You have heard of goitres, but do you even know what they mean? Do you know what having one means to your health? As simple as the treatment of goitre could be, doctors warn that having one that is not diagnosed and managed early can lead to serious medical complications. Doctors note that complications arise in people who have goitres when it’s symptoms are not recognised or given the specialist attention it deserves.
Consultant Haematologist, Dr. Adams Achike, who describes goitre as a swelling of the neck or larynx resulting from enlargement of the thyroid gland, notes that goitre can be dangerous, especially when it is a symptom of cancer, hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. This condition does not start overnight. Achike says more often than not, a person with goitre would have been seeing some tiny lumps on his/her neck or such an individual would have been experiencing some swelling in the neck region.
The physician explains,“There are some red flags that suggest that one may have goitre. But most people ignore them. For instance, people who have problems breathing well at night or who, during the day, experience such laboured breathing because their thyroid gland is swollen and it’s blocking their windpipe.
“Some people with goitre may also feel that their throat is swollen and heavy, even when they cannot see it. Another major one is in people who have small lumps on their neck, that is an obvious symptom of goitre and you should seek medical assistance because it could be a tumour or early sign of thyroid cancer.
“Anyone can develop thyroid cancer, regardless of age or gender. The incidence rates are quite low and the cure rate is very good, that is why you should see a doctor when you see such swellings on the neck.”
The physician states that even though scientists have not found all the factors that cause goitres, however, a major condition that has been consistent in most cases of goitres is iodine deficiency. A check notes that people who lack iodine in their diets have a higher risk of developing goitres, which affects the thyroid gland, an organ that needs iodine to function and regulate some metabolic processes.
“Insufficient iodine in the diet is a serious dietary problem. This nutrient deficiency occurs when the food you eat is grown on a soil that lacks iodine. That is why you see communities recording very high cases of goitres among their residents. We call it endemic goitre, which is very common in Nigeria; it was for this reason that the government had to adopt the iodine food fortification policy to address this problem nationwide.
“Iodine deficiency affects the thyroid gland and also messes up the metabolic processes in the body. We advise that people should eat foods that are loaded with this micronutrient daily.”
The good news is that there are many popular foods with iodine in the country, all of which are easy to incorporate into your daily diet. However, the Recommended Daily Allowance for iodine is 150 microgrammes for everybody over the age of 14.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, food experts recommend that you get 290 microgrammes every day. Here are some thyroid-friendly and iodine-rich foods you should start eating in reasonable quantity today.
Fish and meat
Exceedingly rich in iodine, fish are a primary source for this trace mineral. Most fish are able to extract and concentrate iodine from seawater. Two of the highest sources of iodine are cod and shrimp – they contain 198 and 70 microgrammes per serving, respectively. Tuna also contains iodine 34 microgrammes per six-ounce portion and three ounces of turkey breast boosts your iodine intake by 34 microgrammes.
Many beans are a great food source of iodine and navy beans may top the list. Just 1/2 cup of these beans contain about 32 milligrammes of iodine. Beans aren’t just an iodine food, they are also incredibly high in fibre.
The common potato is an easy addition to most meals and is one of the richest sources of iodine in the vegetable kingdom. Leave the skin on and one medium-sized potato contains 60 milligrames of iodine. Be sure to get potatoes that have not been fertilised with chemicals as inorganic potatoes contain pesticides that suck up iodine in them.
Milk, yogurt and cheese
Cheese is high in iodine, along with essential B vitamins, calcium, and protein. One ounce of raw cheese contains around 10-15 microgrammes of iodine. Nutritionists note that goat’s milk cheese is easier on the digestive system and contains slightly higher levels of calcium and protein.
Yogurt and other dairy products are usually rich in iodine due to having had iodine added to animal feeds by dairy farmers. For instance; a cup of milk contains 56 microgrammes of iodine.
However, the food experts note that high consumption of some certain foods such as cabbage and soybeans may also induce goitres. Eat them sparingly if you already have a family history of goitres.