Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that’s located below your larynx or voice box. It’s an endocrine gland that’s responsible for many vital functions, including metabolism. When it is overactive and produces too many thyroid hormones, it creates a hyperthyroid disorder.
It’s a type of thyrotoxicosis because the excess thyroid hormone presents a toxic condition to your body. According to an article published by Nature Reviews Disease Primers, Graves’ disease is an autoimmune condition that’s a common cause of an overactive thyroid. It’s a common but serious condition that needs some treatment.
What Causes Hyperthyroid Disorder?
While Grave’s Disease is a common cause of overactive thyroid, it can also be caused by thyroid nodules. These are usually benign lumps in your thyroid. However, some nodules can be cancerous.
Sometimes, your thyroid becomes inflamed, and it causes it to become overactive. The swollen gland leaks out too many thyroid hormones, which causes an overactive thyroid. Unfortunately, it can soon lead to hypothyroidism, which is an underactive thyroid.
There are three variations of thyroiditis that you can have. The first is subacute thyroiditis, which causes a painfully swollen gland. An article published by Dr. James Hennessey states that this condition can last 3-6 weeks and may be caused by bacteria or viruses.
• Silent Thyroiditis
The second variation is called silent thyroiditis because your thyroid can be swollen, and you have no symptoms. Still, it can lead to severe problems with the gland. According to an article published by the College of Family Physicians of Canada, this variation may be an autoimmune disorder sometimes found in postpartum women. The third type is postpartum thyroiditis, which can occur after a mother has a baby.
Sometimes, you can get too much of a good thing. Without iodine, your thyroid couldn’t manufacture thyroid hormones. But if you get too much of it, you get an overdose of hormones from an overactive thyroid.
Since many of the signs and symptoms of overactive thyroid overlap with other health conditions, your healthcare provider can’t rely on them alone. Usually, a blood test will confirm that your thyroid hormones are too high. In some cases, your healthcare provider may order a thyroid scan to check for enlargement and overactivity.
If left untreated, hyperthyroidism poses many risks to your health, warns an article published by the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases. These may include issues with your heart, muscles, bones, fertility, and menstrual cycle. You can also be at risk during pregnancy for yourself and your unborn child.
Common Signs of Overactive Thyroid
Do you think that your thyroid may be overactive? Some of the signs may be more obvious than others. Here are ten of the most common warning signs you may see:
- Flushed skin and excessive sweating
- Redness in the palms of the hands
- Breaking out in hives (also called urticaria)
- Unexplainable weight loss, regardless of a healthy appetite
- Issues with the eyes, like dryness, redness, and blurred vision
- Thinning hair or unexplained hair loss
- Loose and brittle nails
- Shaking or twitching
- Irregular pulse rate
- An enlarged thyroid gland also called a goiter
According to statistics published by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, about one person in every 100 people in America is diagnosed with this disorder. If you are female, you are 2-10 times more likely to have it, says the article.
Also, the article lists possible risk factors for developing a hyperthyroid disorder. These include a family history of thyroid disease, Type 1 diabetes, adrenal disorders, or consuming too much food that’s high in iodine. You may also be at risk if you were pregnant within the past six months or older than 60.
Healthy Eating Habits for Hyperthyroid Disorder
The classic Greek philosopher Epicurus believed that we are what we eat. If you have an overactive thyroid, there are some foods that you should eat more of and others that you should avoid. Although diet can’t cure overactive thyroid, the minerals in some foods may affect hormone production and make your symptoms more manageable.
