By Eileen Johnson
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped organ that sits in the front of the neck. Often called a “master gland”, the thyroid supports the function of almost every organ system in the body. It influences how the body uses the food we eat and plays a crucial role in creating energy from that food. Chronically cold hands and feet can be a red flag for an underactive thyroid. Other symptoms might include depression and fatigue, hair loss, constipation, dry skin, menstrual irregularities and infertility.
Here are 7 interesting ways in which you can support thyroid function:
- Rebalance gut bacteria. Very surprisingly, a good share of the thyroid hormone released becomes active only in the presence of healthy gut bacteria! Healthy bacteria can be found in fermented foods like kefir, yogurt and sauerkraut. A healthy digestive wall thrives on high fiber foods such as vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains and legumes. Probiotic supplements are another alternative.
- Antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables support the thyroid gland by carrying off metabolic waste products naturally produced with all its hard work. Antioxidants keep free radicals from damaging the precious gland. Look for a variety of colors and be sure to include those that are bright yellow and dark green.
- Stress finds sneaky ways of decreasing the effectiveness of the thyroid. It can decrease the body’s ability to use the thyroid hormone and encourage an environment that binds the hormone. Reduce the negative effects of stress by regularly practicing meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or visualization. Check out this article written by Chris Kresser, M.S., L.Ac and functional medicine practitioner: http://chriskresser.com/5-ways-that-stress-causes-hypothyroid-symptoms/
- Thyroid gland function is very sensitive to low levels of minerals, particularly zinc and selenium.Include pumpkin seeds for zinc and Brazil nuts, fresh snapper, halibut or salmon for selenium, and lots of green, leafy vegetables for a daily dose of many different minerals.
- Avoidance of certain foods may improve thyroid function. A skillful practitioner can help you decide if avoiding goitrogenic foods (like spinach, soy and peanuts), dairy products and/or gluten can improve your thyroid health. Replace foods high in refined carbohydrates and sugar, hydrogenated fats and chemical additives with a lot more fruits and vegetables in order to improve your energy levels.
- Acupuncture has been used to balance hormone levels, smooth out energy levels, even emotions, improve sleep, and balance the menstrual cycle.
- Supplement formulas that support thyroid function may include glandular products of the thyroid or adrenal gland, l-tyrosine, various minerals, and a calming herb like Holy Basil or Ashwagandha. Iodine can have a beneficial effect on the normally sluggish thyroid but may worsen Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. It’s helpful to seek professional advice in choosing what the supplement is best for you.