Although the thyroid is an organ that can’t be seen with the naked eye, it plays a crucial role in the metabolism, growth, and development of our bodies. This small, butterfly-shaped gland is part of the endocrine system, and it controls many of our body’s important functions, including producing and releasing certain hormones. However, its main job is to control our metabolism, or the process of how our bodies transform the food we eat into energy. Our body needs energy to function properly, so as long as we’re taking good care of our thyroid, we’ll have the energy to get through our day.
Unfortunately, your lifestyle can be the reason why your thyroid is at risk of experiencing problems. If you get stressed a lot and don’t get enough sleep, for example, it can stimulate your thyroid to work harder to balance out your high stress levels. This can lead to irregular thyroid hormone production and other thyroid conditions. If left untreated, it may cause unwanted complications to your thyroid and require you to undergo parathyroidectomy to treat it.
Thankfully, there are a myriad of ways you can support your thyroid’s health naturally. Here are some of them.
Stick to a Healthy Diet
A nutritious diet will provide your thyroid with the essential nutrients it requires to operate at its best. However, certain foods can ensure that your thyroid will maintain a steady flow of hormones. Iodine-rich foods such as seaweed, iodized salt, and fish, for example, can guarantee optimal thyroid function. This is because iodine is a fundamental element for thyroid hormone synthesis. Selenium-rich foods like sunflower seeds and eggs, on the other hand, can help decrease inflammation while boosting thyroid health.
Adding cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and kale to your diet can also have a positive impact on thyroid function. However, you have to make sure that they’re cooked properly and consume a normal amount so that they won’t inhibit the production of thyroid hormone. Moreover, it’s in your best interest to eat less processed foods and sugar. An abundance of these foods can lead to inflammation and hormonal imbalances, affecting your thyroid’s function and your overall health.
Your thyroid relies on a well-hydrated body to facilitate its metabolic processes effectively. When you’re hydrated, your body will have an easier time transporting the hormones produced by your thyroid. With that said, ensure that you’re drinking enough water each day. If you’re having difficulty keeping track of your water intake, you can carry a water bottle with you and refill it throughout the day. Whenever you eat out, opt for water over sugary drinks. If drinking plain water simply isn’t your thing, you can always add a wedge of lime or lemon to it to improve its taste.
Regular physical activity helps boost metabolism, improve circulation, and enhance your overall well-being. It’ll also prompt your body to convert stored fats into additional energy, encouraging your thyroid to produce hormones and regulate the metabolic process. Any type of workout can support thyroid health. However, it’s ideal to follow an exercise routine that incorporates a mix of cardio and strength to get the most out of your workout.
Manage Your Stress Levels
Chronic stress can have a profound impact on your thyroid, as the gland is connected to the body’s stress response system. If you’re under a lot of stress, your body will produce more cortisol, which is a hormone that inhibits the secretion of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). If you have low TSH, your metabolism will slow down, causing you to gain weight. Therefore, it’s essential to use stress management techniques to help you reach a calm and relaxed state. You can dedicate a few minutes in your day to engage in meditation or do yoga—activities that promote relaxation. You can also indulge in your favourite self-care practices, whether it’s taking a pleasant walk to the park, having a cup of tea, or taking a well-deserved bubble bath.
Get Adequate Sleep
The thyroid relies on restful sleep to function optimally. When you’re getting seven to nine hours of sleep, you’re allowing your body to repair and rejuvenate at night. It can be hard to fall asleep, especially if you have poor sleeping habits. But if you follow these tips, you can prepare your body to relax and get a good night’s rest:
- Reduce blue light exposure by limiting screen time
- Avoid drinking caffeine late in the day
- Avoid eating late in the evening
- Drown out noise with earplugs or a white noise machine
- Use blackout curtains to block out light coming through your bedroom windows
Quit Smoking and Drinking
If you smoke and drink alcohol regularly, now’s a good time to stop. These vices expose your thyroid to harmful chemicals that not only disrupt thyroid hormone production, but also place you at a higher risk of developing autoimmune thyroid diseases. Join a programme that can help you quit your vices, or seek help from the National Addictions Management Service (NAMS). These resources have the tools and support you need to start staying nicotine- and alcohol-free.
The thyroid might be small compared to our other organs, but it plays a huge role in keeping us healthy. With the help of these simple yet effective methods, you can ensure that your thyroid will function properly and help in maintaining your overall health and well-being.