Thyroid hormones are used by every cell of your body to regulate metabolism, heart rate, body temperature, energy levels and body weight. The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland located in the front of our neck and can malfunction in one of two ways. It can over produce hormones, which results in a condition known as hyperthyroidism or not enough hormones resulting in hypothyroidism. Both of these conditions can wreak havoc in the body.
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism: nervousness, weight loss and irregular heartbeat, skin rashes.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism: fatigue, depression, difficulty losing weight, constipation, brittle nails, hair loss and/or impaired memory, dry skin, puffy skin (especially eyelids).
These issues are much more prevalent in women than in men—in fact it is estimated that 1 in 8 women will develop a thyroid disorder in their lifetime. The good news is that there are ways in which we can support and balance our thyroid naturally in order to alleviate current issues or prevent future ones. Here’s how:
Eat Thyroid Friendly Foods
- Green vegetables: Green vegetables are packed with nutrients, vitamins, minerals and enzymes, which nourish all of your cells and organs, including your thyroid.
- Sea vegetables: Sea vegetables are rich in iodine. Without iodine your thyroid won’t produce enough hormones. Iodine deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies—in fact it is now estimated that 1 in 10 Americans is deficient in iodine.
- Maca: Maca helps balance the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, which release hormones that helps regulate thyroxine (thyroid hormone) levels.
- Brazil Nuts: These rich, oval shaped nuts are an excellent source of selenium, which plays an important role in the conversion of thyroxine to its active form, T3.
- Coconut Oil: Stimulates metabolism and boosts energy. Sluggish metabolism and low energy are two symptoms associated with hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) so for this reason coconut oil is a thyroid friendly food.
- Eggs: Hormones are made from cholesterol, so including good fats and eggs in your diet is important.
- Hemp Seeds: Hemp seeds are high in omega 3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation, boosts mood and increase energy—all of which contribute to thyroid health.
Avoid Foods that Stress the Thyroid
- Processed Sugar: causes your body to make too much insulin, which stresses your thyroid and adrenal glands.
- Gluten & Grains: These are converted to sugar quickly, which stresses thyroid and adrenal glands and impairs their function over time. Also, going gluten-free may reduce inflammation and bloating while increasing energy levels and aiding in weight loss.
- Coffee: Coffee increases levels of insulin and cortisol (the stress hormone). Coffee also lowers serotonin levels. Serotonin is necessary for normal sleep, mood and energy levels---all of which can be difficult to attain when your thyroid is out of balance.
- Soy: soy has been shown to cause hormonal imbalances and blocks iron uptake (as shared above, iron is essential for thyroid health).
- Soda: Soda is very acidic. When you drink soda, your body will protect itself by keeping your blood from getting too acidic. The way in which our bodies do this is by neutralizing it with stored supplies of calcium (which it leaches from your bones) and iodine. As shared above, iodine is critical for thyroid health, so for this reason health experts recommend avoiding soda.
Adopt a Thyroid Friendly Lifestyle
- Drink H2O: One of the most powerful ways to get your thyroid in check is to drink plenty of water. Water helps increase metabolism, improves digestion and elimination, decreases bloating and combat constipation (all of which are generally issues for those who struggle with thyroid problems).
- Move Your Body: Exercise helps boosts metabolism and detoxify the body through perspiration. Exercise also helps you sleep better, which is another important key for healthy thyroid function.
- Get Your Z’s: 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep helps restore hormone levels. Enough said.
- Stress Less: Easier said than done, we know. Typically imbalances in your adrenal glands precede thyroid imbalances. Imbalances in adrenal gland are most often caused by emotional stress. Stressing less can sometimes seem like an impossible fete. Luckily there are many tools you can utilize to help you decrease your stress levels. Some examples include yoga, meditation, deep breathing techniques, EFT (emotional freedom technique), massage and “talking it out” with a friend.
- Detox Your Body: Chemicals and toxins in the environment have been linked to thyroid imbalances. Some of these include BPA, phthalates, pesticides and environmental estrogens. The best way to protect yourself against these toxins is to detoxify your body on a regular basis. One 3-5 day cleanse per month with a longer one thrown in 1-2 times per year is an optimal detox regimen.