Your thyroid is a big deal. This small, butterfly-shaped gland that sits in your neck regulates the metabolism of all your cells. Which means, the thyroid is important for weight management, energy and so many other things. If you’re sluggish or struggling with excess weight, it’s time to naturally improve thyroid health.
It’s estimated that at least 3.7% of US adults have an underactive thyroid.
Hypothyroidism is the medical term for too-low thyroid hormone. A lot of women get diagnosed with low thyroid hormone as they age. And this isn’t a normal part of aging, either. Low thyroid hormone is tied with other hormonal imbalances, from too high or too low estrogen or cortisol issues.
Which means…it’s not always the best course of action to start taking thyroid medications. This is more of a ‘band-aid approach’ to your health. Especially if the root cause is not uncovered.
Symptoms of low thyroid hormone are constipation, muscle cramping, dry skin and hair, fatigue, forgetfulness, and cold hands and feet.
An underactive thyroid can be diagnosed from a blood test from your health professional.
Causes of Low Thyroid Hormone
A very common issue with the thyroid gland is autoimmunity. Something sets off your immune system and it attacks the cells of the thyroid gland.
If you’re deficient in iodine, or you eat too many raw goitrogens (foods that inhibit iodine from getting into the thyroid), your thyroid hormone may be too low.
Low selenium may also be a factor in hypothyroidism. Plus, there are a few additional reasons for low thyroid that you should have your doctor check for.
TIP:Iodine deficiency is not likely a problem if you live in the developed world. Iodine supplements can actually make thyroid issues a lot worse, so avoid these if you can.
Foods the Naturally Improve Thyroid Health
The best way to naturally improve thyroid health is to eat a variety of foods that support the gland’s functions. And, because of the interconnections of the thyroid with the adrenals and pituitary, it’s also important to eat healthy foods that support those systems too.
Naturally improve thyroid health with iodine-rich foods, such as fish and seafood. Navy beans, potatoes and eggs are excellent sources, too. Avoid iodized table salt as this iodine can actually worsen thyroid health (your body can’t metabolize it properly).
TIP: During pregnancy and breastfeeding iodine requirements increase by up to 60%, so pay attention to eat enough iodine-containing foods.
Foods rich in selenium include Brazil nuts, mushrooms, meat and fish. Again, be very careful with selenium supplements as you can easily cause selenium toxicity.
If you love cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale and broccoli, make sure to cook these goitrogenic foods before eating them. Cooking help deactivate the substances that interfere with thyroid hormone production.
One way to naturally improve thyroid health, especially if you’re struggling with weight loss, is to eat enough protein. Protein has a “thermogenic effect” that causes your body to burn more calories to metabolize it than any other foods.
An interesting finding is that gluten may cause the immune cells to attack the thyroid cells by mistake. If you suspect this is an issue, ask your doctor to test you for celiac or gluten sensitivity. However, avoid those packaged ‘gluten-free’ snacks and treats – they will definitely NOT help naturally improve thyroid health. And will likely cause weight gain.
Stress and the Thyroid
Remember that there is a very intricate connection between your adrenal glands and the thyroid. It’s called the HPTA axis, or hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid-adrenal axis. Essentially, too much stress hormone can interfere with a pathway of thyroid hormone production. Too much stress hormone can interfere with estrogen production, which interferes with different mechanisms for thyroid production.
Long story short…always practice stress management and self-care! If you’re looking for a way to get started, check out my FREE 7-Day Fatigue Rescue Kit. It’s all about self-care and improving adrenal health.
If you have concerns about your thyroid, then ask to be tested. That along with testing for celiac disease can help to confirm your best plan to naturally improve thyroid health.
Foods to support your thyroid include iodine- and selenium-containing foods, cooked cruciferous foods, and gluten-free foods. Don’t forget to eat enough protein to help boost your metabolism. Also, consider reducing the amount of raw cruciferous foods you eat.
Avoid supplementing with iodine or selenium.
And regular exercise, quality sleep, and stress-reduction are all part of the holistic approach to supporting your thyroid.