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6 NATURAL WAYS TO SUPPORT OPTIMAL THYROID FUNCTION

January 08, 2018 by Renee Tavoularis

6 NATURAL WAYS TO SUPPORT OPTIMAL THYROID FUNCTION

A healthy thyroid is crucial to optimal wellness, yet few of us truly understand its importance. In fact, the American Thyroid Association estimates that 20 million Americans have a thyroid disease, and more than half go undetected.

In recognition of Thyroid Awareness Month, Well Within Beauty outlines everything you need to know about common thyroid symptoms and how to support your hormones by adopting healthy diet and lifestyle habits.

FUNCTIONS OF THE THYROID

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located behind the Adam’s apple. This gland is part of the endocrine system. The thyroid combines iodine with tyrosine (an amino acid) to produce T4 and T3 hormones.

These hormones are primarily responsible for setting your body’s metabolic rate (the rate at which your body uses energy). All cells have receptors for thyroid hormones, so in addition to metabolism, thyroid hormones also regulate important bodily functions such as growth, digestion, weight, temperature, and heart rate.

When the thyroid produces too much or too few of these hormones, it can result in widespread symptoms throughout the body. 

COMMON THYROID SYMPTOMS AND CONDITIONS

HYPOTHYROIDISM occurs when the thyroid doesn’t make enough T4, T3, or both, and bodily functions slow down.

  • Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease and one of the primary causes of hypothyroidism. With Hashimoto’s, the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, and over time, this impairs thyroid function.
  • Common symptoms of an underactive thyroid include difficulty losing weight, fatigue, hair loss, joint pain and weakness, constipation, temperature sensitivity, and low heart rate.

HYPERTHYROIDISM manifests as the exact opposite of hypothyroidism, and occurs when the thyroid is overactive.

  • Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder and one of the primary causes of hyperthyroidism. In those with Graves’ disease, the immune system produces antibodies that interfere with the pituitary gland, which regulates the thyroid, causing the thyroid to overproduce its hormones. In addition to the symptoms listed below, those with Graves’ disease may also experience inflammation of the eye tissues and muscles.
  • Common symptoms of an overactive thyroid include increased or irregular heart rate, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, weight loss, heat sensitivity, mood swings, and brittle hair and nails. 

6 NATURAL WAYS TO SUPPORT OPTIMAL THYROID FUNCTION

The first step to healing the thyroid is to diagnose the specific condition. If you’re experiencing common thyroid symptoms, a functional medicine doctor or endocrinologist can run tests and offer tips and supplements based on your personal constitution.

You can further support your hormones by adopting Well Within Beauty’s six healthy habits for optimal thyroid function:

1. REDUCE STRESS.

We all experience times of stress, but living in a chronic state of fight or flight can tax the adrenal glands. Adrenal-related stress can suppress the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, which both directly influence thyroid function. Find ways to minimize stress through calming activities like meditation, deep breathing, journal writing, and nature walks.

2. GET REST.

Thyroid conditions can affect sleep patterns, and that’s an issue, because the body requires adequate sleep for overall health and healing. Aim for 7 to 9 hours each night. If you have trouble sleeping, try eating dinner at least two hours before bed, have a cup of calming herbal tea, and dab a few drops of lavender oil on the bottoms of your feet.

3. MOVE DAILY.

Low-intensity exercise can assist in hormone production and rev up a sluggish metabolism. Try yoga, swimming, or jogging. For those with hyperthyroidism, light stretches and calm, relaxing exercises like restorative yoga and tai chi can help slow the heart and reduce anxiety.

4. EAT WELL.

A diet rich in essential vitamins and minerals, such as selenium, iodine, zinc, thiamine, B12, and vitamin D can help heal your thyroid and reduce inflammation. Fill your plate with sea vegetables, dark leafy greens, quality fats, and plant-based protein sources. To learn more about the best foods for thyroid function, check out 6 Nutrient-Rich Foods for Optimal Thyroid Health.

5. ELIMINATE SUGAR AND ALCOHOL.

Refined sugar and carbohydrates, as well as alcohol, can wreak havoc on your body and your thyroid. These foods cause inflammation, weight gain, and blood-sugar issues. If you have a sweet tooth, turn to fresh fruit. You can also try healthy dessert recipes, such as Well Within Beauty’s Maca Hot Chocolate and Raw Tropical Sherbet.

6. AVOID ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS.

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that mimic our hormones. When this occurs, the chemical disruptor interferes with the messages our hormones are trying to send to our cells. To reduce exposure, choose glass containers over plastic containers, drink filtered water, and buy organic produce. Plus, opt for non-toxic, natural bath and beauty products, household cleaners, and laundry detergents.
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