• Low-Iodine Foods to Consider
While iodine is a necessary mineral for your health, too much can play a role in an overactive thyroid. Some healthcare professionals recommend that you consume foods low in iodine if your thyroid is overactive. Here are some healthy and delicious foods you can enjoy:
- Fresh or frozen vegetables – canned varieties are laden with salt
- Egg whites
- Salt without iodine
- Herbal tea
- Fresh or dried herbs and spices
- Vegetable oils like olive and canola
- Honey and pure maple syrup
- Fresh fruit, especially citrus fruit
- Alcohol, in moderation
- Lean portions of beef or poultry
- Unsalted nuts and nut butter
Your parents were right when they encouraged you to eat your vegetables. If you have an overactive thyroid, some of your best choices include cruciferous veggies. According to a study published by Nutrition Reviews, these tasty vegetables have compounds that may benefit your condition by reducing iodine in your thyroid.
These vegetables are called cruciferous because their four central petals are usually in the form of a cross. They are also known as brassica veggies. Try to incorporate some of these into your diet:
- Most dark greens, like turnip, mustard, collard, kale, and arugula. Another benefit of dark greens is the beneficial antioxidants they provide.
- Cabbage and Brussels sprouts
- Bok Choy
- Broccoli and Rabe
- Rutabagas and turnips
Although these vegetables are delicious and provide nutrients and fiber, you don’t want to go overboard with them. Brassica vegetables have a high sulfur content. Consuming too much can cause painful bloating and gas.
You may not recognize this mineral, but it’s essential to have it so your body can metabolize thyroid hormones properly. A study published by the National Journal of Endocrinology suggests that consuming foods rich in selenium may benefit certain hyperthyroid disorders.
Many of these nutritious foods are probably in your diet already. If you want more selenium, here are some foods to try:
- Light fish, like tuna and halibut, in moderation.
- Lean portions of beef or low-sodium ham
- Lean portions of poultry
- Brown rice
- Eggs, in moderation
- Cottage Cheese
- Brazil nuts
- Pasta or cereals fortified with selenium.
•Pump Some Iron
You already know that your body needs iron to be healthy, including your thyroid. Did you know that if you have low iron levels, it can link to hyperthyroidism? This was one of the conclusions found in research published by the Journal of Formosan Medical Association. These are some common foods that are rich in iron:
- Beans and lentils
- Sardines, in moderation
- Lean portions of beef, poultry, and pork
- Dark chocolate, in moderation
- Tofu, in moderation
- Garbanzo beans
•Calcium and Vitamin D
One of the unfortunate associations with overactive thyroid is a decrease in bone density, states an article published by the Indian Journal of Medical Research. This condition can lead to brittle bone disease and osteoporosis.
Vitamin D is also a vital nutrient for bone health. However, few foods are high in it. Most of the Vitamin D you need comes from sunlight. Of course, you should be mindful and use sunscreen, and avoid the sun during peak hours.
Boost your calcium intake naturally with these foods. Some are also fortified with Vitamin D:
- Dairy products: milk, cheese, yogurt, in moderation
- Salmon, fresh or canned
- Sardines, preferably canned in water.
- Vegetables like kale, bok choy, and broccoli
- Calcium-fortified soy milk and tofu, in moderation
- Calcium-fortified orange juice, in moderation
Spice Up Your Diet
According to an article published by the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, turmeric may positively affect hyperthyroid disorder. Green chilis can also be beneficial. Not only do these spices make a zesty dish, but they are also anti-inflammatories.
•Foods to Avoid or to Consume in Moderation
It can be a bit tricky when you are finding a balanced diet to benefit your hyperthyroid condition. While some foods may have beneficial vitamins and minerals to minimize your symptoms, the downside is they can also be high in iodine.
These are some foods that you should try to avoid or eat in moderation:
• Foods to Avoid
- Blackstrap molasses or foods that contain it
- Salt with iodine
- Red dye or foods that have it
- Baked goods that include iodine conditioners.
- Caffeine: Coffee, tea, chocolate, energy drinks, cola
•Enjoy in Moderation
- Soy products
- Dairy products
Although hyperthyroidism is a common condition, it can cause serious health consequences if left undiagnosed and untreated. If you suspect that your thyroid may be overactive, talk to your healthcare providers. They can work with you and a registered dietician to find the best hyperthyroid diet for you.