Many people complain that they find it difficult to lose weight because of an underactive thyroid. Over 27 million Americans experience problems with their thyroid gland and, as this condition has a major impact on metabolism, they often find that they gain weight with no apparent reason. While changes in weight might be one of the most common symptoms experienced by sufferers of an underactive thyroid, many do not realise that if hypothyroidism remains undiagnosed, they have an increased risk of both diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
It’s believed that good nutrition plays a vital role in maintaining thyroid health, so let’s have a look at how changing your diet will have an effect on an underactive thyroid.
Eat a diet based on whole foods
While diet alone cannot control the effects of hypothyroidism, making sure that you are eating a balanced diet will have a positive effect on any weight gain that you may be experiencing. Dieticians recommend that you should follow a calorie controlled diet with the majority of your intake coming from minimally processed whole foods, with an emphasis on lean meat and fish, beans, vegetables and fruits, heart healthy fats, including omega 3s, and high fiber foods, together with plenty of fluids. Eating whole foods in controlled portions can assist in managing and preventing illnesses which are associated with thyroid diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer, plus the addition of fiber can help to relieve the constipation often experienced by sufferers of hypothyroidism.
Ensure you’re getting the right nutrients
While there are many nutritional factors to take into consideration in optimum thyroid function, dieticians have found that both deficiencies and excesses or certain nutrients can trigger or worsen the symptoms associated with hypothyroidism. In particular, iodine has been identified as one of the nutrients which is essential for a healthy thyroid, as the thyroid hormones themselves are comprised of iodine especially as, while autoimmune disease is the main cause of thyroid problems in the United States, iodine deficiency is the primary cause worldwide.
Deficiency in vitamin D has also been shown to be linked with impaired thyroid health, therefore eating foods such as oily fish, milk, dairy products, eggs and mushrooms can prove beneficial for those with thyroid problems. Selenium and vitamin B12 have also been identified as being nutritionally important in the prevention of hypothyroidism.
So while diet alone cannot control an underactive thyroid, ensuring that you eat a range of whole foods will help you to stay healthy and avoid other potential medical issues.