Q: What changes do I need to make in my food if I have a thyroid problem?

Hypothyroid is a condition where the thyroid gland is unable to produce, convert or activate sufficient hormones. Having the right micronutrients in right amounts can enhance thyroid production and its function.

[Hormones, weights and muscle: Beating thyroid issues]

The production of thyroid hormone needs tyrosine (that’s a part of protein) and iodine. Iodine is naturally available in sea vegetables, fish.

The conversion of T4 (inactive form) to T3 (active from) requires selenium. Brazil nuts, grey niger seeds, sesame seeds, flaxseeds contain good amount of selenium.

Vitamins A and D are critical in activating the thyroid receptor and making your thyroid hormone turn on the genes that improve your metabolism. Green leafy vegetables, carrots, chicken liver provide vitamin A. There are very few food sources of vitamin D, such as mackerel, walnuts and fortified foods. Sunlight can help your body produce vitamin D but that too is most of the times insufficient.

Zinc is beneficial for improving thyroid balance and its function. Zinc is available in cashews, egg yolk, chicken, lamb.

Hormone production needs fat; quality of fat will determine quality of hormones. This is why omega 3 supplements will help with better functioning of the thyroid hormone. Salmon, herring, walnuts, flaxseeds have omega 3.

You can include these foods in your daily diet but the amounts won’t be adequate to meet the requirements. It’s wise to get these nutrients through supplements. Certain foods disrupt normal functioning of thyroid. Gluten causes inflammation that slows down thyroid function. It triggers auto immune response in the body that attacks the thyroid. Many thyroid patients have benefited from simply excluding gluten from their meals. Wheat, barley, rye, and spelt have gluten. Avoid wheat products too; semolina, vermicelli, broken wheat, wheat pastas, breads and cakes.

Sugar makes a chronic inflammatory disease worse. The inflammation increases every time you have sugar, which hinders healing of your thyroid.

Soy is a big no - it can worsen hormonal imbalance worse. In case your thyroid antibodies are high and your thyroid problem is auto-immune, you need to avoid legumes and lentils. These have lectins that block the thyroid hormone and you may end up with thyroid receptor problem, where the cells become resistant to the hormone. In this situation, thyroid hormone pills will not help at all and your dosage will go on increasing.

Rashi Chowdhary is a nutritionist, diabetes educator and creator of The Protein Bake Shop. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.