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Thyroid problems in Kerala
In Survey reveals that in Kerala, thyroid disorders are amongst the most common endocrine disorders. The prevalence and pattern of Thyroid disorders depend on sex, age, ethnic and geographical factors and especially on iodine intake.
Iodine deficiency can lead to mental retardation, stillbirths, congenital anomalies and psychomotor defects Research shows that hypothyroidism can contribute to morbidity from Osteoporosis, Hyperlipidemia, Hypercholesterolemia, Cardiovascular and Neuropsychiatry disease in the population . The seriousness of thyroid disorders should not be underestimated as thyroid storm and myxedema coma can lead to death in a significant number of cases
Survey on the disease high lights that throughout world the prevalence of thyroid disorder is 25% in females and 0.6% in males. The exact reason is not known. The higher prevalence in females may be associated with estrogen and progesterone. Hyperthyroidism in coastal area is about 5% where as hypothyroidism in 0.6%. Due to leaching of the soil by annual flooding, hilly region people are found to be iodine deficient.
In Kerala, 11.5% were estimated to have hypothyroidism where as only 1.8% had hyperthyroidism. So the study was intended to assess the role of food habits and geographical factors in the incidence of Thyroidism.
It is found that the prevalence of thyroidism is more in coastal area compared to non coastal, mid-land and hilly area of Kerala. The factors associated with the prevalence are mainly food habits especially the intake of sea food, coconut, tapioca and geographical features of the place.
The high prevalence of goiter in the hilly area of Kerala as reported by us 30 yrs back was due to iodine deficiency in the drinking water. That study also showed low values of iodine content (3.6 mg/L) in the drinking water collected from highland areas as compared to 8.6 mg/L in low land areas Currently with iodine supplementation and availability of iodine rich nutritious food (bread, fish etc.), the iodine deficiency etiology in hypothyroidism is no more applicable.
What is the reason for this higher prevalence in the coastal areas? It cannot due to iodine deficiency since people living in the coastal areas are using iodine rich water. The prevalence of thyroid auto-antibodies (Anti TPO Ab and ATG) in young asymptomatic patients in the age group of 15-35 in a study done by us was 90% in females and 72% in males (P – 0.0094). Goitre was prevalent in 41% of females and 5% males (P 0.0001)5,6 however, the prevalence of hypothyroidism was only 1.6% in females and 0.8 in males (p value 0.5).
In a study done in the iodine sufficient coastal area of Japan reported by Konno et al, the prevalence of hypothyroidism was related to excess consumption of iodine and the authors concluded that excessive amounts of iodine should be considered as an etiological factor for hypothyroidism in thyroid antibody negative individuals.
The common symptoms of Hypothyroidism
Cold intolerance, increased sensitivity to cold, Constipation, Weight gain and water retention, Bradycardia (low heart rate – fewer than sixty beats per minute), Fatigue, Decreased sweating , Muscle cramps and joint pain, Dry, itchy skin, Thin, brittle fingernails, Rapid thoughts, Depression, Poor muscle tone (muscle hypotonia), Female infertility; any kind of problems with menstrual cycles, Hyperprolactinemia and galactorrhea, Elevated serum cholesterol
Goiter, Slow speech and a hoarse, breaking voice – deepening of the voice can also be noticed, caused by Reinke’s Edema., Dry puffy skin, especially on the face, Thinning of the outer third of the eyebrows (sign of Hertoghe), Abnormal menstrual cycles, Low basal body temperature, Thyroid-related depression, Infertility in both men and women, Mood swings, Acute fatigue syndrome, Stress, Decreased libido in men, hypertension; Hypothyroidism increased peripheral vascular resistance,increase diastolic pressure, increased mean arterial pressure, carpal tunnel syndrome and bilateral paresthesias.
Prevention of thyroid complaints
There are lots of natural preventative health measures to lower your risk of developing a thyroid condition. Focus on getting proper nutrition, balancing your hormones, and encouraging healthy adrenal function by reducing stress. Nutrition is probably the most important player when it comes to the thyroid. Nutritional deficiencies, particularly with regard to iodine, selenium, and zinc, can contribute to poor thyroid health. It’s also important to be aware of possible food sensitivities, which can impair thyroid function, leading to other health issues commonly seen in association with thyroid dysfunction.
Eat Selenium Rich Foods
Selenium deficiency is a major factor in thyroid disorders. Selenium helps keep the various hormones produced by the thyroid gland in balance. Including as many selenium rich foods as you can in your diet is a great way to promote thyroid health. Good sources of selenium include wheat germ, beef liver and kidney, seafood, shellfish, eggs, mushrooms, garlic, kelp, onions, sesame and sunflower seeds and Brazil nuts. You can also eat turkey for thyroid health. Turkey is a great choice for improving thyroid function as it is high in protein, low in calories and contains selenium.
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids aid the thyroid in maintaining metabolism. Good sources of essential fatty acids are fish, shellfish, flaxseed, leafy vegetables, walnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, chia seeds and canola oil.
Coconut Butter or Oil
Coconut butter is a raw saturated fat that contains essential fatty acids that promote thyroid health. Long used as a healing food, coconut butter and oil is experiencing resurgence within the health food community. The fat in coconut butter and oil is quickly converted to energy and helps to regulate thyroid function. Coconut oil also stimulates the production of thyroid hormones and helps rev up the metabolism.
Copper & Iron Rich Foods
Copper and iron rich foods are vitally important to thyroid function. In fact, if you focus on no other thyroid boosting foods, make sure you focus on these two powerhouses. Copper rich foods include oysters, organ meats, clams, cashews, crab, sunflower seeds, cocoa products, whole grains and cereals containing wheat bran. Good sources of iron include red meat, poultry, beans, leafy greens and shellfish. You can increase your absorption of iron by combining it with vitamin C rich foods such as citrus, potatoes, red berries, tomatoes and bell peppers.
Foods that are Dangerous to Thyroid functions
1. Fermented Soy Foods Soy is very goitrogenic.
A strong suppressor of thyroid hormones, some research indicates that soy may even be more effective in thyroid suppression than anti-thyroid drugs. Don’t forget that soy is a potent food, and that while sufferers of hyperthyroidism might welcome soy’s thyroid-suppressing effects, take care to eat soy in its fermented state in foods like tempeh and miso as soy also contains antinutrients like phytic acid which impair the body’s overall ability to absorb many nutrients.
2. Raw Cruciferous Vegetables
Raw cruciferous vegetables also suppress thyroid function. Cruciferous vegetables like kohlrabi, cabbage, cauliflour, rapini, turnips and brussels sprouts contain goitrogens that interfere with iodine uptake and, in that way, also interfere with production of thyroid hormones. (Want to get more raw cruciferous veggies into your diet? Try my Simple suggestion with Flaxseed Oil & Honey.)
Millet, like cruciferous vegetables, contains goitrogens and interferes with iodine uptake.
Coffee is simultaneously stimulating and goitrogenic which spell trouble for both hypo- and hyperthyroid sufferers. As a strong stimulant, it can wreak havoc on those suffering from hyperthyroidism as that added stimulation is the very last thing they need. Moreover, for those suffering from hyperthyroidism, coffee also interferes with iodine uptake and thus may inhibit the formation of thyroid hormones.
Dr. NS Rajesh Kumar, BHMS, CFN MSc (DFSM)
Homeopathic medical officer in Holistic Medicine & Stress Research Institute, Medical College, Trivandrum.
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