Contribution: Rachna Aryan
The thyroid is often blamed for all health problems. Always cold? Blame the thyroid. Tired? Check your thyroid. Gaining weight? It must be your thyroid.
Although the thyroid regulates various functions including body temperature, metabolism and digestion, it receives much more negative attention.
What is the thyroid gland?
The thyroid is an important endocrine gland that produces thyroid hormone, which regulates many activities in the body and ensures health.
When the thyroid gland becomes sluggish or overly active, many problems can occur. One of the most effective ways to increase thyroid gland function is through our diet.
Many components of our regular diet can help keep our thyroid gland healthy or establish a state of homeostasis if it does not work properly.
What can go wrong with the thyroid?
- Hypothyroidism (an inactive thyroid) – The body does not produce enough thyroxine for its metabolic needs.
- Hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid) – Excessive thyroxine is produced for the body’s metabolic needs.
This blog is a two-part series focusing on information related to thyroid health.
Before we move on to the best foods to fight thyroid, we will dispel some popular myths about how nutrition and diet affect thyroid health.
Let’s start with some myths about what you can and can’t eat if you have thyroid disease.
Myth # 1: If you have a thyroid condition, you should avoid eating cruciferous vegetables.
Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale. Some researchers think that this type of vegetable may interfere with how your thyroid absorbs iodine, which plays an important role in the production of hormones in the thyroid gland.
So people with thyroid problems should avoid cruciferous vegetables. The truth is that if you are not already sensitive to cruciferous vegetables, you can eat these vegetables in moderation – and should, because they contain lots of beneficial vitamins and nutrients that are part of a healthy diet.
Myth # 2: A gluten-free diet can help treat Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Gluten gets its fair share of criticism, many nutritionists tell us that a gluten-free diet can be the key to good health for a particular person.
A growing body of research indicates that gluten elimination is essential for the treatment of thyroid disease. This is a complete myth, because gluten-free foods like wheat, barley and rye can in no way help or cure Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Myth # 3: People with thyroid disease need to take a special diet.
There are lots of claims about hypothyroidism diet. However, there is no evidence that eating or avoiding certain foods will improve thyroid function in people with hypothyroidism.
A healthy and balanced diet is essential for everyone including you. Thyroid disease cannot be caused or cured by diet alone.
Myth # 4: Soy foods are bad for your thyroid
Available in a variety of foods including soy dressing, soy milk, tofu and soy sauce. There has long been a heated debate over the potential negative effects of certain compounds on soy.
Some researchers believe that the ingredients in soy – called isoflavones – can increase levels of the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which affects how much T3 and T4 the thyroid produces.
Other studies, however, have indicated that soy has no effect on thyroid hormones and very modestly increases thyroid-stimulating hormone levels.
However, there is no evidence that people with hypothyroidism should not eat any product that contains soy.
In general, experts recommend that those who have a thyroid borderline should eat moderate amounts of soy.
The latest thought
Obviously there may not be a one-size-fits-all approach that will work for everyone.
Therefore, a specific diet that can help strengthen thyroid function as well as lifestyle changes can also improve thyroid function.
Thyroid disease can manifest itself in the form of mild anxiety, irritability and nervousness. The cause of these symptoms can be detected by a simple blood test.
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