Thyroid hormones are key for maintaining healthy metabolism, brain development, and other body functions. When these hormones fall out of balance – due to illness, a lack of necessary nutrients or lifestyle factors – the body can suffer a variety of symptoms and conditions. Levothyroxine and diet are important parts of keeping the thyroid functioning optimally. Each contributes to the health of the body, in different ways.
Nutrition and the Thyroid
Clinically known as hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid is often due to a lack of iodine, which is necessary in converting the hormone thyroxine (T4) to its active form, triiodothyronine (T3). Without adequate iodine, the body produces too much of a hormone called thyrotropin, which triggers an underproduction of thyroid hormones – a condition that affects millions of people around the world. In these cases, when dietary intake of iodine is inadequate, Levothyroxine is the recommended treatment to replace inadequate amounts of thyroid hormones. This synthetic thyroid hormone replaces, or supplements, the hormones that the body is unable to make.
Foods That Support Thyroid Function
In addition to supplementing with Levothyroxine to help regulate thyroid function, diet also plays an important role in maintaining healthy thyroid health. Eating a balanced diet rich in essential vitamins and minerals helps support the body’s processes, including the production of thyroid hormones. The following are some of the best foods to incorporate into a healthy diet to support thyroid health:
- Seafood: Shellfish, like shrimp and clams, are a good source of iodine, which is essential for the production of thyroid hormones.
- Leafy Greens: Kale, spinach, Swiss chard, and other leafy greens are a good source of iodine and other minerals like magnesium and iron.
- Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, and other fruits contain important antioxidants, which protect the thyroid from damage.
- Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds are rich sources of selenium, which helps convert T4 to T3.
Minimizing Stress to Promote Optimal Thyroid Health
In addition to a proper diet and supplementation with Levothyroxine, reducing stress and getting enough rest is important for optimal thyroid health. High-stress levels and lack of sleep can lead to an increase in cortisol, a hormone produced in response to stress and which can affect thyroid hormone production. Engaging in behaviors like yoga, tai chi, and mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques can help reduce chronic stress and may also improve thyroid functioning.
Levothyroxine and diet are both key components of a comprehensive approach to thyroid health. Practicing healthy lifestyle habits – like eating a nutrient-rich diet, getting regular exercise, and managing stress – can help maintain optimal thyroid functioning and overall health. Supplementing with Levothyroxine when indicated can help replace or supplement the hormones the body isn’t making and address symptoms of an underactive thyroid.