Your thyroid is a small gland around the base of your neck that somewhat resembles a butterfly shape. Its purpose is to produce hormones to regulate the body’s metabolic processes. One malfunction of this process is called hypothyroidism. When your thyroid isn’t working properly, everything from weight gain to joint pain, hair growth, and your mood can be affected.
This article will explore what hypothyroidism is and how you can make natural changes in your life to prevent this condition or keep it under control.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
This condition most commonly affects women over the age of 50, but anyone of any age can develop hypothyroidism as well. Common symptoms include fatigue, weakness, weight gain, pale skin, hair loss, and brittle nails. People with hypothyroidism may also experience joint aches, abnormal menstrual cycles, and depression.
Causes of Hypothyroidism
In some parts of the world, a lack of iodine in the diet is most commonly to blame for hypothyroidism. However, most Americans get enough iodine in their diets from iodized table salt. An autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is often to blame for hypothyroidism in the U.S., while women and people with a history of autoimmune disease are more susceptible to this condition.
Hypothyroidism also results after the thyroid is removed due to cancer or after taking certain psychiatric medications, like lithium. Pregnant women can develop hypothyroidism, which is dangerous to both the mother and baby because of the increased risk of miscarriage and developmental abnormalities.
Dietary Changes for Hypothyroidism
What you eat can dramatically affect how your thyroid functions, so dietary changes are recommended for people with hypothyroidism or who are at a high risk of developing the disorder. To begin, it’s important to get enough iodine, selenium, zinc, iron, copper, antioxidants, and B vitamins.
Healthy foods to eat for good thyroid function include kelp, spinach, garlic, lima beans, fish, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and mushrooms. Wild-caught fish, coconut oil, seaweed, probiotic-rich yogurt, and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables are great options for people with thyroid concerns. Meanwhile, it is typically advised that people with hypothyroidism avoid soy-based foods, sugar, conventional dairy products, and gluten.
Exercise for Hypothyroidism
Not surprisingly, exercise is very important for people hypothyroidism to get the body moving and the metabolism working well. Yogis recommend a pose known as sarvangasana, or shoulder stand, which involves lying on your back and raising your legs straight up while supporting the back with your hands. This pose is believed to stimulate circulation in the thyroid.
Low-impact exercises, like walking and strength training routines that use your own body weight, are great for people with hypothyroidism.
Supplements for Hypothyroidism
If your diet doesn’t include enough of the nutrients noted above, it may be necessary to supplement with capsule-versions of healthy, whole foods. Doctors often recommend multivitamins, fish oil pills, and vitamin D to people who have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism.
Natural Remedies for Hypothyroidism
Elevated stress levels can lead to hypothyroidism because it sends the thyroid into overdrive. Take time to eat smaller, more balanced meals throughout the day and in a slow, relaxed way. Sage, ashwaganda, and bacopa monnieri are herbs that are sometimes recommended to use because of their metabolism-boosting properties. Essential oils, such as frankincense, lemongrass, and lavender, may also help to relieve tension and stimulate the immune system.
Since the thyroid is very sensitive to stress, relaxation techniques, deep breathing, and meditation can really help restore the thyroid’s natural health. Thyroid medication may be necessary for some individuals, but diet and lifestyle changes play an important role in overall thyroid functioning too.