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Some 20 million Americans suffer from some form of thyroid disease and over 60 percent of them are unaware of their condition, according to the American Thyroid Association (ATA).
The thyroid is a hormone-producing, butterfly-shaped gland that regulates the body’s metabolism and influences every cell, tissue and organ in the body. This gland is located in the middle of the lower neck.
Women are more likely to have thyroid problems than men. Common thyroid disorders include hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, thyroiditis and thyroid nodules. Many thyroid disorders are genetic in nature.
If not treated, a thyroid problem can affect your metabolism and put you at a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis and infertility.
Most thyroid diseases are life-long conditions that you can manage easily with medical attention, dietary and lifestyle changes.
Here are the 10 things you should not do if you are a thyroid patient.
1. Not Managing Stress
For a thyroid patient, it is essential to manage stress. In fact, excessive stress may exacerbate an underlying thyroid condition.
According to a 2004 study published in the Thyroid journal, stress can be one of the environmental factors for thyroid autoimmunity.
When stressed, your body releases the hormone cortisol. Excess cortisol can interfere with thyroid hormone production.
Deal with your stress with restorative yoga, deep breathing, meditation, massage and a healthy diet.
2. Smoking Regularly
For a thyroid patient, smoking as well as exposure to secondhand smoke is not a good practice. A 2000 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that smoking is associated with an increased risk of developing clinically overt thyroid disease.
In addition, cumulative cigarette consumption is a risk factor in autoimmune thyroid disease.
Cigarette smoke contains a compound called cyanide, which acts as an antithyroid agent. This compound directly inhibits iodine uptake and hormone synthesis. In addition, several other components in smoke can seriously affect thyroid functioning.
Thyroid sufferers should stay away from tobacco to help prevent further progression of thyroid symptoms.
3. Ignoring Medicines and Regular Check-ups
For treating thyroid problems, proper medication is highly recommended. You should follow your doctor’s instructions and take prescribed medications without fail to get your thyroid hormone levels back to normal.
Do not stop taking medicines on your own even if you feel fine. Also, do not self-medicate as a wrong dosage can play havoc with your thyroid health.
At the same time, you must regularly get a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) blood test done, which measures the hormones in your thyroid against a healthy level. The test should be done once or twice a year to keep a check on your thyroid hormone levels.
4. Taking Your Thyroxine Tablet with Your Morning Coffee
If you are taking thyroxine tablets for the treatment of your thyroid condition then keep in mind that they work best when taken on an empty stomach as it aids in better absorption.
You can take your medicine in the morning, 30 to 60 minutes before eating your breakfast. Another option is to take it as the last thing at night, 2 to 3 hours before going to bed.
Keep in mind not to take your thyroid medicine along with fiber and milk-based foods; probiotics; calcium-fortified fruit juices; calcium, iron or other mineral supplements; and beverages like coffee. The best option is to simply take it with a glass of water.
Also, it is best to take your medicine at a fixed time daily (or the frequency your doctor has prescribed). Maintaining a routine will ensure that you do not miss a dose.
5. Eating Large Amounts of Raw Cruciferous Vegetables
Excessive consumption of raw cruciferous vegetables can be detrimental for people suffering from thyroid disorders, especially for those with iodine deficiency or insufficient iodine intake.
They contain compounds called glucosinolates that can interfere with thyroid hormone synthesis. Some examples of cruciferous vegetables are cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and sweet potatoes.
So, watch your intake of goitrogenic foods, such as cruciferous vegetables, especially in raw form.
6. Neglecting the Darker Side of Soy Products
In addition to limiting your intake of cruciferous vegetables, consult your doctor before eating soy products. Soy contains phytoestrogens and goitrogenic compounds that affect thyroid function and interfere with the body’s absorption of the hormones produced by the thyroid gland.
So, restrict your intake of soy foods. Plus, avoid taking soy supplements; genetically engineered soy foods; and soy junk foods including soy cheese, soy oil, soy ice cream and soy burgers.