- A healthy diet may helps ensure healthy thyroid function
- Weight management helps in regulating hormones
- Eat a healthy and well balanced diet
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 worldwide suffer from thyroid out of which 32 million reside in India. Environmental and nutritional factors are the major factors in 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.
Follow these diet tips for healthy thyroid function
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. 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. Adequate iodine intake in the diet can help to reduce the size of the goiter and is beneficial for thyroid health. Iodised salt, seafood (such as fish and seaweed), and some grains and breads are common dietary sources of iodine.
3. 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. 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 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.
6. Micronutrients like selenium and zinc are important, but it is not recommended to start supplements for the same unless deficiencies are noted.
7. 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.
Also read: 8 Yoga Poses For Reversing Hypothyroidism
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.
Here’s a meal plan you can follow-
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 (low fat paneer, curd, buttermilk), legumes, pulses (like chole, chana, rajma, moong, etc), nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, etc.), seeds (pumpkin seeds, garden cress seeds, gingelly seeds, etc.) in any forms.
(Bhakti Samant is a Chief Dietician at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Mumbai)
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