How to Keep Your Thyroid Healthy
The thyroid is a small gland in the front of the neck that releases hormones that control metabolism and regulate vital body functions, such as breathing, heart rate, body weight, and muscle strength. Over 12% of people will have some sort of thyroid problem in their lifetime, and thyroid disorders are more common among women than among men. With the thyroid playing such a crucial role in the body, it is important to know how to keep your thyroid healthy.
Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid becomes overactive, producing too much of the thyroid hormones. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include nervousness or hyperactivity, irritability or moodiness, rapid heart rate, and shaking (especially in the hands).
Hypothyroidism is a condition wherein the thyroid becomes underactive, producing low levels of hormones. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include tiredness and fatigue, joint and muscle pain, difficulty concentrating, and trouble sleeping.
The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s own immune system attacks and injures the thyroid gland. If your doctor suspects you have Hashimoto’s, they will run additional blood tests to check for thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO Ab) and thyroglobulin antibodies (TGB Ab).
How to Keep Your Thyroid Healthy
A healthy, well-rounded diet and regular exercise help your thyroid function properly and can help prevent the development of thyroid disorders. If you are already suffering from a thyroid condition, nutrition and exercise – paired with hormone treatments – can help reduce symptoms and improve thyroid function. However, it is important to talk to your doctor before making any changes to your diet or exercise routines. If your thyroid is uncontrolled, exercise – particularly high-impact aerobics or HIIT – can actually leave you feeling worse. Walking, swimming, yoga, and strength training are excellent ways to stay active without putting a strain on your thyroid.
It is also important to discuss your diet with your doctor. There are several nutrients that play a key role in thyroid function, and having too little or too much of them in your diet can make your condition worse. For example, a lack of iodine is the leading cause of hypothyroidism worldwide. However, most Americans get plenty of iodine in their diet, and taking too much iodine can impair thyroid function as well. Other key nutrients include:
- Tyrosine – This amino acid pairs with iodine to make thyroid hormones, and it can be found in foods such as seaweed, turkey, eggs, and cottage cheese. But it also has the potential to interact with thyroid medication, so your doctor should monitor your intake.
- Vitamin D – Most patients suffering from hypothyroidism are also deficient in vitamin D, but the exact reason for this is unclear. Eating foods rich in vitamin D – such as eggs, salmon, and dairy – can help prevent illness from vitamin D deficiency, such as bone loss.
- Selenium – This important nutrient affects the immune system, fertility, and cognitive function. It is found in seafood, eggs, seeds, and nuts. In the body, the highest concentration of selenium is found in the thyroid gland, and it is vital to thyroid function.
- Vitamin B12 – As with vitamin D, many patients with hypothyroidism suffer from B12 deficiency, but the cause is unknown. Patients following a vegetarian or vegan diet are at a higher risk for B12 deficiency, as it is most readily found in beef, poultry, and seafood.
One of the most optimal ways to treat hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism is with hormone therapy. Most thyroid medications rely on synthetic hormones, which typically have unpleasant side effects because the body has a hard time recognizing them. At Anchor Wellness Center, we use bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT), which derives hormones from natural sources (such as soybeans or yams). These hormones have the same chemical makeup as your body, making them easier for your body to absorb and thereby reducing side effects and increasing effectiveness.
Learn How to Keep Your Thyroid Healthy at Anchor Wellness Center
If you want to learn more about keeping your thyroid healthy, call Anchor Wellness today at (832) 246-8437 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Minni Malhotra, MD, FAARM, ABAARM. A Board Certified physician, both in Family Medicine and with the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine, Dr. Malhotra can run tests to evaluate your thyroid function and develop a personalized treatment plan.