How's your thyroid? Hashimoto's Disease

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (HT) is a common autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid, a small butterfly shaped gland which is a part of the endocrine system located at the base of the neck. This condition is similar to a hypo-thyroid condition. The job of this gland is to produces hormones that coordinate many of our body’s vital functions. Some of these are; regulating the body's metabolic rate, heart rate, digestive function, brain development and mood. Hormones are chemicals that are released into the bloodstream, they act in the body as little messengers that control and coordinate activities. With Hashimoto’s Disease, the production of these hormones can be altered drastically, leading to other health problems. The main causes of HT could be genetic susceptibility, environmental factors, and other immune disorders.

Possible contributors to poor thyroid health are nutrient deficiencies as the proper intake of certain vitamins and minerals do play a factor in keeping thyroid in its optimal state. Iodine; a vital element that is mandatory for the production of thyroid hormones. It is very important that we eat foods rich in iodine as our body cannot make it ono its own. The body takes iodine and converts it into thyroid hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) which is also important for efficient metabolism and regulating both body temperature and heart rate. Iodine deficiency can result in the formation of a goiter, abnormal growth on the neck due to the enlargement of the thyroid gland. To get iodine from diet, dark leafy greens like collard greens, spinach and sea vegetables are all delicious options. Iron; deficiency in iron will impede with all bodily functions as iron is the substance in red blood cells, but particularly the thyroid. Without sufficient iron intake the thyroid cannot produce a specific enzyme which is needed by the body for proper metabolism. You can find iron in so many plant-based whole foods such as chickpeas, lentils, grains, nuts and seeds. Selenium; is essential for hormone metabolism and the thyroid is the one that keeps metabolism under control. Therefore making sure one has sufficient intake of selenium is necessary. When the body’s ability to metabolize food is impeded, one may deal unexplained weight gain or weight loss. Brazil nuts are one of the most selenium dense foods, just by consuming three day will give you your daily selenium intake. Cashews, legumes, banana and brown rice are also great selenium rich foods.

Hashimoto’s and zinc deficiency are both closely correlated. With insufficient intake of zinc one could experience a range of symptoms such as hair-loss, brittle nails, loss of nails and a reduced metabolism. A hearty planned vegan diet can provide sufficient amounts of zinc, nuts, seeds, whole grains, organic tempeh, and legumes. Aside from a well balanced diet, lifestyle choices are just as important in regards not only to sufficient thyroid function but for overall health and longevity.

Physical activities, all have a positive effect on both the mind, body and soul. When we incorporate these activities into our life we release a hormone called dopamine, dopamine is the feel good hormone stimulated when doing exercises that bring us pleasure. Increased levels of dopamine lower stress levels whereas excessively high levels of stress negatively impact ones health and can be one of the many factors contributing to many physical and mental disorders. To help alleviate stress it is recommended to eliminate root stressors and if possible, and incorporate more low intensity activities.

Calming activities such as reading, journaling, playing an instrument, knitting don't require much physical demand on the body so is always a better alternative if one already has an active lifestyle. These all require the brain to think in complex ways that normally wouldn't be stimulated, yoga, palates, swimming, going for a walk all help lower stress as-well and are all great for overall physical health. When on the topic of stress, sleep plays a big factor.

Making sure one has a healthy sleep schedule is supportive in decreasing cortisol levels. It is recommended that one gets around 7-9 hours a night for proper circadian rhythm, digestion, exercise recovery, detox and hormone synthesis.

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