If you have an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism, weight gain and obesity can be byproducts. Additional health problems associated with low thyroid include chronic fatigue, infertility, joint pain and heart disease. Women are more likely to suffer from hypothyroidism than men, particularly during major hormonal changes such as menopause. Natural treatments are available to support and help boost your thyroid, but you should notify your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet.
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Your thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland that rests in your throat and produces the hormones T3 and T4. Your thyroid gland works with the thyroid-stimulating hormone, or TSH, which is produced by the pituitary gland located at the base of your brain. The thyroid hormones directly affect your metabolic function as well as the use of energy and oxygen by tissues and organs such as your heart. They also impact temperature regulation, digestion, skin, hair heartbeat and overall energy levels.
Iodine can improve your thyroid function, which can help improve your weight loss efforts. Without sufficient iodine in your system your thyroid cannot produce T4. This causes your pituitary gland to increase its output of TSH, which can lead to an enlarged thyroid gland, or goiter. A goiter is often a symptom of hypothyroidism. You can increase the amount of iodine present in your diet by adding seafood such as salmon, haddock and shrimp. Eggs are also rich sources of iodine. Vegetables that provide significant amounts of iodine include mushrooms, asparagus, spinach, lima beans and garlic. Iodine is also available in supplemental form, but talk with your doctor before you begin use.
Zinc can help boost your thyroid and weight loss; if you are low in this metal your T3, T4 and TSH levels can become low. These thyroid hormones regulate your metabolism, so if you nourish them your body can burn more calories, whether you're asleep or running. Dietary sources rich in zinc include whole grains, maple syrup, ginger root, sunflower seeds, walnuts, pecans, lamb, beef, turkey, oysters and sardines. Sardines aid weight loss because they help stimulate metabolism, curb your appetite and aid in balancing blood glucose levels because they are packed with protein.
Selenium is a crucial element in the function and regulation of your thyroid. If you're deficient in selenium it can lead to weight gain; building your selenium levels can contribute to weight loss. Selenium-based enzymes and proteins help to regulate thyroid synthesis and metabolism by aiding the conversion of T4 into T3, which is how your body is able to process its thyroid hormones. Selenium also plays a key role in distributing and regulating the correct amount of thyroid hormones in your tissues, blood and thyroid gland. You can derive selenium from dietary sources such as mushrooms, tuna, halibut, sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts and soybeans. It is also available in supplement form; just be sure to consult with your doctor before use.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Women to Women: Eating to Support Your Thyroid -- Simple Ways to Naturally Preserve Thyroid Function
- MedlinePlus: Iodine in Diet
- Women to Women: Iodine and Thyroid -- Worth a Second Glance
- The Hormone Foundation: Thyroid Disorders Overview
- Linus Pauling Institute: Iodine
- Dr. Jonny Bowden: 10 Superfoods for Weight Loss