Last week, I covered issues around gallbladder health. This week, I will touch on another small yet fantastic gland that is a significant influence on most people's health. Our thyroid gland is one of the littlest, yet essential organs that regulates some critical body systems. Your thyroid's role is to release thyroid-stimulating hormone TSH which is a pituitary hormone that triggers vital metabolic function within your body.
Your thyroid regulates body temperature, aids in the digestion process, heart function and even enhances your cognitive ability. For athletes and active people, the thyroid is critically important since the hormone TSH helps promote muscle development, proper muscle function and muscle repair.
Keeping your thyroid happy and healthy can be a relatively easy process. Similar to other vital organs in your body, your thyroid needs whole healthy foods. If your nutrition plan includes lots of vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale or spinach, you are well on your way to good thyroid health. Having at least 40 percent of your daily food consumption in raw form is particularly favorable to thyroid maintenance. When you munch on your broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, eat them lightly steamed or entirely raw for the most benefit of their nutrients and enzymes.
The other essential element for proper thyroid health is iodine. The thyroid needs iodine for adequate thyroid hormone production. Iodine deficiency in our fast/processed food world can be more common than you think. Your body does not produce iodine on its own, so you must rely on getting enough from your daily nutrition. So how much iodine is recommended on a regular basis? The amount of iodine per day depends on a few factors. The average daily recommended amount of iodine is 150 micrograms (mcg) per day for most adults. For infants, it's less, around 110 mcg. For pre-teens, it's between 90 and 120 mcg. For pregnant women, 220 to 290 mcg is critical for proper bone and brain development with the baby.
Selenium is another essential element for a healthy thyroid. About 100 to 200 mcg per day of selenium helps support thyroid ability to produce enough TSH and support your metabolism. Finally, a factor that can be important to us in our northern climate is getting enough vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency seems to influence your thyroid health. Studies are currently being looked at to see why vitamin D deficiency and hypothyroidism are often present in people diagnosed with thyroid issues. Even though the correlation between the two health conditions is not clear, it is always a good idea to make sure you're getting enough vitamin D during winter months.
This butterfly-shaped gland in your neck is critical to keeping your metabolism and overall health humming along. Like your gallbladder, when your thyroid becomes unhealthy, it can lead to many different conditions that may be difficult to diagnose. A dysfunctional thyroid can have symptoms from fatigue, weight gain, highly sensitive to cold, poor sleep, irregular heartbeat, abnormally dry skin and much more.
Here are a few lifestyle issues to avoid or at least curb your intake of to help support your thyroid. Reduce the amount of alcohol you consume, don't smoke, limit consumption of highly processed foods, no gluten and avoid other inflammatory foods.
It all comes down to shifting your diet to whole healthy foods and eating most of your vegetable raw or lightly steamed. Get plenty of exercise, keep your vitamin D levels up along with selenium and iodine from healthy seafood, nuts, and grass-fed meats.
Keeping yourself healthy starts by understanding your body and all those small, yet critical organs and systems that keep our health in balance. As you can tell by my consistent push on proper nutrition and exercise, it is up to you to pay attention to the little things and be aware of all aspects around your health and how you are feeling.
Judd Jones is a director for The Hagadone Corporation and Certified Health Coach.