Thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of our neck that produces a hormone which influences every cell, tissue and organ in our body hence, it plays a big role in helping the body to work right. Thyroid disorder has now become a household name and is close behind hypertension and diabetes.
Thyroid problems are believed to be higher in women than men and a stressful lifestyle is believed to be one of the leading causes of thyroid disorders. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Sandeep Reddy, Senior Endocrinologist at Kamineni Hospitals in Hyderabad, explained, “Thyroid is an often misunderstood endocrine gland which is often blamed for weight gain. There are no ways reverse autoimmune thyroid disorders (hashimotos thyridoits), which is the most common thyroid disorder but it can controlled with diet and medication.”
Dr Aditya G Hegde, Consultant – Diabetes and Endocrinology at Manipal Hospital Old Airport Road in Bengaluru, shared, “Hypothyroidism is the most common type of thyroid disorder that is characterised by high TSH levels and low thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) production by the thyroid gland. 1 in 10 women suffer from hypothyroidism. It can lead to fatigue, muscle weakness, sensitivity to cold, impaired memory, weight gain, infertility, joint pain, heart disease, etc if left untreated. As the condition may progress without any noticeable symptoms at early stages, both men and women need to get a thyroid function test done at regular intervals, especially those with a positive family history, recent pregnancy and childbirth. This blood test can help to establish an accurate diagnosis.”
He added, “Treatment with hormonal supplementation is both a safe and effective way to normalize the condition. Treatment is usually started with small dosages and gradually titrated up to avoid discomfort to the patient. It is important to follow up with your doctor every 6-8 weeks for a review of dosing and symptoms. Daily exercise and maintaining a healthy weight have a beneficial effect on thyroid health. Include a lot of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats and get 7-9 hours of sleep every day to maintain good thyroid health.”
Asserting that there are lot of misconception about diet in thyroid, Dr Sandeep Reddy highlighted that there are no super food to reverse thyroid. Presently there is no evidence to support the diet to reverse the thyroid and like everyone else, people with thyroid need to take well balanced diet. “Diet will not make thyroid disorders go away and will not cause thyroid disorders,” he insisted.
He shared some of these misconceptions that include, “Avoiding eating cruciferous vegetables in thyroid disorders – Cruciferous vegetables (which include broccoli, cauliflower, brussels, sprouts and kale) have been thought to interfere with thyroid hormone synthesis. In reality, cruciferous vegetables are part of a healthy and balanced diet. Eating in moderation has no negative effect. Consumption of an excessive and unrealistic amount of these vegetables might interfere with iodine and hormone production in the thyroid which is usually not seen.”
Dr Sandeep Reddy pointed out that Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism and that a gluten-free diet cannot reverse Hashimoto’s. “Celiac disease can co-exist with Hashimoto’s. In this case, patients would need to adhere to a gluten-free diet to manage their celiac disease, not Hashimoto’s,” he said.
Adding that there is a link between obesity and hypothyroidism, Dr Sandeep Reddy alerted that obesity in adults and adolescents might lead to mild elevation of TSH. Following a well balanced diet and avoiding refined and processed foods is required for every patient of thyroid disorders, he said.
7 best natural supplements for hypothyroidism:
Dr Ashok Kumar Jhingan, Senior Director, Centre For Diabetes, Thyroid, Obesity and Endocrinology at BLK-MAX Superspeciality Hospital, listed:
Found primarily in seafood, iodine is a mineral nutrient that our bodies need to produce thyroid hormones. Our bodies don’t make iodine naturally. Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of goiters, a thyroid disorder. If your iodine levels are low, replenish them quickly — either with dietary changes or iodine supplements. According to scientific research, iodine seems to be paramount in treating and even preventing autoimmune diseases, like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
It is important to note that excessive iodine supplementation can also be detrimental and actually increase antibodies to the thyroid gland. It’s best not to exceed the recommended daily intake of 150 mcg per day.
Probiotics are “good” bacteria. Antibiotic medications can wipe out the good and bad bacteria that live in your gut — leading to leaky gut. It’s important to replenish these good bacteria with probiotics and restore your gut health. Recent research shows that probiotics reverse leaky gut by supporting the tight junction proteins that act as a barrier between your gut and your bloodstream.
Selenium is an important nutrient found in muscle meats, fish, and eggs. It can also be found in supplement form. In a 2010 meta-analysis, researchers found that selenium, when added to a conventional treatment of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, improved biomarkers of thyroid condition. Selenium also seemed to improve mood and general well-being.
4. Vitamin D
First discovered in 1913, vitamin D is naturally found in very few foods. We produce vitamin D most efficiently from exposure to sunlight. It is also available in dietary supplement form.
A 2018 study revealed that vitamin D is essential to thyroid function — and vice-versa. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism.
Vitamin D is also technically a hormone produced and secreted by the kidneys — the only vitamin with that distinction.
Chasteberry is commonly used to treat female hormone imbalances, such as PMS symptoms, menopause symptoms, and sometimes even infertility. With a few uncommon side effects like dry mouth, chasteberry is a well tolerated method of balancing female hormones, which may, in turn, treat Hashimoto’s.
It is the most abundant antioxidant naturally found in our bodies. However, low levels of glutathione can occur due to stress, poor diet, or exposure to environmental toxins. Oxidative stress (free radicals damaging your cells) can increase the severity of hypothyroidism. Antioxidants like glutathione fight this oxidative stress.
Curcumin is the bioactive ingredient in turmeric — a common spice. It comes with its own host of health benefits, including prevention of autoimmune diseases. Like glutathione, curcumin is an antioxidant. Curcumin is also anti-inflammatory and may be able to fight Hashimoto’s disease.
Foods To Avoid
According to Dr Ashok Kumar Jhingan, dairy, grains, nuts and seeds, dried fruits, all nightshade vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, peppers, vegetable oils like canola oil, beans/legumes (because of the potential allergen lectin), chocolate, sugar, coffee, alcohol and processed foods should be avoided by patients suffering from hypothyroidism.
Meditation and Therapy
Asserting that stress is a major factor in disrupting normal thyroid function, Dr Ashok Kumar Jhingan suggested, “Relieving stress in your everyday life can lead to a stronger balance in your hormone levels and can potentially reverse hypothyroidism. An exciting new area of medicine is peptide therapy. Peptide therapy is a safe method of targeting certain health issues in your body. Peptides are just proteins, except they have much shorter molecular chain length. The use of peptides has gained popularity as a treatment for hypothyroidism recently.”
He added, “Meditation is one easy way to alleviate stress and lessen symptoms of hypothyroidism. A full eight hours of sleep is important to handling stress, as is sleep quality. To get better sleep, try cutting out blue light exposure an hour before bedtime. Blue light is emitted from most electronic devices like your TV and phone.”
He concluded by saying that 90% of the thyroid cases are due to Hashimoto’s disease and if patient follow the above regimen, this can be controlled and can be reversed too in some cases.