This article is written by Fitday Expert panel member, Dr. Umashri Rao Francis (M.B.B.S)

For a healthy functioning human body, the endocrine system plays a very important role. The hormones produced by the system are carried in our blood and distributed to all the organs in the body. This system consists of many glands namely the pineal gland, adrenal glands, the pituitary gland, thyroid, pancreas, ovaries, and testicles. This article focuses upon the impact of nutrition on the functioning of the thyroid.

The Thyroid gland sits in front of the neck and helps in metabolism, growth, and development of the body.

The Thyroid disorders

Improper functioning of the thyroid can impact your entire body. If your thyroid makes too much hormone, you can develop a condition called hyperthyroidism, and if too little, it’s called hypothyroidism.

Your thyroid has an important job to do within your body — releasing and controlling thyroid hormones that control metabolism. Metabolism is a process where the food you take into your body is transformed into energy. This energy is used throughout your entire body to run many of your body’s systems.

The thyroid controls your metabolism with a few specific hormones — T4 (thyroxine, contains four iodide atoms) and T3 (triiodothyronine, contains three iodide atoms), which tell the body’s cells how much energy to use. When your thyroid works properly, it will maintain the right amount of hormones to keep your metabolism working at the right rate.

Hyperthyroidism: also called overactive thyroid, is a condition where the thyroid releases high levels of thyroid hormone into the body, which can make your metabolism speed up. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include a rapid heartbeat, weight loss, increased appetite, and anxiety. When you have hyperthyroidism, your metabolism is launched into high-speed, and can be treated with anti-thyroid drugs, radioactive iodine, beta blockers, and surgery.

Hypothyroidism: is the opposite of Hyperthyroidism, where the thyroid gland is underactive, and it can’t produce enough of its hormones.

The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto Thyroiditis, an inflammation of the thyroid gland. Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder where your body produces antibodies that attack and destroy the thyroid gland. Thyroiditis may also be caused by a viral infection. Other causes of hypothyroidism include:

  • Radiotherapy of neck - which is done in treatment of cancers in the neck region like lymphomas. This radiation can damage the cells in the thyroid glands.
  • Radioactive iodine therapy- as is done in hyperactive thyroid treatment
  • Use of certain medicines which are used for treatment of heart problems, psychotropic drugs, and medicines used for treatment of cancers
  • Hypothyroidism can also be caused due to removal of thyroid during surgery
  • It may be caused due to an iodine deficient diet as iodine is very much needed by thyroid gland for production of the hormone
  • Sometimes due to some unknown reasons during pregnancy there may be an inflammation of the thyroid gland leading to hypothyroidism in women
  • Even pituitary disorders and disorders of hypothalamus can cause hypothyroidism
Thyroid Conditions
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Goitre: a Goitre (sometimes spelled Goi-Ter) is a swelling of the thyroid gland that causes a lump in the front of the neck. The lump will move up and down when you swallow. Goitre may be caused due to hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, lack of iodine, inflammation of thyroid, menopause, and thyroid cancer.

Diet for Thyroid health

A low fat and low sugar diet is good for the proper health and functioning of the thyroid. To be specific, in hypothyroidism the foods to be eaten are:

  • Foods rich in Iodine - like cheese, milk, salt, saltwater fish, seaweed and whole eggs
  • Selenium rich foods - like tuna, shrimp, chicken, ham, oatmeal, whole wheat bread
  • Zinc rich foods - like oysters, crab, fortified cereals, yogurt, and pumpkin seeds

In hypothyroidism foods to be avoided are: soya, broccoli, cabbage, gluten foods, and processed foods.

Foods that are good for thyroid Image 2

In hyperthyroidism foods to be eaten are:

  • A low iodine diet like - non iodized salt, coffee, tea, fresh fruits, unsalted nuts, unsalted bread, oats, potatoes, honey, cauliflower, broccoli, and mustard 
  • Foods rich in iron like dried beans, green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains
  • Selenium rich and zinc rich foods
  • The diet should be rich in Calcium and Vitamin D

Other nutrients necessary for healthy thyroid glands are flax seeds and flax seed oil, olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower oils, safflower oil and unsalted nuts and seeds. Spices like turmeric, green chilly, and black pepper are also good.

Foods bad for thyroid are gluten, soy, processed meats- like bacon and sausages


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About Dr. Umashri Rao Francis: Dr. Francis has been practicing Medicine for over 27 years. She is an experienced General Physician successfully treating a vast majority of the local population, in particular the poorly diagnosed and difficult cases. Dr. Francis is a regular contributor to the #FitBlog and is available to answer your article related questions at

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