Any child (and adult) must take care of their diet, but when some type of alteration or problem occurs in the body, the measures that must be taken around the child's diet are extreme. There are children with thyroid problems (hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism). How should the diet be in each of the cases? Which are the best foods and nutrients for children with thyroid problems?
Thethyroid gland It is a small gland located at the base of the neck. The function of this gland with a characteristic butterfly shape is to manufacture and store thyroid hormones. Hormones are released into the bloodstream following signals from the pituitary gland, a pea-sized gland located at the base of the brain.
Thyroid hormones participate in numerous processes in the body as important as growth, in synergy with growth hormone, development, heart rate, or the effectiveness of energy metabolism. The malfunction of this small gland affects, among others, the body's ability to:
- Obtain and use energy from carbohydrates, proteins and fats and their ability to distribute it among the different processes of the body, such as feeding cells and tissues.
- Ensure that the body can perform physical exercise diary.
- Regulate body temperature.
In a simplified way, two functioning problems can be differentiated, the problem of hormone production by default or hypothyroidism and that of excess production or hyperthyroidism.
He hypothyroidism It is an endocrine problem that occurs when the thyroid gland produces less T3 and T4 hormones than necessary, and it is a fairly common problem. It can appear both in childhood, usually at birth, and later, in adolescence and even in adulthood or pregnancy.
However the hyperthyroidism or thyrotoxicosis, which is defined as the increase in thyroid hormones produced in the thyroid gland, is a very rare alteration in childhood and adolescence, but when it begins at these ages it is usually extremely serious.
There is no specific diet for thyroid problems, since they normally require medical treatment, but it is advisable to pay attention to small details in the child's diet, which, as always, should be healthy and balanced.
- Soy and its derivatives They have the ability to influence the absorption of thyroid hormones, so they should be avoided in the diet of the child with hypothyroidism.
- He iodine It is essential to manufacture thyroid hormones, so, depending on the type of problem, hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, it should be ensured that it is not consumed in a defect or in excess, respectively.
- Selenium and zinc They help the activation of thyroid hormones, their contribution being necessary in the diet of the child with hypothyroidism.
- Calcium and iron They can interfere with the medication that the child receives, so it is advisable not to take it with meals, or space it about 2-3 hours after the consumption of foods rich in these minerals.
- The gluten intolerance Sometimes it can be linked to hypothyroidism and both can appear at the same time in childhood, so if the child is diagnosed with hyperthyroidism it may make sense to limit gluten consumption. Additionally, the gluten intolerant child may have a decreased ability to absorb the thyroid hormones that are provided for the treatment of hypothyroidism.
- The cruciferous plants, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage or Brussels sprouts, can interfere with the production of thyroid hormones, blocking the thyroid gland's ability to use iodine, especially if eaten undercooked (“al dente”) , so they should be controlled in the child with hypothyroidism, but they are the ideal vegetables in the diet of the child with hyperthyroidism.
- The fats They can interfere with both the absorption of hormonal therapy and the production of the hormones itself from the thyroid gland, so saturated fats and fried foods should be limited if the child suffers from hypothyroidism.
- Due to metabolic changes (metabolism is usually slowed down when you have hypothyroidism), it is convenient to restrict the consumption of simple sugars, which produce a rapid release of energy that the body tends to accumulate in the form of fat.
- He excess sodium It is also not recommended for the child with hypothyroidism, since the fact that the thyroid gland works by default poses an added risk for blood pressure, which can be increased even more if sodium in the diet is not controlled.
- Fruits such as peaches and apricots, pears, cherries, strawberries, plums and raspberries can interfere with the production of thyroid hormones and block the ability of the thyroid gland to use iodine, making them the least recommended fruits for children with hypothyroidism, and vice versa in the child with thyrotoxicosis.
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