Many women visit their health care providers feeling that something is wrong with their thyroid glands, only to be told either that “everything is fine” or that they need to take a “prescription thyroid hormone”. While either or both answers may be technically correct, they may be an unsatisfactory result for some patients.
If you are suffering from the apparent symptoms of thyroid ‘dis-ease’, there are options within your control to preserve your thyroid health and avoid irreversible thyroid problems. One of these is through eating foods that promote thyroid health.
How the Thyroid Gland Affects Our Health
The thyroid is a very important gland in our body. It plays a crucial role in every person’s metabolism, energy and weight. The thyroid gland also affects one’s ability to sleep well and many other important processes that take place inside our body.
Although men can also suffer from various thyroid problems research shows that women are more prone to thyroid problems than men. This is mostly because women go through a hormonal flux during events such as childbearing and perimenopause which make them vulnerable to thyroid health problems.
Gaining an awareness of how each food nutrient affects your thyroid health will allow an individual to make wiser food choices to alleviate and prevent thyroid problems.
Topping the list of nutrients that promote thyroid health is iodine. A deficiency of the crucial trace element iodine can enormously affect the ability of the thyroid to perform its many functions. The thyroid hormones known as T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine) are the only kinds of hormones that contain iodine.
Studies have shown that women who are of childbearing age or those who are 20 to 39 years of age were found to have the lowest urine iodine levels. An individual who is iodine-deficient will not be able to produce or assimilate the essential hormones needed for normal body health. Ultimately this will adversely affect all the other tissues in the body.
Another way to ensure optimal thyroid health is to see to it that the body has enough selenium. Selenium is an indispensable element in regulating thyroid hormone synthesis. The body’s enzymes also need selenium to be able to preserve the integrity of the thyroid gland. It is also selenium that helps in the efficient recycling of iodine storage in the body.
The Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study which revealed how crucial zinc is for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. Experts found that without zinc, an individual’s thyroid gland will not be able to perform the needed transformation of T4 from being inactive, into T3 which is an active hormone.
In addition, the part of the brain called the hypothalamus requires a sufficient amount of zinc to enable proper signaling in the pituitary gland so that thyroid activation will also take place. Simply put, those who are zinc deficient are more likely to suffer from an underactive thyroid gland.
Just like every part of our body, our thyroid needs the help of many nutrients for it to function at its best. Iodine, selenium and zinc are the major essential nutrients required for optimum thyroid health.