Editor’s Note: I’m excited to share a post with you written by our Sponsor Programs Assistant Sharifa Simon-Roberts on Thyroid Awareness Month. To learn more about Thyroid Awareness and the online Thyroid community – check out our interviews with Katie Schwartz, founder of the wonderful Dear Thyroid, and Mary Shomon of About.com’s Thyroid community. Both are doing amazing things for their communities and, if you haven’t yet, you’ll learn a bit more about thyroid health! –Amanda
Educate Your Community: Thyroid Awareness Month
For many, January is the month where a number of bold declarations are made. Heading the list are promises to pay closer attention to one’s health – whether it’s in terms of diet, exercising or making physical check-ups a priority. With this in mind, I thought I would highlight a condition which affects millions of Americans – thyroid disease. What better time to take a look at a common ailment while paying tribute to that new year’s vow of making health a priority, than now and oh yes, of course during Thyroid Awareness month?
Like some of you, I had heard the term “thyroid” previously but if asked to define it and pinpoint its exact location during a biology exam, I would skip over that question quickly and hope no similar questions would haunt me as I completed the exam. I think now, perhaps I can avoid such a situation. The official name for the thyroid is ‘thyroid gland’ and it is an endocrine gland located in the lower part of the neck, in the vicinity of the Adam’s apple. It is butterfly-shaped, surrounds the trachea and some functions of this gland are to secrete hormones and monitor metabolism, heart rate, body temperature and the speed at which the body uses energy.
So what happens if this gland malfunctions or stops working? This is where my limited knowledge on the thyroid did reside. I remember in 2007 Oprah Winfrey attributed her 20 pound weight gain to problems with her thyroid. Her problems started off with hyperthyroidism where her thyroid gland was producing too many hormones, followed by, hypothyroidism, as her thyroid gland was not producing enough hormones. According to Winfrey, this was stress-induced. After devoting time to rest and some TLC (tender loving care, or in this case thyroid loving care) which we could all use, she was on the road to recovery and regaining her health.
Other disorders that I learned can result from thyroid dysfunction include: Goiters (an enlargement of the thyroid gland), thyroiditis (condition in which the thyroid becomes inflamed), and thyroid cancer.
In an attempt to avoid such ailments, researchers say we should ensure we consume foods with certain properties, for example: anti-oxidants, whole grains and iron. Fear not, these foods are not hard to find and benefits extend beyond that of thyroid health. By adding blueberries, tomatoes, spinach, tuna, chicken, turkey, broccoli, raisins, and dried peas and beans you are on your way to supporting a healthy thyroid. You do not have to alter your regimen radically. Rather seek to incorporate these foods into your diet.
In honor of the thyroid, the gland which does so much but receives, let’s just say, less than the praise it deserves, I hope you take to time to share with us specific experiences have you had with your thyroid. Are you active in the online thyroid community? What do you wish more people knew about thyroid and thyroid conditions? How can Health Activists in other conditions help raise awareness this month?
To learn how you can help raise thyroid awareness, click: http://www.thyroidawarenessmonth.com/
Best wishes on your quest for improved wellbeing this year!