With the present day ‘hush-hush’ lifestyle, it becomes increasingly difficult for us to take good care of our body. We ignore diseases and keep procrastinating, only to realize that our condition has gotten worse and we are not left with any other choice but to see a doctor.
Problems related to the thyroid fall in the same category. Since they don’t show conspicuous symptoms immediately, we end up not paying attention to them. But what we usually see is just the ‘tip of the huge iceberg.’ Thyroid disorders are a result of improper functioning of the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped gland situated right below the Adam’s apple, around the trachea (read: windpipe). It plays an important role in the day-to-day functioning of our body and is responsible for all the metabolic processes a body performs.
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If the issues are not taken care of properly, they can cause improper sleep, mood swings, memory problems, and other problems (1). In fact, there are certain everyday habits that can actually exacerbate an existing thyroid problem. Here are 5 of the worst habits that you may unwittingly be partaking in, causing you to aggravate your thyroid!
1. Not Managing Stress
Stress and thyroid diseases are the devil’s combination, and can lead to actual memory loss in the long run (2). High stress levels have a tendency to restrain the thyroid gland and, in turn, impact its hormone secretion.
Patients with thyroid diseases should pay extra attention towards stress management. However, stress is an unavoidable phenomenon these days. One may not be able to necessarily eliminate all stress, but they can learn to manage it. Meditation or physical exercise are great options to do so.
As we all know, smoking is generally injurious to health. But people with thyroid problems need to take extra care of their thyroid glands by giving up smoking completely. Smoking directly affects the thyroid gland and can lead to worsening of an already existent thyroid condition.
Additionally, the ‘thiocyanate’ present in tobacco can mess with the functioning of thyroid glands, thereby hampering hormone secretion. Thiocyanate is a well-known anti-thyroid agent that doesn’t allow the thyroid gland to synthesize hormones (3).
3. Consuming Soy
Soy or soybeans are usually seeds or legumes rich in proteins and a plant-based estrogen called ‘phytoestrogen.’ Soy is a popular food choice all over the world due to it being a good substitute for animal-derived protein. This protein-rich food option is consumed in the form of soya milk, tofu, protein supplements, etc.
Though it is known for its healthy properties, it is not at all a good option for people with thyroid problems. Soy is known to have ‘goitrogen,’ a substance that promotes a thyroid condition where the thyroid gland gets enlarged. This condition is called goiter (4).
4. Overconsuming Cruciferous Vegetables
Vegetables like cabbages, turnips, cauliflower, broccoli, and other green leafy vegetables belong to the Cruciferae family of plants and are known as cruciferous vegetables.
All these vegetables are healthy for consumption in general, but when overconsumed by people with thyroid problems, they can add to already existing iodine deficiency and hamper the overall thyroid function.
This occurs because of a substance called ‘glucosinolate’ that is found in these vegetables. While processing glucosinolate, the body converts it into another compund called goitrin. Goitrin, in turn, disrupts the thyroid gland and hampers hormone secretion (5).
However, cruciferous vegetables are not a complete no-no for thyroid patients. It is advisable to focus on practicing an overall balanced and a healthy diet regime than to stop consuming them altogether or to have them in abundance.
5. Ignoring The Doctor’s Advice
Taking one’s thyroid condition for granted and ignoring it can lead to serious and permanent damage. Which is why taking advice from doctors and dieticians regarding this problem is a must! It is very important to follow your doctor’s advice and take the prescribed medication on time.
6. Not Paying Attention To One’s Diet
The most important thing that we can do for our underactive or overactive thyroid gland is to keep a check on our food habits. The following products can be avoided to help an underactive thyroid gland:
- Gluten or white flour: Researches have proven that gluten suppresses thyroid; hence, it needs to be avoided. Replacing white bread with brown, whole grain or multigrain breads will help. Similarly, white rice can be replaced with brown rice.
- Dairy products: They aid in mucus formation, and have prolactin and other antibiotics in them. However, they can create a hormonal imbalance that affects the entire body.
- Sugar: Sugar intake is one habit if avoided completely, that can result in an overall healthier body. Sugar affects multiple organs apart from the thyroid gland, and aggravate diabetes too. Additionally, food items with a high sugar content cause frequent insulin spikes, which the body becomes resistant to in time.
Adding certain food items like iodine-rich foods, colorful vegetables like bell peppers, and other organic herbs, combined with physical exercise, can help people with a dysfunctional thyroid gland to a major extent. Hence, by utilizing a combination of the above-mentioned dos and don’ts, one can easily manage thyroid disease, and live a normal and healthier lifestyle!