Diet for hyperthyroidism: Foods to embrace and avoid for a healthy lifestyle

Chris Kamara discusses his underactive thyroid diagnosis

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Hyperthyroidism is a condition that is usually treatable and there are several medical treatments available. According to the NHS website, the main treatments for hyperthyroidism are medicine, radioactive iodine treatment or surgery.

What diet should people with hyperthyroidism follow?

People diagnosed with hyperthyroidism will usually be advised by a doctor on the best medical treatments for their circumstances.

According to the British Thyroid Foundation (BTF), there isn’t a specific diet people with hyperthyroidism should follow.

But people with hyperthyroidism need to eat a variety of healthy foods to help them stay as healthy as possible.

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As per the BTF website, based on the NHS Eatwell guide, a healthy diet includes:

  • Eating at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day
  • Basing meals on higher fibre starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta
  • Having some dairy or dairy alternatives
  • Eating some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein
  • Choosing unsaturated oils and spreads, and eat them in small amounts
  • Drinking plenty of fluids (at least six to eight glasses a day)

A doctor or pharmacist may recommend specific supplements or vitamins for people with hyperthyroidism.

People with Graves’ disease or other types of autoimmune thyroid disorder may be sensitive to side effects from iodine.

So a doctor may recommend keeping to a diet that avoids large amounts of iodine.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in the US explains on its website: “Eating foods that have large amounts of iodine—such as kelp, dulse, or other kinds of seaweed—may cause or worsen hyperthyroidism.

“Taking iodine supplements can have the same effect.

“Talk with members of your health care team about what foods you should limit or avoid, and let them know if you take iodine supplements.

“Also, share information about any cough syrups or multivitamins that you take because they may contain iodine.”

Anyone suffering from hyperthyroidism should address any concerns about their diet or lifestyle with their doctor.

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What are the common symptoms of an overactive thyroid?

Anyone who has symptoms or signs of an overactive thyroid is advised to take note of their symptoms and speak to a GP.

According to the NHS website, symptoms of an overactive thyroid include:

  • nervousness, anxiety and irritability
  • hyperactivity – you may find it hard to stay still and have a lot of nervous energy
  • mood swings
  • difficulty sleeping
  • feeling tired all the time
  • sensitivity to heat
  • muscle weakness
  • diarrhoea
  • needing to pee more often than usual
  • persistent thirst
  • itchiness
  • loss of interest in sex

Common physical signs of an overactive thyroid also include:

  • a swelling in your neck caused by an enlarged thyroid gland (goitre)
  • an irregular and/or unusually fast heart rate (palpitations)
  • twitching or trembling
  • warm skin and excessive sweating
  • red palms of your hands
  • loose nails
  • a raised, itchy rash – known as hives (urticaria)
  • patchy hair loss or thinning
  • weight loss – often despite an increased appetite
  • eye problems, such as redness, dryness or vision problems (see complications of an overactive thyroid)

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