The thyroid gland just like other glands of the body is a very important part that helps in the basic functioning and influencing the various metabolic functions of the body. As every working machine, the thyroid gland may incur some problem in regulation which leads to misbalance of hormones. The most common being either a high production of the thyroid hormone or its insufficient production, which is known as hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism or Hypothyroidism could be caused due to a number of reasons, which are:
- The most common cause is the deficiency of iodine. Thyroid hormones are important for proper development, and hypothyroidism secondary to iodine deficiency remains the prime cause of preventable intellectual disability.
- When the immune system produces an antibody that stimulates the entire thyroid gland leading to over activity and higher level of thyroid hormones.
- Lifestyle is also a major cause. Currently, our eating patterns are such that we tend to have more of genetically modified and inflammatory foods which in turn lead to the disruption in the normal mechanism of the thyroid gland.
- Secondary hyperthyroidism occurs when the pituitary gland makes too much of TSH, leading to constant stimulation of the gland. A brain tumour [especially pituitary] may cause TSH levels to rise.
- When the thyroid gland becomes inflamed. Depending on the type of thyroiditis, this may lead to a temporary hyperthyroidism that might be followed by hypothyroidism.
Now, when so much is happening inside the body, the body starts to give signals. These signals more commonly known as symptoms, technically are the body’s way of telling you to wake up and take hold of the situation, before it gets out of hand.
Hyperthyroidism often causes a host of symptoms including weight loss, increased appetite, and insomnia, decreased tolerance of heat, tremors, anxiety and nervousness. In some cases it can also cause chest pains, diarrhea, hair loss and muscle weakness. Such symptoms may be managed temporarily with drugs.
An under active thyroid gland results in hypothyroidism. Typical symptoms are abnormal weight gain, tiredness, constipation, heavy menstrual bleeding, hair loss, cold intolerance, and a slow heart rate. Iodine deficiency is the most common cause.Other causes include congenital abnormalities, surgical removal of the thyroid. It is usually managed with the replacement of a hormone known as thyroxine. This is usually given daily as an oral supplement, and may take a few weeks to become effective.
It is very important to get a correct diagnosis once you start noticing the symptoms so that you start working on it.
- Getting laboratory tests done is always a good idea. They usually measure the levels of TSH and the thyroid hormones.
- Once you get your tests done, always seek professional advice. Never self medicate.
- Serological tests measure the levels of antibodies associated with hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
- A Functional Stimulation Test [FST] can be used to determine if the pituitary and thyroid glands are the source of the medical symptoms.
- Ultrasound of the thyroid can be done to visually and functionally examine the thyroid gland.
Free diet plan:
In a condition like thyroid, it is very important that you take care of the foods that you consume. Find below a few pointers that would help in planning your diet for the next meal.
- Cruciferous Vegetables: Like Bok Choy, Cabbage, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, avoid eating these in raw form. A small amount of it can be eaten when cooked properly.
- Soy: Soy in any form like soy flour, milk, cheese must be avoided as it is known to interfere with the thyroid functioning.If you really really want to have it, have it in very moderate amounts.
- Processed Foods: NO NO NO. Ban these items from your grocery list at all items. They look good only on the shelves, not when they go inside your body.
- Sugar: Sugar in a way is already not helping in any manner except in increasing your weight on the scale and again interfering. Best to ditch this devil!
- Milk&Products: Having milk is good for your health. If you dislike the taste of it, have it’s alternate forms like curd, paneer.
- Non-Veg food Items: If you are a non-vegetarian, it’s fine to have these, have them grilled or in the form of low oil curries. Moderation is the key always.
- Gluten: Having wheat and its products while having thyroid is not at all a problem. But, if your doctor has asked you to steer away from it, ask him why? Has he tried some variation on you? Has he found something in the test result that might have triggered it? If he answers you logically, stay away from gluten.
- Fruits: All foods are good for you, have them. Try to incorporate atleast 2-3 servings of fruit in your diet daily.
- Nuts: A few almonds (Read 3-4) would help you in giving the essential fatty acids that your body requires daily. They are the good ones, keep them.
- Fats: The fats that one must avoid are the ones present in junk food, processed foods and street foods.
- Roots and Tubers: The potato is the king of vegetables, a normal-moderate amount of which leads to no harm. Same goes for colocasia and other parts of the family.
- Pulses: They are purely good proteins and healthy at the same time. They are really your best friends. Have whole pulses instead of the washed ones. Give it a go!