The thyroid is the butterfly shaped gland situated at the base of the neck which controls the production and delivery of essential hormones to the vital organs of the human body. Thyroid health is instrumental in regulating body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and metabolism. When the thyroid is compromised by poor nutrition, hormone regulation becomes impaired and vital organs no longer function at optimal levels. The most common symptoms of a sluggish thyroid are weight gain, fatigue, loss of libido, hair loss and skin conditions. Fortunately, there are ways to stimulate a sluggish thyroid naturally through good nutrition and exercise.
Making Changes to Your Diet
Maintaining a healthy thyroid gland begins with diet. The thyroid gland is dependent upon iodine for its operation, and increasing the intake of iodine rich foods can vastly improve its health and function. Sea vegetables like kelp and dulse, asparagus, cranberries and tomatoes are all rich sources of naturally occurring iodine. While man made iodine supplements are commonly prescribed for patients with thyroid disorders, the human body responds better to natural sources obtained through a balanced diet. Naturally occurring minerals are more readily absorbed by the body, and adding iodine rich foods to your diet is a sure way to stimulate the thyroid, and improve the overall health of the entire endocrine system.
Simply adding iodine rich foods to your diet, however, is not enough to maintain the health of the thyroid. Many foods actually act as iodine blockers, and prevent the thyroid gland from obtaining the necessary amounts of iodine it needs to remain healthy. Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli and kale are common ingredients in a balanced diet, and for people without thyroid disorders they remain a good source of nutrition. However, for those with a compromised thyroid, these foods can actually inhibit the glands ability to absorb iodine but only if they are eaten in excess. Soy products can also act as iodine blockers and they can be problematical for people with sluggish thyroids. While it is not recommended that you eliminate these foods from your diet, reducing their intake can free the thyroid gland to absorb the minerals it needs to function properly.
Exercise and Thyroid Health
Making the right dietary changes can go a long way towards improving the overall health of the thyroid gland. However, as much as diet can affect health, exercise also plays a key role. Exercise helps to stimulate the thyroids hormone secretions, and also helps to prepare the body’s cells for the release of those hormones. Proper exercise should be a part of everyone’s personal health routine, but it is particularly important for those people with sluggish or dysfunctional thyroids.
The thyroid is the main driver of the body’s metabolism, and it is common for people with sluggish thyroids to suffer from fatigue, or to feel they lack the energy to engage in exercise. Adding some energy boosting foods to your diet can help you beat the fatigue and find the energy to begin a program of regular exercise. So called ‘super foods’, such as avocados, seeds and nuts provide a natural energy boost, and are healthy additions to any diet. The curious thing about exercise, is that once people begin a regimen of healthy activity it begins to feed off of itself. As you begin to exercise, you will find your energy levels increasing and the desire to exercise growing exponentially. A healthy exercise routine is not only good for the thyroid gland, it is vastly beneficial in maintaining the overall health of the body and the mind.
The thyroid gland maintains the body’s hormone secretions, and regulates many of the body’s vital organs. It is the prime mover in controlling metabolism, which in turn determines how our bodies use the nutrients we provide for it on a daily basis. By making a few dietary changes, and by increasing the level of exercise taken regularly, you can help your thyroid gland to perform at it’s optimal peak. Keeping the thyroid healthy also helps to ward off diseases like hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s, Graves disease and thyroid cancer. With a few simple changes to your diet, and by adding a dedicated exercise routine to your schedule, you can begin to alleviate the symptoms of a sluggish thyroid and enjoy a renewed health and vigor.
Our detailed article on Thyroid Treatment discusses the major influences on thyroid function.