The thyroid gland, a delicate butterfly-shaped organ located at the front of the neck, plays an important role in regulating various bodily functions. Its proper functioning is essential to maintain overall health.
However, disruption of thyroid function can lead to two distinct conditions: hypothyroidism, in which the gland is underactive, and hyperthyroidism, in which it is overactive. These conditions are often the result of an autoimmune phenomenon, in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland, causing gradual damage and subsequent dysfunction.
One of the notable aspects of thyroid dysfunction is its genetic predisposition, making it a condition that can be passed down through families. The complex interplay between genetics and immune system response contributes significantly to the prevalence of thyroid disorders in some family lines. Understanding these genetic factors becomes important for effective diagnosis and management.
Contrary to popular belief, lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise, or yogic asanas have limited effect in mitigating the disease process associated with thyroid dysfunction. Although maintaining a healthy lifestyle is beneficial for overall well-being, these measures are not the primary intervention for managing thyroid disorders. Instead, the focus shifts to specific recommendations that can help reduce the effects of thyroid dysfunction.
Dr Johan Varghese, Honorary Consultant Endocrinologist, Holy Family Hospital, shares five lifestyle changes you can make to prevent thyroid problems.
– A basic suggestion given to people with thyroid disease is to include iodized salt in their diet. Iodine is an important component for thyroid hormone synthesis, and ensuring an adequate supply can support thyroid function.
– Additionally, it is recommended to include fresh fruits and vegetables with few exceptions. Although broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are generally safe as part of a healthy diet, it is recommended to eat them cooked rather than raw. However, it is important to remember that dietary changes alone do not play an important role in improving thyroid disease.
– Another important recommendation is to avoid smoking, including exposure to passive smoke. Smoking has been linked to various health problems, and in the context of thyroid disease, it can exacerbate symptoms and complications associated with both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
– Eliminating or reducing exposure to cigarette smoke is considered an essential step in the overall management of thyroid dysfunction.
– In treatment, thyroid drugs emerge as the cornerstone. These medications, prescribed based on the specific thyroid disorder and the patient’s individual needs, are the only proven method to effectively address thyroid dysfunction. It is extremely important for individuals to consult their physician before starting or stopping thyroid medication, as inappropriate management can lead to further complications.
Understanding the complex nature of thyroid dysfunction, its genetic component, and the limited effect of lifestyle changes underscores the importance of targeted interventions. As thyroid medications are the primary method of treatment, a collaborative approach between patients and healthcare professionals is essential to effectively manage these conditions.