March 2, 2018 - Munmun Ganeriwal
+91 7678 027 556 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Monday to Saturday) Sign up for diet & exercise consultation.
+91 7678 027 556 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Monday to Saturday) Sign up for diet & exercise consultation.

Day

March 2, 2018

Vishuddha is the chakra located at your throat and neck, and incorporates your thyroid gland. It is one of the seven chakras in your bodies, which are believed to be vital energy centres. The Vishuddha chakra is supposed to be about choice, willpower and the right to speak and be heard.

Since it’s between the head and the heart it works to maintain integrity between what you think and what you feel. When you find it difficult to communicate or express your thoughts and feelings, when you do not believe you have the right to make choices for yourself that empower you or when you feel suppressed by swallowed emotions and feelings, is when the throat chakra is affected that often manifests as thyroid problems in the body.

It is no wonder then that women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems (as per American Thyroid Association, ATA). Of course, there are also huge hormonal events only specific to women like pregnancy and menopause, which exposes more women than men to it but for most of the time, women all over the world fail to listen to their inner voice, much less express it. Self-empowerment is the main lesson of this chakra symbol.

Now, self-empowerment comes from within. For first, it comes from taking ownership of the problem instead of blaming the ever-nurturing thyroid gland for weight gain, hair loss, forgetfulness, irritability etc. and second, from making efforts to deal with the hormonal imbalance by improvising your lifestyle before resorting to taking external thyroid hormones in the form of pills/ medicines.

The three main strategies for a healthy lifestyle that will support your thyroid gland (whether you have hypo or hyper thyroidism) and help you reach your optimum body weight (body composition) are-

1.NUTRITION – Nourish, nurture and support your thyroid gland with ‘real’ food and nutrients so that it can function efficiently. Real food is the food that is grown in a soil near you, not wrapped in fancy packaging and flown from a far away land. Processed, industrialized food is rich in sodium, salts and preservatives which creates havoc to the fine, delicate balance of sodium and potassium in your body cells. Hence, that packet of ‘high fibre’ biscuits, ‘multi-grain’ chips, ‘diet’ bhel, ‘anaaj wala’ breakfast cereal etc. that you open in the hope of losing weight, only puts additional stress to the already ‘overworking’ thyroid gland. That you feel only bloated and puffy (instead of feeling lighter) after consuming them only adds to the big, bad story of packaged, processed foods.

What to eat? Instead of hopping onto the latest diet trend wagon of either “low fat” or “low carb” or “high protein” diet, nourish your thyroid with wholesome food. One that is inclusive of all: fibre-rich carbs, indispensable amino acids (protein), essential fats along with vital vitamins and minerals.

The whole grains (jowar/ bajra/ nachni/ wheat/rice) that you eat in the form of rotis, bhaat, thepla, bhakri are not just fibre and carbs, it is also rich in iodine. Adequate iodine is essential for the synthesis of thyroid hormones, almost like basic building blocks. So the moment you give up on rice and roti to lose weight, your thyroid struggles all the more to function for you.

More and more research has found that deficiency of Vit D is significantly associated with thyroid gland malfunction. Now Vit D is a fat-soluble vitamin. So in order to make up for the low Vit D levels, to support your thyroid and to lose weight, you really cannot afford to be fussy about essential fats like ghee, coconut, white butter, filtered oils etc. Your ‘low fat’ ice-cream; ‘skimmed’, ‘double toned’ milk well, will actually do just the opposite for you!

Since iodine combines with tyrosine (protein) in the body to make thyroid hormones, adequate protein in the diet is important and is crucial to optimise metabolism of the body. Make friends with milk, curd, cheese, nuts, eggs, meat, fish, dal, legumes but remember eating them with your whole grains and essential fats. Wholesomeness is when you eat in combination v/s isolation. So say ‘NO’ to dinner of only ‘grilled fish’ and give a big high five to rice and fish curry. Hope you are getting the story!

2. EXERCISE – Thyroid hormones play an important role in bone mineral homeostasis and bone density. Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are associated with reduced BMD (bone mineral density) leading to increased fracture risk, osteoporosis and joint pain.

Consistent strength training will help increase BMD & strengthen your musculoskeletal system. Non-weight bearing cardio exercises (like swimming, cycling) will help burn fat without overstressing your joints. The practise of yoga & asana helps in opening and balancing the vishuddha chakra.

Hence, it is ideal to take a broad base approach in exercises too and do a combination of strength, cardio and yoga (on separate days)

3. SLEEP- Hypothyroidism is most often associated with fatigue, also called ‘adrenal fatigue’. And things that trigger ‘adrenal fatigue’ are stress and poor sleep. Deep, restorative sleep is hence crucial and one should be working towards getting enough sleep during the night and a 20 minutes “catnap” post lunch.

