Is the sedentary lifestyle sans physical activity making people more vulnerable to thyroid-related diseases? If the health experts are to be believed, lack of physical activity, coupled with imbalanced dietary make-up, is pushing more people, including youngsters, towards hypothyroidism - an under-active thyroid that tends to mirror the slowing down of physical processes resulting in insufficient thyroid hormone.
"A gradual but distinct change in the lifestyle and food habits is being noticed in the people who is not only slowing down the physical process but also resulting in insufficient thyroid hormone secretion (hypothyroidism). It is mainly reflected in sedentary lifestyle with little physical movement and unrestricted intake of imbalanced food, making people low on thyroxine, a hormone produced by thyroid gland that regulates critical body functions especially energy level and heart rate," said NK Singh, professor, department of medicine, Banaras Hindu University, on Thursday.
It may be mentioned here that as per estimates of the World Health Organisation (WHO), over 10 million people in the world are affected by thyroid-related disorders as these disorders are becoming very common. The countries in South Asia, including India, are becoming a hub of thyroid-related diseases.
According to health experts, the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck, produces hormones that influence virtually every cell, tissue and organ in the body. The thyroid regulates the body's metabolism--the rate at which the body produces energy from nutrients and oxygen- and affects critical body functions, such as energy level and heart rate.
As per reports of the OPD of the department of endocrine and metabolism, BHU, the number of patients seeking medical consultancy for thyroid related problems constitute nearly 40% of total turn out of over 100 patients per day. While most of the cases belong to hypothyroidism, a number of cases of hyperthyroidism tending to reflect the rapid metabolism that results from an oversupply of thyroid hormone are also reported in the OPD.
Clarifying the difference between hypothyrodism and hyperthyroidism whose common symtoms include anxiety, insomnia, rapid weight loss, diarrhea, high heart rate, high blood pressure, eye sensitivity/bulging and vision disturbances. Prof SK Singh of the department said a personal or family history of thyroid or autoimmune disease increases risk of underactive thyroid, but the environmental factors including sedentary lifestyle and wrong food habits could also aggravate the conditions. "Surgical removal of all or a part of the thyroid, or radioactive iodine treatment to the thyroid, both which typically result in an underactive thyroid," he added.
Meanwhile, as far as eating habits are concerned, the health experts vouch for diet rich in iodine including green leafy vegetables and sea foods. The vegetarians may not be induced to take sea foods but it could be replaced with leafy and seasonal vegetables. "However, the non-vegetarians could find a rich source of iodine in sea foods including fish, prawns and lobsters. The iodized salt should be consumed in the diet instead of locally made cheaper salt that lacks the vital ingredient," added Prof Singh.