ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi

Thyroid disease is due to malfunctioning of the thyroid gland and it can be hyperthyroid which means increased production of thyroid hormone where the symptoms may include weight loss, anxiety or nervousness, increased sweating, palpitations, muscular weakness, heat intolerance or it could be hypothyroidism, which is due to decreases production of thyroid hormone and the symptoms manifested include fatigue, weight gain, depression, lethargy, dry skin, cold intolerance, voice change and change in menses.

Healthy habits, diet plan to keep a check on thyroid problems (Photo by Vitalii Pavlyshynets on Unsplash)

Over the years the cases of hypothyroidism have increased exponentially and the main cause is deficiency in iodine as iodine is not freely available in diet and the only source is from taking iodised salt. Once detected with thyroid problem lifestyle changes help in controlling the disease.

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Richa Chaturvedi, Senior Consultant, Endocrinology at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals in New Delhi, suggested that to maintain a healthy thyroid and reduce the risk of thyroid problems, you can follow these habits -

  • Balanced diet: Consume a well-rounded diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Include iodine-rich foods like seafood and seaweed, as iodine is essential for thyroid hormone production.
  • Adequate iodine intake: Ensure you're getting sufficient iodine, but avoid excessive intake as it may lead to thyroid issues. Consult with a healthcare professional to determine your iodine needs.
  • Regular exercise: Engage in regular physical activity to support overall health and metabolism. Exercise helps maintain a healthy weight and promotes thyroid function.
  • Stress management: Chronic stress can affect thyroid function. Incorporate stress management techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or hobbies that help you relax.
  • Sufficient sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Inadequate sleep can disrupt hormonal balance, including thyroid function.
  • Limit exposure to toxins: Minimise exposure to environmental toxins like pesticides, chemicals, and heavy metals, as they can interfere with thyroid function. Use natural cleaning products and eat organic when possible.
  • Regular check-ups: Visit your healthcare provider regularly for routine check-ups, including thyroid function tests. Early detection of any thyroid abnormalities can help prevent further complications.
  • Limit processed foods: Reduce the consumption of processed foods, refined sugars, and unhealthy fats. These can contribute to inflammation and negatively affect thyroid health.
  • Avoid tobacco and excessive alcohol: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption have been linked to thyroid dysfunction. Quit smoking and limit alcohol intake to promote thyroid health.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink an adequate amount of water daily to support overall health and thyroid function.

Adding to the list of tips, Ritika Samaddar, Regional Head of Department of Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics at Max Super Speciality Hospital in Delhi's Saket, recommended:

  1. Maintain an ideal BMI, as hypothyroid lowers the basal metabolic rate hence one puts on weight easily. Therefore, losing weight by eating healthy and exercise is critical.
  2. If one is taking thyroid hormone replacement medication, always take on empty stomach and avoid taking coffee in the morning as it interacts with the medication (thyroxine).
  3. Always take iodized salt, as iodine is essential for normal thyroid function.
  4. Diet enriched in selenium helps in better thyroid function. Include foods like Brazil nuts, fish, egg and legumes.
  5. Go slow with Soya products as they interact with thyroxine (medication used for hypothyroid) . However, taking in small amounts and not taking very close to the medication is allowed.
  6. Exercise daily as it helps to increase the metabolic rate and helps maintain ideal body weight.

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