First, what does the thyroid do?
As lots of patients don’t know exactly the basic stuff about thyroid, we’re here to unfold the very basic stuff you need to know. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that is located in the neck and controls your metabolism.
As a general rule, an overactive thyroid, a phenomenon that’s also known as hyperthyroidism, can make you feel anxious, shaky, sweaty, and hot, plus it can make you lose weight and have trouble sleeping.
On the other side, someone who suffers from an underactive gland, which is also known as hypothyroidism, might feel sluggish, fatigued, and cold. In addition, patients might experience weight gain and constipation.
Truth be told, lifestyle habits don’t have much to say when it comes to your gland, but there are still some things you can do that would improve the overall health of your thyroid. Let’s talk about some of the most important things:
Find out your family history
If one of your family members, such as your mom, dad, or siblings, suffers from thyroid disease, the chances for you to experience a gland dysfunction are higher, according to Leonard Wartofsky, MD, MACP, professor of medicine at Georgetown University and past president of the Endocrine Society.
For anyone that has a family history, it’s extremely important to have your thyroid monitored. For example, if it is to talk about an annual physical, your physician will start examining your thyroid by touching the neck to feel if there’s a goiter, enlarged thyroid, or even nodules.
Get checked regularly
Apart from the physical exam, if you suspect you might have a gland problem, either because of family history or due to some symptoms, you should consider asking your doctor about a specific blood test that checks your levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).
Even if it might sound backward, a high TSH result will indicate thyroid levels that are too low, and a low TSH result will indicate thyroid levels that are too high, as Dr. Wartofsky said. If your thyroid levels are too low, your doctor will talk to you about possible treatment options.
For hypothyroidism the right approach is to increase thyroid by taking oral synthetic thyroid hormones; as for hyperthyroidism, the right approach is to block thyroid overproduction with a drug, known as radioactive iodine treatment, or even surgery.
If you’re pregnant, try supplementing your iodine intake
The butterfly-shaped gland requires adequate iodine to stay healthy, and in the United States, we usually get that iodine from our salt, bread, and other foods. “However, the one group that require more iodine are the pregnant women, as they need extra to make sure their thyroid and the baby’s gland are normal” to Michael Tuttle, MD, clinical director of the Endocrinology Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, confirmed.
Therefore, it’s very important for pregnant women to get multivitamins that have iodine. Prenatal vitamins have iodine and that is the source where pregnant women can get the right amount of iodine.
But try not to OD on iodine
Unless you’re pregnant, you shouldn’t do what we just explained before. Whether your body tends toward the low or high end of thyroid function, getting too much iodine isn’t necessary, as Dr. Wartofsky confirmed.
Also, it’s extremely common to read self-help books and diet books that iodine is very good for the butterfly-shaped gland, and many people would go out and buy rich iodine sources such as kelp tablets, and that can be dangerous. It’s crucial not to exceed a normal intake of iodine.
Don’t be scared of cruciferous veggies
Dr. Tuttle remembers that one piece of misinformation she oftentimes hears is that patients are scared to eat too many cruciferous vegetables, like kale and cabbage, as they’ve heard that these greens might develop a goiter.
It might be true, but only if you eat a truckload of the stuff. You definitely don’t want people to start avoiding vegetables, as you want people to have a normal diet and not worry about these sorts of things that bother the gland. Plus, let’s be serious: such an irony to be afraid of one of the healthiest foods out there!
If you take thyroid medications, stay vigilant
As Dr. Turtle confirms, once you got diagnosed with a thyroid condition and put on pills, don’t rush into thinking that you’re done. A thyroid problem will be a lifelong thing that you need to keep on your radar screen.
You won’t need only to take pills on a daily basis, based on your doctor’s instructions(like not mixing them with vitamins, as iron and calcium might interfere with absorption), but in time your thyroid levels could be regularly tested to know if the dosages must be adjusted.
It can be pretty easy to get sloppy and miss a pill, or even a set of blood tests and not see the doctor once a year, so try to make sure you keep up with it.
The best food for your thyroid health:
Blueberries are known as the world’s favorite superfood, and that’s only because they’re absolutely delicious, they’re easy to snack on, and they’re rich in antioxidants known as polyphenols. Those people who try to lose weight because of hypothyroidism, they’re also very high in fiber but low on the glycemic index, which means they have lower amounts of fructose.
They will give you energy and a metabolic boost. There are studies that show how people with thyroid conditions have higher levels of free radicals, which are unstable atoms that only wreak havoc on the body, which the high amounts of antioxidants in blueberries might reduce.
Brazil nuts ended up on the list because they are super high in selenium. This is highly important as the thyroid gland has the highest amount of selenium of any organ in our bodies. Depending on the climate the Brazil nuts come from, they pack high concentrations of zinc, copper, and magnesium. You should aim for a few per day.
Pumpkin seeds are also amazing for the butterfly-shaped gland. Eating an ounce of dried pumpkin seed every day is extremely healthy for you. It will give you the right amount of zinc, which is a mineral you need for gland hormone production. You can also eat them as a puree or roast them for a tasty snack. Amazon has many different brands of pumpkin seeds, check this out!
Even if they’re pretty basic, apples are amazing. That’s because they are rich in pectins, which is a fiber that supports toxin removal in the body. These toxins, especially metals, are able to interfere with thyroid function. To be more specific, mercury can impact your gland hormone levels. If you want a gland-friendly snack, eat an apple with its skin, as it’s loaded with pectin.
Whether you believe it or not, eggs are a superfood too, as they can be excellent for the health of this gland. Make sure you add them or keep them in your breakfast rotation. Eggs have tryptophan and tyrosine, both of which support heart health. They’re rich in essential amino acids, and they contain omega-3 fatty acids, iodine, selenium, and antioxidants.
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