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The importance of thyroid health is becoming more important than ever before. Health problems like hypothyroidism, PCOS and hyperthyroidism are at their highest levels ever in India.
These numbers are likely on the lower side as a large number of people have the symptoms but have not been diagnosed. Think about your family and friends and you may realize that you know at least one or more people with a thyroid-related condition.
In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about the thyroid and tips for a healthy thyroid diet.
The thyroid gland is found in your neck, right below your voice box (larynx). It roughly resembles the shape of a butterfly.
The thyroid gland produces two hormones: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones play an important role in regulating growth and metabolism.
Source: NIH, USA
The thyroid regulates nearly every major metabolic function in the body. Think of it as your body’s “motor”. An under-active or overactive thyroid can affect your body.
An under-active gland produces too little of the hormone:hypothyroidism
An overactive thyroid produces too much of the hormone:hyperthyroidism.
There could be many reasons for a dysfunctional thyroid gland including genetics, stress, an autoimmune condition, nutritional deficiencies or toxins in the environment.
In Hyperthyroidism, or over-active thyroid function, it’s as if your body’s “motor” is at a high speed.
Hyperthyroidism symptoms include:
If you think you may be experiencing some of these hyperthyroidism symptoms, do consult with your Doctor.
Hypothyroidism refers to low thyroid function and it is the opposite of the above. The “motor” in this case slows down.
Hypothyroid symptoms include:
Women are much more likely than men to develop hypothyroidism. Your thyroid is also more likely to be underactive if you have other health problems, including:
Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland doesn’t make enough thyroid hormones to meet your body’s needs. While changing the diet cannot cure this, it can certainly help manage the condition. We will discuss some diet tips that can help.
If you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, please consult with your doctor before making changes to your diet.
Two key points should be noted about the effect of diet on hypothyroidism:
Foods containing iodine
The body needs iodine to produce thyroid hormones. But because the body cannot make iodine, you need to get it from your diet.
Foods that are rich in iodine include:
It is important to avoid consuming too much iodine. This can actually worsen hypothyroidism, and it can also worsen hyperthyroidism.
For most people, there should be enough iodine in the diet from daily use foods like iodized table salt. Therefore, you should only add more iodine to your diet if your doctor recommends it.
Foods containing selenium
Selenium plays a role in the production of thyroid hormones and is also an antioxidant.
Studies have found that maintaining selenium levels in the body helps prevent thyroid disease and also promotes overall health.
Foods that are rich in selenium include:
Foods containing zinc
Zinc is another nutrient that may specifically benefit people with low levels of thyroid hormones.
There is some evidence that zinc supplementation, alone or in combination with selenium supplementation, improves thyroid function in women with hypothyroidism. Consult with your doctor regarding whether they would recommend supplementation for you.
Foods that are rich in zinc include:
Certain nutrients can interfere with thyroid health. While the foods that are rich in these nutrients are not completely off-limits, restricting the intake of these foods may help a person manage their hypothyroidism.
Goitrogens are compounds that are present in certain foods like cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. Studies have shown that they may affect thyroid function if they are eaten in large quantities.
Foods that contain goitrogens are typically green cruciferous vegetables, such as:
This is not a reason to avoid these foods. So long as you do not overeat them and have them in moderation, they are beneficial for overall health and do not interfere with thyroid function.
In addition, cooking the vegetables mostly deactivates the goitrogenic compounds.
One exception to the above foods is pearl millet (bajra). There is some evidence that pearl millet might interfere with thyroid function. So you may want to limit this in your diet.
The research till date has found that soy has no significant effect on thyroid levels when eaten in moderation. More research is being carried out, but for the moment the key point to remember is not to overeat soy products.
Foods that contain soy include:
Highly processed foods
Reducing the intake of highly-processed foods may help improve symptoms, manage weight and boost overall health.
Therefore, it is recommended to avoid eating highly processed foods. They usually contain a lot of calories and this can be a problem if you have hypothyroidism, as you may gain weight easily.
Examples of highly processed foods and drinks include:
It can be harder to lose weight when you have hypothyroidism. That is one reason you should focus on an overall healthy lifestyle. Your diet, movement and sleep have a bigger influence on your health and thyroid symptoms than just your weight. In many cases, fat loss will happen anyway as a natural side effect of better overall health. But if it doesn’t, you’ll still be eating, moving, feeling and living better.
We have outlined below a thyroid diet chart for weight loss that you can try in order to better balance your diet, lose excess weight and improve your thyroid symptoms. We have included some foods like soy and tofu in moderation.
Please use this thyroid diet chart for weight loss as a guide only and consult with your doctor as necessary. The portions are based on a person in the weight range of 60-70 kgs.
We would recommend that you work with aDaily9 coach to customize it further for your needs.
Roti & paneer bhurji
Mixed veg raita with ¼ cup veg
Rice and rajma
Dinner: Eating out
Use the thyroid diet chart above and experiment with different combinations that work for you.
Weight loss is never easy, and it can be significantly harder when you have hypothyroidism. You may have tried a lot of weight-loss strategies with little or no success. That doesn’t mean it’s a hopeless situation, though.
Try working with an experienced nutritionist on a healthy thyroid diet and weight-loss plan that focuses on healthy habits.
Also, try reaching out to other people with thyroid disease, either online or in your community. They can provide advice and encouragement as you work to find a plan that’s right for you.
We’ve worked with hundreds of women and understand the unique challenges they face when trying to lose weight. You can see some of our success storieshere, including the story ofChitrawho lost 25 cms in spite of her thyroid issues. The Daily9 system is proven to work as an effective weight loss diet plan. Women coaches at Daily9 have developed practical ideas and strategies that work in real life and improve the weight loss that women achieve with Daily9. This helps with weight loss and also many health conditions that Indian women face like hypothyroidism, digestive issues, diabetes, PCOS, fatty liver and joint problems from excess weight.
While there are many calorie counters out there, we believe that a focus on high-quality nutrition (and not just calories) is critical for any weight loss diet plan. Instead of tracking calories, we believe in tracking healthy habits at Daily9.
Most importantly, the Daily9 system is practical and suits an Indian family environment. This will set you up for success with weight loss and also weight maintenance in the long run.
If you’re looking for a scientific and practical approach to weight loss, take a look at theDaily9 coaching program. It’s the only program that helps with weight loss and weight maintenance.
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