Hypothyroidism, Hypothyroidism Diets and Weight Loss
Hypothyroidism is a disease or condition that affects the endocrine system of your body. Your endocrine system is a system of glands that release certain hormones that regulate other various bodily systems. The glands of the endocrine system release their hormones directly into your bloodstream. Understanding hypothyroidism and how it affects you body is necessary before you can even consider a hypothyroidism diet.
Generally speaking, hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormones (TSH, T3 or T4) to maintain your body’s metabolism at a normal level and is not life threatening unless left untreated.
The effect of this is a continuous reduction of the body’s ability to maintain energy levels and properly maintain certain bodily systems, namely the ability to convert food into energy causing your unexplained weight gain. Other hypothyroidism symptoms include feeling fatigued and tired, muscle aches and pains and forgetfulness…
What was I saying? Oh, right, symptoms of hypothyroidism. I’m being cute but it’s not funny for us who have to live with this disease. I’m always forgetting one thing or another from time to time. Thankfully, I now know the cause of my forgetfulness is due to my thyroid, not to mention the weight gain, the hair loss and brittle nails that I was experiencing.
After being diagnosed with hypothyroidism you will finally come to understand why you have been feeling the way you have. By starting on a thyroid treatment therapy program you will start to feel like your old self again. You may not relish the thought of being diagnosed with hypothyroid disease but once your thyroid levels are gotten under control you will start to feel better, sometimes pretty quickly.
For the majority of us with hypothyroidism the treatment will be in the form of some prescription thyroid medication. For example, the medication Synthroid (generic name is Levothyroxine), a thyroid hormone, is widely used to manage hypothyroidism and is available by prescription.
But, often we see hypothyroidism diet information making promises of cures for hypothyroidism, managing your hypothyroidism through diet or managing your hypothyroidism using some natural over the counter remedy. There’s much more to a hypothyroid diet than that. Not to mention that some of these claims for hypothyroidism cures are suspect at best and it really depends on your personal circumstances.
The truth about these hypothyroidism diet myths is that in most cases you can’t cure hypothyroidism. Curing your hypothyroidism through diet is highly dependent on what is causing your underactive thyroid disease or hypothyroidism to begin with.
For instance if you have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and autoimmune disease, or thyroid cancer, by the time your symptoms appear and you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism; irreversible damage is already done to your thyroid by these diseases. You aren’t going to cure your thyroid disease with a hypothyroid diet in these cases and your thyroid hormone production isn’t going to just happen to increase by consuming some herb or home remedy found in a hypothyroidism diet. I really wish you could cure hypothyroidism with diet.
In general hypothyroidism doesn’t work this way. There are situations where your low thyroid output is reversible but this is rare. For the majority of us we’re just going to have to deal with this condition for the rest of our lives.
This is because some part, if not all, of your thyroid gland is permanently non-functional and unless you get your thyroid hormone levels under control through proper medical treatment and some type of thyroid hormone replacement therapy, your metabolism is going to continue to spiral down and will increasingly reduce the effect of any hypothyroid diet should you be trying to lose any weight.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a diet for hypothyroidism on this earth that will bring your thyroid back to life. Thyroid hormone replacement is now necessary. I’ve never heard of any medical discovery of any diet foods that contain the thyroid hormone that your body needs.
In essence this simply means that you shouldn’t entertain the notion that a diet for hypothyroidism will exclude your need for proper thyroid medication. The two could be and should be included together in your everyday life for the rest of your life.
Managing Your Hypothyroidism Through Diet
So let’s look at the perception of a Hypothyroidism Diet through a more realistic point of view. The first thing we need to understand is what a low thyroid diet means to you and why you should be on one to begin with.
We’ve already addressed the notion of curing hypothyroidism with a diet so that’s not a realistic concern. How about losing weight or hypothyroid symptom relief?
Now, these are realistic goals that can be addressed with a diet for people with hypothyroidism. Let’s address the first goal first, relieving hypothyroidism symptoms.
Hypothyroidism presents many different symptoms that can be experienced by the person suffering from hypothyroidism. Being sure to properly take your medication on a daily basis can relieve some of these symptoms. While other symptoms can be managed through lifestyle changes you can make for yourself at home.
Relief of these symptoms can be found through proper diet, regular exercise and weight loss. Examples of these symptoms are constipation, fatigue, weight gain and stiff joints and muscles. In one way or another, these symptoms of hypothyroidism all go hand in hand and can sometimes feed each other. Constipation can cause fatigue, constipation and fatigue can cause weight gain and weight gain can definitely cause issues with stiffer muscles and joint pain not to mention it can put more undue stress on your entire system.
The big revelation is that relieving these hypothyroid symptoms requires
1. Medical attention from your doctor or endocrinologist through blood tests and monitoring.
2. Thyroid medication regulation by taking your meds daily and properly.
3. Eating a properly balanced diet with the inclusion of plenty of water, fiber, fruits and vegetables.
4. Regular exercise that includes both cardio and weight training. Building muscle is a great way to feel better and improve your metabolism and burn fat.
These are the foundation of any Hypothyroidism Diet regardless of your goals. Now, let’s address the second goal, hypothyroidism weight loss.
Hypothyroidism Diet Basics
The funny thing is, the same things that help with relieving you hypothyroidism symptoms are pretty much that same as if you were trying to lose or maintain your weight with some subtle differences.
There are only a few basic things that create a difference between a hypothyroidism diet plan for weight loss and a basic good nutritional diet plan with the same goal in mind. The differences are the few foods that you should avoid and/or monitor your intake of and scheduling your eating times around the time of day that you take your medication. But other than that a lot of the same rules still apply.
Following is a list of things that should be monitored or avoided altogether while on a hypothyroidism diet:
Soy – is one of those hypothyroidism foods to avoid that you cannot totally avoid soy because traces of it are found in almost everything on the market but you can and should avoid making soy the main source of nutrition in your diet. Soy is an enemy of an underactive thyroid. For information about Goitrogenic foods, See “What are Goitrogens?”.
Iodine – in your diet iodine can be tricky as well, because too much or too little iodine can be harmful to thyroid health. There are many thyroid supplements out on the market today and iodine supplements represent a large part of that market. It is a hotly debated subject as to whether you should or shouldn’t take an iodine supplement so all I’ll say is that you should determine with a blood test whether you have an iodine deficiency prior to taking an iodine supplement. Too much of a good thing can still be bad.
Watching soy and iodine consumption are two areas where a hypothyroidism diet would differ from a normal nutritional daily diet but for the most part a hypothyroidism diet is about implementing healthy, nutritious eating habits in addition to proper medical treatment by your health care provider or endocrinologist.
Once you have your thyroid hormones regulated you can do just about the same things to help you lose weight that anybody with a normal thyroid could do to lose, maintain or even gain weight. It depends on your eating and exercise habits.
By developing some good, healthy eating habits that includes eating smaller and more frequent meals to boost metabolism in conjunction with a regular exercise routine of at least 3 days every week and maybe some yoga thrown into the mix will go a long way to making your life with hypothyroidism a happy and healthy one.
At the end of the day, there are many factors that can affect your thyroid and can determine how successful you will be on a hypothyroid diet. The first step is education. Once educated about this disease the next step is to get your thyroid regulated. Once this is accomplished you will see your chances of being successful with a hypothyroidism diet increase dramatically.
Just make sure you set healthy and realistic goals for managing your hypothyroidism and engaging in a hypothyroidism diet.