Having battled with hypothyroidism for the last 15 years since giving birth to my son, I have deep empathy for anyone suffering from this hormone-related disorder. Like diabetes, this one too is a silent killer that can hamper your lifestyle even in its mildest form, causing fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, mood swings, irregular periods and dry skin, among other issues. In its severest form, if left untreated, it can lead to myxoedema, a life-threatening condition that can lead to a loss of consciousness, or even coma.
“The thyroid gland is our master gland for metabolism. When it is not producing enough thyroid hormones like in the case of hypothyroidism, everything slows down, leading to these symptoms,” explains naturopath Dr Meghna Thacker, whose bestselling book Seven Steps To Heal Your Thyroidfocuses on helping hypothyroid patients increase energy levels, improve moods and rev up weight loss.
Among the many causes that lead to these imbalances, our environment exposure also plays a huge role on our thyroid health. “Heavy metals get attached to the thyroid tissue and impact the conversion of T4 to T3 (T3 is the active hormone that our cells utilise to produce energy). We are exposed to lead through house paint and old water pipes, cadmium from secondary cigarette smoking, mercury toxicity from dental amalgams and also fish. As such, heavy metal exposure hugely impacts your thyroid function,” she adds. Dr Thacker believes in the trinity of health—body, mind and spirit—and says that one needs to be balanced at all these levels for optimal health. Here, she shares five tips that can help hypothyroidism symptoms.
The top five lifestyle changes you can make to control hypothyroidism
Exercise: “You need to do this to stimulate your metabolism, but you shouldn’t push yourself too hard either. Intermittent exercises that increase the heart rate are very helpful. For example, do 50 jumping jacks thrice a day.”
Drink water: “You should consume enough—we suggest half your body weight in ounces. So if you weigh 150lbs, drink at least 75 ounces of water per day.”
Meditate: “These days, we are always on the go. Multitasking and constant stimulation brings stress to our bodies. Take a moment to just breathe. Practice 20 minutes of meditation. I recently attended the Inner Engineering program by Sadhguru (Isha Foundation) and learned the Shambhavi Kriya he teaches. It is wonderful flow of yoga asanas, breathing and meditation.”
Change your diet: “I recommend a mostly plant-based diet with a balance of carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats. Do not skip carbs completely as good carbs are essential for conversion of T4 to T3, which is the active thyroid hormone. Avoiding carbs is a common mistake people with hypothyroidism make when they are trying to lose weight—it only works against them.
Eat smaller meals: “Five to six meals is ideal. If you go long hours between eating, it slows down your metabolism, which is the problem in hypothyroidism to begin with,” explains Dr Thacker. A good sample diet to follow:
- 8am: Protein smoothie (with vegan protein powder) + spinach+ strawberries
- 11am: A handful of nuts (Brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts)
- 1pm: Boiled eggs and salad
- 4pm: Apple with cashew butter
- 7pm: Quinoa with cooked veggies