January is National Thyroid Awareness month, a time to spread awareness and educate others on the different types of thyroid disorders that affect 1 in 10 people in the United States. While many thyroid disorders are genetic, there are some ways you can improve your thyroid function naturally. Below are a few ways you can improve your thyroid health.
Watch Your Diet
Maintaining a healthy diet is important for overall health, however there are some specific ways you can modify your diet to help improve and maintain thyroid function. It is important to limit and avoid processed foods, refined sugar, trans fats, preservatives and dyes. Instead, choose whole, fresh foods like antioxidant rich fruits, vegetables, heart healthy fats, lean protein and whole grains.
Certain vitamin and nutrient deficiencies have also been linked to thyroid disorders, which can be supplemented through food. An iodine deficiency can cause thyroid issues, but can be supplemented through things like table salt, dairy products, saltwater fish, shellfish and other seafood. Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to thyroid disorders such as Hashimoto’s disease. Vitamin D intake can increase by eating foods like dairy products, eggs, mushrooms and fatty fish. Additional nutrients like selenium and B12 can also help to improve thyroid function.
Like diet, exercise is key to living a healthy lifestyle as well as keeping your thyroid healthy. Physical activity will help boost your metabolism and improve hormone levels and can help alleviate symptoms caused by thyroid disorders. Any type of exercise can be beneficial, however, low impact exercise like walking or cycling can have great benefits without causing joint pain that often comes along with thyroid disorders. Adding in 3-5 days of exercise each week can regulate your thyroid and benefit your overall health.
People may be surprised to learn that stress can have a significant impact on thyroid health. High stress levels can increase cortisol levels which slows down metabolism and causes drops in T3 and T4 levels, which both have negative effects on thyroid function. There are many ways to reduce stress, for example, meditation, exercising, deep breathing, self-care and hobbies are all ways that can help reduce stress in day to day life.
Schedule Regular Doctor Visits
Since symptoms of most thyroid disorders are symptoms of many other common conditions, people can suffer from thyroid issues without ever being diagnosed. Regular checkups with your primary care physician can help identify symptoms early on. Your physician will test your blood, which will identify any thyroid issues you may have. From there, your doctor will work with you to create the best treatment plan.
Although there is no way to guarantee you will not develop a thyroid disorder, these tips can help both avoid and treat thyroid disorders. Luckily, with treatment, most thyroid disorders are very manageable and will not negatively affect your quality of life. If you suffer from symptoms and you think you may have a thyroid disorder, our primary care physicians can run tests, diagnose the issue and provide treatment. If you are in need of a Primary Care Physician, visit here.