Author : Dr. Nidhi Khurana, Bodhi Certified Yoga Trainer, USA
Have you ever wondered what is it in our body that regulates our heart beat or rate of metabolism? We all know that some of us burn calories faster (higher metabolic rate) than the others. But which organ/gland in our body controls this aspect.
It is the thyroid gland!
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland which is located in the neck. Its role is to produce the hormones which regulate the body metabolism. We know that our body metabolism is directly related to the body temperature and body weight.
The thyroid gland also controls the functioning of vital organs such as the lungs, and heart, blood pressure, mood, bowel movements and menstrual cycles. You can consider it as a crucial regulator of all the functions in our body. Given its significance in regulating the functions of our body, unfortunately, thyroid gland disorders are highly prevalent in the population.
In India, 1 in 10 adults suffers from the thyroid disorder. Studies also show that women are at higher risk of having thyroid diseases than men which is further enhanced right after pregnancy and menopause. The imbalance in thyroid can also contribute to depression.
There can be two kinds of thyroid disorders based on the amount of hormones being produced by this gland:
- Hypothyroidism: When the thyroid gland produces less than the required amount of hormones. It is found to be three times more common in women.
- Hyperthyroidism: When the thyroid gland produces more than the required amount of hormones.
These disorders pose different kinds of challenges in every day body functions and require different treatment and changes in food habits to cure them.
The low level of hormones from the thyroid gland slow things down in our body. Hence, we experience: Weight gain, Puffy eyes, Feeling sad or depressed, Frequent and heavy menstrual flow, Constipation, Tiredness, Muscle cramps, Intolerance to cold, Dry skin and hair, and hoarse voice.
This is when all the functions occur at a rate faster than the normal and thus the symptoms include: Increased sweating, Sleep disturbances, Bulging eyes, Weight Loss, Rapid and irregular heart rate, Feeling irritable, Frequent bowel movements, Intolerance to heat, Infrequent and scant menstrual periods.
Foods to eat:
During hypothyroidism: Nuts, Fruits, and vegetables rich in anti-oxidants and vitamin B like blueberries, cherries, bell peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, Whole grains, Dairy products, Seaweed which is an excellent source of iodine, calcium, and vitamin A, B, C, E, and K.
During hyperthyroidism: Foods that are rich in vitamin D, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids like nuts, flaxseed, and olive oil, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.
Foods to avoid:
During Hypothyroidism: Soy products, Gluten (bread), processed foods, cruciferous vegetables, high-fat foods, high-carb foods, sugar, alcohol, and caffeine.
During hyperthyroidism: foods that are high in iodine content like seaweed, fried foods, sugary foods, salt.