Thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that makes thyroid hormones, and it is found in the front of your neck. Thyroid hormones impact every organ system in the body, and they are essential during pregnancy for the development of the baby's brain and nervous system. During the initial 3 months of pregnancy or the first trimester, the baby depends on the supply of thyroid hormone coming through the placenta. But thyroid problems, especially hypothyroidism, are also common during pregnancy.
Dt Hari Lakshmi, Consultant, Dietitian/Nutritionist, Motherhood Hospitals, Alwarpet, Chennai, shares diet tips to manage hypothyroidism during pregnancy.
Thyroid disorders during pregnancy
Thyroid disease is a disorder affecting the thyroid gland and this can be broadly categorised under:
Hyperthyroidism: Here, the thyroid is hyperactive which is caused due to excessive thyroid hormones resulting in the body's functions speeding up.
Hypothyroidism: Here, the thyroid is underactive which is caused due to lack of thyroid hormones resulting in the body's function slowing down.
It is difficult to diagnose or detect thyroid problems due to higher levels of thyroid hormones along with other symptoms occurring in both pregnancy and thyroid disorders. If any thyroid symptoms or thyroid imbalance is experienced during pregnancy, it is crucial to identify and consume foods that can help function thyroid hormones smoothly.
Foods that can help control thyroid during pregnancy
The thyroid uses large quantities of iodine to make thyroid hormone and hence iodine is an essential mineral for a mother. During pregnancy, the growing baby gets iodine from the mother's diet hence it is crucial to have a good dietary plan if a mother is diagnosed with a thyroid imbalance.
Iodine-rich foods: Good sources of iodine include dairy foods, seafood, eggs, meat, poultry, and iodized salt. It is an essential mineral to make thyroid hormones and a deficiency in iodine may lead to hypothyroidism. Iodine is also required while breastfeeding since the baby gets iodine from the milk.
Magnesium- rich foods: Greens, carrots, peppers, spinach, and mushrooms can be added to the diet as it is rich in magnesium which is essential for the thyroid to generate hormones in moderation.
Fruits: Most fruits are rich in vitamins and antioxidants. So, it is beneficial to consume fruits such as berries, apples, bananas, grapes, citrus fruits, and pineapples during pregnancy to strengthen the immune system.
Foods high in protein: Muscle loss is another symptom of hypothyroidism. Consuming a protein-rich foods such as fish, eggs, meat, and poultry during pregnancy may help in strengthening muscles and boosting energy levels. These foods are rich in iodine, so it is advisable to consume them in moderate quantities.
Whole grains: One of the common symptoms of hypothyroidism during pregnancy is constipation. Expectant mothers should follow a diet rich in whole grains as it adds fiber and helps ease the process of bowel movement. You can have brown rice mixed with vegetables along with oats or quinoa.
Dairy products: Cheese, coconut milk, cashew milk, coconut yogurt, almond milk, or unsweetened yogurt can be added to your diet as they are rich in calcium.
Fenugreek leaves: Antioxidants such as fenugreek leaves, along with capsicum and tomatoes are helpful as well.
Foods that can worsenthyroid problems during pregnancy
If you have hypothyroidism, there are certain food items that are not advisable to consume such as those rich in goitrogens like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. Soy or soy milk should also be avoided as it results in iodine deficiency which may interfere with your thyroid function. Other ingredients include organ meats like liver and kidney as it is rich in lipid acids, which, if taken in excess can disrupt both thyroid functions and thyroid medications.
You may like to read
Expecting moms, don't take hypothyroidism lightly
During the pregnancy stages, hypothyroidism shouldn't be treated lightly as it may lead to severe complications for both the mother and the unborn baby.
Rest assured, hypothyroidism is a simple condition to manage during pregnancy and can be controlled with regular screenings, proper medication, and a dietary chart made by your doctor which is rich in nutrients and food substitutes to control your thyroid.