amounts of electrolytes like potassium and sodium, which contribute to the movement of fluid in body tissues.
- Fruits are also high in Vitamin C and other antioxidants. Some non-goitrogenic fruits include mangoes, oranges, dark-skinned grapes, pomegranates, guavas, cherries, apricots, apples, pineapples, and kiwis.