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6 Ways To Improve Thyroid Function Naturally

Table of Contents

Endocrinologist examining throat of young woman in clinic women with thyroid gland test endocrinology hormones and treatment inflammation of the sore throat

Table of Contents

How To Improve Thyroid Function

  1. Maintain Healthy Iodine Levels
  2. Include Selenium-Rich Foods in Your Diet
  3. Increase Your Probiotics
  4. Cut Back on Your Sugar Intake
  5. Exercise Regularly
  6. Manage Your Stress

25 Foods That Improve Thyroid Function

7 Foods To Avoid if Your Have Hypothyroidism

Causes of Thyroid Gland Dysfunction

Get Tested for Thyroid Disease

Frequently Asked Questions

Takeaway

The thyroid gland plays crucial roles in metabolism, growth, heart rate regulation, and multiple organ functions. Therefore, when it becomes underactive, you may experience difficulties managing weight and maintaining consistent productivity – not to mention other health complications.

You can improve thyroid function by naturally increasing thyroid hormone production through exercise, diet plans consisting of foods high in iodine, selenium, and probiotics, as well as proper stress management. Consistently doing these steps helps lower your risks for hypothyroidism.

Curious about how your thyroid gland health? Check out our thyroid and parathyroid function tests. In addition, you can find different types of blood tests assessing hormones and other substances related to these glands. 

How To Improve Thyroid Function

An essential step to making the thyroid more active is ensuring it has all the nutrients it needs for hormone production. Likewise, chemical impediments in its function should be identified and addressed.

  1. Maintain Healthy Iodine Levels

Iodine has major significance in the production of thyroid hormones, T3 and T4, as well as thyroid stimulating hormone. Thyroid cells absorb iodine and combine it with the amino acid tyrosine to create T3 and T4. So, if you got tested for iron deficiency, the production of these hormones goes below the expected capacity, which impacts thyroid function. 

Since the human body cannot produce iodine, your primary sources are the food and supplements you take. Increase your consumption of seafood, sea vegetables, and animal-based protein to maintain healthy levels of iodine. Learn more about these foods as you read on. 

  1. Include Selenium-Rich Foods in Your Diet

Selenium is another micronutrient that supports thyroid function. Aside from metabolism and growth-related physiological processes, the thyroid gland is also involved in the antioxidant systems. Thyroid cells help catalyze ROS (reactive oxygen species), preventing cell damage.

Like iodine, you can get selenium from animal-based protein foods, certain nuts, and seafood. If you have hypothyroidism, consult your doctor regarding increasing selenium in your diet, especially if you have low iodine levels. Incompatible supplementation can exacerbate hypothyroidism instead of treating it. 

  1. Increase Your Probiotics

Probiotics are good bacteria integrated into several food products like yogurt and other fermented foods. Clinical studies continue to show a good correlation between the supplementation of probiotics and improved thyroid health, especially for those with hypothyroidism. 

Although further studies on the causal relationship between the two are still developing, evidence has established the positive impact of flourishing gut microbiota on improved thyroid function. 

One excellent argument for this effect describes how good bacteria outweigh bad bacteria in the intestinal walls. Therefore, absorption of key thyroid nutrients like iodine, selenium, and zinc remains uninterrupted.  

  1. Cut Back on Your Sugar Intake

When your sugar levels elevate, you don’t only increase your chances of developing diabetes but of thyroid problems as well. This is because high sugar in the blood prompts the pancreas to release more insulin – the hormone that regulates glucose. 

In a 2021 study published in BMC Medicine, it was documented that high amounts of insulin can trigger thyroid tissue hyperplasia, leading to nodule formation and thyroid gland enlargement. Moreover, multiple studies continue to support the close link between thyroid dysfunction and type 2 diabetes. 

With this knowledge, improving thyroid function translates to consuming less sugary foods and beverages like soda, fast food meals, desserts, and sweetened drinks. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 36 grams or nine teaspoons of sugar daily intake for men and six teaspoons or 32 grams for women. 

If your lifestyle and family history indicate a higher risk for diabetes, check your blood sugar levels through a hemoglobin A1c blood test to help diagnose the disease and calculate your risk for thyroid disorders. 

  1. Exercise Regularly

Physical activity boosts metabolism when done consistently. Exercise requires more energy, prompting the conversion of stored fats to create additional energy currency. In this process, the thyroid gland will produce more hormones to regulate the metabolic process. 

Thus, those with underactive thyroid glands should seriously consider an exercise plan as part of their natural treatment pursuit. In some studies, aerobic exercises showed increased concentration of T3 and T4 in the blood. These exercises include walking, cycling, swimming, running, and jumping rope. 

  1. Manage Your Stress

Not everyone knows how much of an impact stress can have on thyroid health. But when you get stressed out, the cortisol level produced by the adrenal glands increases. This leads to slower metabolism, which drops T3 and T4 levels. For this reason, effective stress management helps your thyroid gland function at its best.

Consider doing stress relieving techniques such as breathing exercises, sufficient sleep, meditation, exercise, and adopting a healthy diet. Also, spend your weekend doing self-care activities that can help lower your cortisol levels.    

25 Foods That Improve Thyroid Function

Buddha bowl dish with vegetables and legumes. top view.

