The thyroid is a tiny gland near the base of the neck that creates a hormone that controls a number of body activities, such as how fast calories can be burnt and how fast the heart beats. Thyroid disorders can cause under or overproduction of the thyroid hormone. Based on the quantity of hormone the thyroid gland produces, a person may generally feel tired and lose or gain weight.
When the thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormones, it is called underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism, which affects and slows down many functions of the body, including metabolism. This type of thyroid disorder can be caused by radioiodine and radiation treatment of certain types of cancer and thyroid. Typically, people with hypothyroidism suffer from restlessness, poor concentration, muscle and joint ache, depression and prolonged menstrual bleeding. In addition, they tend to feel cold and suffer from fluid retention in the body.
When the gland produces excessive amounts of the hormone, metabolism gets accelerated. Symptoms observed in people suffering from this type of thyroid disorder include tremor, nervousness, tiredness, a fast heartbeat and unintentional weight loss. In addition, they tend to become intolerant to heat and experience a rise in bowel movements. Graves’ disease, toxic multinodular goitre and excessive consumption of iodine are some of the factors that lead to hyperthyroidism.
Diet plays an important role in the development of a thyroid disorder, be it hypothyroid or hyperthyroid. Therefore, people with thyroid should avoid certain food items and supplements to stay healthy and some of these foods and supplements are discussed below:
Anti-thyroid foods: Goitrogenic foods such as cruciferous vegetables (kale, broccoli and cauliflower) and soy act like an anti-thyroid drug by inhibiting the absorption of iodine in the thyroid gland. A person with semi-functioning thyroid gland or hypothyroid should avoid over consumption of raw goitrogenic foods. In case of hyperthyroidism, nutritional experts recommend including more goitrogenic foods in the diet.
Fatty and sugary products: Excess fats and oils disrupt and interfere with the gland’s ability to produce the thyroid hormone and also with the human body’s ability to absorb thyroid hormone replacement medicines. Instead, thyroid patients can consume coconut oil instead of other forms of fats and oils. On the other hand, foods with excess amount of sugar contain a lot of calories, but no nutrients. So it is advisable for thyroid patients to reduce or eliminate sugar intake completely.
Avoid caffeine: Coffee affects absorption of the thyroid hormone. In addition, it makes thyroid medicines less effective, if consumed within an hour of taking thyroid hormone replacement medicines.
Supplements: Calcium supplements, calcium fortified juices and iron supplements disrupt the absorption of medicine meant to rectify the condition. Therefore, one must avoid taking these supplements.
Iodine levels: Iodized salt is a good way to control iodine deficiency, cretinism and retardation due to deficiency of iodine during pregnancy. Enough iodine is essential, but over consumption of it may hinder proper thyroid functioning.
Increase fibre: Thyroid patients mostly struggle with constipation and tend to gain extra weight. Increase consumption of fibre-containing foods to rectify bowel movements.
Avoid alcohol: Alcohol has a poisonous effect on the thyroid gland and reduces the ability of the body to utilize thyroid hormone. It is recommended that hypothyroid patients should eliminate intake of alcohol completely or drink in careful moderation.
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An analysis of thyroid disorder is incomplete without taking into account the importance of exercise. Hypothyroidism results in fat build up, which leads to insulin resistance in the body, weight gain and an increase in blood sugar levels. The most effective technique to lose weight is a combination of diet and proper exercise to regulate metabolism and burn calories.