The thyroid or the thyroid gland is one of the largest endocrine glands in our body, located in the neck below the thyroid cartilage, which forms the Adam’s apple.
The thyroid gland has a butterfly like shape, with two wings attached by a middle part. Any thyroid problem, be it hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism cannot be cured. However, eating a thyroid diet that is tailor made for your problem can help you manage the condition.
The thyroid controls most of the body’s organ functions, for example metabolism, usage of energy by the body, producing proteins, controlling sensitivity to other hormones, and much more. Most importantly, the thyroid gland produces the thyroid hormones T3 and T4. In order to produce thyroid hormones, the gland uses iodine present in seafood, bread, and salt.
Statistics show that 1% to 2% of the worldwide population suffers from hypothyroidism. Men are less likely to be affected. There are two main thyroid disorders, hypo and hyperthyroidism.
- Hypothyroidism is underactive thyroid, a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of the thyroid hormone. The result is usually weight gain and other health issues
- Hyperthyroidism is an overactive thyroid, a condition in which the gland produces excess hormone. Symptoms include increased heart rate, weight loss, cognitive slowing, depression, and more.
As iodine is needed in order to produce the hormone, excessive consumption or lack of consumption of iodine is usually the reason for thyroid problems. Excessive iodine deficiency results in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a condition that is very common in the modern world.
30 Seconds Test to Check Your Thyroid
While you can easily notice the symptoms of thyroid problems, you can also perform a simple test to see if everything is working properly. Here is how to perform the test, and read the results.
Step 1 – Place two fingers of the hand you are not using on the artery, and press lightly in order to check your pulse
Step 2 – Count the beats of your pulse for 30 seconds
Step 3 – Double the result you’ve counter and you will get the beats per minute. You can also count for one minute if you like
However, make sure that you use two fingers, but never the thumb. The thumb has a pulse of its own, and if you use it, you might get wrong results.
How to read the results:
- Count the pulse for three days, and if the pulse is constant, the results show that your thyroid is functioning properly. There can always be a difference of one or two beats per minute.
- Check your pulse when you are standing, and then when you are sitting. If your pulse is radically different, and your pulse is much stronger when you are standing, the results show that you are sensitive to food or environment.
- If the maximum pulse is different for more than two beats for few consecutive days, your thyroid might be sensitive. If you are suffering from some kind of infection, it is normal for your pulse to be different.
- When your pulse is stronger for 6 beats more than your average maximum after you a meal, the results show intolerance to the food or to some of the ingredients used for preparation of the meal.
- Check your pulse after you wake up in the morning. It is then when your pulse should be slowest. If it is not the slowest, the results show that dust, perfume or some other allergen in your environment is causing problems for your thyroid.
Tips for successful thyroid diet
Losing weight or gaining weight is more difficult and challenging once you are diagnosed with any thyroid disorder. Hypothyroidism, for example, slows down your metabolism, which makes it hard to lose weight. Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, speeds up your metabolism, and you have troubles gaining weight and maintaining optimal weight.
Here are few tips you can use:
- Consult with your physician if you are suffering from thyroid disorder. Any successful thyroid treatment relies on a couple of factors, and the thyroid diet is just one of them. You also need proper supplements, stress management techniques, and much more. A physician will help you with some of the factors
- Drink plenty of water, as people with thyroid disorders need more water in order to eliminate water retention and bloating. While regular diets recommend 8 glasses of water per day, you will need to drink more than that if you want to manage your thyroid disorder
- Up your consumption of fiber. Whether you are suffering from hypo or hyperthyroidism, consuming more foods rich in fiber will balance and improve your digestion, crucial for success of the thyroid diet
- Exercise regularly, not just for your thyroid problem, but also for stress management. Exercising is mandatory for people with thyroid issues. If you have hypothyroidism, you need exercise to speed up your metabolism and help you lose weight. If you are hyper, you need exercise to help you put on more muscle and maintain ideal weight
Diet for Hypothyroidism
Underactive thyroid cannot be cured. That is a fact. However, as mentioned previously, you can manage your condition by following a diet that is tailor made for you.
Here are some foods you need to avoid and those to consume.
Foods to eat
- Iodine rich foods like iodized salt and seafood. As mentioned previously, your thyroid needs iodine to produce hormones, and without it, the thyroid gland won’t work properly. Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of hypothyroidism
- Foods rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, including tomatoes, cherries, squash, bell peppers, and similar. Vitamin C and antioxidants are needed to improve your immune system, and hypothyroidism is usually a result of overactive immune system and autoimmune disorders. Vitamin C helps with that
- Skimmed dairy products are your best source of probiotics, another compound you need in order to improve your immune system and manage the symptoms of hypothyroidism
- Foods rich in vitamin B and iron, including whole grains, fresh and sea vegetables
- Skinless chicken is your best source of protein, building block for your muscles that will not trigger any problems with your thyroid
- Fish, eggs, and mushrooms are your best source of omega-3 fatty acids. In terms of fish, salmon is widely considered the best thing you can consume. But do not forget about herring, mackerel, and tilapia
- Berries, as they are best source of antioxidants on the market
- Foods rich in selenium, as the mineral helps improve conversion of T4 to T3, and play a role in protecting the thyroid gland. After iodine, selenium is the next most important mineral that helps with thyroid function
Foods to avoid
- Goitrogens, substances that disrupt the production of thyroid hormones by interfering with iodine uptake in the thyroid gland. They are present in soy products and soy beans, but also in some vegetables
- Raw vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, mustard greens, kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflowers, and similar cruciferous vegetables that also contain goitrogens
- Fruits like strawberries, peaches, pears, as they also contain goitrogens. You can consume them in small quantities, but only cooked
- Red meat is absolutely NO for people with hypothyroidism. Studies show that eliminating meat, especially ground beef, bacon, and certain cuts of steak will reduce the risk of thyroid complications and ease the symptoms at people who already have hypothyroidism
Sample menu for hypothyroidism
- For your breakfast, grab one large banana, and make sure to have breakfast at least 1 hour after taking thyroid hormone
- For your lunch, make yourself a Greek yogurt tuna salad, a meal that is high in protein and low in sugar. Tuna is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and iodine
- Your dinner should be a chicken chipotle
- During the day, you can have snacks like Brazil nuts that are high in protein, healthy fats, and fiber. They are also a great source of selenium, which is another bonus