An underactive thyroid means your thyroid gland produces less than the normal amount of thyroid hormone. Having an underactive thyroid is also known as hypothyroidism and can create a host of different health concerns and symptoms. It is wise to suggest thyroid testing to your doctor if you suffer from any hypothyroidism symptoms, as it is often misdiagnosed. Certain eating habits can help boost your thyroid levels, but you will most likely require conventional medical treatment to achieve a noticeable change.
Certain foods added to your diet on a regular basis can help boost your thyroid levels and may ease some of your symptoms. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, foods that are rich in iron and B vitamins such as whole grains, fresh vegetables and sea vegetables can help an underactive thyroid. Also, foods that are high in antioxidants such as cherries, blueberries, squash and bell peppers may be beneficial. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish such as mackerel, salmon and tuna may also provide a benefit.
Thyroid Inhibiting Foods
Many foods can interfere with the function of your thyroid and should be avoided if you suffer from hypothyroidism. Stay away from foods such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, turnip, millet, peanuts, mustard greens and soybeans. Soy is a substance to pay particular attention to, as it may interfere with the absorption of thyroid medication, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
The symptoms of hypothyroidism are often subtle and can be mistaken for depression or some other ailment if proper testing is not carried out. Each individual patient will experience slightly different symptoms, but some of the more common symptoms include weight gain, slowed speech and pulse, droopy eyelids, constipation, mental confusion, fatigue and a swollen face.
The most common cause of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune reaction where your own body will produce antibodies against the thyroid gland. One such reaction is called "Hashimoto's Thyroiditis," which is an inflammation of the thyroid gland. Undergoing surgery is sometimes a cause, as is radioactive iodine treatment. Radioactive iodine is taken when a patient suffers from an overactive thyroid, which will often slow the thyroid production so much that hypothyroidism is the result. Some other possible causes include hormonal changes during pregnancy, lupus, anemia, rheumatoid arthritis and gout.
Once you have been diagnosed with an underactive thyroid gland, your endocrinologist will prescribe a synthetic thyroid hormone called levothyroxine. You will take the prescribed dose of levothyroxine every day to balance out your thyroid levels. In some cases, a natural drug, made from a pig's thyroid gland may be prescribed. You will require regular doctor visits and tests for the first few weeks to adjust the dosage until it is at the proper level.