What does a healthy thyroid look like and what are the signs of thyroid issues?
The thyroid is the butterfly-shaped gland in the neck that regulates metabolism and produces hormones that affect the functioning of various systems in the body.
Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) and hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) are the most common conditions of the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism affects 80% of people with thyroid disease.
According to Mayo Clinic, problems with an underactive thyroid tend to develop slowly. This means that for many people, they may not notice the symptoms, or simply chalk them up to signs of ageing.
As the metabolism slows down, more obvious thyroid problems may develop over time.
Common thyroid symptoms that indicate hypothyroidism may include:
- Weight gain
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Dry skin
- Thinning hair
- Muscle weakness
- Elevated blood cholesterol level
- Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
- Pain, stiffness or swelling in joints
4 tips for improving thyroid health
- Nutrients: Make sure your diet contains sufficient iodine and selenium. The richest natural food sources of iodine are seafood and seaweed (kelp and nori). Iodised salt is an effective way to add iodine to your diet. Wholegrain bread, fish, meat and eggs are good sources of selenium.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids from foods such as oily fish (trout, salmon, tuna, anchovies and sardines), linseed oil, free-range eggs or a supplement such as krill oil.
- Sleep: For a healthy thyroid, remember to moderate your sleep routine. Try to get at least seven hours of sound sleep in complete darkness each night.
- Stress: Reduce emotional stress, as thyroid problems are often accompanied by adrenal exhaustion.