Your thyroid — the small, butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck — is a tiny (but mighty) organ.
While its primary purpose is to control your metabolism, it also plays an important role in many of your body's functions, like breathing, digestion, brain development and fertility, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
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That's why keeping your thyroid operating properly is so important for your overall health. And though many factors affect the state of this essential endocrine gland, there are plenty of things you can do to help it work at its best — like starting your day with healthy habits.
Here, Deena Adimoolam, MD, a New York City-based endocrinologist and internist, shares several simple morning habits that support thyroid health.
1. Add Dairy to Your Plate
The foods you choose to eat can affect your overall health, thyroid health included.
And it turns out, dairy products like milk and yogurt contain a host of thyroid-supporting minerals like selenium, iodine and zinc, per MyPlate.gov.
"These minerals are important for production of thyroid hormones, especially for those with a known thyroid condition," Dr. Adimoolam says.
This is why filling your breakfast plate (beyond just dairy) with these minerals is a great way to promote thyroid health.
For example, you could make an omelet or egg scramble, as both selenium and iodine are found in eggs, according to El Camino Health. Anything with cheese, cow's milk and yogurt are great sources of iodine, too, per the Cleveland Clinic.
Likewise, you can get your daily dose of zinc through dairy products including milk, Swiss cheese and low-fat yogurt and ricotta, according to the USDA.
Talk to your doctor before taking a multivitamin, as consuming too much iodine can negatively affect thyroid function, too, per the Cleveland Clinic.
2. Manage Stress
Stress can have a negative effect on just about every part of your body (hello, heart palpitations and stiff neck), and your thyroid is no exception.
Indeed, high stress levels can affect your thyroid function, according to El Camino Health.
And if you already have an autoimmune thyroid disease, such as Graves' disease or Hashimoto's thyroiditis, stress can worsen your condition, causing elevated thyroid hormone and decreased TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) levels, per a November 2022 paper in the Medical Science Monitor.
"Any means of stress reduction has overall health benefits for the body and possibly for the thyroid as well," Dr. Adimoolam says.
3. Get In Some Exercise
Getting your body moving in the morning is the perfect prescription for a healthy thyroid.
A regular exercise routine promotes overall health, helping all your body's systems — including your thyroid — to operate optimally, Dr. Adimoolam says.
Plus, exercise can also be a great stress-reliever, she says. In fact, physical activity reduces stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, and increases endorphins, i.e., mood-lifting brain chemicals, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
And, as we know, reducing stress is fundamental for healthy thyroid function.
4. Use Personal Care Products Without Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals
Believe it or not, the personal care products (i.e. shampoo, face wash, deodorant) you use may interfere with your thyroid. That's because many contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), or substances that disturb your natural hormones, per the Endocrine Society.
Problem is, "excessive exposure to EDCs can impair hormonal function, especially if you already have an underlying hormonal issue," Dr. Adimoolam says.
And certain products we frequently use in our morning routine — including skin care, makeup and perfume — are particularly problematic.
Indeed, EDCs such as parabens and phthalates found in soaps, lotions, cosmetics and fragrances can enter the body through the skin, according to the Endocrine Society.
To protect your thyroid and minimize your exposure to these endocrine disruptors, follow these general guidelines when purchasing personal care products, per the Endocrine Society:
- Read labels and avoid products containing phthalates
- Choose products labeled "Phthalate-Free," "BPA-Free" and "Paraben-Free"
- Avoid fragrances and opt for cosmetics labeled "no synthetic fragrance" or "scented only with essential oils" (Tip: If a product is labeled as "good for sensitive skin," it likely doesn't contain fragrances or other harsh ingredients.)
- Harvard Health Publishing: “Should you take probiotics?”
- El Camino Health: “What You Should Know About Thyroid Health”
- Medical Science Monitor: “Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone as a Biomarker for Stress After Thyroid Surgery: A Prospective Cohort Study”
- Harvard Health Publishing: “Exercising to Relax”
- Cleveland Clinic: “Thyroid”
- USDA’s My Food Data: “Top 10 Foods Highest in Zinc”
- Harvard Health Publishing: “The sweet danger of sugar”
- Cleveland Clinic: “5 Foods That Can Cause Inflammation.”
- MyPlate.gov: "Dairy"
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.