Can Thyroid disorders be managed by lifestyle changes?
Mostly a lifelong symptom once it sets in, thyroid disorders are of two types –
- Hypothyroidism – a disorder that occurs when thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones to fulfil body’s needs (underactive thyroid).
- Hyperhyroidism – a disorder that occurs when thyroid gland produces more than required amount of thyroid hormones in the body (overactive thyroid).
Hypothyroidism is more common thyroid disorder and is on a constant rise due to various reasons including lifestyle issues.
The main treatment of hypothyroidism is taking thyroxine supplements every day without fail. Not sticking to the dosage of the medication as advised by Doctor is not recommended and should be avoided for the effective treatment or else symptoms may remain as it is or even aggravate.
Diet and lifestyle changes do work in managing and controlling thyroid-related conditions. Thyroid diseases usually arise as the result of poor diet, lifestyle stress and other lifestyle related factors. Few changes that can help in managing the thyroid disorder are:
- Less Sugar = Less worries
Yes, the lesser the amount of sugar consumed the better life you can live. Excessive sugar consumption leads to increased inflammation in the body. Inflammation slows down the conversion of T4 to T3 or triiodothyronine, the active thyroid hormone thus worsening the symptoms of Hypothyroidism. Thus, decreasing the consumption of sugar and processed foods can be the first step towards a healthier thyroid function.
- Exercise - Sweat it out!
Exercise can assist in your thyroid treatment plan by helping relieve stress, reducing symptoms of depression, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Exercise releases feel-good hormones called endorphins that helps in feeling physically and emotionally better.
It is recommended to concentrate on cardio exercises, for better results.
- Iodine is bliss
Iodine is an essential nutrient for the body, and thyroid function is quite dependent on iodine, thus those lacking enough iodine in their diet may also suffer from hypothyroidism. The resultant outcome is known as Goitre. (This is a swelling in the neck resulting from an enlarged thyroid gland. A goitre can be associated with a thyroid that is not functioning properly. Worldwide, over 90% of goitre cases are caused by iodine deficiency)
Intake of adequate iodine helps in proper thyroid gland regulation. Iodised salt, seafood like fish, shrimps, tuna, seaweed and dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese are good sources of iodine.
- Focus on Vitamins and Minerals intake
Vitamin-B Complex, Selenium and other trace elements play a vital role in overall wellness of the body and hormonal production. Speak to your doctor if you are found to have any vitamin or mineral deficiency.
- Strength and Muscles go a long way
Increasing muscle mass increases the BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) thus helping to curb the weight gain caused by thyroid disorder. Sluggishness and lethargy also vanish in a woof!!
Hypothyroidism is usually associated with occurrence of depression and anxious thoughts in the patients. Meditation can be one of the effective ways to deal with one’s thoughts and gain mental peace.
- Gluten - free diet
Association of celiac diseases with hypothyroidism is well-known. Gluten is one of the causative factors for celiac disease. Gluten is a protein found in foods processed from wheat, barley and other grains. Cutting gluten from diet will help in relieving symptoms associated with celiac disease and hypothyroidism.
- Control Alcohol intake
Excessive alcohol consumption messes up with thyroid function. Drinking alcohol occasionally in moderation does not cause any notable damage to thyroid gland.
- Foods that are a big NO-NO
Soy based foods, cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, high fibre diet, processed foods, frozen meats should be best avoided to improve thyroid health.
While medication are a must for immediate relief and proper treatment for hypothyroidism but maintaining, a healthy lifestyle will certainly help in curbing and managing the symptoms in the long run.
Wishing you a very Happy and Healthy Life. Take care.
Contributed by Dr. Bhavana Sontakke, Leading Gynaecologist and Obstetrician.