How to Improve Thyroid Function
What Is the Thyroid?
The thyroid is a vital gland found in the front of the neck. The thyroid releases hormones that control and influence many major bodily functions, including breathing, digestion, weight, heart rate, and more. [1-2] Because the thyroid has such a large impact on the body, healthy functioning of the thyroid is extremely important.  It’s estimated that 20 million people in the United States have some kind of thyroid disorder.  Knowing what signs to look out for as well as what you can do to support thyroid function is a great way to prioritize your health and catch any problems early on. [1-2]
Why Is Thyroid Health Important?
The thyroid is a vital gland that helps our bodies function properly. If the thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones, produces too many hormones, or is otherwise growing or functioning in a strange manner, many different processes can be impacted. [1-2] Thyroid hormones are responsible for cardiovascular health, infant growth, concentration, metabolism, and so much more. [1-2]
There are a few different conditions relating to the thyroid. When the thyroid produces too many hormones, it is known as hyperthyroidism.  Hypothyroidism refers to the thyroid not producing enough hormones. The thyroid can also grow in size or become enlarged, known as a goiter.  This can happen to the entire gland or to individual lumps in the gland. Depending on the condition, altered thyroid function may result in various symptoms and health effects.  Learn about Thyroid Disorders and Infertility
Symptoms of Poor Thyroid Function
Symptoms can vary depending on the condition (hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism), but some general signs or symptoms that may be tied to irregular thyroid function include [1-2]:
- Weight fluctuations
- Dry or coarse hair, hair loss
- Difficulty sleeping
- Experiencing anxiety, irritability, nervousness
- Irregular, frequent, or heavy menstrual periods (read How Does Hypothyroidism Affect Your Menstrual Cycle?)
- Muscle weakness
- Enlarged thyroid gland
- Vision problems
- Sensitivity to heat or cold
If you are experiencing any new or abnormal symptoms, be sure to speak to a healthcare provider.
How to Support and Improve Thyroid Function
It’s not possible to prevent thyroid disease, however, there are some ways to reduce risk factors and improve overall health. The key to reducing risk factors for many conditions is to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle.  Maintaining a healthy weight, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, and exercising regularly can improve well-being and lead to improved health outcomes.  Here are a few ways to prioritize a healthier lifestyle and potentially support thyroid health.
Checking Your Thyroid At Home
Early recognition of a thyroid problem may lead to better outcomes. In some cases, you may be able to recognize a problem at home.  In order to check your thyroid at home, you’ll need to identify the location of your thyroid, tip your head back while looking in the mirror, and take a drink of water. Keep an eye on your thyroid as you swallow, try to look for any lumps or bumps. You may want to repeat the test a few times. You can also take hormone tests at home if you want to ensure your hormone levels are in the normal range. It’s important to note that you should always speak to a healthcare provider directly and should not rely on self-exams if you do have any suspicion or reason to believe you may have a thyroid condition. 
Alter Your Diet
A large part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a balanced diet. Research also shows that certain nutrients can have an impact on thyroid function and hormone regulation. Increasing levels of iodine, selenium, and probiotics in your diet may have beneficial effects. [4-6] Some of these food sources include:
- Fish and seafood
- Dairy products
- Brown rice
- Iodized salt
Additionally, cutting back on sugar and highly processed foods may improve thyroid function and regulate thyroid hormones. 
Manage Your Stress
Long-term stress can be very detrimental to your health. Studies show that chronic stress can actually alter the activity of our brain and important glands, including the thyroid.  If you are someone that is carrying a lot of stress at all times, you may want to speak to a healthcare provider about healthy ways to manage your stress, including therapy, physical activity, relaxing hobbies, and more.
Avoid Endocrine Disruptors
Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are chemicals found in foods, packaging, water, personal care products, and more.  EDCs can be very harmful to your health and may have the ability to interfere with thyroid receptors, gland functioning, and hormone transport. [9-10] If you are hoping to reduce your exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals, here are some tips :
- Avoid processed foods
- Consume fresh, organic foods
- Avoid using plastic containers, bottles, or packaging
- Look into the ingredients used in your personal care and hygiene products
Get Support With Natalist
Natalist is proud to offer products that support everyone on their path to parenthood. Whether you’re wanting to test your hormone levels, support your nutrition with supplements, or treat yourself to a self-care product, we’ve got you covered. Learn more about the Women’s Fertility Test Bundle, which measures key hormones such as thyroid-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, and others.
- Thyroid Disease. Cleveland Clinic. April 2020. URL.
- InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. How does the thyroid gland work? 2010 Nov 17 [Updated 2018 Apr 19]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279388/
- Keep Active & Eat Healthy to Improve Well-being & Feel Great. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). January 2018. URL.
- Lisco G, De Tullio A, Triggiani D, et al. Iodine Deficiency and Iodine Prophylaxis: An Overview and Update. Nutrients. 2023;15(4):1004. Published 2023 Feb 16. doi:10.3390/nu15041004
- Gorini F, Sabatino L, Pingitore A, Vassalle C. Selenium: An Element of Life Essential for Thyroid Function. Molecules. 2021;26(23):7084. Published 2021 Nov 23. doi:10.3390/molecules26237084
- Knezevic J, Starchl C, Tmava Berisha A, Amrein K. Thyroid-Gut-Axis: How Does the Microbiota Influence Thyroid Function?. Nutrients. 2020;12(6):1769. Published 2020 Jun 12. doi:10.3390/nu12061769
- Martins VJB, Filgueiras AR, Almeida VBP, de Moraes RCS, Sawaya AL. Changes in Thyroid and Glycemic Status and Food Intake in Children with Excess Weight Who Were Submitted for a Multi-Component School Intervention for 16 Months. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17(11):3825. Published 2020 May 28. doi:10.3390/ijerph17113825
- Yaribeygi H, Panahi Y, Sahraei H, Johnston TP, Sahebkar A. The impact of stress on body function: A review. EXCLI J. 2017;16:1057-1072. Published 2017 Jul 21. doi:10.17179/excli2017-480
- Sokal A, Jarmakiewicz-Czaja S, Tabarkiewicz J, Filip R. Dietary intake of endocrine disrupting substances presents in environment and their impact on thyroid function. Nutrients. 2021;13(3):867. doi:3390/nu13030867
- Gorini F, Bustaffa E, Coi A, Iervasi G, Bianchi F. Bisphenols as environmental triggers of thyroid dysfunction: clues and evidence. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17(8):2654. doi:3390/ijerph17082654
- Nutritional interventions to ameliorate the effect of endocrine disruptors on human reproductive health: A semi-structured review from FIGO. Corbett GA, Lee S, Woodruff J, et al. Int J Gynecol Obstet [published online ahead of print, Feb 23, 2022]. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/ijgo.14126.