Proper diet can keep thyroid disorders away. Try these tips

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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In recent years there has been an increase in the prevalence of non-communicable diseases in which thyroid diseases rank second, diabetes remaining the first. A recent report shows that 300 million people suffer from thyroid globally. 

Your thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland found at the base of your neck, just below your Adam’s apple. This gland makes thyroid hormone that travels in your blood to all parts of your body. Thyroid related abnormalities occur when the thyroid fails to function properly, either by releasing too much hormone or by not releasing enough.

Environmental and nutritional factors majorly leads to the occurrence of most thyroid disorders. Hormones released from the thyroid gland helps to regulate the body’s metabolism, how efficiently the body burns energy from foods.

When the thyroid gland makes lesser hormones, the metabolism slows down, and the weight increases, and vice versa. Malfunctioning of the thyroid gland is responsible for increasing the body weight and body temperature irrespective of the physical activity.

People suffering from thyroid disorders need to maintain weight in order to avoid non-communicable diseases associated with weight gain.

A diet for well functioning thyroid

There are a lot of controversies about diets for thyroid, but diet therapy for thyroid disorders would mainly focus on weight loss, macro and micro nutrient correction, and improving metabolism.

1. Focus on protein

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As per studies, high protein diets help in weight loss and weight maintenance. Studies have shown that a low-fat, high protein diet is more helpful in maintaining weight as compared to a low-fat, high carbohydrate diet.

2. Don’t forget iodine

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Adequate iodine intake in the diet can help to reduce the size of the goiter and is beneficial for thyroid health. Iodized salt, seafood (such as fish and seaweed), and some grains and breads are common dietary sources of iodine.

3. Consume vegetables

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Many other factors also affect thyroid health apart from iodine. Goitrogens are a group of micronutrients that can cause enlargement of the thyroid gland. They mainly include cruciferous vegetables and soy products.

Cruciferous vegetables include kale, turnips, cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli. Goitrogenic compounds found in soy products like soy sauce, tofu, pear millet, reduce the uptake of iodine by the thyroid cell thereby decreasing thyroid hormone production, mainly in patients who suffer from iodine deficiency.

However, data are lacking about the same. These compounds are deactivated with heat treatment, hence should be consumed only in the cooked form. Limited consumption of these foods in well-cooked forms is safe for people with thyroid disorders.

4. Have sufficient selenium

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Selenium is an essential trace element that plays an important role in maintaining thyroid function. The richest food sources are organ meats and seafood, followed by muscle meats, low selenium levels found in blood are directly related to thyroid cancers.

5. Zinc is important

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Zinc and other trace elements such as copper and selenium are required for the production of thyroid hormones, and lack of these can result in hypothyroidism. Foods rich in zinc- legumes, pulses, nuts, milk and its products, egg, seeds like flax and pumpkin seeds.

Do note that micronutrients like selenium and zinc are important, but it is not recommended to start supplements for the same unless deficiencies are found. Calcium supplements can reduce the absorption of thyroid medicines. Therefore, it is important to keep a gap of at least 4 hours between both the medicines.

Stay active

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Exercise also plays a very important role in thyroid function. The thyroid hormone levels in the body can affect the metabolism as well as skeletal and cardiac muscle function. Both- increased and decreased levels of the thyroid hormone can cause changes in body function at rest and during exercise. Regular physical exercise of moderate intensity helps to improve thyroid function. Aerobic exercise greatly affect the circulating levels of Thyroid hormones. One should indulge in an aerobic workout for 45 minutes duration at least 4-5 days a week.

Overall, a balanced diet with regular physical activity is important in maintaining a healthy thyroid gland function.

Try out this diet plan!

One should avoid long gaps between meals. Maintain a 3-hourly meal pattern.

Each meal should contain at least one protein food group like- milk, milk products (curd, buttermilk), legumes, pulses, nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios), seeds (pumpkin seeds, garden cress seeds) in any forms.

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