Thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that is present at the front of your neck. Its function is to produce hormones to help your body in using energy. It mainly has two types, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Talking about the former, hypothyroidism is also known as underactive thyroid. Basically, it is a health condition in which your thyroid gland doesn't produce enough thyroid hormones, namely Triiodothyronine (T3) and Tetraiodothyronine or thyroxine. These hormones provide energy to the body for many bodily functions. It has also been observed that hypothyroidism affects women more than men and also depends on the age factor. Onlymyhealth editorial team talked to Dr. Sujeet Jha, Principal Director of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Obesity, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, about the causes, symptoms and treatment of hypothyroidism. We also spoke to Clinical Dietician Heena Fatima, previously worked at VLCC institute of beauty and nutrition, presently freelancing, about the diet Do's and don'ts of hypothyroidism.
What Foods To Eat For Hypothyroidism?
As per Dr. Sujeet, the only way to manage thyroid is to take a healthy diet. Hence, listed below are some do's and don'ts of food items for a person suffering from this health condition as told by Dt Heena Fatima. Here’s what one should eat:
1. Lean meat and eggs
It is a known fact that eggs and meat are rich sources of providing protein to your body. It has zinc, vitamin C and E present in it which can help with hypothyroidism. Therefore, lean meat and eggs should also be consumed for hypothyroidism, but everything in adequate amounts.
2. Fruits and vegetables
You should definitely include fruits and vegetables in your diet everyday. They contain all the healthy nutrients like vitamins, proteins etc. An individual can consume all the seasonal fruits and vegetables like brinjal, cauliflower and pumpkin. So, basically there should be all the colours like we have in a rainbow diet.
3. Dairy products
The right portion of dairy products should be consumed everyday to keep your thyroxine levels balanced. Dairy products are the best sources for low carbohydrates and high fat items, but you should still avoid overeating than the appropriate amount.
What To Avoid For Hypothyroidism?
While there are foods that you can eat in moderation while suffering from hypothyroidism, there are also some edibles that should be avoided. A balanced diet can play a major role in coping up with many health conditions. Here are some food items that you should avoid for hypothyroidism:
1. Soy foods
Also, soy rich foods like tofu should be avoided for hypothyroidism. Soy foods contain the female hormone estrogen, which can be an abruption in your body’s absorption of synthetic thyroid hormone.
2. Fiber foods
Consuming too much fiber can interfere with the absorption of your thyroid hormone and be bad for your bowel movement too. One should take very small portions of fiber foods to avoid the symptoms of hypothyroidism getting worse.
Consumption of alcohol is not good for your overall health and can also be a risk for people with hypothyroidism. Excess alcohol intake can lower the levels of calcium absorption in the body and damage your liver, resulting in difficulty for thyroid hormones. So, try avoiding the consumption of alcohol for good health.
Hyperthyroidism does not necessarily have significant signs in the initial stages but can cause health problems ranging from obesity to even infertility, if ignored. The symptoms of hypothyroidism differ from people to people, depending on the levels of hormone deficiency and severity of signs. You should surely talk to your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms of hypothyroidism. As per Dr. Sujeet Jha, the major signs are:
- Weight gain
- Increased cholestrol levels
- Can affect your heart
- Puffy face
- Muscle weakness
- Dry skin
According to Dr. Sujeet Jha, Hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disease. When the immune system starts to attack healthy tissues, it can lead to serious health problems. And, it can also result in less production of the thyroid gland thyroxine. And, that can happen in many young ladies or it can be age related, even due to radiation too. Here are the major causes of hypothyroidism:
1. Family history
Family history can have an impact on a person regarding many diseases. Genetic factors matter a lot when it comes to health problems. Moreover, it can even be a major cause for hypothyroidism.
2. Previous thyroid surgery
In a thyroid surgery, the removal of all or a large portion of the thyroid gland is done. This can become a barrier in the production of hormones. In such cases, it becomes a need to take artificial supplements for thyroid hormone.
3. Radiation therapy for cancer
Radiation is used to treat a lot of type of cancers and it can have an effect on your thyroid gland and may result in hypothyroidism. Therefore, radiation therapy is another reason for this health condition.
During pregnancy, a woman goes through many changes and complications. Post pregnancy can even result in thyroid problems. So, hypothyroidism can also occur due to pregnancy.
5. Iodine deficiency
If the body’s iodine levels fall, it can lead to this health condition. Iodine is an important supplement to make thyroid hormones. It is important to take iodine rich diet to avoid this.
6. Certain medicines
Some medications can even be a factor behind Hypothyroidism. One should not take any medicines without the doctor’s prescription. In fact, you should always know about any side effects of the medications that you are taking.
7. Autoimmune disorders
As mentioned above, hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disease. When the immune system starts to attack healthy tissues, it can become a cause behind hypothyroidism.
The diagnosis is done through a routine blood test or after the indication of hypothyroidism signs. There is a specific medical treatment for hypothyroidism. Treatment is decided according to symptoms and what doctor recommends accordingly. Basically, it's about replacing the lacking thyroxine. Mostly, the doctor advises a medication for balance the hormone levels and bring them back to normal. It also helps in reducing the major symptoms of hypothyroidism. The doctor might also make you take tests from time to time to check the TSH levels. If there is no proper diet intake, it is even suggested to take nutrient supplements in some cases.
Also read: Easy Ways to Treat Hypothyroidism Naturally
These were the causes, symptoms, treatment and best diet for hypothyroidism. According to Dr. Sujeet, in addition to this, "We shouldn't be comparing the two as they are different diseases. In hyperthyroidism, the condition needs to be frequently monitored and in hypothyroidism the replacement of thyroxine is good enough for any treatment."
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