Ways to Support Your Thyroid
Thyroid disease affects around 30 million Americans, mostly women. Many people don’t realize that lifestyle habits can affect the health of your thyroid. With January being Thyroid Awareness Month, now is the perfect time to learn about how you can take part of your thyroid health into your own hands.
The thyroid is responsible for your metabolism, cholesterol levels, mental clarity, sleep regularity, heart function, digestion and hormonal balance – even affecting fertility and pregnancy. With such a broad range of functions, a healthy thyroid is key to overall health. Here are a couple big lifestyle habits you can incorporate in your life to support your thyroid.
1. Lower stress
Ever heard of adrenal fatigue? It’s not a “real” medical diagnosis, but is a term used in the holistic health world to describe what happens when your adrenals are in overdrive. The thyroid and adrenals work in tandem. The adrenal glands sit right about the kidneys and produce a variety of hormones. When your body is under stress – physically, emotionally or mentally – the adrenals pump out cortisol and adrenaline. This can be helpful for short term “fight or flight” situations – like thinking fast and jumping out of the way of a car about to hit you - but chronic elevations of these hormones can put your adrenals into overdrive. Being chronically stressed can cause symptoms like anxiety, agitation, insomnia, weight gain around the mid-section, brain fog, junk food cravings and elevated blood sugar and insulin. Stress alone may not cause thyroid disease, but can make it worse. Make stress management a huge priority for a major impact on your health. This can be easily said but hard to be done in our fast-paced world.
Tips to lower stress:
1. Move daily, preferably outside in the sunlight
2. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep
3. Mind-body practices like yoga, deep breathing, meditation, prayer and journaling
4. Be realistic about your time and don’t overbook yourself
2. Eat thyroid-supporting foods
There isn’t a “thyroid diet” but eating a whole foods (foods that come from the Earth) diet and avoiding processed, fast foods will give you the nutrients you need to support the thyroid. Nutrients that specifically support thyroid health include iodine, selenium and zinc.
Iodine sources: iodized salt, kelp (seaweeds), turkey breast, cod, cranberries and yogurt.
Zinc sources: oysters, red meat, poultry, seafood, beans, nuts, whole grains and dairy.
Selenium sources: Brazil nuts, tuna, halibut, sardines, ham and shrimp.
Even if you don’t have known thyroid issues, taking all of these tips of stress management and eating whole foods will still improve your mental and physical health. If you want to learn more about natural ways to support your thyroid, here is my favorite thyroid guru. You are your own health advocate and knowledge is power. Learn more about your thyroid here.