There are certain natural means that anyone can use to help maintain the health of his thyroid gland and avoid hypothyroidism. These methods also help in preventing further deterioration of the thyroid gland if some impairment has already started and it has begun to secrete lower-than-normal levels of thyroid hormone. These natural methods work best in the early stages of the hypothyroid disorder. More advanced stages of the disease will need conventional treatment, often through hormone replacement therapy.
The first natural means to treat hypothyroidism is adopting a thyroid-friendly diet. This is a diet consisting of foods rich in iodine, protein, healthy fats, vitamin D, selenium and iron. Good protein sources are nuts, legumes and organic eggs. Soy and soy-based products should be avoided, including tofu and soy milk. Non-starchy vegetables (rather than grain-based ones) are also good for thyroid health. Good sources of healthy fats are olive oil, avocados, nuts, fish, coconut milk products, and yogurt. (These recommended food choices for healthy thyroid function will be discussed in greater detail in the next chapter.)
Apart from diet, another natural method to avoid hypothyroidism or to manage it is by engaging in activities that raise one’s metabolism. As discussed earlier in this book, the major effect of hypothyroidism is slowing down the body’s metabolic functioning. Here are some ways to reverse this effect and keep our metabolism up and running:
Exercise regularly. Exercise and physical activity
keep the metabolism up and running. Being sedentary
slows down metabolism.
Build up your muscles. Lifting weights at the gym (or elsewhere) will help one to develop lean muscle mass. This will boost the metabolism, even when the person is at rest and doing nothing.
Drink water often.
Get enough sleep at night. Lack of sleep and irregular sleeping hours can wreak havoc on your metabolic function. Make sure you get six to nine hours of good sleep each night.
Don’t eat heavy meals. It is better to eat small and more frequent meals rather than indulging in the traditional three (or two) heavy meals every day.
Don’t skip breakfast. At the very start of the day, rouse your metabolism by taking a light, protein-rich breakfast.
Don’t rely too much on so-called metabolism boosters such as hot peppers, green tea, and caffeine.
Studies have shown that they increase metabolism only by a negligible amount and temporarily.
Apart from exercising and eating right, one should also practice relaxation and stress management. The thyroid is one of the most sensitive and reactive glands in the endocrine system. Under heavy stress, the thyroid gland could go into distress mode and fail to function properly.