Shaped like a butterfly, the thyroid is a small gland that is located in front of the windpipe, below Adam’s apple. Playing an essential role in nearly every metabolic process in the body, it secretes several hormones, including the main hormone, Thyroxine.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which an underactive thyroid gland produces hormones is less amount, leading to unexplained weight gain, elevated cholesterol levels and dry skin, among others. Hypothyroidism can also result in enlargement of the thyroid (goitre), if left untreated.
Since the effects of this condition can be increasingly felt on the waistline and mental health, it is important to follow a strict diet to deal with it. Experts share the foods that you can have to help you manage Hypothyroidism.
If Hypothyroidism is ignored, it can lead to higher levels of ”bad” cholesterol and increase the chances of heart diseases. Omega-3 fatty acids that are richly present in fish, are known to build immunity and reduce the risk of heart disease and thus, fish is highly recommended to patients. Fish also contains selenium, which helps activate the thyroid hormones so that they can be used by the body.
Sakshi Chopra, bariatric counsellor and nutritionist, Jaypee Hospital, Noida, advises including fish, meat and eggs in the diet if you suffer from this condition. For vegetarians, paneer and pulses can be good alternatives.
Including whole grains in your food makes your diet rich in fibre, which aids in bowel regulation as constipation is one of the common effects of hypothyroidism. Eating cereal, bread, pasta, and rice can help meet the fibre needs, however, some people choose to give this a complete miss as fibre can interfere with synthetic thyroid hormones. If you’re indulging in a fibrous diet, Dr Priyanka Rohatgi, senior consultant, nutritionist, Apollo Hospitals, advises avoiding it in the morning.
Fruits and Vegetables
Since low calorie and high-density foods are preferred for weight loss, fruits and vegetables are very good for such patients. Also, the antioxidants present in them help build immunity. Dr Niyati Likhite, dietician, Fortis Hospital, advises eating apples, papayas, watermelons and pineapples. However, high-calorie fruits like bananas and chiku should be avoided.
Milk contains important nutrients like Vitamin D, calcium, iodine and protein. According to a study in the August 2011 issue of ‘Thyroid’ journal, there is an association between Vitamin D deficiency and Hashimoto’s disease, the most common cause of hypothyroidism.
The foods that should be avoided as much as possible include:
Many people opt for less-fatty milk alternative in the form of soy milk. However, since hypothyroidism is a hormonal disease and the phytonutrients present in soy milk or tofu inhibit the activity of thyroid hormone, they should not be eaten multiple times every day, says Dr Rohatgi.
Cauliflower, Cabbage, Kale and Broccoli
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower contain goitrogens that may interfere with the normal functioning of the thyroid gland and should be avoided. However, cooking or steaming them inactivates the goitrogen and the vegetables are recommended to be eaten after that by Chopra. She also advises against fermented products.
Patients with hypothyroidism can be gluten sensitive and should limit the consumption of gluten-rich foods like wheat, barley, oats. However, easily digestible cereals like jawar, bajra can be included.
Fruits and Starchy plants
Sweet potato, cassava, strawberries and peaches are said to contain goitrogen as well and should be taken in as little as possible.
Nuts and seeds like pine nuts, peanuts, millet are also rich in goitrogen and Dr Likhite advises consuming them in limited amounts.
If patients with hypothyroidism are looking to follow a weight loss diet, Chopra advises following a hypocaloric diet that is very low in calories. Since the metabolism is slow, patients should try to stay as active as possible. Besides an exercise routine of 30-45 minutes, walking and standing as much as possible is encouraged.
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