Thyroid dysfunction and thyroid disease are on the rise. Though you don't have to have a thyroid disease for poor thyroid function to affect your health.
The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped gland, situated in the front part of our neck that produces hormones responsible for a variety of functions. One of the most important functions is to regulate metabolism.
Hypothyroidism This is the most common thyroid disorder. This is where the thyroid gland is under active.
Symptoms can include:
Fatigue and exhaustion
Dry skin and brittle hair
Change in voice
Muscle weakness and joint stiffness
Poor concentration / forgetfulness
Nutrients for thyroid health
Iodine is a vital nutrient in the body. It is essential for thyroid hormone synthesis and healthy thyroid function. Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of hypothyroidism.
The recommended daily intake in Australia is 150 µg/day and increasing to 250 µg/day whilst pregnant. Several parts of Australia have soils that are low in iodine. Good sources of iodine include seaweed and fish.
Both iodine deficiency and excess have significant risks, therefore supplementation should be approached with caution. For those with Hashiimoto's supplementing with iodine may cause flare ups, as it stimulates autoimmune antibodies.
Goitrogenic foods can prevent the utilization of iodine. They are found in a number of foods such as Brassica vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, kale). Steaming and cooking reduces the goitrogenic compounds.
Soy is another potential goitrogen. The isoflavones in soy can lower thyroid hormone synthesis.
The highest concentration of selenium is found in the thyroid gland and its shown to be a necessary component of enzymes integral to thyroid function. It also protects the thyroid from oxidative stress. Foods high in selenium include Brazil nuts, oysters, tuna and other fish.
Zinc is an essential trace element for normal levels of thyroid hormones. Good sources of zinc include pumpkin seeds, oysters, beef and lamb.
Exercise helps thyroid function, weight gain, fatigue and low mood. Exercise can also help reduce anxiety and improve sleep in people with hypothyroidism. Since fatigue makes it difficult to exercise, start slowly and gently. After waking, go for a 10 minute walk. This can then be increased over time. Find a gentle, beginners yoga class. Yoga can also help relieve stress.
These are endocrine disrupting chemicals that affect thyroid function. To reduce exposure:
Avoid the use of plastics. Store food in glass containers.
Buy organic where possible.
Use natural cosmetics and skin care products.
Use more natural cleaning products in your home.
Stress can impact thyroid function. Ensure adequate rest, take time out for yourself and try relaxation techniques such as meditation and mindfulness.
There are some wonderful mediation apps that can be downloaded to your mobile phone.
If you would like to discuss further thyroid support, please contact myself at Casuarina Holistic Health.
1. Harris MPH, RD, C. Thyroid Disease and Diet — Nutrition Plays a Part in Maintaining Thyroid Health. Retrieved from http://www.todaysdietitian.com/pdf/courses/HarrisThyroidDiet.pdf
2. Dr Libby weaver. (2016). Dr Libby's Women's Wellness Wisdom : What Every Woman Needs to Know. Auckland: Little Green Frog Publishing Ltd.