Excess thyroid hormone production can lead to hyperthyroidism; a chronic, autoimmune condition signified by weight loss, anxiety, elevated heart rate, insomnia, and increased hunger. While hyperthyroidism, like hypothyroidism, cannot be treated simply through dietary changes, watching what you eat can lessen the symptoms and aid in thyroid recovery:
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Hyperthyroidism brings with it calcium loss and osteoporosis. While adequate quantities of dairy products can help counter this calcium loss, consuming vitamin D-rich foods like cod liver oil, salmon, tuna, and mushrooms can help avoid the loss by aiding in calcium absorption. Low-iodine sources of vitamin include beef liver and vitamin-D fortified orange juice and cereals.
Necessary for optimum T3-T4 conversion, a deficiency of this vitamin can negatively affect the thyroid’s TSH producing ability. However, since vitamin A cannot be actively used by the body, it must be consumed alongside protein to facilitate its conversion. Common food sources include beef and lamb liver, salmon, and carrots.
3- Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, and Selenium:
While magnesium, found in avocados, dark chocolate, almonds, legumes, cashews, etc. aids in calcium absorption, iron acquired from dried beans, cruciferous vegetables, nuts, poultry, red meat, and whole-grains aids in body-wide oxygen transport and preventing hyperthyroidism from worsening. Similarly, consuming zinc-infused beef, chickpeas, cashews, and pumpkin seeds contributes towards thyroid and immune system health, whereas adequate selenium consumption via brown rice, sunflower seeds, and sardines keeps Thyroid Eye Disease caused by Graves’ at bay.
Highly abundant in protein, consuming 2-3 ounces of turkey at every meal not only provides energy, but also helps build, retain, and even restore muscle mass, which is highly important as Grave’s disease, a common cause of hyperthyroidism, can cause extreme weight loss. Other protein-rich sources include chicken, beans, and nuts.
5- Cruciferous Vegetables:
As opposed to hypothyroidism, “hyperthyroidic” patients require comparatively larger amounts of ‘goitrogenic’ cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, turnips, spinach, kale, mustard, etc., as they help decrease the thyroid gland’s T4 production; the definitive feature of hyperthyroidism. Similarly, consuming ½-1 cup of millets or brown rice can also reduce T4 overproduction. Green tea also serves a similar goitrogenic purpose.
6- Healthy Fats:
Unlike trans-fats, unprocessed fats and those acquired from non-dairy sources are highly effective in taming an inflamed thyroid. Examples of healthy fats include flaxseed, olive, avocado, coconut, and sunflower oil along with unsalted nuts and seeds.
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Occurring both naturally and added into processed foods, the chemical nitrate causes thyroid enlargement and worsens hyperthyroidism by increasing iodine absorption from foods containing the nutrient. Hence, foods such as processed meats, beets, cabbage, fennel, carrots, cucumber, and parsley, among others must either be avoided or highly restricted.
While recommended in limited amounts to most hyperthyroidic individuals, certain people with advanced hyperthyroidism or Graves’ Disease should eliminate caffeinated beverage and food consumption altogether, as they considerably worsen the condition’s symptoms, particularly anxiety, weight loss, and rapid heart rate.
3- Food Allergens:
The effects produced by food allergies, even mild ones, can be particularly dangerous to individuals with Graves’ Disease as they often mirror the condition’s symptoms like elevated heart rate, swollen eyelids, etc. Consult with your doctor if you suspect a food allergy and try avoiding that particular allergen at all costs.
The Gray Area:
Although most patients and some medical practitioners tend to beware of iodine regardless of the type of thyroid condition, it is an essential micro-nutrient for thyroid and overall bodily function. Therefore, patients must not eliminate it from their diets, but restrict their daily iodine intake according to their doctor’s recommendation. Moreover, certain medications, particularly cough syrups, medical contrast dyes, and herbal or vitamin supplements also contain iodine and should therefore, be taken with care.
Certain food items and groups like gluten, dairy products, berries, and other antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables pose similar health benefits and concerns for both hypo- and hyperthyroidism. Their consumption, therefore, varies on a case by case basis, as do much of the items in the above list.
Always consult with your doctor before starting a new dietary regime to find the best fit for your current condition. You can also book an appointment with a top Endocrinologist in Islamabad, Karachi and Multan through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your thyroid-related concerns.
About the Writer:
Yashfa Marrium is a freelance writer and health enthusiast. You can reach her at [email protected]