Thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that is located at the front of your neck. Its function is to produce thyroid hormones to help your body in using energy. These hormones are Triiodothyronine (T3) and Tetraiodothyronine or thyroxine. These hormones provide energy to the body for many bodily functions. Thyroid mainly has two types, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Talking about the latter, in this, the thyroid gland starts producing excess thyroxine or both the hormones. It is medically called overactive thyroid and is diagnosable at early stages. The signs of this health condition are recognisable and can be realised easily by the patient. The doctor provides further treatment on the basis of the underlying cause and severity of symptoms. Onlymyhealth editorial team talked to Dr. Sujeet Jha, Principal Director of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Obesity, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, about the causes, symptoms and treatment of hyperthyroidism. We also spoke to Clinical Dietician Heena Fatima, previously worked at VLCC institute of beauty and nutrition, presently freelancing, about the diet Do's and don'ts of hyperthyroidism.
What To Eat in Hyperthyroidism?
Firstly, if some foods are allowed for Hyperthyroidism then that does not mean that you can have as much as you want. There will always be a limit to the portion intake of food as overconsuming can be bad for your health. As per Dt. Heena, here is what you should eat in hyperthyroidism:
1. Egg whites
Egg whites are included in low iodine foods which can be good for a person suffering from hyperthyroidism. A balanced diet can always be helpful in such a health condition. Therefore, one should have egg whites and avoid eating egg yolks.
Basically, the body requires more energy to digest whole grains. Therefore, having oats, brown rice and quinoa can help your thyroid gland. You can have oats for a healthy breakfast in the morning.
3. Almond milk
In addition to weakness, hyperthyroidism can also make the bones weak. Both calcium and Vitamin D are important nutrients for your body. As dairy products are suggested to be avoided, almond milk can be an alternative but it is not the best source for consuming calcium and vitamin D.
Also read: 9 Foods to Avoid With an Overactive Thyroid
Honey is not just beneficial for your skin, but is an added advantage for your health too. A low-iodine diet helps to reduce the excess thyroid hormones. And, honey is a poor source of iodine which is good in hyperthyroidism. You can add a few drops on your tea too.
As mentioned above, iodine plays a major role in developing thyroid hormones. And, potatoes have less amounts of this mineral. Therefore, including potato in your meal one way or the other can be helpful. However, it should also be consumed in moderation.
What To Avoid in Hyperthyroidism?
While there are foods that you can eat in moderation while suffering from hyperthyroidism, there are also some edibles that should be avoided. A balanced diet can play a major role in coping up with many health conditions. As per Dietician Heena, here are some food items that you should avoid for hypothyroidism:
Fish and other seafoods like prawns, crabs, lobster and sushi also should be avoided. These foods have high amounts of iodine in them, which can be harmful in hyperthyroidism. So, one should avoid fish as much as possible.
2. Egg yolk
On one side egg whites can be consumed and on the other hand, egg yolks are not advised for hyperthyroidism as again it is rich in iodine. You can easily take out the yolk and have egg whites in any form.
You might be thinking that coffee and tea are the best ways to keep you awake and energetic. However, in hyperthyroidism, you should avoid the intake of caffeine as much as possible. Caffeine can make the symptoms of hyperthyroidism even worse.
4. Processed meats
Processed meat like hot dogs, sausages, salami, cured bacon and corned beef should also be avoided when one is suffering from hyperthyroid. Avoiding these foods can be good for your overall health too.
5. Dairy products
Moreover, dairy products should surely be avoided from your diet schedule as they can make your thyroxine levels unbalanced. Dairy products are the best sources for low carbohydrates and high fat items, but are high on the mineral iodine, which is not good for hyperthyroidism.
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism
The symptoms differ from one person to the other. It can induce a rapid heart rate, and spiked blood pressure too. As per Dr. Sujeet, there is more of sweating, palpitations and anxiety in hyperthyroidism. As per Dr. Jha, below listed are the signs of hyperthyroidism:
1. Weight loss
This is the most common symptom of hyperthyroidism. A person's weight falls rapidly and significantly in hyperthyroidism. It becomes noticeable and you should surely visit the doctor in such cases.
When a patient of hyperthyroidism loses a lot of weight and that too quite quickly, it can make him/her very weak. So, weakness also becomes a major issue when suffering from hyperthyroidism.
The palpitations can make you very anxious in hyperthyroidism. Anxiety is also a part of the symptoms if you are going through this health condition. The rapid increase in heartbeat can especially result in anxiety.
4. Irregular heartbeat and sweating
Excessive amounts of T4, T3, or both the hormones can result in a high metabolic rate. This condition called hypermetabolic state can lead to irregular heart rate. This leads to a lot of sweating and tension.
5. Hair loss
Both severe and persistent hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause hair loss. It can affect your hair growth and needs to be taken care of immediately. You should surely tell the doctor about the adverse symptoms of thyroid. Other signs of hyperthyroidism are increased appetite, dizziness, sleep deprivation and nausea.
Causes of hyperthyroidism
There are several factors that can become a cause behind hyperthyroidism. The most common cause is Graves' disease, which is an autoimmune condition. Well, according to Dr. Sujeet Jha, here are the major causes of hyperthyroidism:
1. Family history
Family history can have an impact on a person regarding many diseases. Genetic factors matter a lot when it comes to health problems. Moreover, it can even be a major cause for hypothyroidism.
2. Too much thyroid medication
To treat hypothyroidism, a patient is prescribed the medicine to increase thyroxine in the body. However, overdose can lead to the opposite health condition, i.e hyperthyroidism. Therefore, one has to take care of the medicine tenure and go according to the doctor.
3. Excess iodine
Excess amounts of iodine in the body can also have a negative impact on the thyroid glands production. Due to which, the doctor recommends diet changes along with the medicines for thyroid. So, overconsumption of iodine foods is another cause for hyperthyroidism.
4. Graves' disease
This is the commonest cause of hyperthyroidism. It is mostly seen in women under the age of 40 years. The overproduction of hormones trigger symptoms like anxiety, hand tremors, puffy eyes and weight loss.
Other reasons behind hyperthyroidism are tumors, thyroiditis, etc. The diagnosis is done through a routine blood test or after the indication of hyperthyroidism signs. In hyperthyroidism, treatment is mainly about cutting down the thyroxine free production. This can be done through medicines prescribed by the doctor and even surgery. A section or all of your thyroid gland may be surgically removed to treat this condition. Mostly, the doctor advises medication to balance the hormone levels and bring them back to normal. And, a few diet changes can also contribute in helping with the same. These were the causes, symptoms, treatment and best diet for hyperthyroidism.
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