Hyperthyroidism is the result of an overactive or enlarged thyroid gland that leads to symptoms that can affect your entire body. From anxiety and irritability, to a raised, itchy rash, eye problems and weight loss, hyperthyroidism is not something that should be ignored. It’s a condition that should be dealt with by a medical professional, but you can also follow proper nutrition for hyperthyroidism to help alleviate your symptoms and prevent them from getting worse. Take a look 12 foods to eat and avoid if you have hyperthyroidism.
What is Hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism, also called overactive thyroid, is when the thyroid gland makes more thyroid hormones than your body needs. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the front of your neck that plays a big part in your body’s main functions, such as regulating body temperature, controlling heart rate and stabilizing your metabolism. When your thyroid gland is working correctly, your body is balanced and all your systems are working properly. If your thyroid stops working the way it’s meant to, as with hyperthyroidism, it can affect your entire body and is a condition that should be treated by a healthcare provider.
20 Signs and Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
1. Nervousness, anxiety and irritability
3. Mood swings
4. Difficulty sleeping
6. Sensitivity to heat
7. Muscle weakness
9. Needing to pee more than usual
10. Persistent thirst
12. Loss of interest in sex
13. Swelling in your neck caused by an enlarged thyroid gland
14. Unusually fast heart rate (palpitations)
15. Twitching or trembling
16. Loose nails
17. A raised, itchy rash
18. Patchy hair loss or thinning
19. Weight loss – often in spite of an increased appetite
20. Eye problems, such as redness, dryness or vision problems
5 Causes of Hyperthyroidism
1. Graves’ disease
2. Inflammation of the thyroid gland, called thyroiditis
3. Too much iodine
4. Too much thyroid hormone medication
5. Non-cancerous tumour of the pituitary gland
Nutrition for Hyperthyroidism: 7 Foods to Eat
1. Low-Iodine Foods
Iodine plays a key role in making thyroid hormones, so following a low-iodine diet will help reduce thyroid hormones. Fill your diet with foods like non-iodized salt, black coffee and tea, egg whites, fresh or canned fruit, unsalted nuts and nut butters, homemade bread or bread made without salt, dairy and eggs, oats, potatoes, honey and maple syrup.
2. Cruciferous Vegetables
It’s believed that cruciferous vegetables may stop your thyroid from using iodine properly, which can be beneficial for hyperthyroidism. Eat bamboo shoots, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, mustard greens and rutabaga.
3. Healthy Fats
Fats from whole foods can help reduce inflammation. This helps protect thyroid health and balance thyroid hormones. Healthy, non-dairy fats are important for those on a low-iodine diet. These include oils like flaxseed, olive, avocado, coconut, sunflower, and safflower, as well as foods like avocados and unsalted seeds and nuts.
4. Iron-Rich Foods
Iron is an essential nutrient, vital to many bodily functions, inducing thyroid health. It’s needed for blood cells to carry oxygen to every cell in your body. Low levels of iron have been linked to hyperthyroidism. Iron-rich foods include dried beans, green leafy vegetables, lentils, nuts, poultry, seeds and whole grains.
5. Selenium-Rich Foods
Selenium-rich foods can help balance thyroid levels and protect your thyroid from disease. The mineral helps prevent cell damage and keeps your thyroid healthy. Selenium food sources include Brazil nuts, couscous, chia seeds, mushrooms, tea, meat, rice, oat bran, poultry and sunflower seeds.
6. Foods with Zinc
Zinc helps you use food for energy and helps keep your immune system and thyroid healthy. Zinc-rich foods include beef, chickpeas, cocoa powder, cashews, mushrooms, pumpkin seeds and lamb.
7. Foods High in Calcium and Vitamin D
Hyperthyroidism can lead to weak and brittle bones. Vitamin D and calcium are both key to building healthy bones. Calcium-rich foods include spinach, collard greens, white beans, kale, okra and almond milk. Vitamin D can be found in Vitamin D-fortified orange juice and cereals and foods like beef liver, mushrooms and fatty fish.
Nutrition for Hyperthyroidism: 5 Foods to Avoid
1. Foods with Excess Iodine
Eating too many iodine-rich foods can lead to hyperthyroidism or worsen it. Seafood has the most iodine, so steer clear of fish, seaweed, prawns, crabs, lobster, sushi, algae, nori and kelp. Other foods high in iodine include milk and dairy, cheese, egg yolks, iodized salt and iodized water. Medications like cough syrups, medical contrast dyes and herbal or vitamin supplements may also contain iodine.
2. Foods with Gluten
Gluten may be harmful to the thyroid by causing inflammation. Consider limiting gluten-containing foods like wheat, barley, brewer’s yeast, malt, rye and triticale.
Stimulants like coffee, soda and chocolate can intensify the symptoms of hyperthyroidism such as anxiety, irritability and rapid heart rate. If caffeine has this effect on you, you should try to limit or avoid it if possible. Replace caffeine with water, herbal teas or fruit and veggie smoothies to help with your hyperthyroidism symptoms.
4. Added Sugars
Added sugars like cane sugar, dextrose and high fructose corn syrup add empty calories, spike blood sugar levels and are detrimental to your overall health, offering no nutritional benefit. Heart palpitations found in those with hyperthyroidism can be controlled by improving blood sugar levels, so steer clear of added sugars as much as possible. These are found in foods like candy, cakes, cookies, pastries, doughnuts and dairy desserts such as ice cream, as well as sugary drinks like soda, sports drinks and juice.
Alcohol can disrupt your energy levels and worsen sleep issues associated with hyperthyroidism. Consuming alcohol can also increase the risk of osteoporosis in those with hyperthyroidism. Try to limit alcoholic beverages like wine, beer and spirits as much as possible.
If you’ve been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, follow these nutrition guidelines for what to eat and avoid to feel better all around!
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