Nutrients and hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism is characterized by an increase in thyroid hormones within the body. It is often caused by Grave’s disease, which is an autoimmune disease that attacks and overstimulates the thyroid. The result is an extreme excess of thyroid hormones within the body.
Nutrients that have an impact on hyperthyroidism include:
While iodine was a traditional treatment for hyperthyroidism, long-term therapy using it has shown conflicting effects. Studies suggest that some people with hyperthyroidism do not experience the benefit of reduced thyroid hormone levels.
What is hyperthyroidism?
By definition, hyperthyroidism is the overactivity of your thyroid — a state that results in an excess of thyroid hormones. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
Medical attention is always required for hyperthyroidism. Left untreated, the high levels of thyroid hormones in your body can increase your risk of developing weak bones, heart problems, and more. Typically, your doctor will prescribe an antithyroid medication to balance the overactivity of the thyroid gland. Some treatment plans will include surgery or radiation therapy.
Along with prescribed treatments, managing your diet is an important step in supporting your thyroid health. Certain foods and the nutrients they contain can help balance the function of your thyroid.
Good foods for hyperthyroidism
Foods low in iodine
Research shows that iodine is an essential factor in the production of thyroid hormones. In the case of hyperthyroidism, consuming a low-iodine diet can help reduce the excess of thyroid hormones.
Low-iodine food choices include:
- Canned, fresh, and frozen vegetables and fruits
- Carbs like grain, cereal products, and pasta without iodine
- Egg whites
- Homemade bread made with non-iodized salt
- Honey and maple syrup
- Unsalted nuts and nut butters
Foods high in iron
Foods that are rich in iron include:
- Fortified grain products like bread and cereal
- Lean meat
Foods high in selenium
Studies show that selenium plays an important role in thyroid health.
Selenium-rich foods include:
Research has shown that some spices can have a positive effect on thyroid health. Turmeric, a popular spice known for its anti-inflammatory properties, may help reduce and manage hyperthyroidism. The same is true for consuming spices like green chili.
Bad foods for hyperthyroidism
Foods high in iodine
Research shows that iodine can aggravate the overproduction of thyroid hormones in hyperthyroidism. Consuming a low-iodine diet is essential for managing thyroid hormones.
High-iodine food choices to avoid include:
- Iodized salt
- Milk or dairy products — including butter, cheese, ice cream, milk chocolate, and yogurt
- Seafood — including fish, shellfish, sushi, kelp, or seaweed
- Soy products
- Vitamins or supplements that contain iodine
While caffeine may not directly affect the thyroid, the results of excessive intake are the same as some hyperthyroidism symptoms. Because of this, having a lot of caffeine in your diet may make it difficult to manage or observe the effects of a good hyperthyroidism diet.
- Black tea
- Energy drinks
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American Thyroid Association: "Low Iodine Diet."
Canadian Medical Association Journal: "Diet and Hyperthyroidism."
Clinical Thyroidology: "Chronic potassium iodide therapy caused remission in about half of Graves’ patients who had side effects while taking antithyroid drugs."
Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism: "Turmeric use is associated with reduced goitrogenesis: Thyroid disorder prevalence in Pakistan (THYPAK) study."
Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Hyperthyroidism."
Journal of the Formosan Medical Association: "Hemoglobin, iron, and vitamin B12 deficiencies and high blood homocysteine levels in patients with anti-thyroid autoantibodies."
National Institutes of Health: "Iron."
National Institutes of Health: "Selenium."
Proceedings of the Nutrition Society: "Multiple nutritional factors and thyroid disease, with particular reference to autoimmune thyroid disease."