Thyroid gland; being the silent workhorse in the body works smoothly as such that often people forget that there is a gland at the base of neck, the function of which primarily holds enormous importance. Its only when the function of this bestowed gland to us gets disrupted is when problems start to arise. Thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped gland which helps in controlling the heartbeat, temperature of the body, regulating the metabolism and so much more. For instance, an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism), which fails to produce enough thyroxin, which is a thyroid hormone, can lead to considerable weight gain, sluggishness in the body, stress and depression and sensitivity to cold. Similarly an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism), which produces excessive hormones, can cause drastic weight loss, irregular heartbeats, nervous feeling and irritation.
Since many factors like genetics, environment conditions, stress and majorly food items can influence the functioning of the thyroid hormone, we list here some best and worst foods for our thyroid gland that should be included in your thyroid diet.
Thyroid Diet: Best Foods for Thyroid Gland
Seaweed contains iodine, which is vital for proper functioning of the thyroid gland and should be a part of your thyroid diet. If the thyroid gland doesn’t get enough iodine, then it leads to a condition known as hypothyroidism or a goiter (which means enlargement of the thyroid gland on not getting enough hormone). So far, the table salt in your diet is okay, but the concern starts when you are on a low-sodium diet, you will need to include iron in your diet specifically.
As per the National Institute of Health Research Institute, 1 single gram of seaweed can contain 11% of iodine. This may also vary depending upon the type of seaweed. So, avoid taking too much of seaweed also, since too much iodine in the diet can aggravate the functioning of thyroxin leading to hyperthyroidism which is an overactive thyroid. Consumption of seaweed once a week is enough for proper functioning of thyroid gland and is an important item to include in your thyroid diet.
Dairy products, especially yogurt, are the best sources of this nutrient and it has enough iodine in it for proper functioning of thyroid gland. To back this claim, as per the Nutrition Research done in the year 2012, dairy products are full of iodine because the food supplement and pasture given to livestock has high iodine content in them and hence their milk products are full of iodine. Plain yoghurt, Greek yoghurt, low fat yoghurt are good sources of iodine and they make up to 50% of the daily intake of your iodine which makes yoghurt a beneficial food item for thyroid gland and should be an important part of your thyroid diet.
Research says that by consuming one glass of milk daily, you will consume approximately one-third of the daily needed iodine. Moreover, milk also contains vitamin D, which is also very important for proper functioning of thyroid gland. A study done in 2013 states that those with any deficiency in vitamin D can counter severe thyroid issues, especially hypothyroidism. So, milk is not only good for our bones, but also benefits our thyroid gland and is one of the important elements of a good and balanced thyroid diet.
Chicken and Beef
Another key nutrient required by thyroid gland is zinc. Zinc is very important for proper functioning of thyroid gland and thyroid hormone, as when the body is deprived of zinc or has less zinc; chances are higher that one may get hypothyroidism. Study also says that in this condition, the gland absorbs the mineral zinc and it can lead to a side effect condition known as severe alopecia which is an autoimmune condition that attacks different hair follicles and hair falls in clumps leading to severe hair loss. To get the mineral zinc, chicken and beef are the best sources. If you have a poor diet sans chicken, beef, fish or mutton, then you might face some serious thyroid issues. Both chicken and beef are high sources of zinc and it is very important for an individual to include these foods in his or her diet for good health of thyroid gland.
Thyroid Diet: Worst Foods for Thyroid Gland
Processed foods from restaurants are probably one of the worst foods for thyroid gland and they can severely interfere leading to malfunctioning of thyroid gland. Many people have a misconception that inclusion of processed foods in their thyroid diet would increase their iodine content in the body and thus benefit thyroid gland. This is simply a myth and the role of processed foods in increasing the iodine content and is therefore good for thyroid gland is completely wrong. Processed food items should be strictly avoided to maintain proper functioning of thyroid gland. Moreover, according to the National Institute of Health Office Dietary Supplement, processed foods have no iodine in them. In fact, processed food manufacturers do not include iodized salt in their food items. So, discard processed foods for better health and better thyroid gland.
Similar to processed food, fast food chains also do not include iodine salt in their food items. And even if they use, the iodine salt content in a fast food eatable won’t benefit the body that much. As per the 2010 Endocrine Practice journal, fast food items are very low or in fact nil in iodine content and therefore very harmful for thyroid gland.
If you are suffering from an autoimmune disease characterized by intolerance to the element gluten found in wheat, barley, then you will have some serious thyroid gland related problems. This has been confirmed by the researchers based in United Kingdom in the year 2007. Eating a diet free of gluten helps in controlling the symptoms. Unless you aren’t a victim of Celiac disease, gluten is harmful for the thyroid gland and should be kept out of your thyroid diet.
No doubt that soy has been one of those controversial food items, the effects of which are swinging always from good to bad and vice versa. Soy, if consumed to a limited extent, will not do the body that much harm, but if the intake of soy increases, then it would negatively affect the body including the thyroid gland. Also, a research study says that those with a high intake of soy products are more likely to develop iodine deficiency issues and thyroid problems since soy products have no iodine content in them. Another research done by the Endocrine Society’s Annual Meeting in the year 2014, the team of researchers concluded that unless a person has existing thyroid related problems, soy products will not harm the thyroid gland. Nevertheless, one must avoid fermented soy products in their thyroid diet, as apart from initiating thyroid gland problems, these also affect male reproductive hormone, testosterone, which can lead to infertility.
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