How to Care for Your Thyroid, The Body's Master Switch

Integrative & Functional Medicine Physician By Alejandra Carrasco, M.D.
Integrative & Functional Medicine Physician
Alejandra Carrasco, M.D., is an integrative and functional medicine physician, best-selling author of Bloom, and founder of Nourish Medicine, a root-cause resolution integrative and functional medicine practice in Austin, Texas. She received her medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center.

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits at the base of our neck. The word “thyroid” comes from the Greek word for “shield,” and this powerful little gland is truly one of our great defenders, as it orchestrates an intricate web essential interactions in the body.

The thyroid produces thyroid hormone, which is a like a master switch of your body. Every single cell in the body has thyroid hormone receptors found on its DNA.

This little gland packs a powerful punch!

Here are 5 things you might not know about the thyroid:

1. The thyroid is the central gear in your body’s metabolism.

Thyroid function intimately impacts the basal metabolic rate, cardiovascular system, bone metabolism, hormone production, glucose metabolism, red blood cell production, protein metabolism, cholesterol metabolism, gastrointestinal function, liver function, gall bladder and brain function. To keep your body in top condition, make sure that your thyroid is working optimally.

2. The thyroid gland is vulnerable to toxins.

Many known environmental disrupters such as heavy metals, pesticides and plastic compounds promote goiter activity and can wreak havoc on the thyroid. Think twice before eating foods sprayed with pesticides and using plastics- it might hurt your thyroid.

3. Medications can disrupt thyroid hormone metabolism. 

Thyroid physiology is vulnerable to cross-reactions with many medications including anti-inflammatory medications, antibiotics, antidepressants, cholesterol-lowering medications, antacids, pain medications, and diabetes medications. Talk to your doctor about the potential side effects that your prescription medications can have on your thyroid.

4. Thyroid hormones influence the immune system. 

Thyroid hormones exhibit influences on cellular messenger systems that affect T and B cell activity, cell death, and many other immune system functions. Think about your thyroid the next time that you are fighting a cold--it’s fighting with you! Make sure that your Vitamin D levels are optimal, as vitamin D is one of the main regulators of a healthy immune system.

5. Many vitamins and minerals are necessary for proper thyroid metabolism. 

Vitamin A, selenium, the B vitamins, iodine, and vitamin D, and zinc are some of the vitamins and minerals that are necessary to ensure healthy thyroid function. To optimize your thyroid’s health make sure that you eat a balanced diet that includes the vitamins and minerals needed to keep the thyroid in tip-top shape.

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