‘We are what we eat’

Everyone has heard this. Only few actually understand and follow it. Our food habits are largely responsible for our well-being. A healthy diet along with active and routine lifestyle is the mantra to a fit body. Many of us suffer from diseases. While we rely on medications completely to cure us, we rule out the importance of a strict and disciplined diet. Thyroid is one such disease where diet is immensely important.

What is Thyroid?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the lower part of our neck. It plays a vital role in the various metabolic processes of our body. It is responsible for releasing two key hormones: 1. Triiodothyronine (T3) and 2. Thyroxine (T4). Together, these control the body’s metabolism.

Importance And Function Of Thyroid Glands

When our thyroid works the way it ideally should, the two hormones, T3 and T4, are released into our bloodstream. These make their way throughout our body and assist different cells to make energy from the food we consume. T3 and T4 regulate our blood calcium levels and basal body temperature too. This in turn, facilitates overall growth and development and helps brain development in infants.

What is Thyroid Disease?

Unfortunately, millions of people across the world have either under-active or over-active thyroid glands. Their thyroid glands either produce too little or too much thyroid hormones. This results in a string of health problems and symptoms. Some of these issues can be quite severe too.

If you already have been detected with thyroid disease, make sure you consider a diet for thyroid. Such diet will help heal your condition and help your body function well.

Who All Are At The Risk of Thyroid Disease?

Gender seems to play a role in upping the risk of developing thyroid disease. Women are more susceptible to thyroid-related problems than men. People with advancing age or thyroid disease in the family also run the risk of getting the disease. Other risk factors include:

  • Autoimmune diseases
  • A close family member with autoimmune disease
  • If you’ve undergone thyroid surgery
  • If you’ve been exposed to radiation
  • If you’ve recently delivered a baby
  • Women with or around menopause
  • If you’ve been diagnosed with thyroid cancer

Whether you run the risk of getting this disease or you’ve already been diagnosed with it, you must pay sincere and serious attention to your diet. Food habits can surprisingly make you feel better and alleviate many of the thyroid symptoms.

Diet for Thyroid

Food Items to include:

There are some nutrients that the thyroid needs for its well-being and optimal functioning.

1. Iodine:

Thyroid absorbs iodine from the food we eat to produce thyroid hormones. Inadequate iodine levels often make the hormones go haywire – adversely effecting the body. Women in their childbearing age are often found to be iodine-deficient. This deficiency can be met by adding seaweed-rich foods like nori, kombu, wakame and hijiki into the diet. These are the natural sources of iodine. But be careful with the quantity. Overconsumption of iodine causes thyroid problems, making the symptoms worse.

2. Selenium:

This mineral is essential for producing and regulating the levels of T3. Include naturally selenium-rich food choices like snapper, tuna, calf liver, shitake mushrooms, shrimp, cod and Brazil nuts to your diet.

3. Zinc, Copper and Iron:

These trace nutrients are needed for optimal thyroid functioning. Low levels of zinc cause low levels of TSH. Copper is required for producing thyroid hormones. Iron deficiency leads to reduced efficiency of thyroid. So make sure you include calf liver, mushrooms, Swiss chard, turnip greens and spinach as a part of your daily diet.

4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

These fatty acids help in sensitizing our cells to thyroid hormones. One can get Omega-3 fatty acids by consuming fish oil, sardines, salmon, flaxseed, grass-fed beef, halibut, soybeans and shrimp.

5. Coconut Oil:

Cooking food in coconut oil increases metabolism rate and helps lose weight. The medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil is responsible for it. Usually, coconut oil is recommended for people with hypothyroidism.

6. Antioxidants Vitamins and B Vitamins:

Vitamins A, C and E are potent antioxidants that help eliminate oxidative stress that can damage thyroid. Include foods rich in B vitamins. Look to include beef, eggs, chicken, fish, seafood, apples, oranges, apricot, watermelon, carrots, spinach, peas, tomatoes, turnips, dates, potatoes, pulses, nuts, strawberries, citrus fruits and whole grains to get vitamins A, C and E. Pork, green leafy veggies, chicken, eggs, legumes, shellfish, liver, wheat germ, almonds, peas, pecan and whole grain cereals are rich in B vitamins and should be incorporated into your diet for thyroid.

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Maanasi Radhakrishnan