vitamins and minerals

Watch Your Weight and Your Thyroid

Are you trying to lose weight but can’t? Or do you want to put on a few pounds but can’t even after snacking on a lot of calories? Then it’s time to check your thyroid hormones. Your weight problems may be related to abnormal levels of thyroid hormones in your blood. Besides being underweight or overweight, these abnormal hormone levels can also make you lethargic or hyperactive, dull or anxious depending on whether hormone levels are high or low.

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in front of your neck. It secretes thyroxine, an important hormone that acts on most organs of the body. When the thyroid gland produces thyroxine in excess or in small amounts, it affects the normal functions of the body. When thyroxine is produced in excess, it causes hyperthyroidism and when less, it leads to hypothyroidism.

About two percent of the general population has hypothyroidism, where the basal metabolic rate (BMR) decreases. Factors such as obesity, lack of exercise, and stress can increase the risk of hypothyroidism. Symptoms that a patient with hypothyroidism will experience include weight gain, fatigue, drowsiness, swelling in the legs and ankles, joint pain, constipation, feeling cold, dry skin, menstrual problems leading to infertility and muscle cramps.

Here are some dietary tips to fight against hypothyroidism:

• Raw cabbage, soy, cauliflower, radish greens, mustard, broccoli, legumes, bajra, peanut, lentils are considered goitrogenic (causing goiter) and should therefore be avoided or consumed in limited quantities.

• It is important to look for options when you go out to eat as cauliflower and broccoli are frequently used in salads; mustard is used in East Indian dishes and groundnut in most Maharashtrian dishes

• It is therefore very important to avoid these foods or to eat them in moderation, say once every two weeks or so.

Hyperthyroidism is a disturbance of the thyroid gland in which there is excessive secretion of thyroxine with a consequent increase in the metabolic rate. Exophthalmic goiter or toxic goiter or thyrotoxicosis and Grave’s disease are all different manifestations of hyperthyroidism. A patient with hyperthyroidism will exhibit signs and symptoms such as weight loss, palpitations, restlessness, irritability, hyperactivity, lack of sleep, tremors, intolerance to heat, muscle weakness, menstrual disorders, puffiness around the eyes, swelling of the neck, diarrhea and increased body temperature.

Here are some dietary tips to fight against hyperthyroidism

• A liberal diet providing an adequate amount of calories, protein, vitamins and minerals is indicated because patients suffer from severe malnutrition because the basal metabolic rate (BMR) is increased, thus increasing the calorie requirement

• A diet rich in vitamins A, B complex and C should be increased to twice the daily requirement. The combination of legumes and wheat germ will improve the B-complex and C vitamins

• Foods rich in carotene like papaya, mango and fenugreek leaves will provide the vitamin A supplement. Carotene will be converted into vitamin A in the body

• Calcium and phosphorus excretion is greatly increased in the urine. So foods rich in calcium and phosphorus like milk and dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables and ragi should be part of your daily diet.

• Stopping smoking, moderating alcohol consumption, limiting caffeine present in tea, coffee, cola and chocolate can reduce the intensity of symptoms as these habits can increase metabolic rate

Eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, exercising several times a week, getting fresh air and relaxing are all activities that will help you feel your best. Healthy living is an important part of recovering from thyroid conditions. These suggestions will also help prevent future problems. Watch your weight and your thyroid!

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