Longford's Laura Thompson on keeping your thyroid in good health

Laura Thompson

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Laura Thompson

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hlop@live.ie

Longford's Laura Thompson on keeping your thyroid in good health

Brazil nuts are packed full of Selenium

Thyroid conditions are very common in Ireland and are generally more common in women than in men. The thyroid is a tiny butterfly shaped organ situated at the base of your throat. Though it is quite small it has a huge role in many bodily functions.

The hormones it produces are responsible for maintainingg your energy levels, hormonal balance, body temperature, regulating your weight, the health of your skin and bones, your sleep quality and your sex drive.

In fact, it is safe to say that it is one of the most essential glands in the body. It performs these vital functions by secreting the hormones thyroxine (also called T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones tell your body how fast to burn calories. If you have the right balance of thyroid hormones your body burns fuel at the optimum rate, giving you plenty of energy.

The most common condition is hypothyroidism, also known as an underactive thyroid, this can lead to weight gain, poor energy, feeling depressed, feeling cold, weakness and aches in muscles and joints, hairloss, itchy and dry skin, fogginess or memory loss, constipation, heavy or irregular periods.

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Hyperthyroidism symptoms include excessive sweating, intolerance to heat, increased bowel movements, tremor or light shaking, agitation, nervousness and anxiety, weight loss, fatigue, weakness, insomnia.

Tips for a healthy thyroid:

1. Up your iodine intake: iodine can be found in seaweeds

2. Take more nuts particularly Brazil nuts which are high in selenium

3. Eggs are high in iodine and selenium

4. If you’re eating meat, go with lean meat if possible

5. Eat more fish: all seafood is good

6. Cruciferous vegetables are fine to eat in moderate amounts when cooked

7. Gluten free grains are often best if you have a thyroid condition

8. Dairy produces including, cheeses, yoghurt, etc, are okay to eat

9. Lifestyle is important also, so be sure to take some aerobic exercise , get plenty of rest (at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep). We know that lack of sleep can increase weight gain, particularly around the mid section

10. If you have an overactive thyroid, go for a more gentle type of exercise such as Tai Chi or yoga

11. Practise mindfulness

Supplements that support the thyroid:

1. Selenium is really important for the thyroid and is in lots of foods, but taking a supplement can ensure that you are getting adequate amounts.

2. B vitamins are also vital. These water soluble vitamins really aid the nervous system, particularly B12. As they are not stored by the body, it is important to get regular amounts. They will particularly help to combat stress and they help the metabolism.

3. Zinc is an important nutrient, which is often lacking in our diets today, mainly due to intensive farming methods.

4. Sufficient iron levels are also critical - like selenium and zinc, iron helps the body to convert inactive T4 hormone into active T3 hormone.

5. Vitamin D; research shows that there is link between hypothyroidisim and vitamin D deficiency. We get our vitamin D from sunshine, which is quite scarce in Ireland, so taking supplement is advisable.

If you suspect that you have thyroid condition, pay a visit to your doctor, who will do a routine blood test to check your hormone levels.

Remember that if you are taking prescribed medication you must check with your doctor before taking supplements.

From next week, I will be answering questions from my readers. If you have a health question, email me at hlop@live.ie.

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