In last week’s article (June 5) we discussed how the thyroid gland functions and the chaos it can create if it malfunctions. Hypothyroidism is one of the problems. But do not panic. Through dietary changes we can manage hypothyroidism.
How to manage the imbalance
A well-balanced nutrition plan with adequate energy, carbohydrate, protein and fat can help maintain thyroid levels and keep weight in check. Focus on good sources of proteins like cereals, pulses, curd, paneer, nuts, egg, meat and fish.
A combination of these food groups in a specific ratio will provide essential amino acids required for muscle build-up. However, a high protein content in the diet can lead to fat accumulation. Thus, limitations on its consumption must be exercised to avoid weight gain.
Include probiotics: Include a good helping of probiotics (found in curd, paneer, cheese, and probiotic liquid suspensions available in the market) and prebiotics (found in garlic, banana, and chicory roots). Studies show they help in maintaining good TSH level, and relieve constipation and fatigue associated with hypothyroidism.
Iodine intake: This mineral has been linked with thyroid health and produces hormones required to metabolise carbohydrates and fat. Foods like fish, sea vegetables, prunes, dairy, eggs and iodised salt are rich sources of this mineral.
Vitamin and calcium requirements: Include sesame, rajgira, walnut, oyster mushroom, vitamin D fortified milk and exposure to morning sunlight for keeping Vitamin D in the required range. Similarly, adding foods like ragi, horse gram, pale brown dried dates, figs, curry leaves, jeera, ajwain, white/ black til, sunflower seeds and paneer can help with your daily calcium requirements. Consider avoiding milk as lactose intolerance is quite common in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Curd, buttermilk, and paneer can be used as per tolerance in such cases.
Selenium-rich foods: Selenium deficiency is one of the reasons for low T3 levels. Make sure you incorporate foods rich in selenium like Brazil nuts, cereals, pulses, ajwain, sesame, garden cress seeds, niger seeds, salmon, sardine, shrimp and mushroom.
Additional supplements: CoQ10 and B complex vitamin supplementation may help increase energy production. This can provide a solution for fatigue, lethargy and low energy levels commonly seen in hypothyroid patients. Supplementation should be taken under strict medical or qualified dietetic guidance. Studies show certain herbs like guggulu and ashwagandha root may improve thyroid activity. However, these supplements should always be taken under medical guidance.
Dietary and lifestyle changes help to improve symptoms and overall health. It is better to consult a qualified dietician who will help you find an eating pattern that will work best for you through diet and additional supplementation wherever needed.
[The writer is PG (Dietetics and Applied Nutrition); MSc (Dietetics)]