A few years back, Thyroid used to be a dreaded condition to be diagnosed with. So much, that people left it undisclosed.
These days, hypothyroidism, a condition where the production of thyroid hormone is not enough, is a condition which every other person claims he/she is suffering from. The most convenient way to control it is ‘popping a pill’.
As soon as the defective thyroid functioning is discovered, the first solution adopted is, taking a pill. But is it the most effective way to bring the malfunctioning gland into control? For that, one needs to understand the functioning of thyroid.
There is a butterfly shaped gland in our neck, by the name of Thyroid. Among other things, it secrets two hormones, triiodothyronine ( T3), and thyroxine (T4) which influences the functioning of our bodily functions as metabolism, growth, development etc.
The secretion of these two thyroid hormones is in turn controlled by thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) which is secreted by pituitary gland. Now, this TSH is regulated by thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), which is produced by the hypothalamus, a portion of the brain.
So, what causes the malfunction?
Some common causes of Hypothyroidism include autoimmune disorders where your immune system mistakenly attacks your thyroid gland (Hashimoto’s disease), postpartum hypothyroidism and iodine deficiency, in some cases.
Also, when our lifestyle is not an ideal one, where our food habits include excess of refined foods, our sleeping pattern is haywire, and the stress is through the roof, the T3 and T4 hormones are not able to respond to TSH effectively. To counter the unresponsiveness of T3 and T4, the pituitary gland keeps on secreting TSH, in the hopes to stimulate thyroid functioning.
This is the reason that such a patient, when tested for TSH, shows high levels of it, which indicates Hypothyroidism. The opposite situation is diagnosed as hyperthyroidism, where TSH is low, as the thyroid gland is overactive.
What are the common symptoms?
Some common symptoms of hypothyroidism are fatigue, lethargy, and low energy levels. Other recognisable symptoms are the following:
Under hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland is not able to receive signals to secrete enough hormones for our metabolism to reach the desired level, and the food we eat is not being converted into required energy. In such a situation, whatever food is consumed, tends to get converted into fat, as it is not being converted into energy. This leads to weight gain, a common condition in people suffering from hypothyroidism.
High Cholesterol Levels
Another symptom can be higher cholesterol. When the body is not getting enough energy, the heart’s pumping capacity also gets affected, which in turn affects the cholesterol levels. Hence, it is advised that if the cholesterol levels are found disturbed, we must get our thyroid test done too, so as not to take a pill for one condition, which has a root cause elsewhere.
Disturbed Digestive System
This is another very common symptom. People with abnormal thyroid hormone levels suffer from constipation and indigestion.
Hampered Mental Capacity
Apart from physical symptoms, a person having imbalanced thyroid functioning can also have a disturbance in the mental capacity. Decreased concentration power, increased mood swings are very common in such people. Also, people with disturbed thyroid levels observe thinning of hair, and a myriad of skin troubles as well. In women, imbalance of these hormones also affects the menstrual cycle.
So what can be done to manage Hypothyroid?
Most of these symptoms can be reduced or eliminated, and artificial thyroid doses can be reduced, simply by improving the diet and lifestyle. Here are a few things which you can adopt:
Intake of Iodine
In the past, it was said that it is the iodine deficiency which causes hypothyroidism. The question arises, that now we consume iodised salt in our day-to-day life, but why does the condition still prevail? It is because the iodised salt is in itself a very refined product. The more refined products we consume, the worse our bodies would function.
So, it is my recommendation that instead of using refined iodised salt, we must switch to using rock salt (Sendha Namak), and try and source iodine from other sources like various seeds, green leafy vegetables etc.
The other thing I recommend is avoiding soya products. Soya is a goitrogenic food, which disrupts the production of thyroid hormones. Foods like tofu, soya beans, soya chunks, soya champs, soya bean oil etc should be avoided. Excess of soya products as a staple food must be avoided and must be partook occasionally.
Another category of food to be taken care of is cruciferous vegetables. It includes vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, kale, broccoli. These vegetables must never be taken in a raw form by a person suffering from hypothyroidism. They must be taken in a cooked form. Sautéing, cooking or steaming these vegetables changes their properties, and in turn they do not interfere with the production of thyroid hormones.
Omitting Refined/Processed oils
One major factor in the upsurge of this condition is the usage of refined foods, primarily refined oil. These oils include vegetables oils, canola oils, sunflower oil, etc. The vigour with which refined oils are used at home or food outlets affects our body in ways we cannot even imagine. Refined oil interrupts the transfer of nutrients from one cell in our body to another.
Hence, usage of refined oil must be stopped altogether. This stands true in all scenarios. The alternative oils which can be used are coconut oil, mustard oil, sesame oil or desi ghee. These oils should be raw, virgin and cold-pressed.
Another factor which disturbs the hormonal balance is stress. We must always convey our emotions and vent them out instead of keeping them locked in. keeping ourselves bottled up with emotions and stress results in interrupted functioning of hormonal glands, including thyroid. Improved sleep repairs our body, and helps recharge it. Hence a good night’s sleep is very important.
A Word of Caution
Taking calcium rich foods becomes very important for the ones who take thyroid medication. It can be improved by including calcium rich foods in our diet, such as ragi millet, foxnuts, dairy products like curd and paneer help keeping the balance.
All the above steps, if taken properly, help a lot in controlling and improving the functioning of our hormones. Eat healthy, stay healthy, and keep smiling!
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