Does your body feel out of whack? Are you constantly feeling jittery, or do you continually feel a lack of energy? These are very general symptoms, but the root causes and how they can affect your everyday health may surprise you. Your thyroid, the butterfly shaped gland that resides in your neck, regulates the speed you produce energy and hormones that controls metabolism, moods, and weight. If your thyroid is over- or underactive it could disrupt other bodily processes.
Too Much or Too Little for Too Long
The key to a healthy thyroid, like many things in the health and nutrition world, is achieving balance. A balanced thyroid keeps the many processes it's connected to running smoothly. Too much on either side of the scale can cause noticeable changes in how you feel each day.
An overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) happens when the thyroid produces too much of the hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). This can bring on feelings of nervousness, elevated heart rate, shaking, and fluctuating weight with no change in diet or activity. An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), by contrast, is when your thyroid doesn't produce enough T3 and T4 hormones. The body's production of energy requires a certain amount of thyroid hormones and an underactive thyroid can cause many of the body's processes to slow down, causing noticeable symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, and fluid retention.
Proactively Balancing Thyroid Function
Unlike your muscles, you can't single out your thyroid gland to give it workout. However, you'll be happy to learn that regular exercise can help balance thyroid function whether it's under- or overactive. In cases where the thyroid is underactive, exercise stimulates the production and circulation of thyroid hormones to help raise energy levels and your metabolism. When there is an excess of thyroid hormones, exercise provides a healthy outlet for the increased energy these hormones provide. A good workout also helps naturally elevate your mood, which can help counter feelings of nervousness and anxiety that are associated with thyroid imbalances. Proper nutrition is also paramount to healthy thyroid function. The thyroid requires iodine in order to manufacture T3 and T4 hormones, so it can't function without this basic mineral. Fish and other seafood, as well as iodized salt, can help provide the vital trace amounts you need. Other thyroid-supporting nutrients such as B vitamins and vitamin A can be obtained from nuts, wheat, spinach, and kale. For convenience, you can also take a multivitamin or supplement for thyroid health—just make sure that it contains essential minerals such as iodine as well as regular vitamins. The thyroid is not usually the first thing thought of when you're not feeling well, but it's one of the most important glands connected to multiple aspects of your health. Taking the necessary steps to protect your thyroid can help keep your body balanced and allow you to enjoy the healthy lifestyle you deserve.