The knee-jerk reaction to unexplained weight gain of most every Average Jane is a busy life or unhealthy lifestyle — even if you're not typically cavalier about your health. This guilt or realisation of the flaws in your habits have given other causes an easy scapegoat, which is why there are times when you might not associate weight gain with a potential health condition. If sense of depression, lack of energy and tiredness accompany your weight gain, you may want to consult your physician to a possible butterfly-shaped suspect - a gland located in the front of your neck — your thyroid.
What is your thyroid and why isn't it working properly?
This small endocrine gland produces hormones — mainly triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) — that are released directly into your bloodstream and distributed throughout the body. Your thyroid is considered the gas pedal of your body, and its hormones determine how your body uses energy — which also means proper diet and exercise are always good for you, but they may not help you manage your weight.
Thyroid gland probelms can be: hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. While these can both be problematic, hypothyroidism is the culprit behind unexplained weight gain, which can make you feel like some of your most comfy, favourite clothes have shrunk, deplete your energy and deflate your confidence.
So you have hypothyroidism — now what?
What you need to know is that diagnosing thyroid conditions can be challenging. In India, an estimated 42 million people have thyroid disease, but the majority remain undiagnosed and unaware of it.
Reduced amounts of thyroid hormone slow down many of your body's functions and reduce your metabolic rate. Other signs, besides weight gain, include fatigue, cold intolerance, joint and muscle pain, heavy or irregular menstrual periods, depression, constipation and memory problems.
The intensity of the symptoms varies from person to person and depends on the severity of the hormone deficiency. Initially, symptoms such as fatigue and weight gain may be barely noticeable. However, as your metabolism continues to be affected, the symptoms become more obvious. What doesn't change, however, is your need for proper care and rest. Make sure to communicate how you're feeling with your doctor and loved ones.
Dietary changes can offset weight gain
Hypothyroidism isn't a show stopper, but it still changes your life. Avoid overconsumption of raw, goitrogenic foods (i.e. cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, and soy products) because these inhibit the production of thyroid hormones.
Being mindful goes a long way
The thyroid gland has shown to be responsive to techniques that work on the body through the mind, so consider your mind-body connection. Some patients may benefit from counseling and therapy, while others may need medications to manage their condition. If you aren't already seeking mental health counseling, look into it. Almost all benefit from practising relaxation techniques that help to reduce stress (87 percent of Indian women reported feeling stressed out most of the time), from consistent exercise and by getting enough rest.
Thyroid is a little bit of a sneak; be it how the symptoms present themselves or in how it affects your life. The best way to deal with your thyroid is by keeping an open eye and keeping an open line of communication between your physician and you — they almost never miss a thing.
Disclaimer: This content is meant for awareness/educational purposes and does not constitute or imply an endorsement, sponsorship or recommendation of any Products. Please consult your doctor/healthcare practitioner before starting any diet, medication or exercise.