Hypothyroidism -(Underactive Thyroid)
The thyroid gland, consisting of two large lobes is located at the base of the throat, just below the voice box. It produces hormones essential for the proper functioning and maintenance of all the cells in the body, therefore helping to regulate the body’s growth, metabolism, digestion, body temperature and heart rate.
What is it?
Hypothyroidism or the under activity of the thyroid gland is a condition, which occurs when the thyroid gland fails to produce enough thyroid hormone. This results in the metabolism becoming sluggish, and can often mimic long-term mild depression. It affects women four times more than men especially those between 35-60 years.
What causes it?
Heredity: thyroid problems can simply run in families.
Iodine insufficiency: its strongly proposed that millions of individuals develop hypothyroid due to lack of adequate iodine intake, which may be due to soil depletion and lack of iodine in our diets. Since iodine is necessary for the synthesis, storage and secretion of thyroid hormones, a deficiency of iodine can result in hypothyroidism.
Auto immune: most cases of hypothyroid result from an auto immune disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland.
Genetic factors, hormonal disturbances elsewhere in the body, surgery, radiation or medication are other possible causes.
Signs and Symptoms
These include: Fatigue, depression, unexplained weight gain, decreased appetite, dry skin, hair loss, disturbed sleep, muscle and joint pain, heavy menstruation, constipation and hoarseness among many more.
Dietary and Lifestyle factors
Exercise is particularly important in hypothyroidism as it stimulates thyroid gland secretion and increases tissue sensitivity to thyroid hormone.
One’s diet must incorporate adequate amounts of iodine, selenium, zinc, copper, vitamin C and E. All of these micronutrients are crucial for thyroid hormone synthesis.
Goitrogens: Must be limited within the diet, these include turnips, cabbage, kale, brussel sprouts, radishes, peanuts and pine nuts. When eaten these foods should be well cooked to breakdown their goitrogenic constituents.
Soy products: Must also be limited within the diet as they have a definite anti-thyroid and goitrogenic effect. Long term consumption can promote formation of goitres (protruding bulge on the throat) and development of autoimmune thyroid disease.