25th May is observed as World Thyroid Day every year with the aim to raise awareness about thyroid diseases.
Thyroid diseases are one of the most common endocrine disorders in the world and India is no exception. According to a 2011 study published in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, it is estimated that around 42 million people suffer from thyroid diseases in India. The prevalence of hypothyroidism in India is around 11%. So if anyone in your family is diagnosed with hypothyroidism or if you are suffering from this condition, then here are a few simple tips to help you manage the condition at home. This World Thyroid Day let’s create awareness about how to live well with hypothyroidism.
Living with Hypothyroidism: Tips To Follow
1. Lose Weight
Obesity and hypothyroidism are known to be closely related. This is because thyroid hormones play a key role in the regulation of basal metabolism, lipid metabolism, and glucose metabolism. It also regulates food intake and fat oxidation. So if you have low thyroid levels, you may have decreased metabolic rate and a higher body mass intake (BMI), which can increase the risk of obesity. And if you are overweight, you may need more thyroid hormone to carry out the regular functions.
This is why it is recommended to lose weight as it can also help improve thyroid functions. Studies have shown that weight loss can cause a significant decrease in serum free-T3 and TSH levels. A low-calorie diet can help you to lose weight and in extreme cases, weight loss surgery can also help. But talk to your doctor about the options available to lose weight and how it can improve your thyroid function and disease control.
2. Eat A Balanced Diet
The first thing that comes to mind if you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism is to up your intake of iodine. Although iodine plays a key role in improving thyroid function eating foods rich in this mineral is not the only dietary measure that can help. For overall improvement, it is important to eat a balanced diet that contains all the essential nutrients. Moreover, a healthy diet can help you to deal with certain symptoms of hypothyroidism such as lethargy, fatigue, and tiredness and also lower your risk of other health complications due to the impaired thyroid gland. Eat foods rich in selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, magnesium, and VItamin E and B6. Load up your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean meat and stay away from processed foods. Here are 5 Simple Diet Tips For Hypothyroidism
3. Exercise Without Fail
As hypothyroidism makes you feel low on energy and tired, it is important to ensure you stay physically active. This can not only improve your metabolism but also improve your overall health right from aiding in weight loss to helping you to manage the condition. You can start slow by walking in the morning and evening or playing a sport. Swimming or riding a cycle is not a bad idea as it can help you to move and stay active.
You can even consider yoga as it involves stretching and twisting of the muscles which can stimulate the thyroid gland and also help you to maintain a healthy metabolism. Akshar, Founder & Chairman, Akshar Yoga recommends yoga asanas such as Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand Pose), halasana (Plough Pose), matsyasana (Fish Pose), setubandhasana (Bridge Pose), and sirshasana (Headstand Pose) for people with hypothyroidism. However, it is advised to consult your doctor before you start yoga asanas or start any new form of exercise.
4. Take Medications Regularly
Once you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism, your doctor might prescribe hormone replacement medications to manage the level of thyroid hormones. However, it is important to strictly follow your doctor’s advice about taking these medications regularly and on time. Do take your medicines daily on almost the same time to ensure a consistent level of hormones in the blood throughout the day. The best time to take thyroid medications is early in the morning. But do not take it with tea or coffee as you need to maintain a gap of at least 30 minutes after taking these medications.
Avoid taking thyroid medications along with other medications. If you are also taking birth control pills or other hormonal pills, it is wise to inform your doctor because these medications can interfere with the absorption of thyroid medicine. Hence, your doctor might adjust the dosage of thyroid medications. If you skip a dose, do not take double the dose the next day but consult your doctor about the same. It is wise to keep a reminder to take medicines to avoid skipping medications.
5. Manage Stress
We live in a world where it is inevitable to not being stressed as it has become a part and parcel of our daily lives. And if stress is ignored, it can not only worsen a pre-existing condition but can also make you prone to various health problems and infections. Hence it is important to control stress and the same rule applies to manage hypothyroidism. This is because, when you are stressed, there are numerous hormonal changes that happen in the body. These changes not only increase the resistance of thyroid receptor cells to thyroid hormones but also weaken your immunity. So there is no two-way when it comes to managing stress and hypothyroidism. Certain measures that can help you de-stress include indulging in a hobby, meditation, joining a dance or art class, gardening, planning a mini-vacation, spending time with friends and family, etc.
Remember living with a chronic health problem like hypothyroidism is not an easy task. But making simple tweaks in your daily routine can help you manage the condition better and also lead a happy and healthy life.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)
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