Weight gain or difficulty in losing weight is quite often associated with hypothyroidism. Thyroid cells absorb and use insulin. Thyroid gland produces two main thyroid hormones called T3 and T4 where as pituitary gland produces thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which controls how much T3 and T4 the thyroid gland should produce. Thyroid hormones T3 and T4 play a very important role in weight management. These hormones keep your metabolism under control. If it is an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism, it can cause your metabolism to become sluggish and becomes reason for weight gain. Symptoms of an under-active thyroid are— mood swings, sleeplessness, dry hair and skin, loss of hair, weakness, fatigue, constipation, muscle cramping and weight gain.
If someone is already suffering from thyroid, after taking thyroid medicine, one should go for a healthy breakfast. In absence of food in the morning, a person feels lethargic or nauseous. Skipping breakfast may lead to mood swings, depression and migraines. But one should fuel the body with right food choices. Here are a few dietary guidelines:
With a pich of saltWatch out for iodine level: Your diet should have right amount of iodine. Body needs it in daily basis as it cannot be stored nor synthesised by the body. If your diet contains low levels of iodine, it will lead to goiter or thyroid enlargement. Best sources of iodine are fish, iodised salts, kelp, milk and dairy products, seaweed, shrimp, dried prunes, yoghurt, cranberries, pineapple, green beans. But too much of iodine can be bad for you. It may lead to nausea, vomiting and stomach pain. Therefore, you have to strike a balance, neither too low nor too high.
Omega-3 fatty acids: To enhance metabolism, Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role. Amongst rich sources of Omega-3 fatty acid are flaxseeds, walnuts, green leafy vegetables, sea food like fish and fish oils. Omega-3 fatty acids are energy boosters and they relieve depression and improve thyroid functioning. But if you are on blood thinning medication, go for its supplementation.
Selenium-rich foods: Low selenium could also hamper thyroid function. It interrupts with thyroid functioning to produce its hormones T3 and T4 and it also becomes hard for the body to convert thyroid hormones into the form needed by body cells. It also helps to regulate hormone levels in the body. Selenium plays an important role in regulating thyroid hormone synthesis. Natural sources of selenium could be fish, mushrooms, Brazil nuts, sardines, legumes, sunflower seeds and whole eggs.
Protein-rich foods: A protein-rich diet should be there in case of hypothyroidism. Diets low in protein can suppress thyroid gland, which leads to stress, slow metabolic rate and weight gain. Egg whites, lean meat, chicken, milk, nuts, seeds, legumes and quinoa are good sources of protein. Remember that adequate amount of protein can facilitate a healthy thyroid functioning.
A healthy lifestyle with healthy food, regular and controlled portion sizes of meals and moderate amount of good exercise can pave the path to shed off those extra pounds.
(Kaur is a Mohali-based dietician)