Hypothyroidism: What to eat and what to avoid

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Hypothyroidism is a common hormonal health condition in which the body does not make enough thyroid hormones. These hormones are responsible for cell growth, repair and proper functioning of metabolism. Over time the disease can lead to tiredness, hair loss, weight gain and the person might feel extremely exhausted. About 1–2 per cent of people worldwide are suffering from this health issue. The condition is ten times more likely to affect women as compared to men.

It is important to manage the condition on time, which can only be possible with medication and following a healthy diet. We talked to Dr Vinoda Kumary, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Jindal Naturecure Institute, Bangalore to know more about the kind of foods a person suffering from hypothyroidism should take and the foods they should avoid.

Foods to eat

A healthy diet packed with nutrient-rich foods is important to manage any health condition and the same goes for hypothyroidism. Dr Kumary said, “Leafy green vegetables, whole grain, nuts, seeds and food rich in zinc like lentils, chickpeas, beans are good for people suffering from this health condition.” She added that food items rich in selenium and iodine also play a major role when it comes to managing the symptoms of hypothyroidism.

Zinc helps to regulate the thyroid, which gives a signal to the thyroid gland to release the hormones. So, including zinc-rich food items in the diet can help to cover the symptoms of thyroid imbalance.

Selenium is another essential mineral that helps in the proper functioning of the thyroid glands. It is an antioxidant, which protects the thyroid gland from damages caused by free radicals. Brazil nuts, tuna, sardines, eggs and legumes are some of the excellent sources of selenium.

Iodine is a mineral that is required for making thyroid hormones. People suffering from iodine deficiency are more prone to hypothyroidism. Adding iodine-rich foods like seaweed, fish, dairy and eggs can help overcome this deficiency.

Dr Kumary further asserted that apart from this, fruits and vegetables rich in phytosterols are also great for the immune system. “Blueberry, olive oil, nuts, green tea, cloves and apples are good for thyroid health,” she said.

Foods to avoid

As per the doctor, people suffering from hypothyroidism should specifically avoid goitrogens.

Goitrogens are compounds that interfere with the normal functioning of the thyroid gland. Many foods contain goitrogens like soy products, vegetables like broccoli, and cauliflower. Even fruits like peach and plum are packed with this compound.

According to the doctor, highly processed and fried food items contain unsaturated fat, which may also make the symptoms of hypothyroidism worse. Besides, taking dietary fiber immediately after taking thyroid medication may not be a good idea. “The fiber will interfere with medication. So one must have dietary fiber 2-3 hours after taking medicines,” she concluded.

Some other points to remember

Diet and medication are certainly important to manage your condition when suffering from hypothyroidism, however, there are a few more factors which are equally responsible.

Drink plenty of water

Every individual must drink at least 2 litres of water daily to stay healthy and fit. Water helps to flush out toxins from the body and is necessary for the proper functioning of the body.

Practice mindful eating

Eating mindfully is as important as eating healthy. Overeating gives way to unwanted diseases like weight gain, stomach issues and others. Eat to fill your stomach and avoid emotional eating.

Perform yoga and meditation to manage your stress level

Stress is the main cause of hypothyroidism. So, try to manage your stress level to keep the symptoms in check. Practise yoga and meditation to reduce your stress level.

Hypothyroidism: What to eat and what to avoid

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