Your thyroid gland sits just below your voice box in your throat. Despite its tiny size, this butterfly-shaped part of your body plays a significant role in healthy living.

The thyroid gland converts iodine from the food you've consumed and produces a thyroid hormone, called thyroxine (T4).

Too little or too much T4 results in a thyroid disorder, and unfortunately, the risks increase as you age. The Thyroid Foundation states that around 14 per cent of Australians are affected by a clinically diagnosed thyroid disorder, with 4 per cent of the population undiagnosed.

As explained by Harvard Medical School, the symptoms of an under- or hyperactive thyroid will influence your:

  • Mood
  • Energy levels
  • Body temperature
  • Heart
  • Weight

Fortunately for seniors in active retirement, there are a few diet-conscious decisions you can make in order to live a happy life with a thyroid disorder.

How to manage hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism

The Thyroid Foundation explains that T4 produced by your thyroid gland can influence every cell in your body. It plays a major role in your metabolic process, and also in the growth of young brains and children. Women are also 10 times more likely than men to develop a thyroid disorder, according to the same source.

Not enough T4 production is known as hypothyroidism, the most common form, and affects 6-10 per cent of Australian women over the age of 65. Synthetic hormones are usually prescribed to maintain a healthy level of T4.

If your gland produces too much T4, then the condition is called hyperthyroidism. An overactive thyroid gland means your body's metabolic system is running too fast, and can lead to excessive hunger and thirst, exhaustion, and a spike in temperature. A hormone suppressant drug is prescribed for this.

Iodine rich foods can help with healthy living if you have borderline hypothyroidism.Iodine-rich foods can help with healthy living if you have borderline hypothyroidism.

People that suffer from either of these forms are advised to keep a close eye on their diet, especially iodine-rich foods. This can include bakery and cooked goods that contain iodised salt, seafood, dairy products and eggs, as stated by the Thyroid Foundation. Monitoring your diet is important as it could have an impact on your hormone therapy treatments.

Leafy greens and nuts are a great addition to your diet as they provide the magnesium and iron that your body needs for healthy processing. Of course, fatty and processed foods should be limited anyway, along with gluten, according to WebMD.

Last but not least, take your thyroid medication on an empty stomach at least 30 minutes before you eat, to ensure that there is no interference. You'll find that retirement life with a thyroid disorder is barely more effort than being health conscious.

Managing your thyroid disorder in your senior years