Hypothyroidism can be challenging to manage, since the food you consume has an impact on the effectiveness of your treatment. Although food or supplements won’t cure the problem altogether, combining it with medications will have a positive impact.
In India, at least 42 million people deal with hypothyroidism, making it important for everyone to know what they should consume and what to avoid.
Table of Contents
- Hypothyroidism – What is it?
- Hypothyroidism Range
- Hypothyroidism causes
- Hypothyroidism symptoms
- Hypothyroidism treatment
- Foods to Eat with Hypothyroidism
- Hypothyroidism Diet Plan
- Foods to Avoid with Hypothyroidism
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Hypothyroidism – What is it?
Before jumping into what is good for your body and what isn’t, you should first understand hypothyroidism. Sitting near the bottom of your neck, the gland in the shape of a butterfly is the thyroid gland.
The gland releases thyroid hormones into your blood, after getting thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) from your pituitary gland. It will send this signal when the level of thyroid hormone is low in your body.
However, when your thyroid gland doesn’t release the hormone, even after stimulation, it is a condition known as primary hypothyroidism. In most cases, hypothyroidism occurs due to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune disease. Due to this illness, the immune system starts targeting your thyroid gland.
The other type is known as secondary hypothyroidism, a condition where the pituitary gland doesn’t function properly, due to which it doesn’t release TSH.
The normal range for TSH levels is between 0.4 and 4.0 milli-international units per liter. For those already being treated for thyroid disorder, these levels need to be in the range of 0.5-3.0 milli-international units per liter.
A value above the normal range indicates underactivity of the thyroid. This is a sign of hypothyroidism. In such cases, the pituitary gland begins to release more TSH in order to try to stimulate it.
If the TSH levels are below the normal range, it means the thyroid is underactive. This condition is called hyperthyroidism. In this case, the pituitary gland produces releases less TSH.
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Here are eight possible reasons which are responsible for hypothyroidism:
1. Congenital hypothyroidism
Sometimes, babies are born with congenital hypothyroidism, a condition where they don’t have a thyroid gland or it malfunctions. Most of the time, newborns inherit this condition from their family members, who have autoimmune diseases. However, infants look normal after birth, which makes it important to conduct thyroid screening.
2. Inadequate exercise
You need to exercise on a regular basis, to manage your neurological function related to hormones and chronic stress. Exercise helps you sleep better, maintain a healthy weight, and reduce stress. These are some of the risk factors responsible for hypothyroidism.
3. Inflammation of the gut
When the environment in your gut is unhealthy, it adds to nutritional deficiency. At the same time, it also increases autoimmune attacks in your body, which isn’t a good sign. If you are sensitive to dairy and gluten or suffer from allergies, there is a high chance of getting gut inflammation.
Other reasons which influence the health of your gut are the imbalance of bacteria, overload of toxins in one’s diet, and excess stress levels. As a result, the small particles in the gut will enter the bloodstream through small openings. Your body responds through a surge in autoimmune attacks, which has a huge negative impact on your body.
4. Lack of vital nutrients in diet
Although this is extremely rare, there are chances that your diet doesn’t provide adequate amounts of nutrients such as selenium and iodine. As these nutrients are responsible for thyroid functionality, any shortage can lead to disorders.
Similarly, these nutrients protect your body against other problems. For instance, if there is a severe deficiency of selenium, there is a high chance of suffering from thyroiditis. It stops glutathione, a strong antioxidant from being active. Glutathione is responsible for fighting inflammation and oxidative stress.
There are numerous medications which are responsible for adding to the symptoms of hypothyroidism. For example, lithium is used by doctors to treat specific psychiatric disorders. Also, the medications you consume for heart disease and cancer can decrease the production of thyroid hormone, which causes hypothyroidism.
During pregnancy, women produce extremely large amounts of thyroid hormones. If doctors don’t treat this condition, it increases the chances of preeclampsia, premature delivery, and miscarriage. After delivery, the decline in production is quite rapid, which causes postpartum thyroiditis.
In most cases, the symptoms of this illness disappear within 12 to 18 months. However, there are situations when it leads to perpetual hypothyroidism.
7. Radiation therapy
When diagnosed with cancer on the neck or head, such as leukemia or lymphoma, the most common form of treatment is radiation therapy. However, the downside of this treatment is that it impacts your thyroid gland, by stopping or slowing down thyroid hormone production. At the end of the treatment, one is likely to be affected by hypothyroidism.
In case of problems with the thyroid gland, the medical practitioner may choose to remove the gland itself, in order to prevent any complications in the future. Due to this, one may suffer from hypothyroidism, making medicine intake a necessity.
However, if only a small portion of your thyroid gland was removed during the surgery, there is a chance that it can produce some of the hormones.
The signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism may vary, based on how severe the deficiency is. Initially, it is possible that one may barely notice hypothyroidism symptoms, such as fatigue and weight gain. However, as the metabolism continues to slow down, one can develop more evident problems.
Here are some of the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism:
- Weight gain
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Muscle weakness
- Dry skin
- Enlarged thyroid gland (or goitre)
- Puffy face
- Elevated blood cholesterol levels
- Muscle aches
- Pain, swelling, or stiffness in your joints
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Thinning hair
- Slower heart rate
- Impaired memory
The standard treatment for hypothyroidism needs the use of the synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine. This helps restore the necessary hormone levels, and reverses the symptoms of hypothyroidism.
The patient is likely to start feeling better soon after the treatment is started. The medication gradually lowers cholesterol levels that would have risen thanks to the diseases, and may reverse weight gain, if any.
