The thyroid is the butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck. As part of the endocrine system, the thyroid gland helps regulate the body's metabolism in blood pressure, blood temperature, and heart rate. When your thyroid hormone production drops, your body processes slow down and change, affecting virtually every system in the body and causing frustrating symptoms.
Jennifer Duran, Founder of We Are Well, suggests five things you can do to practically support your thyroid condition — today.
Take a rest day
Yup, skip your spin class. Too much stress can have an impact on T4 to T3 thyroid hormone conversion. When we think about stress, we often look to the major culprits - traffic, money, work, family dynamics. We don't realize that high-intensity exercise, like Spin or HIIT classes, creates stress in the body. Taking a break from these workouts allows an already stressed body to recharge and come back down to the baseline.
- Opt for low-intensity movements such as long walks (aim for 30 minutes minimum), hikes in nature, swimming, kayaking, and yoga.
Adopt an abundance mentality
You may have heard you need to eliminate a ton of foods to support your thyroid and feel overwhelmed by the idea - yes, we've been there. Rather than focusing on what you can't consume, focus on what you can to support your thyroid. Adopting an abundance mentality that focuses on all you can have will help keep you in the right mindset throughout your health journey.
Two micronutrients that are key for optimizing your thyroid are iodine and selenium, both available in a variety of delicious foods. Iodine sources include seaweed, cod, shrimp, eggs, and iodized salt. Selenium sources include brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, beef, chicken, eggs, shellfish.
- Keep a pack of seaweed wraps on hand for a snack or eat with tuna salad or other seafood.
- Snack on one brazil nut daily, or two tablespoons of sunflower seeds.
Get more and better sleep
If you are struggling with hypothyroidism, you've probably felt sluggish and tired for a while now. Still, you continue to push yourself to meet all of your commitments. Long term sleep deprivation can harm thyroid hormone production, so here's your permission to sleep!
Length (7-9 hours is the recommendation) and quality of sleep are the two aspects to look at when aiming to improve sleep. Implementing a few new pieces of sleep hygiene into your nightly routine can help improve both.
- Put a "Wind Down Routine" in place, which includes a bedtime and a time to start winding down, typically an hour before bedtime. Wind down can consist of turning off lights, electronics, taking a warm shower, getting into bed, and reading for 20 minutes before sleep.
Include anti-inflammatory foods
One symptom of Hashimoto's thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition that is often the underlying cause of hypothyroidism, is chronic inflammation. Eating anti-inflammatory foods is one way to help reduce inflammation.
Foods that can cause inflammation are generally highly processed and high in sugar. Anti-inflammatory foods are whole foods, herbs and spices, fruits, vegetables, high fiber foods, and items rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Add fiber-rich berries & chia seeds to your smoothie for additional fiber and antioxidants.
- Try Omega 3 rich Sardines on fiber-rich crackers or toast for lunch.
- Or enjoy a golden milk latte before bed and get a high dose of anti-inflammatory spices such as turmeric, ginger, and pepper.
If you are struggling with hypothyroidism, managing stress is of particular importance. When you are stressed, the adrenal glands get priority over thyroid regulation. Additionally, cortisol, our stress hormone, can interfere with the conversion of T4 to T3, making everything sluggish.
Practicing mindfulness has been shown to increase happiness and decrease stress. And who doesn't want that? Having a way to better manage stress consistently can improve our body's ability to deal with daily stressors.
- Start your day with a mindful morning that can include stretching, breathing exercises, or quietly making your morning beverage.
- Break your day up with a 15-minute mindful walk in the afternoon
- Try out a 5 minute guided meditation before bed to help relax
While there's no cure for hypothyroidism, taking your thyroid medication and incorporating these daily lifestyle changes can help you live well with a thyroid condition.