Let’s begin with the functions of the thyroid. This tiny butterfly-shaped organ impacts almost every organ system in the body. The thyroid is responsible for hormone secretion into our bloodstream and plays a crucial role in metabolism (1).
This powerhouse organ helps control heartbeat, metabolism, digestion, temperature and how our bodies utilize energy. When the thyroid is not properly functioning, unexplained weight gain or loss, fatigue, anxiousness, and many more symptoms can occur.
Two different disorders can occur if the rate of hormone secretion is altered. Hypothyroidism is a condition where your thyroid does not produce hormones efficiently. Some symptoms include:
- Slowed heart rate
- Body aches and pains
- Dry skin and nails
- Weight gain
This is common in women but can often go untreated because symptoms are similar to aging. Letting hypothyroidism go untreated can lead to further complications such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, infertility, obesity and heart disease (2).
Another condition that can occur is hyperthyroidism. Opposite of hypothyroidism, this condition is when the thyroid produces an abundance of hormones. It can also be called overactive thyroid (3). Since thyroid hormones regulate many systems within the body, if the thyroid is overactive, the body could experience increased functioning of systems. Related symptoms could include:
- Increased heart rate
- Frequent bowel movements
- Unexplained weight loss
- Increased appetite
Both conditions, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, may require medication so I recommend speaking with your physician. However, let’s dive into what we can work on nutritionally to help both conditions.
Aspects Affecting Thyroid Health
Your thyroid function can be affected by genetics, lifestyle, stress, nutrition habits and overall diet. Poor gut health can play a vital role in causing imbalances as well. Implementing an overall healthy diet and lifestyle can greatly impact your thyroid health and regulation. Every individual is unique and may respond differently to certain diets. Still, research shows that incorporating these foods into your diet can positively impact your thyroid health.
Increase Micronutrient Dense Foods
Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains will incorporate many unique and diverse micronutrients to your diet (4). Try to avoid fatty, processed meats and choose lean meats and protein sources. In addition, cut back on simple carbohydrates (processed), and increase heart-healthy fats. By incorporating these types of foods, your fiber intake will also increase which is important to improve and support digestion.
Iodine is naturally found in an abundance in seaweed. Iodine and selenium are two micronutrients that are required for thyroid hormone synthesis and function (5).