Thyroid disorder is regarded as one of the most common endocrine disorders affecting millions of people around the world, with Hypothyroidism being the most prevalent one among them. The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped organ located in the front of your neck that produces hormones (T4 and T3) responsible for metabolic activity in your body. Thyroid hormone or TH is especially important for regulating metabolism in the body as well as controlling body temperature and heart rate. But when the thyroid fails to function properly as it should –either it is underactive or overactive, it results in a wide range of thyroid-related complications such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and others. However, this article focuses more on hypothyroidism, including the causes, symptoms and what you can do to manage this condition.
What is Hypothyroidism?
A non-functioning thyroid gland that is unable to create and release enough TH into your bloodstream to meet the needs of the body gives rise to a condition known as Hypothyroidism. It is a fairly common thyroid problem that affects millions worldwide. It is especially common among the Indian population affecting 1 in every 10 adults. The prevalence of hypothyroidism in India is 11%, compared with only 2% in the UK and 4.6% in the USA. According to recent studies, North India recorded the highest cases of Hypothyroidism while the South and West zones are reported to have higher cases of Hyperthyroidism.
Hypothyroidism can be caused by many reasons, including primary ones like Hashimoto’s disease. Also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, Hashimoto’s disease is a hereditary autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system attacks and damages the thyroid, thereby preventing the thyroid from producing enough hormone. Additionally, hypothyroidism can also be caused by an inflammation of the thyroid, which is known as Thyroiditis as well as deficiency in iodine, which is a mineral the thyroid uses to make hormones. Hyperthyroidism treatment that includes radiation and surgical removal of the thyroid can also be the reason behind hypothyroidism.
Having hypothyroidism can constantly make you feel sluggish and exhausted. Moreover, due to low TH production, the body’s function also gradually slows down. And that means a slow down in metabolism and calories burning process, which ultimately leads to an increase in cholesterol levels. And if the caloric intake remains high, it could also easily lead to excess weight gain! Moreover, extremely low levels of TH can also lead to a serious condition known as Myxedema, which can cause serious conditions like low body temperature or sensitivity to cold temperatures, Anaemia, heart failure, confusion or even coma.
When it comes to risk factors, Hypothyroidism, unfortunately, can affect people of all ages, genders and ethnicities, especially if you have a family history of hypothyroidism. Apart from this, women avove 60 years of age and women who have gone through menopause have a higher chance of developing hypothyroidism than earlier in life.
Managing Hypothyroidism: Do’s and Don’ts
Even though hypothyroidism can be challenging or severe and life-threatening at times, fortunately, it is a very treatable condition. The main treatment for it is hormone replacement therapy along with follow-up medications and regular appointments with a doctor. However, apart from this, certain measures, which include making dietary and healthier lifestyle changes can also be beneficial in managing and controlling hypothyroidism. Here are some of them:
1. Eat a balanced diet
Your thyroid needs enough amounts of iodine for proper function. Unless an iodine supplement is being recommended to you by your healthcare provider, you can opt for a balanced diet of beans, whole grains, lean proteins, colourful fruits and veggies, as well as iodized salt. However, avoid going overboard with iodine as it can be damaging for your thyroid gland.
2. Be mindful of your fibre intake
Fibre is vital for health, and getting the right amounts of dietary fibre can be beneficial in controlling cholesterol levels for people with hypothyroidism. However, excess dietary fibre consumption can interfere with hormone absorption, preventing your body from getting the required hormones.
3. Limit your soy intake
Like fibre, soy or any soy-based products, such as tofu, soy milk, soybeans, soy sauce, etc, can disrupt the absorption of TH into your system. They are also known to interfere with thyroid replacement medication so it is best to avoid combining them with your medication or at least wait 4 hours before and after taking your medication.
4. Include more Zinc and Selenium
Minerals like zinc and selenium are essential for healthy thyroid hormone synthesis and the activation of TH. Include foods such as beans, nuts, oats, pumpkin seeds, and chicken as they contain a healthy amount of zinc. Likewise, you can find get your required dose of selenium in foods such as chia seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, brazil nuts, and whole wheat pasta.
5. Be active
It is a known fact that staying active and doing exercise regularly is good for the health but it is especially beneficial for people struggling with hypothyroidism. It can help enhance your energy, reduce stress and help you maintain a healthy weight, which is particularly beneficial for people with hypothyroidism. You do not necessarily have to do an intense workout but rather a daily exercise of light weight lifting, aerobic, strength training, walking, yoga, etc can just be as effective and beneficial.
6. Get sufficient sleep
Constantly feeling tired and sluggish is part of having hypothyroidism. Make sure to get enough rest by getting good quality sleep. This can help your body receive the much-needed time to rest and reset. Try to stick to a specific sleep schedule, which includes going to bed and waking up at the same time every day even on weekends. Also, make sure to get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
7. Take your thyroid medication on an empty stomach
Combining your thyroid medications with other medications or foods can hinder the absorption process of the thyroid hormones. So it is best to take any thyroid medications on an empty stomach without any other medications or foods.
8. Opt for Natural supplements only
Avoid taking random over-the-counter thyroid medicines or supplements as they may be toxic in large amounts. You can instead go for natural supplements that are clinically tested and proven to be clean, safe and effective. And that is exactly what you will get with Preserva’s Ayurveda-empowered Thyropro Juice, containing an exquisite blend of 9 Ayurvedic ingredients to support stable TH production, regulate anti-thyroid antibodies, reduce inflammation of the thyroid gland, goitre and help manage hypothyroidism and its symptoms naturally! Nonetheless, make sure to consult with your healthcare provider before incorporating this into your diet.
The Bottom Line
Our thyroid gland plays a major role in the proper functioning of our body. Dealing with thyroid disorders like that of hypothyroidism can be quite challenging and discouraging but that does not mean one has to suffer through it with a strict diet and restrictive lifestyle. And even though there may be no cure for hypothyroidism, incorporating these lifestyle changes along with your medications and natural supplements can help you lead a healthy life.