So eat, move, sleep and most important, speak and express yourself- assertively and fearlessly. Let your thyroid blossom and feel beautiful!

Read related articles on nutrition

How to Control High Blood Pressure & Stay Healthy?

Cholesterol and Indian diet: Time to stop worrying

PCOD Problem: Lifestyle transformation for women with PCOD

Diabetes control: Eat, Move, Sleep!

Confused by the misinformation about potential health problems with traditional Indian foods? Get in touch with award-winning Mumbai dietitian and nutritionist, Munmun Ganeriwal, a strong advocate of the holistic, wellness benefits of fresh, local, and traditional Indian foods.

Share this post

When it comes to any discussion on diets for weight loss, carbohydrates (or “carbs”) seem to be everyone’s punching bag, an easy scapegoat for everything that resulted in weight gain. It is quite common to see, hear and read about people proudly swearing by a “low carb” or “no carb” diet as they embark on their weight loss journey.

However, the problem with this approach is that people are often making ‘sacrifices’ with their food that they don’t have to or should not. The real culprit behind weight gain is often not the carbs themselves but a combination of factors such as an imbalanced diet, improper eating habits, lack of exercise and undesirable lifestyle choices. So, let’s dispel some of the common myths about carbs, highlight their importance and make a case for their inclusion in a wholesome diet.

Four good reasons to include carbs in your diet-

1. Fuel for the brain: Carbs provide the glucose that is the fuel for the brain. Without this essential supply of fuel, one will experience what is often referred to as ‘brain fog’ which is characterised by a lack of mental alertness, lethargy and low-energy. For us to be productive at work, the sense of being ‘tuned-in’ mentally and energy running through us are important, and we know the source of that, don’t we?

2. Get better sleep: Advocates of “carbs deprivation” recommend avoiding carbs completely at night. What is often not understood is that without feeding carbs to the body for dinner, one’s sleep is likely to be impacted. This is because carbohydrates make tryptophan more available to the brain; tryptophan gets converted to melatonin – a hormone that induces sleep- in the brain. Lesser the amount of tryptophan available to the brain, lesser is the melatonin produced, and consequently, lesser is the quantity of sleep one will get. As we have emphasised from time to time, sound and restful sleep is necessary to lose weight and also prevent NCDs (non-communicable diseases) or lifestyle ailments like diabetes

3. Essential for fat loss: There is an old maxim that is repeated often in the world of diet, nutrition and weightloss: “Fats burn in the flame of the carbohydrates”. What it implies is that fats are ‘burnt’ and utilised for energy in the presence of carbohydrates. So, if you are looking to lose fat and weight, you do need carbs to help you accomplish that goal!

4. Source of valuable fiber: The non-digestible component of carbohydrate food (plant fibers) like that found in whole grains, rice, banana, wheat, etc – known as prebiotics– stimulate the growth and induce changes to the composition of gut microbial populations. The gut microbiome (probiotics) play a very important role in the overall health of a person—which is why there are benefits of traditional Indian pickles – whether it be in contributing to weight loss or fighting against diseases like cancer or diabetes.

Do’s and Don’ts with consuming carbs

Now that the importance and benefits of carbohydrates in your diet are clarified, let’s note some tips on the type of carbs to take in and the ones to avoid.

1. Do include millets in your diet: Complement your intake of regular sources such as rice and wheat with millets such as jowar, bajra, ragi. These millets are nutritionally superior due to higher levels of protein with a more balanced amino acid profile, crude fiber and minerals like zinc, phosphorus, calcium, iron. As importantly, production and consumption of millets can contribute substantially in the fight against targeted hunger and mitigate the effect of climate change in long run. So, not only will you be benefiting yourself by complementing your diet with millets but also benefiting the cause of environmental sustainability! In fact, a proposal has been submitted by the Indian Government to the United Nations to declare 2018 as the International Year of Millets, to create global awareness about the benefits of millets.

2. Don’t consume carbs from refined and processed food items: Avoid packaged food like muffins, breads, biscuits and cakes that are loaded with trans fat, preservatives, emulsifiers, added colours etc. Feel free to enjoy our home-made meals like roti, thepla, bhakri; our traditional Indian breakfast items such as dosa, poha, idli; not only are they good sources of carbs, but also provide fibre, vitamins, amino acids, minerals and other nutrients.

So, the key takeaway that we’d like you to leave with is: when it comes to weight loss, think less of “low carbs” and “no carbs” and be discerning about the good carbs and the right ones!

Read related articles on nutrition

Proteins for vegetarians in Indian diets

Cholesterol and Indian diet: Time to stop worrying

Confused by the misinformation about potential health problems with traditional Indian foods? Get in touch with award-winning Mumbai dietitian and nutritionist, Munmun Ganeriwal, a strong advocate of the holistic, wellness benefits of fresh, local, and traditional Indian foods.

Share this post