Do you have tremors, feel bloated pretty often or have been finding it difficult to concentrate lately? Although these can be symptoms for various other conditions, these three are also indicative of thyroid. Hence, it is best to go for a check up and see if you have hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
World Thyroid Day is observed on May 25 every year and its objective is to increase awareness and understanding about thyroid health.
There are two types of thyroid- hyperthyroid (an over active thyroid gland) and hypothyroid (underactive thyroid gland). Thyroid cannot be cured by diet alone but the right combination of exercise, nutrients and medication can help manage the functioning of the thyroid gland and alleviate the suffering.
It is important to lead an active lifestyle and eat a balanced diet as the thyroid gland can affect almost every cell present in our body. They help in converting the carbohydrates, protein and fat into energy.
“Hypothyroid is more common and it is characterised by unexplained weight gain, fatigue, tiredness and increase in blood cholesterol levels. It is mostly auto immune in 90% of the cases and other causes include iodine deficiency or genetic condition.
“A thyroid patient needs to have proteins of high biological value like eggs, chicken, fish, milk, curd, paneer and dals. Some studies have shown that a high protein diet helps to better manage thyroid. One should also eat diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids like nuts (almonds, walnuts), chia seeds, flax seeds and olive oil,” says Avni Kaul, nutritionist and wellness coach, founder of Nutri Activania, certified diabetes educator from Project Hope and International Diabetes Federation, Delhi.
Kaul says that all vegetables are fine including the cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts- as long as they are cooked. The cooking process inactivates the goitrogens present in them which are known to be harmful for the thyroid gland. These vegetables should be eaten in moderation.
“Caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee and green tea may irritate your gland so they should be consumed in restricted amounts. Avoid processed foods and also reduce the consumption of soy and gluten as some studies have shown that they are harmful to the gland. Zinc (meat, nuts, spinach, avocado, pomegranate, pumpkin seeds, garlic, chickpeas and mushrooms), selenium (chia seeds, brown rice, chicken, mushrooms, fish, eggs) and iodine (iodised salt, fish, eggs, prunes, potato and yoghurt) are important nutrients that should be incorporated in their diet,” advises Kaul.
And what about exercise?
Exercise reduces stress as the thyroid problem is accompanied with anxiety and depression and hence regular exercise is essential if one wants to remain in a good mood.
Also, you need to keep certain things in mind if you are on thyroid medication.
“You need to avoid fiber consumption right after taking thyroid medication. While a high-fiber diet is usually recommended, too much fiber eaten right after taking thyroid medicines may interfere with their absorption. Wait two hours before you eat a high-fiber meal (one with more than about 15 grams of fiber).
“Also, processed foods are not safe as they tend to have a lot of sodium, and people with hypothyroidism should avoid sodium,” says Manju Panda, nutritionist, senior diabetes educator and program manager, Institute of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Max Healthcare, Delhi.