According to an endocrinological study in India, an estimated 42 million people in the country suffer from thyroid disease, and hypothyroidism is the most common of all disorders.
The butterfly-shaped thyroid gland in the neck secretes two hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Iodine is an important nutrient that our body needs. The iodine present in the body is used by the thyroid gland to make these hormones. Its action is triggered by the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) when a gland in the brain commands it.
In hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland does not make enough of these hormones. The malfunction of this gland leads to weight gain, low energy, fatigue, cold hands and feet, mood swings, forgetfulness, hair loss, constipation, joint pain, muscle cramps, depression, heavy menstruation and infertility.
Surprisingly, more than half of the detected cases of hypothyroidism are due to an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The condition causes our immune system to attack and destroy the thyroid gland. Specific antibody tests that identify Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are necessary for disease management. These tests include anti-thyroglobulin antibody and anti-microsomal antibody (anti-TPO). Your endocrinologist will be able to guide you on this path.
Reasons that can trigger hypothyroidism
Fasting or following a very low-calorie diet to lose weight can impair thyroid activity. It is the body’s natural mechanism to conserve energy in times of food shortage and, on the contrary, leads to weight gain.
Goitrogens: Certain raw plant foods contain enzymes that interrupt thyroid hormone synthesis and should therefore be restricted in the diet. These are common in cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, mustard seeds, turnip, radishes, bamboo shoots, kale, and cassava.
Flavonoids: In general, flavonoids are considered a healthy food, but they are contraindicated in hypothyroidism as they tend to interfere with thyroid hormone metabolism. Isoflavones are present in soy and its products and luteolin is present in fruits and vegetables such as parsley, thyme, celery, olive oil, onion leaves, chamomile tea, broccoli, peppermint, paprika, rosemary, oregano, cabbage, carrots, artichoke and apple peel, inhibits iodine absorption the body and should be avoided. Pearl millet (bajra) affects thyroid function even with adequate iodine intake.
Gluten: Wheat and its products (such as rava, maida, biscuits, vermicelli, lapsi, pasta, noodles, wheat flakes), rye and barley can increase the activity of anti-thyroid antibodies.
Vitamin D: Deficiency of vitamin D and calcium can cause hypothyroidism. Regular tests for vitamin D and serum calcium levels are recommended for patients with hypothyroidism.
Selenium Deficiency: Selenium deficiency is one of the reasons for low T3 levels.
Iron deficiency: Low iron can also cause hypothyroidism. Therefore, a substantial intake of iron-rich foods should be part of your daily food intake.
Screening all nutrients is the first step to managing hypothyroidism, where each person’s record and history will prove to be different. That’s why it’s critical to find the right diet plan that best suits your needs.
It should be remembered that certain nutrients and dietary supplements can hinder the absorption of thyroid medication.
Next week we will discuss the changes and wishes of the diet.
[The writer is PG (Dietetics and Applied Nutrition); MSc (Dietetics)]
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