The human body is a well-oiled machine that has a lot of different endocrine glands secreting hormones necessary for the body to maintain balance. One such gland is the thyroid gland. It is located in the lower front throat and is called the butterfly gland because of how it looks.
The gland plays a very vital role and the hormones secreted from the thyroid gland influence many organs in our body. The thyroid gland produces the triiodothyronine T3 and the thyroxine T4 hormones. These hormones help in regulating blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate, metabolism, and how the body reacts to other hormones. An over-active thyroid gland produces more of these hormones. More than what the body can synthesize. This condition is called hyperthyroidism.
How do I know if I have hyperthyroid?
To diagnose if the thyroid is over-secreting its hormones, the amount of iodine collected and distributed by the thyroid gland is measured. A few symptoms can indicate the risk of a hyperthyroid condition.
- Fast heart rate
- Irritability Trembling hands
- Unusual weight loss
- Muscle weakness
- hair loss
- Change in menstrual pattern
- Prominent “stare” of the eyes
- Protrusion of the eyes, with or without double vision (in patients with Graves’ disease)
- Accelerated loss of calcium from bones, which increases the risk of osteoporosis and fractures
- Mood swings
- Swollen thyroid gland (goiter)
- Sensitivity to heat.
If you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms, it would be wise to monitor the gland’s performance at regular time intervals.
Factors that influence the production of thyroid hormones.
An overactive thyroid gland could be the result of a lot of diseases. Other conditions like Grave’s disease, Plummer’s disease, and thyroiditis can cause enlargement or swell in the thyroid gland. Sometimes, overmedication can be the direct cause of the thyroid gland producing excess hormones. Improper diet can be the cause too, sometimes.
Grave’s disease: Grave’s is an autoimmune disease resulting in thyroid enlargement and hyperthyroid. The antibodies in our body affect the thyroid gland and it, in turn, produces too much T3 and T4 thyroid hormones.
Thyroid nodules: This condition is better known as Plummer’s disease. The lumps of tissue formed in the thyroid regions cause the gland to produce hormones at abnormally high rates.
Thyroiditis: An infection that usually attacks the thyroid gland. This causes the gland to swell and leak hormones into the bloodstream.
Excessive Iodine intake may cause hyperthyroidism
Overmedication: Sometimes people receiving an overdose of thyroxine medication can develop hyperthyroidism.
How does a proper, hyperthyroid-friendly diet help?
It is essential to know both what to eat and what not to. Here are a few food sources and minerals that are hyperthyroid friendly.
Cruciferous central – Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts contain compounds that decrease thyroid hormone production. Please make sure that they’re well cooked. The reason Yoda emphasizes the cooking part is because a well-cooked cruciferous diet can also help remove almost 90% of the goitrogens present.
Iron – It’s not just about lowering the secretion. It’s also important that we improve the body’s capacity to synthesize hormones. Iron deficiency impairs the synthesis of thyroid hormones.
Selenium – It’s another essential mineral that helps with thyroid hormone synthesis. Mushrooms, garlic, onion, egg, beef, liver, shellfish, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds are sources rich in selenium.
Here are things that you’ll have to exclude from or reduce in your diet.
Iodine – Iodine is essential for the iodination of tyrosine residues, leading to the formation of thyroid hormones. Consuming iodine in excess can result in complications like hyperthyroidism, nodule formation, and other autoimmune thyroid diseases. Seafood, eggs, dairy, and iodized salt are rich sources. Please reduce intake of iodine if you have an already over-active thyroid gland.
Soy interferes with the iodine uptake. We advise you to reduce the consumption of foods like soy milk, soybean oil, tofu, edamame beans, and soy sauce.
Gluten – Research suggests that there are overlaps between celiac disease and disorders like Grave’s disease. Celiac disease is a condition that causes damage to the small intestine as the result of gluten ingestion. A gluten-free diet not only helps avoid this complication but also improves the absorption of thyroid medications.
Hearsay does more harm than good.
There are a lot of myths that go around, related to hyperthyroidism. One of the very common ones is statements like ‘thyroid symptoms are obvious’ and ‘it’s safer to treat a thyroid disease with iodine or salt rather than taking prescribed medicines’. These are not true. While there are symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism that can manifest physically, testing for TSH and thyroid hormones will alone lead to the proper diagnosis.
About the iodine intake, it is important to know what you’re eating and how it affects your body, especially if you have a chronic condition. So, please take the prescribed medicine, consult with the experienced nutritionists in our team and get yourself a proper diet plan that complements the medications you take. Thyroid conditions if treated right can even bring back your thyroid hormone secretion to the right levels. Otherwise, you might be doing more harm than good.
Stay informed, stay healthy.