The number of women with thyroid problems has doubled in the last decade—and when this thumb-sized gland is on the fritz, it can trigger everything from nonstop fatigue and headaches to stubborn weight problems and heart palpitations. A sluggish thyroid can also lead to hair loss, sleep woes, and even the blues — and you may not even realize that this sneaky gland is the source behind your strange symptoms. More bad thyroid news? Getting older isn't helping, as your odds of a thyroid slowdown increase every decade. It just doesn't seem fair, does it?
The great news: Small steps can keep this all-important gland operating optimally at any age. Want to boost your thyroid? Here are a few science-backed all-natural tricks you can try to rev up a sluggish thyroid — and maintain your health and vitality for as long as possible.
These tricks can help keep your thyroid happy—and your whole body healthy.
Rev fat burn with pumpkin seeds.
For women over 40, small amounts of certain nutrients like copper, zinc and selenium can improve your thyroid balance by helping your body make thyroid hormones, says Sarah Gottfried, M.D., author of Younger. And pumpkin and sunflower seeds contain all those minerals, making them a delicious way to rev your metabolism and energy.
Check your neck.
An enlarged thyroid may mean your body’s producing too many or too few thyroid hormones. To spot a potential problem: Stand in front of a mirror in which you can see the front of your neck. First, locate your thyroid gland above your collarbone and below your larynx or voice box. (Don’t confuse your thyroid with your Adam’s apple, which lies above the thyroid in both women and men). Tip your head back, then swallow some water while watching this part of your neck in the mirror. If you see any bulges, ask your doctor to check your hormone levels.
Leafy greens can heal damage.
They’re packed with plant compounds (carotenoids) that kick-start healing of a damaged, weary thyroid, helping to end fatigue and trigger weight loss within one month, Italian researchers say. Eat one heaping cup daily, but remember that cruciferous greens (broccoli, kale, collards, Swiss chard and Brussels sprouts) should to be cooked first.
Meditation can energize you.
Exhausted all the time? It could mean your thyroid is starting to falter. Meditating for just 20 minutes daily can boost production of its most active hormone, T3, cutting your tiredness as much as in half, a Canadian study shows.
Coconut oil revs fat burn.
Coconut oil is nature’s number one source of a rare group of nutrients called medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs), which help speed your metabolism as much as 48%. Use coconut oil in place of the other fats in your diet to feel more energetic in as little as two weeks, plus help you shed up to 36 pounds in the first year.
Iodized salt keeps hormones humming.
Using inexpensive iodized table salt (like Morton, in supermarkets) ensures you have enough iodine, an element needed to produce thyroid hormones. Your body can’t make iodine, so if you’re on a low-salt diet, aim to have at least one daily serving of another source of iodine, such as yogurt and eggs. Note: The salt used to make processed foods is iodine-free.
Scratch-free cookware improves absorption
Many nonstick surfaces are made with problematic chemicals linked to thyroid problems, the journal Epidemiology reveals. Nonstick pans are generally safe unless the surface is damaged, which causes the chemical to be released into food. Replace pots and pans as soon as their nonstick surface develops scratches, rust flecks or other signs of damage.
Clean air cuts your risk in half.
Avoiding cigarette smoke can cut your risk of thyroid problems 50 percent or more, UCLA researchers say. Send smokers outside, or talk to your doctor about quitting if you're the one who lights up.
Spiced kale can rev your thyroid.
Carotenoid-rich kale is a thyroid-energizing dish. Eating plenty of this leafy green doesn't mean you have to live on salads; why not start with this Crispy Chicken and Pasta dish?