Are you doing all things right, but still feeling fatigued, gaining weight without any cause and staying mostly anxious? There’s a chance you may have a thyroid imbalance. There are two main types of thyroid disease; hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is an overactive thyroid, while hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid. Out of these two, hypothyroidism is more common and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is its most common cause. It is an autoimmune condition and occurs more frequently in women than in men. Here we’ll reveal how you can manage thyroid with the help of nutrition.
What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or hypothyroidism is typically associated with symptoms such as infertility, hormonal imbalances, weight gain, fatigue, anxiety, muscle aches and joint stiffness.
Some of its lesser-known symptoms include digestive and gut health issues such as indigestion, acid reflux, bloating, constipation, and IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome), etc. Sound familiar? This is often, unfortunately, overlooked.
Here’s how thyroid and gut are connected
When you eat something, digestion starts in the mouth with the help of saliva. Now, once you have chewed your food and swallowed it, it goes down to your stomach. Hypothyroidism can cause dysfunction in the movement or motility that is needed for the semi-chewed food to move through the digestive system and thus setting up the possibility of indigestion and poor gut health.
It is known that around 70 per cent of your immune system resides in your gut. So, an imbalance in the gut bacteria is a leading factor behind autoimmune conditions. Hence, there is a direct impact on hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s, which is an autoimmune condition.
Gut bacteria also influence the conversion of Thyroxine (T4) to Triiodothyronine (T3); T3 being the active form of thyroid hormone that the body uses. The enzymes needed for this conversion process are influenced by the health of the gut and a healthy population of gut bacteria.
The composition of our gut bacteria also affects our body’s ability to break down and absorb key nutrients which are essential to healthy thyroid function such as iodine, selenium, zinc, iron, B vitamins, vitamin A, and tyrosine. These nutrients are often low in those with autoimmune thyroid disease.
Also read: Lack of iodine can up your risk of developing thyroid: Tips to manage it
So, it’s a two-way street between gut health and thyroid health. Both are interconnected and if one is left untreated, it forms a self-perpetuating negative cycle.
Does food and nutrition impact thyroid health?
Yes! A healthy diet will help manage your condition and symptoms better. Here’s what you need to keep in mind to manage your thyroid:
1. Eliminate trigger foods
Gluten is one of the key triggers for those with autoimmune disorders. It can trigger inflammation and increase the symptoms of the thyroid. Therefore, eliminating it from your diet is really essential if you’ve thyroid. Apart from this, cut or eliminate refined and processed carbohydrates, refined sugar and artificial sweeteners.
2. Probiotics for your gut
Thyroid function depends on your gut health. So when you eliminate foods that cause inflammation, it can have a positive impact. Moreover, work on supplementing the gut bacteria with probiotic-rich foods such as pickled vegetables, sauerkraut, kimchi, etc. are all good options. These foods will keep your digestive system on track.
3. Increase specific nutrient-dense foods
You need to include a few nutrients in your diet in order to manage the thyroid. These are iodine, selenium, zinc, iron, tyrosine, B vitamins and vitamin A.
- Iodine: Sea vegetables, shrimp, milk, eggs, seafood
- Selenium: Brazil nuts, seafood, poultry
- Zinc: Oysters, red meat, pumpkin seeds
- Iron: Red meat, greens, lentils, pumpkin seeds
- Tyrosine: Meat, fish, shellfish, poultry, egg whites, yogurt, pumpkin seeds, avocados
- B vitamin: Get the rainbow on your plate
- Vitamin A: Sweet potatoes, carrots, greens, red peppers, cod liver oil, egg yolks
Also add foods rich in healthy fats like coconut oil, ghee, olive oil, nuts, avocados, and Omega 3.
4. Adaptogens to reduce stress
Stress may exacerbate an underlying thyroid condition! However, some people might benefit from adaptogenic herbs like Ashwagandha to support a healthy stress response and calm the nervous system.
5. Avoid exposure to toxins
Consume filtered water, get better quality air in the places where you spend the most time, and eat clean food to reduce the amount of toxins you are exposed to in your environment.
Beware of an unhealthy diet!
Thyroid problems are closely related to poor eating habits. So don’t let yourself indulge in unhealthy eating habits. Be positive about your connection with food and adopt healthy eating habits. These adjustments have the potential to profoundly improve one’s quality of life.