The thyroid gland helps regulate metabolism and plays a vital role in weight management. Hypothyroidism causes the body to produce too little thyroid hormone. Also known as underactive thyroid disease, it can affect males and females of all ages. Symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as weight gain and fatigue, may require medical treatment to overcome. If you suspect hypothyroidism, talk to your doctor.
The thyroid plays a central role in regulating body temperature, metabolism and other vital functions. An underactive thyroid can cause your metabolism to slow, resulting in less efficient use of calories and weight gain. Other symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as fatigue and depression, may further contribute to weight gain by discouraging regular exercise. Additional symptoms of thyroid dysfunction include dry skin, constipation and heavy menstrual bleeding.
Some foods help reduce symptoms of thyroid dysfunction while others may interfere with thyroid function and thyroid medication. Before making any dietary changes for weight loss or adding dietary supplements, consult your doctor. To reduce hypothyroidism symptoms, the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends eating foods rich in B-vitamins and iron, such as fresh vegetables, whole grains and sea vegetables, which include dulse and kelp. UMMC also suggests foods high in antioxidants like blueberries, cherries, tomatoes, squash and bell peppers. Avoid foods such as broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, spinach, turnips, soybeans, and peanuts, because they may interfere with thyroid function. Limiting your intake of fried foods, sweets and white flour products reduces the amount of fat and calories in the diet and helps prevent weight gain.
The fatigue and weakness that often come with hypothyroidism can make exercising difficult. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each day for adults. Dividing exercise into three periods of 10 minutes each can make it easier to meet your daily goals. Activities like brisk walking, swimming and cycling can effectively help you manage your weight and stay fit.
While it’s possible to lose weight with untreated hypothyroidism, symptoms like fatigue and slowed metabolism can make it more difficult. Levothyroxine, the most common life-long treatment for hypothyroidism, replaces a hormone normally produced by your thyroid. To ensure adequate absorption of levothyroxine, do not take it with fiber, calcium or iron supplements. In addition to weight gain, hypothyroidism can cause serious health problems, such as high cholesterol, heart failure and birth defects. If you suspect hypothyroidism, your doctor can perform blood tests to diagnose the condition.