Treatment with levothyroxine is likely to be lifelong. However, since the dosage may change, the doctor would need to keep checking one’s TSH levels.
Foods to Eat with Hypothyroidism
Any individual with hypothyroidism should ideally keep an eye on the kind of food they consume. Here is a list of foods that one can eat while fighting the disorder:
1. Coconut oil
Coconut oil provides capric acid, caprylic acid, and lauric acid, which will keep your metabolism healthy while increasing energy levels. Your body will feel nourished, thanks to its antibacterial, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties. It increases your immunity, stabilises your blood sugar, and increases endurance and brain function.
As fish provide DHA and EPA, essential omega-3 fatty acids, they balance out your hormones, while helping your thyroid function properly. Also, when you get adequate amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, it reduces inflammation and boosts neurological functionality.
As hypothyroidism has an impact on your digestion, you should consume a diet with high fiber content. The advantage of eating fruits is that it has a positive impact on your heart health and balances out blood sugar levels. Also, high amounts of fiber will make you feel full for longer, making it easier to lose weight.
The bacteria present in your digestive tract are extremely important for your well-being. When you have a healthy gut, it will protect you against parasites, toxins, undigested food, and other types of invaders. When there is an imbalance in your gut, your body won’t be able to absorb all the minerals and vitamins. Also, some of the bacteria produce toxins, which are quite harmful.
Keep the environment in your gut healthy at all times by consuming probiotics. For example, you should have sauerkraut, which the manufacturer has fermented properly over a period of time. Stay away from the ones soaked in vinegar, as they don’t provide the same benefits. You can also have kombucha tea, kefir, kimchi, and kvass.
One of the best ways to get iodine into your body and prevent any deficiencies is to consume seaweed. Make it a point to have seaweed in your meals, at least once every week. As you can get the dried variants in the market, you can add them to different dishes.
Hypothyroidism Diet Plan
Maintaining a diet is necessary for anyone with hypothyroidism. We’ve put together a diet plan that can be followed by individuals suffering from the disorder. However, it is advised that one consult with a certified nutritionist before making changes to their diet.
|7:00 AM||Coriander Seed Water (1 glass)
Almonds Soaked Overnight In Water (5 piece)
|8:30 AM||Poha with Peanut (0.75 bowl)
Moong Sprouts (0.5 katori)
|11:00 AM||Pomegranate (0.5 cup)|
|1:30 PM||Rice (0.5 bowl)
Cooked Moong Dal with Bottle Gourd (1 katori)
Curd, Low Fat (0.5 cup (8 fl oz))
Beetroot Salad (1 katori)
|5:30 PM||Roasted Makhana (1 cup)
Green Tea (1 tea cup)
|8:00 PM||Namkeen Daliya (1 bowl)
Stuffed Parwal (150 gram)
Mixed Veg Raita (1 katori)
|10:00 PM||Skimmed Milk (1 cup)|
While this diet plan would work for anyone with hypothyroidism, you can get the best Indian diet plan for weight loss here.
Foods to Avoid with Hypothyroidism
The following foods must be avoided in case of individuals with hypothyroidism:
The goitrogens present in certain foods can potentially decrease thyroid hormone production in the body, when eaten raw. Foods that contain goitrogens are mainly green, cruciferous vegetables. Some of them are:
- Brussel Sprouts
- Russian Kale
Hypothyroidism may possibly have links to an underlying autoimmune disorder. Therefore, people with hypothyroidism may be at risk of developing other autoimmune disorders, like celiac disease.
Celiac disease leads to chronic inflammation and damage to the small intestine. This is thanks largely to the ingestion of gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other grains, such as barley, oats, and rye.
Celiac disease is treated with a gluten-free diet. People that have autoimmune-related hypothyroidism can try to cut gluten out of their diet, and check if there is any improvement in the symptoms.
Researchers have suggested that soy may interfere with how the thyroid hormone is produced in the body. One published case study showed how a woman developed severe hypothyroidism upon consuming a health drink that contained high amounts of soy for about 6 months. However, her condition improved once she stopped drinking the health drink, and started taking medication for thyroid hormone replacement.
Some popular foods that include soy and must be avoided in case of hypothyroidism are:
- Soy milk
- Soy sauce
4. Processed Foods
Processed foods tend to be calorie-dense and offer little in the way of nutritional benefits. These foods promote weight gain, and must be avoided in the case of hypothyroidism. Processed foods like fast food, cookies, cakes, and doughnuts are to be kept at bay.
Keeping hypothyroidism in check can be seen as a combined effort of medication and lifestyle. It is necessary to maintain one’s diet, while ensuring that the required medicines are being consumed. Keeping one’s thyroid levels within the normal range is essential to maintaining good health.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The symptoms of hypothyroidism can be managed with proper diet and exercise regime, and normal functioning of thyroid can be enabled. However, medications may be needed depending on multiple factors like age, stress levels, lifestyle, and other metabolic disorders.
A: Ideally, a well balanced diet with all food groups can help in the proper functioning of thyroid. For additional support, Vitamin B complex or a multivitamin along with essential fatty acids will help.
A: Eggs contain iodine and selenium, both of which are needed for regulating thyroid hormones. So including eggs in a thyroid patient’s diet can be extremely helpful.
A: A blood test is a good way to check thyroid function. However, there is a self-test to check for an underactive thyroid gland. Keep a thermometer by your bed at night. When you wake up in the morning, first thing you place the thermometer under your arm and hold it for fifteen minutes. Keep very still and quiet. A temperature of 97.6F or lower may indicate an under-active thyroid.
A: Yes, one can have plain water, along with thyroid medication, if it is taken before a thyroid test.