You may not be aware of this, but the thyroid plays a critical role in your metabolism. In fact, along with insulin and cortisol, your thyroid hormone is one the big three hormones that control your metabolism and your weight.

What’s more is that many people don’t even know that there are dietary and lifestyle guidelines that can support a healthy thyroid.

For starters, let’s review what the thyroid gland is and what it does. The thyroid gland is a small endocrine gland in your neck and it makes two major thyroid hormones. Those thyroid hormones are known as T4, the inactive form, and T3, the active form. (About 93% is T4 and about 7% is T3.)

The T4 made in the thyroid gland is converted to T3 in the liver so that it can do its work in the body. Here’s part of what T3 does. It steps in and directs your DNA to increase your metabolism and fat-burning power. T3 also sets the pace for every system in your body to work at the correct speed. Additionally, T3 helps to support a healthy weight, healthy levels of cholesterol, strong muscles, a strong mind and much more.

Interestingly, your thyroid hormone interacts with all the other hormones in your body, including insulin, cortisol and your sex hormones. Underlying the inner-workings of your thyroid hormone are the hypothalamus and the pituitary glands. They regulate the production and release of thyroid hormones in the thyroid gland.

You can see why thyroid health is important.

So…how can you help keep your thyroid healthy? Smart eating is one way.

Thyroid hormones need iodine and omega-3 fatty acids to remain healthy, while the conversion of the inactive T4 to the active T3 requires selenium.† Likewise, the binding of T3 to the receptor on the nucleus and switching it on require vitamin A, vitamin D and zinc.†

Some omega-3 foods you may want to eat for a healthy thyroid include:

  • Seaweed and sea vegetables (for iodine);
  • Fatty fish such as salmon or sardines (for iodine, omega-3s and vitamin D);
  • Green, leafy greens (for vitamin A); and
  • Herring and Brazil nuts (for selenium).

In addition to a healthy diet rich in those omega-3 nutrients, be sure to exercise regularly, reduce toxins, and manage stress. Exercise stimulates the thyroid gland secretions and increases your body’s sensitivity to thyroid hormones. Toxins can affect thyroid function, so be sure to drink clean water and eat “clean” organic foods. Stress can “stress out” your thyroid by increasing cortisol and inflammation levels, reducing testosterone levels and lowering T3 levels, so get a handle on the pressures of life.

The bottom line is that a healthy thyroid may mean a healthy metabolism and weight. It’s often overlooked, however, so make sure your thyroid is in tip-top shape.

† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Adapted from