The problems associated with the thyroid gland are quite frequent during pregnancy and their treatment is of vital importance for the development of the pregnancy. Without treating, these hormonal imbalances can result in premature or low birth weight, pre-eclampsia (excessive increase in blood pressure) or even miscarriages. What you eat can also be key. This is the foods that can help control the thyroid gland in pregnancy.
The thyroid gland is a small gland located in the lower part of the neck that is responsible for such important processes in the body as regulating energy metabolism (distributing and using energy from macronutrients in the diet), controlling the heart rate or body temperature.
Additionally, during the first trimester of pregnancy, the hormones produced by this small gland (thyroid hormones) are particularly important to ensure the proper development of both the brain and the nervous system of the fetusSince the fetus is not capable of producing its own hormones and it is the maternal hormones that, by crossing the placental barrier, control fetal processes.
At 12-14 weeks of pregnancy, the thyroid gland of the fetus begins to produce thyroid hormones, so little by little the maternal hormones stop having this dual function. As we approach the middle of pregnancy, it will be the fetus itself that generates all of its thyroid hormones.
When there is a pre-pregnancy diagnosis, The doctor will pay special attention to the mother to keep the condition of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism under control, especially during the first trimester.. In the absence of a previous condition, it is convenient to be attentive to any symptoms that may be related to these thyroid gland imbalances, such as palpitations, weight loss or persistent vomiting.
However, it is difficult to differentiate these symptoms from those of pregnancy, with the added problem that both estrogens and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) have an effect on thyroid hormones, increasing their levels in the blood, complicating diagnosis during pregnancy. pregnancy.
Although the treatment of any of the conditions related to the thyroid gland requires either medication to block the production of thyroid hormones in the case of hyperthyroidism or levothyroxine or the synthetic form of thyroxine (hormone T4 produced by the thyroid gland), the truth is that diet can help in both situations.
To begin with, under normal conditions it is recommended to take an iodine supplement during pregnancy, since iodine is essential for the production of thyroid hormones, both maternal and fetal, and the only contribution of this mineral comes through the diet or from supplements. In addition, in the case of a diagnosis of hypothyroidism, it is advisable to limit the intake of:
- Foods containing soy or derivatives due to its isoflavone content.
- Cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts or romanesco, which could block the thyroid gland's access to the iodine needed to make thyroid hormones, especially if they are not cooked properly.
- Caffeine, since it interferes with the absorption of levothyroxine, being able to block it completely. Additionally, caffeine increases fluid retention, so its consumption is highly undesirable even in healthy pregnant women.
- Salty snacks, since, due to their sodium content, they increase the risk of hypertension, a risk that is already increased when the thyroid gland works by default, and that, during pregnancy, can seriously compromise maternal and fetal health .
- Foods with a high percentage of saturated fat, as they can interfere with both the absorption of the medication to control hypothyroidism and the ability of the gland to function normally. In general, these foods should be limited in any type of balanced diet, since a high consumption of saturated fat seriously affects cardiovascular health and cholesterol levels.
- Foods rich in simple sugarsas they can lead to being overweight. Excessive weight gain during pregnancy, and more so in these conditions, can lead to serious health problems for the mother, such as diabetes or gestational hypertension or pre-eclampsia.
- Foods rich in fiberas they can interfere with the absorption of levothyroxine. However, fiber is necessary in the diet of the future mother to ensure the proper functioning of the gastrointestinal tract and, above all, to avoid constipation.
In the case of hyperthyroidism, it might be recommended to consume cruciferous vegetables and foods rich in soy, in addition to ensuring that the salt consumed is not iodized. In addition, to ensure a good functioning of the thyroid gland, it would be convenient to include certain foods in the diet such as:
- Foods rich in antioxidants, such as carrots, citrus fruits, strawberries or kiwi, among others, which thanks to their vitamin C content are ideal.
- Foods rich in selenium and zinc, such as fish and shellfish, meat and nuts, as they help to activate thyroid hormones and maintain their balance. In addition, fish are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which also participate in hormonal regulation. In the case of hyperthyroidism, those with a lower iodine content should be chosen, such as salmon, and seafood should be avoided, due to their high content of this mineral.
- Foods rich in magnesium, such as green leafy vegetables or nuts and seeds, essential for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland.
- Foods rich in calcium and vitamin D, such as dairy products, to ensure good maternal and fetal bone mass, something that can be compromised due to the malfunction of this gland. Dairy products also provide iodine, so they should be controlled in the case of hyperthyroidism.
Now that you know how to deal with thyroid gland problems in pregnancy, are you going to change your eating habits? And, as a study by the Hospital Clinic de Barcelona (Spain) entitled Thyroid and pregnancy says, thyroid alterations are the second cause of endocrinological complications during pregnancy after diabetes.
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