The thyroid is an essential gland in the body that produces hormones that regulate metabolism, growth, and development. These hormones affect nearly every organ and tissue in the body, including the heart, brain, muscles, and bones. Proper thyroid function is critical for overall health and well-being.
10 Key Takeaways
Get enough iodine: Iodine is a critical nutrient for thyroid function. You can get iodine from seaweed, seafood, dairy products, eggs, and iodized salt.
Consume selenium-rich foods: Selenium is another mineral that's essential for thyroid function. Brazil nuts, seafood, and organ meats are all good sources of selenium.
Avoid goitrogens: Certain foods can interfere with thyroid function by blocking iodine absorption. Examples include cruciferous vegetables (e.g., broccoli, cabbage, kale), soy products, and peanuts. While it's generally best to avoid these foods, cooking them can help reduce their goitrogenic effects.
Manage stress: Stress can disrupt thyroid function by suppressing the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis. To manage stress, try practices like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing.
Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help support thyroid function by increasing blood flow and reducing inflammation. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
Get enough sleep: Sleep is critical for thyroid function, as it's during sleep that the body produces and releases thyroid hormones. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night.
Avoid toxins: Exposure to toxins like heavy metals, pesticides, and environmental pollutants can interfere with thyroid function. To minimize your exposure, eat organic foods when possible and avoid products that contain harmful chemicals.
Eat a balanced diet: A balanced diet that's rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help support overall health, including thyroid function.
Consider supplements: Certain supplements, such as ashwagandha and probiotics, may help support thyroid function. However, it's important to talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new supplements.
Manage any underlying conditions: Certain underlying conditions, such as autoimmune disorders or nutrient deficiencies, can interfere with thyroid function. Work with your healthcare provider to manage these conditions effectively.
Consuming excessive amounts of iodine can be harmful to the thyroid gland because it can disrupt the delicate balance of thyroid hormone production. While iodine is essential for thyroid function, too much of it can cause the thyroid to become overactive, leading to hyperthyroidism. On the other hand, consuming too little iodine can cause the thyroid gland to enlarge, resulting in a condition known as goiter. Similarly, soy products contain compounds called goitrogens, which can interfere with thyroid hormone synthesis by blocking iodine absorption. However, cooking soy products can help to reduce their goitrogenic effects. Exposure to toxins like heavy metals and environmental pollutants can also harm the thyroid gland by causing inflammation and oxidative stress. These toxins can damage thyroid cells, impair thyroid hormone production, and increase the risk of thyroid disorders like hypothyroidism and autoimmune thyroid disease. Therefore, it's important to minimize exposure to these harmful substances and maintain a healthy lifestyle to support thyroid function.
Zimmermann, M. B. (2009). Iodine deficiency. Endocrine Reviews, 30(4), 376-408. doi: 10.1210/er.2009-0011.
Tonstad, S., Jaceldo-Siegl, K., Messina, M., & Haddad, E. (2018). The association between soya consumption and serum thyroid-stimulating hormone concentrations in the Adventist Health Study-2. Public Health Nutrition, 21(10), 1881-1887. doi: 10.1017/S1368980018000557.