Need a boost in 2022? If you’re feeling fatigued and listless, it may just be the post-holiday lull — or, it could be something more. In honor of National Thyroid Month, we’re taking a closer look at one of the thyroid’s essential functions: metabolism. The main goal of the thyroid (a gland located at the base of the heck) is to control and regulate the metabolism of your body.
Metabolism is the process by which your body converts food and nutrients into the energy required for breathing, thinking, digesting, circulating blood, regulating body temperature, and other essential functions you may occasionally take for granted. When your thyroid is functioning properly, your body is able to maintain the hormone levels that keep your metabolism running smoothly.
If the thyroid doesn’t function correctly, your metabolism and hormones will suffer and slow. This condition is called hypothyroidism. What do symptoms look like? Watch out for fatigue, sleepiness, muscle weakness, constipation, dry skin, cognitive difficulties, joint pain, menstrual changes, and extreme sensitivity to cold (beyond the typical aversion to Iowa winters!) The most familiar symptom of a slow metabolism is weight gain, and it’s true that people with a slower metabolism have a more difficult time burning calories. The cause for a slow metabolism is often genetic, but there are some actions we can take to burn more calories and stay healthy.
1. Take Thyroid Hormone
Curious whether your thyroid is acting up? Your doctor can perform a blood test that will provide some insight into your thyroid health. They may prescribe synthetic thyroid hormone to help regulate your metabolic function.
2. Stay Hydrated
Have you noticed that every list of health tips we post includes hydration? Drinking enough water is one of the simplest ways to improve your overall health, and yet it’s so often overlooked! Some studies have shown that drinking water may increase the amount of energy you burn while at rest by as much as 30%! Whether or not water consumption directly impacts metabolism, you can rest assured that your entire body functions best when it’s properly hydrated.
3. Get Enough Sleep
It may seem counterintuitive that resting can actually increase your ability to burn calories…and yet, studies have proven just that! Your metabolic rate will decrease if you’re not getting enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours per night for adults. Are you prioritizing sleep?
4. Pack on the Protein
Your metabolism thrives on healthy inputs, so focus on lean proteins like fish, chicken, eggs, almonds, greek yogurt, and vegetables. Try to avoid refined carbohydrates, which slow the process down.
5. Avoid skipping meals
Certain fad diets encourage fasting and skipping meals. However, starvation has been shown to slow metabolism. If you’ve recently experimented with skipping meals and also have noticed symptoms of hypothyroidism, you may need to return to 3 meals per day. Don’t be afraid of eating throughout the day, and instead focus on nutrient-dense foods that support your overall health and metabolism.
6. Get Moving
One of the best ways to increase your metabolism is to exercise! Both cardiovascular and strength-training activities will do wonders for your metabolism, especially those at a higher intensity level. Try experimenting with a variety of ways to keep your body moving regularly; hiking, biking, swimming, jogging, aerobics, and weight lifting.
If you’re concerned that your thyroid hormones may be off-balance, give us a call! Your doctor is able to help determine the cause of your symptoms and customize a plan to get you feeling great again. Here’s to 2022 filled with energy, vitality, and your best metabolism yet!