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The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits low on the front of the neck. Your thyroid lies below your Adam’s apple, along the front of the windpipe. The gland is usually larger in women than in men and increases in size during pregnancy. The thyroid secretes several hormones, collectively called thyroid hormones. The main hormone is thyroxine, also called T4. – Diet in hypothyroidism

Thyroid hormones act throughout the body, Influencing

  1. Metabolism,
  2. Growth and development,
  3. Body temperature,
  4. During infancy and childhood, adequate thyroid hormone is crucial for brain development.


An underactive thyroid gland results in hypothyroidism. Typical symptoms are:

Abnormal weight gain

The hormones your thyroid gland releases help regulate your metabolism, or how efficiently your body burns food for energy. When your thyroid makes less of its hormones — as it does in hypothyroidism — your metabolism slows down. So you won’t burn off calories as quickly and you’ll gain weight.


Since your body’s energy production requires certain amounts of thyroid hormones, a drop in hormone production leads to lower energy levels, causing you to feel weak and tired.


Hypothyroidism slows the action of the digestive tract causing constipation. Muscles line the digestive tract including the small and large intestines. Hypothyroidism can weaken the contraction of these muscles causing the stool to move too slowly.

Heavy menstrual bleeding 

Losing over 80 ml of menstrual fluid per period is considered heavy menstrual bleeding. To visualize this, 80 ml equates to 16 fully soaked regular tampons, or eight fully soaked super-tampons over all the days of your period, or repeatedly soaking through a pad or tampon every two hours. Without sufficient thyroid hormone, your ovaries may not be able to make enough of the flow-decreasing hormone progesterone. Progesterone thins the uterine lining and prevents heavy menstrual flow. – Diet in hypothyroidism

Hair loss

The thyroid hormone plays an essential role in the development and maintenance of the hair follicles. Follicles are the small pockets under the skin from which hairs grow. Severe or prolonged hypothyroidism may result in hair loss.

Cold intolerance

Thyroid hormones regulate body temperature by increasing available energy in the body, as well as by increasing appetite, pulse, the amount of oxygen delivered to different body parts, and fat build-up. Lesser amounts of thyroxine results in a slowing of energy production leading to cold intolerance.

Slow heart rate

Too little or too much of this crucial hormone can contribute to heart problems. Insufficient thyroid hormone slows your heart rate. Because it also makes the arteries less elastic, blood pressure rises in order to circulate blood around the body. Elevated cholesterol levels, which contribute to narrowed, hardened arteries, are another possible consequence of low thyroid levels.


Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of hypothyroidism worldwide, and the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common cause in the developed world. Other causes include congenital abnormalities, diseases causing transient inflammation, surgical removal, or radio ablation of the thyroid.

Take charge of your hypothyroidism

If you’ve been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, your clinician will prescribe pure synthetic T4 (thyroxine), (levothyroxine sodium). This medication works exactly like your own body’s thyroid hormone, so it rarely has any side effects.

The thyroid hormone is best absorbed on an empty stomach. Don’t take antacids, calcium or iron supplements, or cholesterol-lowering medications at the same time, because they can interfere with thyroid hormone absorption.


Although food alone may not cure hypothyroidism, but diet in hypothyroidism may help ease the symptoms.



As the body’s iodine levels fall, hypothyroidism may develop, since iodine is essential for making thyroid hormone. Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of hypothyroidism worldwide. In fact, for some people with abnormal thyroid glands, too much iodine can cause or worsen hypothyroidism. – Diet in hypothyroidism

Foods include:  Iodised salt, Sea-food, Milk, Kelps, Grains.


In adults, the thyroid is the organ with the highest amount of selenium per gram of tissue. Selenium is required for the antioxidant function and for the metabolism of thyroid hormones.

Foods include: The main sources of selenium are meat products, followed by fish,  pasta or rice, and bread or cereals.


Zinc and other trace elements such as copper and selenium are required for the synthesis of thyroid hormones, and deficiency of these can result in hypothyroidism. Conversely, thyroid hormones are essential for the absorption of zinc.

Foods include: Legumes, Seeds, Nuts, Dairy, Meat, Dark chocolate

B Vitamins

The lack of Vitamin B2 suppresses thyroid function. B3 (Niacin) is needed to keep all the body’s cells in efficient working order. Without Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine), the thyroid cannot utilize its iodine raw material efficiently to make the hormones.

Foods Include:  Whole grains (brown rice, barley, millet), Meat (red meat, poultry, fish), Eggs and dairy products (milk, cheese), Legumes (beans, lentils), Seeds and nuts (sunflower seeds, almonds), Dark, leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach), Fruits (citrus fruits, avocados, bananas). – Diet in hypothyroidism


Absolutely not. Unless you have been diagnosed with any celiac disease (though very common in hypothyroidism due to decreased gut mobility) eliminating gluten from your diet won’t help. Also, eliminating a complete food group from your diet may lead to other deficiencies which may worsen the situation even more.

Other lifestyle changes that will help you deal with hypothyroidism

Exercise: Hypothyroidism reduces overall metabolism, making those with hypothyroidism more prone to weight gain. Exercise can relieve many of the symptoms associated with hypothyroidism and can improve cardiovascular health and muscle mass. Work in the 3 types of exercises: aerobic (aka cardio), strengthening, and flexibility. Exercises to try: Walking, light weight lifting, and yoga.

Sleep: You might feel run down, even if you’re taking medication. Yet all too often, “people with hypothyroidism don’t get enough sleep, or the sleep they’re getting isn’t good quality, sleep ensures your body has a chance to rest and recover. Aim for 8 hours of sleep every night. Hit the hay and wake up at roughly the same times most days.

Morning coffee and milk: Be sure to time your morning coffee and milk correctly. It’s important to wait at least an hour after taking your thyroid medication before you drink coffee and/or milk. Both drinks can affect the absorption of your thyroid medication, making it less effective.

Reduce stress: Stress affects your body in many ways, but it’s especially bad for your thyroid. Reactions to stress are controlled by the adrenal glands, which are often overworked and underactive in thyroid patients. Stress also increases cortisol levels, increasing hunger, and raising insulin levels. Be sure to incorporate regular stress reduction methods — such as meditation, yoga, or breathing into your daily activities.


M. Sc. Gold Medalist

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