If you are experiencing unexplained weight gain or fatigue, or feel cold all the time, you may have an underactive thyroid.
Your heart rate, blood pressure, weight and body temperature are controlled by hormones produced by your thyroid gland, located in your neck.
Hypothyroidism is the most common thyroid disorder in Australia. Treatment is a daily hormone tablet, but follow these tips, too.
1. Get tested
If you have any of the above signs of a lagging thyroid, your doctor can do a simple blood test to measure your thyroid hormone levels.
2. Boost iodine
Your thyroid gland needs iodine to produce hormones. So if you’re low in iodine (which 43 per cent of adults are), you may need an iodine supplement. But note that the safe upper limit is 1100mcg a day. Once treated, aim to get enough iodine from the food you eat. Foods highest in iodine are fish (such as canned salmon), shellfish (such as oysters), seaweeds (such as nori and kelp, found in sushi and Asian soups) and bread.
3. Pass the iodised salt
If you have to use salt at home, make sure it’s iodised so that it adds iodine to your diet. Unfortunately, most of the salt we eat comes from packaged foods, which do not use iodised salt, so aim to reduce your intake of these foods.
4. Vary your greens
Leafy greens, like cabbage and kale, have been suspected of triggering thyroid problems, but the results of the studies are not clear. So don’t cut them out completely. For now, it’s perfectly safe to include them, but do try to vary and eat them in moderation. For example, add half a cup of broccoli or cauliflower per meal.
5. Time your fibre
Constipation affects many people with thyroid issues. So eating plenty of fibre-rich foods and drinking lots of fluids can help you stay regular. However, a meal rich in fibre can interfere with the medication working effectively, so try taking your thyroid tablet several hours before or after eating.