9 Ways To Improve Thyroid Gland Function Naturally
Most of us barely think about our thyroids, particularly when they’re healthy. When the function of our thyroid goes awry, however, it can wreak havoc on our everyday lives. Who knew such a small gland could pack such a powerful punch!
Your thyroid has an impact on, among other things, cholesterol, heart rate, brain function, metabolism, hormones, and energy levels.
Your Thyroid 101
Your thyroid gland is butterfly-shaped and sits at the base of your neck. It’s part of the endocrine system. When your thyroid isn’t operating properly, it’s usually due to either producing too many hormones (known as hyperthyroidism) or not enough hormones (hypothyroidism).
In recent years, thyroid issues have gotten more public attention—and that’s a great thing for raising awareness. After all, many people suffer from thyroid disorders for years without knowing it.
Popular writer and business owner Emily Ley was diagnosed with two thyroid disorders in 2016. She went on to write a book about her efforts to remove stressors from her life to help heal, and encouraged other women to do the same. Sex And The City actress Kim Cattrall suffers from Hashimoto’s disease, a common cause of hypothyroidism, and Oprah Winfrey has also been open about her experiences with thyroid disorder. Modern Family star Sofia Vergara was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2000, and in recent years, she’s shared her experiences with beating the disease. All this is to say that if you’re experiencing thyroid issues, you’re far from alone. Don’t be afraid to take note of your symptoms.
Hyperthyroidism is characterized by a series of symptoms like anxiety, sweatiness, heart palpitations, difficulty falling asleep, weight loss, and weak hair and nails. When it comes to hyperthyroidism, one of the biggest culprits is Grave’s disease, which occurs when the thyroid is attacked by the immune system. This leads to the thyroid producing too many hormones. People with hyperthyroidism may also experiencer goiter, an enlarging of the thyroid.
Many symptoms of hypothyroidism are the opposite of hyperthyroidism. If your thyroid is not producing enough hormones, you could experience issues like exhaustion, dry skin, depression, memory issues, weight gain, and a feeling of weakness. Many people with hypothyroidism experience it because of Hashimoto’s disease, in which the immune system attacks the thyroid and causes it to underproduce the hormones the body needs. You may also experience hypothyroidism as a result of radiation treatment or the removal of your thyroid gland.
Common Causes Of Thyroid Issues
Thyroid issues are often hereditary, and are often difficult to prevent. Residents of countries or communities that are generally deficient in iodine may experience thyroid issues as a result. (The US adds iodine to most table salt in an effort to prevent deficiency.) You can occasionally set off thyroid issues from eating too many foods rich in iodine, but this is a rare occurrence.
You, Your Doctor, And Your Thyroid
Most thyroid issues are diagnosed with the help of a test from a medical professional. Blood tests or radioactive iodine tests often do the trick. Depending on what type of thyroid issues you’re experiencing, your doctor may suggest medication, but there are also plenty of natural habits that can help improve your thyroid, which we’ll discuss below.
If you do take medication for your thyroid, natural healthy habits are still important, as it can take some trial and error to find the dosage of medication that works best for you. Natural healthy routines can help improve your health in the interim as your medications start to set in.
When you first meet with your doctor to discuss your thyroid, prepare yourself in advance with a bit of research on your symptoms. Make sure you advocate for yourself and are firm about symptoms interfering with your life. Be very clear about exactly what you’re feeling, and ask any clarifying questions you need to know. Take notes during your discussion in case you forget any details.
1. Get the sleep you need
Thyroid issues are often accompanied by sleep issues, so while it might be easier said than done, do what you can to ensure you’re getting proper sleep. Hit the sack before midnight so you can allow your body the chance to rest and repair before hitting a late-night second wind that keeps you awake to an unhealthy hour. It can be hard to prioritize your sleep, so when in doubt, remind yourself that when you’re well-rested, you’ll actually gain more time in your day because you’ll be able to complete tasks more efficiently.
2. Get regular exercise
Among the countless benefits of exercise are the positive effects it can have on your thyroid. When you exercise on a regular schedule, you’ll give your body the chance to produce endorphins, work up a healthy sweat, release toxins, support its immune system, and help your thyroid heal. Exercise can also help decrease stress, which can be a life-changer. The important thing is that you enjoy the exercise you’re doing, so keep trying new workouts until you find one that you love.
3. Avoid eating sugar
Sugar is in a vast majority of the foods we eat every day – even the foods you’d never expect. If you’re able to cut any amount of sugar from your diet, you’ll be doing your body and your thyroid a favor. The same goes for processed foods and empty carbs. Once these unhealthy ingredients are a smaller part of your daily diet, you’ll likely feel compelled to replace them with healthier, more nutrient-rich foods, which is another fantastic benefit.
4. Eat healthy fats
Check with a medical professional if you have any concerns about incorporating more fats into your diet, but plenty of healthy fats can make a major positive impact on your thyroid. You’ll want to aim for fats like ghee, cod liver oil, and egg yolk.
5. Eat seaweed
Sea vegetables like nori are full of nutrients and proteins your body (especially thyroid) needs, so chow down.
6. Decrease stress whenever possible
Removing stress from your life might seem impossible, but you can always take baby steps. Talk to a counselor about positive stress management tips, remove one draining obligation from your packed schedule, or practice setting boundaries with someone who regularly stresses you out. Take a good, hard look at the people and activities in your life that add more stress than joy, and consider whether you can either let them go or improve something about them. Don’t forget that while everyone feels pressure sometimes, life is meant to be fun and joyful. You deserve to feel good!
7. Make sure you’re getting enough Vitamin D
Getting all the vitamin D you need can be tough, especially in the colder and cloudier months. Consider adding a vitamin D supplement to your daily routine. Also reach for foods rich in vitamin D, like salmon, tuna, cheese, egg yolk, mackerel, and orange juice.
8. Consider eliminating certain foods
You may find that cutting certain types of foods out of your diet leads to an increase in healthy thyroid function and a decrease in sluggish feelings. You might want to experiment with eating less gluten or dairy to determine whether this makes a difference. Only do this if you’re comfortable, and if so, be sure to replace any nutrients eliminated from your diet with other food options.
9. Use heat to your advantage
Spending time in a sauna can help your body shed toxins, and this can help your thyroid thrive and heal.
You’re On Your Way To Better Health
If you’re feeling discouraged, remember: despite how tough they can be to detect, thyroid issues are incredibly common. With these natural steps, you could have your thyroid back on track in no time.