Seven Tips to Naturally Activate an Underactive Thyroid
In recent years, many people have been interested in methods to “activate” or take care of an underactive thyroid. This small butterfly-shaped gland is located in the lower, central part of the neck and is primarily responsible for producing hormones that are involved in many functions of the body, including metabolism.
When its functions are weakened, for example, due to low production of hormones (hypothyroidism), the body begins to present a series of symptoms that reduce your quality of life if not controlled in time. In this regard, the World Health Organization warns that 10% of the population has thyroid disorders.
Do you have an underactive thyroid?
If you haven’t had your thyroid checked, you should know what the most common symptoms of hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid are. According to information in The Lancet, clinical manifestations include:
- Mood swings
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Constantly feeling cold
- Dry skin and fragile hair and nails
- Weight changes and difficulty losing weight
If you suffer from several of these symptoms you may have an underactive thyroid. However, first of all, you should prioritize consultation with your doctor and an endocrinologist, as they’re the ones in charge of giving an accurate diagnosis. Then, if these professionals agree, you can try some of these tips to stimulate thyroid functions.
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1. Eat seaweed to activate an underactive thyroid
The main nutrient that you need to activate the thyroid is a mineral: iodine. To get it naturally, without overeating, the healthiest thing you can do is to incorporate seaweed into your diet.
The best types of seaweed to include in your diet are kelp or kombu, which are also excellent for cooking stews and legumes. You should cook them for at least 20 minutes, as seaweed is quite tough.
There are seaweed-based supplements, such as fucus. However, we don’t recommend using them without the supervision of a physician. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, too much iodine is also harmful to the thyroid. Therefore, caution should be exercised with supplements.
2. Do medium-intensity exercise
People with an underactive thyroid tend to feel tired and cold because their basal metabolism is too slow. The most effective way to activate and stimulate the body, in general, is through medium-intensity exercise, two or three times a week.
Medium-intensity exercise will produce the results you need, so we recommend short but intense sports, which will make you sweat and breathe deeply.
In relation to this, a study published in Archives of Medicine and Health Sciences concluded that “every hypothyroid patient should do regular physical exercise along with thyroxine replacement to improve thyroid function”.
3. The Mediterranean diet
A proper diet is crucial to activating the thyroid when its functions are weakened. Although the diet should be designed with the help of a nutrition professional, a good option, in general, is the Mediterranean diet.
A study in the medical journal European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences found that the Mediterranean dietary pattern helps reduce the risk of complications associated with hypothyroidism.
4. Choose unprocessed foods
One of the most damaging factors to the thyroid is processed pre-cooked, or industrial produced foods. This is due to the processing methods, the poor quality of the ingredients, and the number of additives they include.
Instead, the most beneficial types of food are natural and organic foods that you can eat raw or that you can cook at home. You should consume fruit and vegetable juices, salads, sprouts, seeds and nuts, legumes, etc.
5. Avoid toxins in your environment
Toxins weaken the immune system and some parts of the body (including the thyroid). In addition to the foods we’ve mentioned, we also find toxins in hygiene and cosmetic products, the electromagnetic waves of technological devices, tobacco, water, and air pollution, etc.
- You should try to lead a life where you follow a diet full of natural food products staying away from sources of toxins as much as possible.
6. Discover spicy food to activate an underactive thyroid
Adding spicy spices, especially ginger and cayenne pepper, to our food can also be very beneficial. Turmeric is another recommended option, which has been shown to have positive effects against hypothyroidism.
It’s important to keep in mind that these foods are not a treatment for thyroid problems. In addition, they shouldn’t be eaten in excessive amounts. Thus, it’s sufficient to incorporate them in small amounts as part of your regular diet.
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7. Get a good night’s rest
Research shows that poor sleep quality can interfere with thyroid function. Therefore, you should take measures to help induce rest, such as ensuring a comfortable bedroom, avoiding light sources, and eating light meals. Furthermore, you should avoid the use of electronic devices and the consumption of stimulants.
Although you can’t control many factors that indicate the weakening of the thyroid, it’s in your hands to maintain habits that help its proper functioning. So, if you suspect you have a thyroid problem, it’s essential to see a doctor or endocrinologist.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
Mayayo, E., Santisteban, P., Labarta, J. I., & Ferrández, A. (2002). Hipotiroidismo congénito. Tratado de Endocrinología Pediátrica. 3ª edición. Madrid: McGraw-Hill Interamericana de España, SAU, 532-56.
- Prevention, C. (2018). Travelers with Chronic Illnesses – Chapter 8 – 2018 Yellow Book | Travelers’ Health | CDC. Retrieved from https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2018/advising-travelers-with-specific-needs/travelers-with-chronic-illnesses
- Thyroid Patient Travel Tips. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.nahypothyroidism.org/traveling-with-thyroid-dysfunction/
- Bansal, A., Kaushik, A., Singh, C., Sharma, V., & Singh, H. (2015). The effect of regular physical exercise on the thyroid function of treated hypothyroid patients: An interventional study at a tertiary care center in Bastar region of India. Archives of Medicine and Health Sciences. https://doi.org/10.4103/2321-4848.171913
- Romano, L., De Santis, G. L., Gualtieri, P., & Merra, G. (2017). Thyroid disorders and Mediterranean diet: which way to prevent metabolic complications. European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences. https://doi.org/10.26355/eurrev_201708_13259