Hypothyroidism - Foods to Have

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The thyroid gland is located in the front part of the neck, just below the larynx. Its function is to synthesize hormones that control metabolic functions. It produces the hormones thyroxin or T4, and triiodothyronine or T3. These two hormones control cellular metabolism, that is, they regulate the expenditure of energy by the body's cells. Therefore, when the thyroid gland is destabilized, the endocrine system goes into disarray, and this can cause the person to lose weight or gain weight sharply.

Hypothyroidism, also known as slow thyroid or underactive thyroid, is the systemic reduction of the normal function of the thyroid gland. This relatively common disease affects the metabolic system, and it is characterized by an abnormal production of thyroid hormones. It has a higher incidence in women because they are exposed to more hormonal variations throughout their lives. It is more common from the age of 40, although it frequently occurs during pregnancy and can appear at any age.

The most common causes of hypothyroidism are:

  1. Congenital defect of the thyroid gland
  2. Chronic iodine deficiency
  3. Radiotherapy cancer therapy
  4. Lithium prescriptions
  5. Postpartum pituitary gland necrosis
  6. Viral infections
  7. Autoimmune response to the thyroid gland

The hormones that are synthesized by the thyroid gland are required by the body to guarantee normal function of numerous tissues. Thyroid hormones are also intimately tied to gene activation and the synthesis of several proteins. Of particular importance is the role thyroid hormones play in the formation of blood vessels as well as cell growth. Since the thyroid gland is the only source of these hormones in the body, it is of extreme importance we do all we can to prevent and treat hypothyroidism.

How to recognize the presence of hypothyroidism:

  1. Abnormal T3 and T4 serum levels.
  2. Unexplained and sustained weight gain
  3. Fatigue and hypersensitivity
  4. Constipation
  5. Aversion to cold temperatures
  6. Excessive menstrual flow
  7. Droopy eyelids and bulging eyes
  8. Thick and Scaly skin
  9. Brittle nails
  10. Sleep disorders


In addition to the pharmacological treatment prescribed by an endocrinologist, a nutritional adjustment can be of great help to those that have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism. It is essential to lead a healthy lifestyle, where there are a nutritious diet and regular physical activity; as well as stress management techniques and medications that your doctor has prescribed for hypothyroidism. There is no food or eating plan, which can outright cure or prevent the disease, but some of the side effects of the disease can be counteracted by consuming low-calorie foods and high in nutrients with high vitamin and mineral content, to increase the immune response prevent other diseases. It is ideal to have a healthy diet, with foods such as fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates - such as whole grains, pasta, potatoes, root vegetables, legumes, lean proteins and healthy fats in moderation.

Some basic guidelines to follow:

  1. Eat foods rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids: They are essential for the function of the brain and necessary to keep the thyroid healthy. Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the inflammation that causes slow thyroid function. Foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseed oil, salmon, and bluefish, such as tuna, cod, mackerel, and walnuts.
  2. Eat foods rich in iodine: An element whose deficit has been linked to hypothyroidism and which can be found in dairy products in general, seaweed, blue or sea fish, and seafood and to a lesser extent in milk and soy sauce.
  3. Eat foods rich in Vitamin B: The B vitamins help the thyroid gland with the production of energy, especially B12, indicated in anemia and low thyroid function. Foods with a high B 12 content include clams, organ meats, eggs, milk, fortified cereals, algae and brewer's yeast. B9 is another vital vitamin B for thyroid function and can be found in legumes, black beans, lentils, yeast extract, liver, sunflower seeds, asparagus, and soy products.
  4. Eat foods rich in fiber: Eating foods rich in fiber is recommended for many different reasons, but for people suffering from hypothyroidism it is an excellent way to control insulin levels in the blood. They also help improve digestion and control appetite. Foods rich in fiber are corn, beans, avocado, whole grains, lentils, apples, oats, and broccoli.
  5. Eat foods rich in selenium: The properties of selenium improve hormonal development. Selenium is necessary for the proper synthesis, activation, and metabolism of thyroid hormone. The thyroid gland in humans has the highest selenium content per gram of tissue of all organs. This important antioxidant mineral can be found naturally in many foods including various types of fish, mushrooms, barley, lamb and Brazilian nuts.
  6. Eat foods high in tyrosine: Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid found in your body that is used by the neurotransmitters in your brain. This amino acid helps your body make hormones, including thyroid hormones. Obtain it naturally from your diet through foods such as chicken, fish, soy, dairy and some legumes, nuts, and seeds.


As we can see, hypothyroidism is a condition that can accompany us for life, and therefore, although it does not require a specific diet for proper control, it can benefit from a healthy diet and healthy lifestyle habits that accompany it. Some last minute advice if you are suffering from hypothyroidism. Eat often, because spending long hours without eating foods does not stimulate the metabolism, therefore, eating food every three or four hours maximum favors the metabolic rate. Consume foods of good nutritional quality, since hypothyroidism can be associated with alterations of blood lipids and weight as well as body fat, all of which harms health and can be easily compensated by a nutritious diet of high-quality foods. Coke, coffee, and tea are potent stimulators of insulin and the storage of body fat, so reduce their consumption. Lead an active life, exercise and keep stress to a minimum and you will feel better and keep the symptoms most commonly associate with hypothyroidism at bay.
 

References:

  1. Cooper, David S. "Subclinical hypothyroidism." New England Journal of Medicine 345.4 (2001): 260-265.
     
  2. Meier, Christian, et al. "TSH-controlled L-thyroxine therapy reduces cholesterol levels and clinical symptoms in subclinical hypothyroidism: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial (Basel Thyroid Study)." The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 86.10 (2001): 4860-4866.
     
  3. Flier, Jeffrey S., Mark Harris, and Anthony N. Hollenberg. "Leptin, nutrition, and the thyroid: the why, the wherefore, and the wiring." Journal of Clinical Investigation 105.7 (2000): 859.
     
  4. Danforth Jr, Elliot, and A. G. Burger. "The impact of nutrition on thyroid hormone physiology and action." Annual review of nutrition 9.1 (1989): 201-227.