Thyroid dysfunction can lead to abnormal levels of weight gain, general fatigue, sleeping disorders, anxiety, depression, allergies, skin diseases, pains and gastrointestinal problems. Thyroid dysfunction normally relates to production disorders that involve either excessive or inadequate production of thyroid hormones.
Hypothyroidism, or inadequate production of thyroid hormones, is more common than hyperthyroidism, or excessive hormones. Detection of a thyroid condition is done mainly through thyroid function tests. These tests check the level of hormones (T4, T3 and TSH) in the blood. While T4 and T3 are secreted by the thyroid, TSH is the thyroid-stimulating hormone secreted by the pituitary gland, which stimulates thyroid function.
There are two common problems with diagnosing thyroid function. First, it is possible that you may or may not be able to recognize symptoms of thyroid problems, while you may see abnormal levels of thyroid hormones. Secondly, blood tests may show normal levels of thyroid hormones, while you may have debilitating symptoms of thyroid problems. While detailed investigation may produce a definite diagnosis in such complicated cases, you can try to improve overall thyroid health by modifying your diet.
Up to 80% of T4 is actually converted to T3. T3 actually exerts the same biological effects of regulating metabolism as T4 , but it is more potent and briefer. Iodine is a major component of both these hormones, and its deficiency in diet is one of the major causes of hypothyroidism. Iodized salt, seafood and vegetables have sufficient iodine content to help prevent occurrence of hypothyroidism.
For hyperthyroidism, there is a need to suppress thyroid function. There are some vegetables that can gradually calm down an overactive thyroid. Brussels sprouts, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, turnips, kale, beans and Indian mustards deserve mention among vegetables that can help in inhibiting the excess production of thyroid hormones.
The primary function of the thyroid gland is to maintain metabolism. Essential fatty acids are involved in biologic functions of metabolizing nutrients. These Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats also act as anti-inflammatory agents, affect moods, and perform many other cellular functions. The body cannot synthesize these essential fatty oils, and therefore these must be supplied to the body through the diet. The main food sources of essential fatty acids are fish and shellfish, Soya oil, canola (rapeseed) oil, chia (Salvia hispanica) seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseed (linseed), leafy vegetables, and walnuts. Regular consumption of these foods can extend a helping hand to the thyroid.
As a general principle, avoid refined foods, refined sugar, wheat, caffeine and alcohol, and exercise regularly. A thyroid supplement can also help in providing the necessary support to this important gland of the endocrine system.