If you have been diagnosed with Graves disease, you may be interested in starting a Graves disease diet that can help you manage your symptoms.
What Is Graves Disease?
Graves disease is the most common form of hyperthyroidism where the thyroid gland is overactive. In this condition, the thyroid gland produces too much hormone; this excess hormone can cause multiple physical symptoms such as:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Weight loss
- Swelling of the thyroid gland or goiter
- Bulging eyes
Once you have been diagnosed with this disease, your physician will start you on a medical therapy like radioactive iodine or medications to decrease the amount of hormone that is produced. In some cases, surgery may be required. In addition to these treatments, you may find that changes in your diet may help with your symptoms as well.
Graves Disease Diet Considerations
There is no specific diet that can cure hyperthyroidism. The goal of a Graves disease diet is to have a positive impact on the disease - not to cure the condition. Some changes that you can make in your diet include removing toxic foods, immune system support, food allergy avoidance, and nutritional supplements.
Removal of Toxic Foods
Some foods may interfere with the function of the thyroid gland; the effect of these foods may be intensified when the gland is hyperactive. One food that may interfere with the thyroid is soy; research has shown that soy products may inhibit the creation of thyroid hormone by blocking iodine absorption. This inhibition could lead to goiter of the gland. Some health care professionals suggest that you should limit your intake of soy if you have thyroid disease.
Other foods that may interfere with iodine absorption include turnips, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, watercress and broccoli. These foods may be more of an issue for people who have low thyroid hormone or hypothyroidism but that can have some influence of high hormone levels too. You can experiment with your intake of these vegetables to see if your symptoms improve.
Eat Foods to Support the Immune System
For some patients, the immune system creates antibodies that attack the thyroid gland; this situation can lead to Graves disease. Some doctors believe that our current diets can increase the risk of autoimmune disorders including Graves; research suggests that foods like grains, dairy products and beans may increase autoimmune problems. These doctors suggest that you eliminate those foods from your diet and place an emphasis on meats, vegetables, fish and fruits. This type of diet is called a Paleolithic diet; you should discuss these dietary changes with your doctor or nutritionist before making them.
Look for Food Allergies
Another possible cause of autoimmune conditions may be food allergies. Foods that cause these allergies can also trigger a response that can lead to an autoimmune attack against different parts of the body including the thyroid. Your health care provider may test you for food allergies so that you can remove these substances from your diet.
Add Nutritional Supplements
Specific supplements may improve certain symptoms associated with Graves disease. Some examples of supplements that may be recommended include:
- Vitamin C: This vitamin is an antioxidant and can support the immune system
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3s such as those that are found in fish oil decrease inflammation and improve immunity. You should speak with your physician before starting omega-3 therapy because they can affect the ability of your blood to clot.
- Probiotics like acidophilus: These can help the immune system as well.
- Multivitamins: Be sure to find a vitamin that contains antioxidants and trace minerals like magnesium, calcium and zinc.
You should discuss all nutritional supplementation with your health practitioner as a precaution.
Good Nutrition Can Help Too
It is important to make sure that you maintain a balanced diet even if you eliminate certain foods due to allergies. A Graves disease diet is not going to magically heal your thyroid; however, lowering the amount of inflammation in your body can only improve your results. Discuss your questions with your physician or nutritionist to make sure that you do not cause other health problems with drastic dietary changes; these health care professionals can help you with your dietary considerations.