10 Tips for Better Thyroid Health
It’s easy to spot the thyroid when you’re studying the structure of the human body. It’s that butterfly-shaped gland located at the front end of the neck which produces hormones that influence the majority of our metabolic processes. Thyroid hormones control metabolism and also helps regulate blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature. A disruption in thyroid hormone production can result in disorders ranging from a harmless enlarged gland (goitre) to certain life-threatening cancers.
How to improve thyroid function
So how can you nourish your thyroid? Certain foods and herbs, as well as healthy lifestyle practices, can help. Here are 10 things you can incorporate into your daily regime to ensure optimal thyroid health.
Also known as Peruvian ginseng, the maca root has traditionally been used to boost sex drive and enhance fertility. It is also said to improve energy and stamina. Maca helps to balance the hypothalamus and pituitary which produce TRH (thyroid-releasing hormone) and TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone), respectively. These hormones regulate thyroxine levels that are vital for overall health. Maca also contains zinc, B vitamins and iron, all of which are required for optimal thyroid production.
2. Brazil nuts
Brazil nuts are among the richest dietary source of selenium, which is essential in converting thyroxine to its active form, T3. You need selenium for glutathione production to help decrease thyroid antibodies. No need to binge though – you only need to have a small handful a day.
Sea vegetables are rich in iodine, which attaches to tyrosine (an amino acid) to form thyroxine. Insufficient levels of iodine are the missing link in the production of hormones which inhibit thyroid production. Some of my favourite edible seaweeds are wakame and dulse flakes.
Increase your consumption of nutrient-dense whole foods high in zinc. These include pumpkin seeds, oysters, crab, lobster, legumes, nuts, hemp seeds, and sunflower seeds. Zinc is critical to thyroid health and required for the synthesis of thyroid hormones. In fact, deficiencies of this mineral can lead to hypothyroidism. (Additionally, thyroid hormones are essential for zinc absorption, so hypothyroidism can lead to zinc deficiency.)
5. Vitamin D
Make sure your levels of the sunshine vitamin are optimal. Besides sunlight, good sources of vitamin D include salmon, herring, sardines, egg yolks and mushrooms. Vitamin D is a key nutrient and hormone that acts as a precursor in immune system regulation. Vitamin D deficiencies are associated with increased risk of Hashimoto's disease, an autoimmune condition that’s the most common cause of hypothyroidism.
6. Think green
Green leafy veggies, fresh herbs and chlorophyll help enhance thyroid function. Drink a shot of chlorophyll upon waking to help boost energy levels and remove heavy metals that may be inhibiting thyroid function. Green leafy veggies are also rich in iron and other essential nutrients. Add a handful of leafy greens to your smoothies.
7. Avoid gluten
Avoid gluten as it can initiate thyroid antibody production and create inflammation. Inflammation brings about a cascade of unwanted symptoms in the body.
9. Manage stress levels
While you can’t really avoid stress, you can control your reaction to stressful situations. Your adrenals respond to stress so they’re crucial in supporting thyroid health. Add in a daily practice of meditation, yoga, or Pilates and spend some time in nature to relax and lower stress levels.
Physical activity is essential in keeping metabolism and thyroid function at their best. When exercising, make sure your regime includes strength training, cardio, weights, and stretching. Alternatively, you can opt for yoga, which is also a form of exercise that helps reduce stress levels. Did you know that there are certain yoga poses that specifically improve thyroid health?
Incorporating some, if not all of these tips can greatly improve the function of your thyroid. Keep in mind that your thyroid is one of the most essential glands of the body so it really deserves all the care and attention you can give it!
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