The thyroid is a small gland located in the neck, just below the Adam’s apple, its main job is to regulate metabolism and the way the body uses energy. Hyperthyroidism, also known as overactive thyroid, is a condition where the thyroid gland goes into overdrive and produces too much thyroid hormone. The autoimmune disorder Graves disease is one of the main causes of an overactive thyroid, although thyroid nodules, overconsumption of iodine, and less commonly, thyroid cancer can also cause an overactive thyroid. Graves disease is closely related to Hashimoto’s disease, another autoimmune disorder that in contrast, causes the thyroid to become underactive. Like Hashimoto’s, it affects more women than men but is a much less common condition.
Hyperthyroidism causes every function of the body to speed up, such as heart rate and metabolism. Symptoms include weight loss, despite increased appetite, anxiety, restlessness, irritability, insomnia, palpitations, chest pain, intolerance to heat, shortness of breath and increased stool frequency, with or without diarrhea. Prominent or bulging eyes can also be a symptom. It is important to get a medical diagnosis if you suspect hyperthyroidism, a thyroid hormone suppressing medication is the usual course of action. However, if Graves disease is your diagnosis, diet and lifestyle changes can help to treat the root cause of the condition and support healing. Below are some of the best foods and supplements for natural thyroid treatment.
Avocados are fantastic for overall health but are especially beneficial for those with hyperthyroidism as they help the body to produce Glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that strengthens the immune system and can help protect against Graves’ disease, the autoimmune condition that attacks thyroid tissue and is one of the leading causes of hyperthyroidism. Glutathione is the ‘master’ antioxidant in the body that can boost and regulate the immune system, inhibit autoimmune flare-ups, and protect and heal thyroid tissue. Avocados are also a great source of healthy monounsaturated fats, needed for the production of hormones, including thyroid hormones.
Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli contain compounds called goitrogens that interfere with the production of thyroid hormone, by blocking the ability of the thyroid to absorb iodine, a trace mineral essential for thyroid health. For this reason, most people think they should avoid cruciferous vegetables if they have an underactive thyroid. However, with hyperthyroidism, where the thyroid has gone into overdrive, and overproduces thyroid hormones, it figures that eating raw broccoli should be beneficial. Broccoli has so many other health benefits too, including boosting the immune system, that it should form a regular part of your hyperthyroid treatment plan. Enjoy it raw in salads, smoothies and juices.
Cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, contain compounds called goitrogens that interfere with the production of thyroid hormone, by blocking the ability of the thyroid to absorb iodine, a trace mineral essential for thyroid health. For this reason, most people think they should avoid cruciferous vegetables if they have an under active thyroid. However, with hyperthyroidism, where the thyroid has gone into overdrive and overproduces thyroid hormones, it figures that eating raw cabbage should be beneficial. Cabbage is a rich source of many nutrients important for overall health, including the building blocks for the essential antioxidant Glutathione as well as soothing the digestive system. So it should form a regular part of your hyperthyroid treatment plan. Enjoy it raw in salads, coleslaw and juices.
Carrots are a rich source of a nutrient called beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A plays a crucial role in immune health so is important for anyone suffering from autoimmune disorders like Graves’ disease, the leading cause of hyperthyroidism. It’s thought that vitamin A deficiency may be more common in people with thyroid dysfunction as usually the body can efficiently convert beta-carotene forms of vitamin A into the more bioactive retinoid forms. However, thyroid hormones play a role in this conversion, so if thyroid function is out of balance, it could result in deficiencies of this essential vitamin. Good reasons to boost intake of carrots and other beta-carotene rich fruit and vegetables.
Garlic is a true super food and benefits almost every single health condition, including hyperthyroidism and its leading cause, the autoimmune disorder Graves’ disease. Garlic is one of the few foods that is antibacterial, antiparasitic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Autoimmune disorders and inflammation go hand in hand, so it figures that any food that helps relieve inflammation will be beneficial. Tip: peel and chop garlic 10 minutes before cooking to allow the maximum synthesis of allicin, the active ingredient in garlic.
Kefir is a fermented milk drink that is high in nutrients and probiotics that are very beneficial for gut health. Almost 80% of our immune system lies in our gut and autoimmune conditions such as Graves’ disease, the most common form of hyperthyroidism may be as a result of poor digestive health and imbalanced gut bacteria. So get experimenting and start making your own kefir milk and see if your hyperthyroid issues improve.
The omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish such as mackerel, trout, tuna, and sardines have potent anti-inflammatory actions. Graves’ disease is an autoimmune hyperthyroid condition, which causes the thyroid to enlarge and overproduce thyroid hormones. One of the symptoms of Graves disease is inflammation of the eyes, resulting in bulging, prominent eyes. Omega-3s are not only known to decrease inflammation, but they also help regulate immunity and lower the risk for heart disease, often associated with poor thyroid function. Fish is also an excellent source of the mineral selenium, which supports healthy thyroid hormone metabolism and may also help to reduce autoimmune antibodies. Selenium also helps decrease inflammation. Great reasons to eat oily fish like mackerel at least 2-3 times a week.
Turmeric is a true superfood and is strongly anti-inflammatory. Some studies have found that Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric is so powerful that it matches the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs! Autoimmune disorders such as Graves’ disease are interlinked with chronic inflammation, as one fuels the other. So it makes sense that eating plenty of anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric will help to quell chronic inflammation and help treat autoimmune conditions such as Graves’ disease.
Lemon balm helps to suppress thyroid functioning in a few different ways. It inhibits Thyroid Stimulating Hormone from binding to receptor sites and strongly decreases the uptake of iodine by thyroid cells. It also suppresses the iodination of tyrosine residues by Thyroid Peroxidase enzyme and appears to impede stored thyroid hormone release from the thyroid gland.
Hyperthyroidism caused by the autoimmune condition Graves’ disease, is a condition where the immune system attacks thyroid tissue, causing enlargement of the thyroid gland resulting in excessive thyroid output. Omega-3 fatty acids are needed for immune system regulation and help to reduce inflammation. Graves’ disease is a type of hyperthyroidism that is associated with swelling and inflammation of the eye tissue. To support a healthy immune system and to reduce inflammation consume oily fish 2-3 times a week or take a high-quality fish oil supplement. Krill oil is the best choice, as it contains less environmental toxins, is more bioavailable and is truly sustainable. Flaxseed oil and chia seeds are great vegetarian sources of omega 3s.