To understand the thyroid, that tiny butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, it helps to think of the body as a finely-tuned machine. The thyroid acts as a throttle, regulating hormones to slow or speed up metabolism. An overactive thyroid occurs when it produces too much of the wrong hormones while an underactive one (more common) doesn’t produce enough. If your thyroid is overactive it causes symptoms like anxiety and unexplained weight loss. If it’s underactive, you’ll experience sluggishness, weight gain, and often a puffy face. The good news is that you can easily regulate your thyroid with these seven tips for a healthy thyroid.
1. Get Adequate Iodine
An adequate amount of iodine in the diet is essential for a properly functioning thyroid. Most people get enough if they use iodized salt. A deficiency is more common in women of child-bearing age. Check your salt box label and don’t use sea salt. Eating seafood, cooked(not raw)cruciferous vegetables, and dairy to your diet should give you plenty of iodine.
2. Eat Foods with Selenium
The thyroid needs the nutrient selenium to convert hormones correctly. Eating a handful of Brazil nuts every day will do the trick. Don’t like Brazil nuts? Broccoli, eggs, butter, garlic, fish, onions, and turnips are good sources of selenium.
2. Limit Soy
Popular with vegans and vegetarians, soy is an excellent way to add protein to the diet, but too much, like raw cruciferous veggies, can block the absorption of iodine. As noted above, iodine is essential for healthy thyroid function. If you eat a lot of soy, have your iodine level checked.
3. Avoid Gluten
Gluten is present in grains, particularly wheat. Gluten intolerance is on the rise, and evidence shows that autoimmune thyroid disorders are associated with it. That’s because the protein in gluten is similar in molecular structure to the thyroid. When it’s absorbed into the bloodstream, the immune system destroys it. Then the body blames the thyroid for the protein and attacks it.
4. Up The Antioxidants
Since the thyroid is highly susceptible to oxidative stress, it’s important to protect the cells that compose it. Antioxidants are great protection for your thyroid. Eat a rainbow of fruits and veggies daily to get plenty of antioxidants for proper hormone balance.
5. Avoid Stress
Stress weakens the immune system which in turn harms the thyroid’s highly specialized function. It’s important to stay positive and eliminate emotional stress. Avoid the things that make you feel stressed. Try meditation, yoga, and other relaxation techniques.
6. Exercise Regularly
As we age, our metabolism slows down. If your thyroid is underactive (hypothyroidism), it’s important to manage your weight. Take a brisk walk or jog for 45 minutes each day for a healthy weight and properly functioning thyroid. You can also manage your weight with weight training and interval training, so hit the gym.
7. Don’t Smoke
The Endokrynologia Polska Journal published a study showing smoking cigarettes has several negative effects on the thyroid, especially hormone production. It turns out smoking causes wild fluctuations in hormone levels. Another good reason to quit.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of thyroid problems, you should let your doctor know. Commonality of symptoms could indicate other problems. However, if your thyroid isn’t functioning properly, rest assured it’s a problem you can remedy.