In honor of Thyroid Disease Awareness Month for January, we will take some time to discuss your thyroid and what it takes to make sure it’s in good health. If you, or a loved one, suffer from a thyroid condition in senior care in San Francisco and elsewhere, you will find this article valuable regarding how you can better manage thyroid-related diseases and thyroid cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 43,720 new cases of thyroid cancer were reported in 2023 (12,540 for men and 31,180 for women), with 2,120 deaths from thyroid cancer (970 for men and 1,150 for women). Thyroid cancer tends to be diagnosed at a younger age than a lot of other adult cancers. The average age at diagnosis is 51, and it’s three times more common in females than males.

A Look at the Thyroid

The thyroid gland, a small organ in the front of the neck, wraps around the trachea and is shaped like a butterfly. Your thyroid’s job is to make hormones that can control a variety of vital functions in your body, mainly body temperature, heart rate, and metabolism, says the Cleveland Clinic. When it fails to work properly, it can affect your whole body. Hyperthyroidism is when your body makes too much thyroid hormone. When it makes too little, it’s known as hypothyroidism. Both are serious conditions and need the attention of a medical doctor.

Thyroid disease can affect anyone of any age, and it can even be present at birth or develop as you get older, such as after menopause. This is very common, with about 20 million people in the U.S. having some type of thyroid disorder.

In addition to thyroid diseases, there is also thyroid cancer, which develops in the thyroid. About 53,000 Americans are diagnosed with thyroid cancer each year.

Tips on Keeping Your Thyroid Healthy

Adopting a healthy diet for your thyroid not only ensures you feel good but also helps your digestive system function as it should. It also helps your heart pump more efficiently. All of this can support a healthier metabolism. When taking thyroid hormone medication, you should limit foods high in soy protein, as the soy can interfere with the absorption of the thyroid hormone. Avoid large amounts of iodine, both in supplements and in medications, as this could alter the thyroid hormone level. In general, you should maintain a healthy diet that includes plenty of vegetables, fruits,  and whole grains.

Here are some tips.

  • Eat nutritious foods: This includes a wide variety of nuts, fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods. Get your protein from lean sources, such as beans or fish. Stick to healthy oils, like olive oil.
  • Reduce consumption of “bad” fats: Certain dietary fats can cause heart disease as well as some forms of cancer. Reduce intake of saturated fats, which mainly originate from animal products such as cheese and meat. Also, reduce trans fats, which are hydrogenated oils present in processed foods and margarines. You’d be wise to choose fats that reduce LDL cholesterol, including polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats from vegetable oils, as well as omega-3 fats present in some fish, says Harvard Medical School. Seeds, legumes, and nuts are all healthy choices.
  • Stick with complex carbohydrates: These are found in whole-grain foods, vegetables, and fruits. Keep consumption of soft drinks, potato chips, crackers, candy, and junk food to a minimum, as they are high in calories while low in nutrients.
  • Increase dietary fiber: Dietary fiber improves digestion, so consume whole-grain foods and lots of vegetables and fruits to ensure you always have enough dietary fiber.
  • Eat antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables: These include blueberries, tomatoes, and bell peppers.

 In terms of vitamins and minerals, be sure to add these to your diet as well:

  • Vitamin D: Insufficient vitamin D levels have been connected with Hashimoto’s disease, which is an autoimmune condition that results in hypothyroidism. In addition, low vitamin D levels are harmful for those who have hyperthyroidism and are prone to bone loss. Try vitamin D-rich foods like fatty fish, milk, eggs, dairy products, and mushrooms. Get out in the sun when you can for natural vitamin D, or take a vitamin D supplement. 
  • Selenium: This mineral helps the thyroid gland function optimally, impacting your immune system, fertility, and cognitive function. Try Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, crab, tuna, and lobster.
  • Vitamin B12: This is found in foods such as mollusks, salmon, sardines, liver, meat, dairy products, nutritional yeast, and fortified cereal.

In general, you should avoid too much of these in your diet:

  • Iodine
  • High-fiber foods
  • Iron and calcium supplements
  • Caffeine 
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco

Your doctor will be able to go over more healthy eating tips to ensure a healthy thyroid.

Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice

If you, or a loved one, suffer from a thyroid condition in San Francisco and elsewhere, we believe you could benefit greatly from senior care services. Call us today to find out more about what we offer at 888-978-1306.