Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida


Role of diet in thyroid!



One in 13 people suffers from some type of thyroid disorder, according to the American Thyroid Association. Research studies indicate that women are more likely to have thyroid imbalance compared to men. Let’s take a look at this tiny but mighty gland. It is a small reddish-brown, butterfly-shaped gland in the lower part of the neck lying against larynx (voice box) and trachea. Its main function is to produce and store thyroid hormones, three molecules of iodine and tyrosine (T3) and four molecules of iodine and tyrosine-thyroxine (T4) by taking iodine from diet and combining it with tyrosine (amino acid-building block of protein). When thyroid hormone levels run low, the hypothalamus discharges thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH) and the pituitary gland releases thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH travels to thyroid gland, resulting in production and secretion of T3 and T4. When thyroid hormone levels are high in the blood, the pituitary gland prevents the synthesis of TRH and TSH hormone. 

Let’s check out what the hyped thyroid hormones are up to!

Overproduction of thyroid hormones results in the cells working faster than normal, underproduction of thyroid hormones, results in depressed cell function. Most common disorders related to thyroid function include hypothyroidism (low thyroid level) and hyperthyroidism (high thyroid level), goiter (enlarged thyroid gland), autoimmune disorders (thyroiditis and Grave’s disease) and thyroid cancer.

Let understand how thyroid function and food are related. Two most important things that can improve the health of thyroid gland are ensuring intake of iodine rich foods and reducing goitrogenic foods in diet. 

Iodine is a key component of thyroid hormones T3 and T4. Iodine rich foods are fish, sea vegetables (kombu, kelp and seaweed), yogurt, eggs, strawberries, cow’s milk and mozzarella cheese. Increasing the uptake of iodine is one of the strategies to combat clinically diagnosed hypothyroidism. Since excessive consumption of Iodine may actually inhibit synthesis of thyroid hormones, supplements are not usually recommended.

Selenium is required for uptake of iodine; selenium deficiency might interfere with the use of iodine. Food sources of selenium include walnuts, Brazil nuts, whole grains, animal protein, dairy and fish.

Zinc also helps activate thyroid hormones. Good sources of zinc are fish, beef and chicken.

Goitrogens are natural substances found in food that interfere with normal thyroid function, resulting in hypothyroidism. Two main categories are soy foods and cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, mustard, turnips, rutabagas, kohlrabi).

Isoflavones in soy and isothiocyanates in cruciferous vegetables appear to reduce thyroid hormone output by blocking enzyme (thyroid peroxidase) responsible for attaching iodine to tyrosine. One tip is to cook any foods known to be high in goitrogenic substances since Isoflavones in soy and isothiocyanates in cruciferous vegetables are heat sensitive, so cooking these foods lowers the availability of the substances. 

An important factor to note is that food containing goitrogens do not have a negative impact on thyroid function in absence of thyroid issues. Researchers are inconsistent as to whether people with thyroid issues should limit the consumption of goitrogenic foods. To avoid potential interference with uptake of synthetic thyroid hormones, Mayo clinic recommended avoiding consumption of the following foods, supplements and drugs at the same time as thyroid hormones: walnuts, soybean flour, iron supplements or vitamins with iron, calcium supplements, antacids with aluminum and magnesium, ulcer medications-sucralfate, cholesterol lowering drugs with cholestyramine or colestipol. You can wait two hours before and after taking the medication to consume the foods listed above.

Recipe of the month:

Rajgira Palak paratha:

Sift all the flours in a deep bowl, make a depression in the middle of flour and fill it with 2 tbsp oil. Add potato, cumin seeds, salt and ginger garlic paste to the oil. Mix the flour thoroughly, add shredded spinach, warm water and knead the dough. Oil your palms and place 1/3 cup mixture in your hand and roll it into a ball. Place plastic wrap or wax paper on the rolling surface and sprinkle the dry rajgira flour on the ball and roll it into 6-7 inch paratha. Heat the griddle and cook the paratha with little olive oil. Enjoy with any chutney or yogurt sprinkled with seeds of your choice!

To Our Health !

Bhavi Nirav is a Registered Dietitian/M.S., R.D., L.D., certified yoga practitioner, and can be reached at

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