Whether you know it or not, your thyroid is one of the most important components of your body. Just like anything in the body, it functions better if it is healthy. What happens if it doesn't work like it should? Believe it or not, this is more common than you think.
Roughly 20 million Americans have thyroid conditions, and up to 60% of those people are unaware of their condition. A thyroid condition can be linked to conditions like fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), eczema, or autoimmune disorders, but it can also stem from an unhealthy diet and poor lifestyle choices.
What Is The Thyroid?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck that produces hormones, regulates your metabolism, and affects the function of each organ in the body. The hormones that the thyroid produces, thyroxine and tri-iodothyronine, determine the speed and functions of your organs and how the body's systems use energy.
Hypothyroidism: indicates that the thyroid is sluggish and underproductive. This condition slows down the body's metabolism, which can lead to weight gain, increased cholesterol levels, and bone issues.
Hyperthyroidism: means that the thyroid is overactive and produces excessive amounts of thyroxine. An overactive thyroid causes the body to work faster than it should, ultimately disrupting normal bodily functions. It can lead to weight loss, eye problems, and even osteoporosis.
Now that you know a little about the thyroid, here are 5 ways you can keep your thyroid healthy.
Maintain a Nutrient-Rich Diet:
Eating the right fruits and vegetables can help maintain your thyroid and overall health. It's ideal to consume fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants and iodine, which is necessary for thyroid hormone production. An iron or iodine deficiency can actually cause hypothyroidism. For those with hyperthyroidism, iodine can help slow the release of too many thyroid hormones. No matter what thyroid problem you have, iodine can help your thyroid function normally. Sea vegetables like kelp or spirulina can help supply you with iodine. Below is a list of foods, which are beneficial for thyroid health.
- Berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries etc.)
- Cruciferous Vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage)
- Sea Vegetables (kelp, dulse, agar, seaweed, nori, spirulina, Irish moss)
- Foods high in chlorophyll (spinach, snow peas, kiwi, cucumbers, parsley)
- Shitake or Portabella Mushrooms
- Olive Oil
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Brazil Nuts
- Chia Seeds
- Sunflower Seeds
- Sesame Seeds
Most commercial toothpastes contain toxic ingredients that can damage your health, but they also contain fluoride, which can damage the thyroid. Communities with fluoride in the water actually have higher rates of hypothyroidism. This is why drinking distilled or alkaline water, or eating alkaline foods, is healthy for your thyroid and overall health. Additionally, try to abstain from non-stick pans and black tea, as both of those contain fluoride.
Minimizing your stress levels can not only improve your thyroid function, but also contribute to your overall wellbeing. Stress can actually induce a thyroid condition, or make it more obvious that you have a thyroid condition. Overproduction of cortisol, a stress hormone, can interfere with thyroid hormone production. It actually can make the thyroid work harder to produce sufficient amounts of hormones needed for bodily functions. Great ways to de-stress include acupuncture, breathing techniques like meditation, massage therapy, or taking warm baths.
Get Rid of Inflammatory Foods:
If you eat inflammatory foods, you can irritate your digestive system, which can rub your immune system the wrong way. When your immune system is irritated, it does not acknowledge your thyroid as part of the body. In fact, your immune system interprets the thyroid gland as intrusive and launches an autoimmune attack. Gluten, eggs, dairy, and grains are all inflammatory. This is why eating anti-inflammatory foods is beneficial for your thyroid.
Make Sure You're Getting Your Omega-3s:
If your body is lacking in omega-3 fatty acids, you can have a hormonal imbalance. Omega-3s provide a solid foundation for hormones that control immune function, cell growth, and they help out thyroid hormones. You can get your omega-3s from flaxseeds and walnuts, among other foods.
In addition to the above tips, getting proper sleep, exercise, vitamin D, and avoiding exposure to radiation, toxins, and chemicals like bromide can be beneficial for restoring thyroid health.