Why is thyroid health important?

The thyroid gland makes the thyroid hormone needed for metabolism, growth & development of the human body. It is a vital part of the endocrine system. It is a butterfly-shaped gland placed above the collar bone and below Adam's apple. This gland synthesizes two essential hormones Thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These two hormones regulate several critical body functions like enzymatic activity and the synthesis of proteins. Maintaining good thyroid health is therefore critical. [1]


A healthy thyroid gland is essential for the proper functioning of the body. There are these common conditions associated with the thyroid gland:

1.    Hyperthyroidism: Excessive production of T3, T4, or both these hormones results in hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is associated with a hyperactive metabolic system. This results in frequent bowel movement and drastic weight loss. [1]

2.    Hypothyroidism: In this condition, the production of thyroid hormones gets depleted. It results in constipation, weight gain, and a range of other problems. [2]

3.    Graves' Disease: This is an autoimmune disease. The immune system attacks the cells of the thyroid gland. This leads to inflammation and overproduction of thyroid hormone. Graves' disease is amongst the most common cause of hyperthyroidism.[2]

4.    Goiter: This is an inflammation of the thyroid gland. It results in visible swelling of the neck as well and is caused by iodine deficiency. [2] 


Your thyroid is the body's quiet workhorse, working all the time. It works so easily that we forget it is there. But this small, butterfly-shaped gland that sits at the bottom of your neck helps regulate your metabolism, temperature, heartbeat, and much more, and if it begins to go haywire, you will notice. An underactive thyroid - if the gland fails to produce enough thyroid hormone (TH) - may cause weight gain, sluggishness, depression, and increased sensitivity to cold. An overactive thyroid, on the other hand, happens when your body produces too much TH and can result in sudden weight loss, irregular heartbeat, sweating, nervousness, and irritability.

Genetics, an autoimmune condition, stress, and environmental toxins can all mess with your thyroid--and so can your diet, one variable you can fully control. Here are the foods that can help maintain your thyroid humming along, in addition to some that will not. Adopting a nutritious diet to your thyroid not only keeps you feeling good once your thyroid levels are normal, but it helps your digestive tract operate smoothly and your heart pumps effectively --both of which support a healthy metabolism. If you still do not feel well despite your medicine, improving your diet and starting an exercise program can help.


Warning signs for your thyroid health

Countless men and women report feeling lethargic, experience weight loss resistance, hair loss and chronic brain fog. These signs are your body's way of communicating to you that there is something deeper going on and maybe a sign that your thyroid needs support.

Shifting the diet, improving sleep patterns, lowering stress and addressing nutrient deficiencies helps to encourage the root causes of thyroid imbalance. Continue reading to learn about different kinds of thyroid disorders, the best foods to avoid to help your thyroid function optimally, and the top five foods for thyroid health. Eating these foods will not magically improve your thyroid health overnight, but their nutrient profile will supply your body with the nutrients it must help your thyroid function optimally.

Diet for thyroid health

The thyroid gland is also referred to as the master gland. As mentioned before, the thyroid gland is responsible for the production of two essential hormones, T3 and T4. These hormones are necessary for the homeostatic functioning of the body as they help in the efficient utilization of the energy. 

In patients suffering from hypothyroidism, diet plays a crucial role. Diet can help reverse the condition of T3, T4 deficiency. Some diet sources which impact the thyroid health include: 

●     Iodine- Iodine is the necessary precursor for the synthesis of both these hormones. 3-4 free iodine molecules are essential for the production of both T3 and T4. However, our body cannot synthesize iodine on its own, and hence, we are dependent upon the dietary iodine. 

Iodine is present in trace amounts in many food items. This iodine gets absorbed in the bloodstream. It is then trapped and encased in an "iodine trap." The thyroid gland then uses this for the production of the respective hormones. [3]

●     Selenium: It is the second most vital mineral for thyroid health. This mineral is also essential for the synthesis of thyroid hormones. It becomes a part of the protein, known as the selenoproteins, which protects the thyroid gland from oxidative stress.

Apart from these, iron is another vital mineral required in micro quantities? It promotes the efficient utilization of the iodine. Further, zinc and vitamin B-12 are other essential minerals.

Overall, a balanced diet rich in minerals mentioned above is necessary for a healthy thyroid functioning. [3]

 

Foods for thyroid health

Diet is very closely linked with thyroid health. There are many food items that we must include in our everyday meals to maintain the healthy functioning of the thyroid glands. Mentioned below is a list of things which comprise of a nutritious diet for thyroid health:

1.    Fish: The benefits of eating fish have been known for a long time. They are a rich source of omega- 3 fatty acids that contribute to overall health. Fish are also a rich source of iodine and hence contribute to thyroid health. The highest density of iodine is found in the deep-sea fish, such as haddock. [4]

2.    Dulse seaweed: The sea vegetables have a high content of iodine. Amongst the seaweeds, dulse seaweeds are regarded as the wealthiest iodine source. They are also a fantastic source of potassium and protein. Apart from the dulse seaweed arame, kombu, not are other rich sources of iodine.[4]