Creating a diet plan around foods high in micronutrients can increase activity in your thyroid gland. So, if you have hypothyroidism, add these foods to your regular meals. 

Iodine-rich Foods

  1. Eggs
  2. Squid
  3. Iodized salt
  4. Cranberries 
  5. Organ meat
  6. Dairy products (milk and cheese)
  7. Seaweed (nori, wakame, kombu)
  8. Fish (cod, tuna, sardines, halibut, salmon)
  9. Shellfish (oyster, scallops, crabs, shrimps)

Selenium-rich Foods

  1. Spinach
  2. Bananas 
  3. Cashews
  4. Brazil nuts
  5. Brown rice
  6. Mushrooms 
  7. Poultry meat 
  8. Fortified foods
  9. Sunflower seeds
  10. Beans and lentils

Foods with Probiotics

  1. Kefir 
  2. Yogurt
  3. Pickles
  4. Kombucha
  5. Sauerkraut 
  6. Sourdough bread

7 Foods To Avoid if Your Have Hypothyroidism

If you’re undergoing treatment for hypothyroidism, you may want to stir clear from foods containing substances that impede the replacement hormone absorption. With some of these foods, you can still consume them, but in moderation, especially if you have iron deficiency.

Here are foods to avoid if you want to increase thyroid hormones. 

  1. Cassava
  2. Caffeinated drinks
  3. Alcoholic beverages
  4. Fried and processed foods
  5. Foods with gluten (wheat, rye, barley)
  6. Soy-based foods (soy sauce, edamame, miso, tofu)
  7. Cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, kale, cabbage)

Causes of Thyroid Gland Dysfunction

As the thyroid gland belongs to the endocrine system, which is responsible for producing and regulating hormones, the gauge of its optimal performance includes evaluating the two hormones it release: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).

Both hormones manage energy conversion, mood, body temperature, bone health, and many others. Factors such as nutrition, insulin resistance, goiter, and autoimmune diseases (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves disease) typically cause low T4 and T3 production, underscoring hypothyroidism.

On the other hand, another hormone also has a direct hand in thyroid function, despite being released by the brain’s anterior pituitary gland. Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) regulates the amount of T4 and T3 the thyroid gland has to produce. 

You can check abnormal levels of this hormone through a TSH blood test

When thyroid hormones fall short, the brain will release more TSH to alert the thyroid gland. However, it does the opposite when thyroid hormones are high. Hence, elevated TSH is often associated with hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland), while low TSH is linked with hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland).  

Get Tested for Thyroid Disease

Doctor making ultrasound of thyroid gland to woman patient in clinic diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune thyroiditis concept

To assess thyroid disease and health issues, get a thyroid profile blood test to check your thyroid hormones and TSH. Going outside the normal range in the test results should drive you to consult your doctor. Refer to these values for T3, T4, and TSH measurements.

Normal ranges for: 

  • Total T3 – 60-180 ng/dL
  • Total T4 – 5 to 12 μg/dL
  • TSH – 0.5 to 5 mIU/L

Frequently Asked Questions

What vitamins help with the thyroid?

Vitamin B12 is a known supplement for when you undergo hypothyroidism treatment. This is because the B12 vitamin aids in producing thyroid hormones T3 and T4 by increasing metabolism, maintaining the healthy production of red blood cells (RBCs), and boosting nervous system health.  

Taking vitamin B12 supplements is safe if you’re also taking medication for hypothyroidism, as they don’t interact. Still, it’s best to consult your doctor first. 

It’s common for people with thyroid disease to also develop vitamin b12 deficiency. Hence, it’s advisable to take a vitamin-b12 blood test to diagnose and address the condition. 

What are natural remedies for hypothyroidism?

On top of the six ways to improve thyroid function discussed above, you can consider other natural hypothyroidism remedies, such as adopting a gluten diet. By limiting gluten from your diet, you could keep intestinal absorption at its optimal level, allowing the iodine to reach the thyroid gland without issues.  

Is decaf coffee OK for hypothyroidism?

Even if it’s decaf, coffee blocks the absorption of levothyroxine, a medication used to treat hypothyroidism. Instead of getting processed in the bloodstream, it simply passes through the digestive system and is flushed out of the body. 

Takeaway

Your thyroid requires as much attention as other vital organs like the heart and brain. Making sure it functions well is imperative. By taking the actions discussed above, you can improve your thyroid processes naturally. Furthermore, get routine health checkups to detect underlying health conditions affecting your thyroid functions, such as autoimmune diseases. 

Medically Approved By Dr. Edward Salko, MD

Dr. Edward Salko is the board-certified physician who reviews lab tests provided by PERSONALABS™. He earned his Bachelor of Science in chemistry and pre-med from the University of Florida in Gainesville and his Doctor of Osteopathy Medicine in 1980 from Kansas City University School of Medicine.

Dr. Salko’s career has specialized in family and emergency medicine. His passion is to provide clients with the tools they need in the most convenient way possible to allow them to take charge of their own healthcare. He has held a variety of positions in Kansas, Florida and Washington. Currently, in addition to his duties as Medical Director for Personalabs, he is a practicing emergency physician in Kennewick, Washington.

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