Taking Care of Your Thyroid
January is National Thyroid Month! In addition, I find that a majority of my clients tend to present with symptoms of thyroid disease. Which is not surprising since over 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. Sadly, 60% of those affected are unaware that they have a thyroid issue. Women are more likely than men to suffer from thyroid issues with one in eight women developing a thyroid condition in her lifetime.
What is the Thyroid:
It’s a gland that is located on the front of the neck, below the larynx. Most people are familiar with the thyroid because they know it plays a role in metabolism. And everyone wants to know how to speed up their metabolism in order to shed those pounds, right? However, metabolism is more than just burning calories, the thyroid regulates the metabolic rate of every cell in the body. Therefore, the health of the thyroid is vital to every function in the body. I like to think of the thyroid as a thermostat, in that it regulates the amount of heat (energy) that is being produced. Just like how you want the temperature of your house to stay at a steady temperature, you also want your metabolism to stay steady – not too high (fast) and not too low (slow). The health of the thyroid ensures a consistent metabolism and therefore a consistent weight.
The thyroid is also involved in more than just metabolism. It’s also involved in digestion, muscle control, maintaining brain health and development, maintaining integrity of the bones, and is even involved in regulating mood.
The thyroid is part of the endocrine system which is responsible for producing and regulating all the hormones in the body. There are 3 hormones that the thyroid produces: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) are most commonly referred to as thyroid hormones, and calcitonin which helps to regulate calcium levels. If the thyroid is not producing adequate amounts of these hormones, or even producing too much, it will cause imbalance in the body. The body thrives off of being in homeostasis, so anything that is off balance will create problems within the body.
Common Signs of Thyroid Dysfunction:
- Trouble losing weight or sudden weight gain (hypothyroid)
- Sudden weight loss (hyperthyroid)
- Cognitive issues (poor memory, brain fog)
- Menstrual issues
- Sensitivity to cold
- Hair loss
- Susceptible to infections and takes longer to heal
There are two main classifications of thyroid disease – hyperthyroidism, where the thyroid is producing too much; or hypothyroidism, where the thyroid is not producing enough. Thyroid disease can also be due to an autoimmune condition: Hashimoto’s or Grave’s disease. While sometimes Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism can present in the same person, the diseases are not the same.
How to Help Support Your Thyroid
Nutrition: There are a lot of key nutrients that help to support your thyroid. Iodine is the most known one for supporting the thyroid when production is low (iodine can be contraindicated when thyroid production is high such as with hyperthyroidism.) Zinc, selenium, vitamin E, and vitamin A are also necessary for thyroid hormone production.
Iodine – seaweed, fish, and eggs.
Selenium- Brazil nuts, tuna, sardines, eggs, and legumes.
Zinc – oysters, shellfish, beef, and chicken.
Vitamin E – nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, and fish.
Vitamin A – Eggs, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables, green leafy vegetables.
So, as you can see, eating a diverse and well-balanced diet is the best way to help support your thyroid. Eating a variety of colored vegetables as well as getting in lean meats and plenty of seafood is a great first step in supporting the health of your thyroid.
The question about goitrogens generally comes up in relation to thyroid. Goitrogens are compounds that can interfere with thyroid hormone production and get their name because they can cause goiters to grow on the thyroid. Goitrogens are found in soy products, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, spinach, cauliflower, and kale, as well as some nuts and seeds. The studies are conflicting when it comes to goitrogens and really depends on other nutrients such as iodine. This is why working with a practitioner that knows your specific health history and lab work is important because it is not a blanket protocol for everyone.
Exercise: Exercise is important for stimulation of the thyroid gland. Improvement in metabolic rate due to exercise is a result of the effect that exercise has on thyroid gland since it’s responsible for metabolism. So, take one of our moringa wellness shots and head out for a walk, run, or hike and help support your thyroid!
Stress Management: The thyroid and adrenal glands are closely related. The adrenals are best known for cortisol production; however, they are responsible for the production and balance of other hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone. High stress due to any reason can have a negative impact on adrenal function which can impact thyroid function as well. The body is interconnected, so dysfunction in one area can lead to imbalance in other areas.
There are more specific ways to support your thyroid depending on what issues you are experiencing. Please consult a practitioner before starting any protocol to make sure there are not any contraindications. You can schedule an initial consultation with me here.
*The information here is for education purposes only. It is not meant to constitute medical advice. Please consult with a licensed professional before beginning any sort of supplement or diet protocol. *