3.    Dairy food: Dairy items, including milk, curd, yogurt, are an essential component of a balanced diet. Apart from other benefits, they contribute to replenishing the iodine reserves of the body. In dairy products, eggs are the most abundant source. They comprise 16% of the recommended daily dietary iodine intake. Other dairy products that are rich in iodine include yogurt and cheese. While selecting dairy items, it is advisable to use products that are made from organic, vegetarian-fed free-animals. [4]

4.    Almonds: All nuts are a rich source of proteins, vitamins, and minerals. However, almonds also offer some vital nutrients which are necessary for a healthy thyroid. These include vitamin B, iron, zinc, and selenium. [4]

5.    Leafy greens: The potential of green vegetables to maintain the overall health of the body is highly appreciated. All leafy vegetables, including spinach, kale, collard, etc. supply the body with all the essential vitamins, minerals, iron, magnesium, and antioxidants. These comprise an optimum diet for thyroid health and also the overall health of the body.[4]

6.    Liver and kidney meat: For the nonvegetarians, these organ meats are a great source to replenish the iron, zinc, and selenium reserves. Apart from metal, they also offer a high vitamin A, B, C, and D content, which is good for the overall health of the body. Beef is generally considered as the best of all.[4]

7.    Turkey: Turkey is another excellent diet source for thyroid health. It offers iron, essential amino acids, and selenium. Overall, it is an excellent lean protein food for thyroid health. [4]

8.    Beans: Beans are a good source of selenium. Selenium is essential for the thyroid gland. It helps in the metabolism of thyroid hormones. Hence, beans support thyroid health. [5]

9.    Himalayan Pink Salt: This is a natural source of iodine. However, the concentration of iodine may vary as the teeth salts used in the unprocessed form and are obtained from the Himalayan foothills. [5]

10.  Organic Potatoes: Potatoes can cover up to 52.7% of daily iodine requirement. They are one of the richest sources of iodine and retain the iron and iodine con, en, even iodine-rich king. Being iodine-rich, they promote thyroid health. [5]

Precautions when on thyroid medication

You do not need to follow a special diet while on thyroid hormone drugs, with a couple of exceptions. Limit foods high in soy protein, because considerable quantities of soy may interfere with the absorption of the thyroid gland. Also, avoid excessive amounts of iodine, either in supplements or medications, since this might potentially change your thyroid hormone level. Many iodine-rich foods, such as iodized fish or products, are acceptable. Besides these restrictions, you're free to eat anything you want but aim for a healthy diet which includes plenty of fruits, veggies, and whole grains.

Nine out of 10 "thyroid support" pills analyzed by Mayo Clinic researchers comprise"risky" levels of thyroid hormones.

A wide assortment of supplements that promise to support or enhance thyroid function can be found online and in retail shops. Some list only herbs as ingredients. Others are capsules full of the dried, ground-up thyroid gland from cows or pigs. People today choose the supplements as they might feel tired, or for unexplained weight gain -- symptoms that they interpret as a signal that their bodies are making too little thyroid hormone.

Avoid taking your thyroid gland at the same time as:

- - Iron supplements or multivitamins containing iron

- Calcium supplements

- Walnuts

- Soybean flour

- Some ulcer Medicines, such as sucralfate (Carafate)

- Cottonseed meal

- Antacids that contain aluminum, magnesium or calcium

- Some fat-soluble drugs, such as those Including cholestyramine (Prevalite) and colestipol (Colestid)

To avoid possible interactions, eat these foods or use these products a few hours before or after you take your thyroid medication.

Supplements containing biotin, common in nail and hair preparations, can interfere with the measurement of the thyroid gland. Biotin doesn't affect thyroid hormone levels, but nutritional supplements should be stopped for at least a week before measuring your thyroid function so that your thyroid status is accurately reflected. [6]

Summary

A healthy thyroid is essential for the homeostatic functioning of the body. It is a crucial part of the endocrine system and comprises one of the largest glands in the body. The two hormones that synthesized by the thyroid gland aid the effective energy utilization in the body. For patients suffering from hypothyroidism, diet plays a crucial role. Diet for thyroid includes food items rich in iodine, selenium, iron, vitamins, and zinc. A wide range of thyroid health supplements are also available in the market, but these must be used only upon doctor's recommendation. 

References

1. Cunningham, E. (2012). Are There Foods that Support Thyroid Health? Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 112(4), 588. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2012.02.011

2. The 5 Most Common Thyroid Disorders. (n.d.). Retrieved November 29, 2019, from https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/5-common-thyroid-disorders/

3. Olivieri, O., Girelli, D., Stanzial, A. M., Rossi, L., Bassi, A., & Corrocher, R. (1996). Selenium, Zinc, and Thyroid Hormones in Healthy Subjects: Low T3/T4 Ratio in the Elderly Is Related to Impaired Selenium Status. Biological Trace Element Research, 51(1), 31–41. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02790145

4. The 9 Best Foods for Your Thyroid. (n.d.). Retrieved November 29, 2019, from https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/9-best-foods-for-thyroid/

5. 13 Foods rich in Iodine – Dr. Eddy Bettermann MD. (n.d.). Retrieved November 29, 2019, from https://dreddymd.com/2018/12/15/13-foods-rich-in-iodine/

6. Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypothyroidism/expert-answers/hypothyroidism-diet/faq-20058554

7. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/healthy-eating-for-a-healty-thyroid

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