A hyperthyroid diet and exercise plan can improve your symptoms of hyperthyroidism. A hyper-functioning thyroid needs medical management, but adding healthy food choices and an active lifestyle to that can result in better outcomes.
There are various causes associated with the hyperactivity of the butterfly-shaped gland located just below Adam’s apple in the neck. One of the most common causes is Grave’s disease.
An overactive thyroid gland produces excess thyroid hormones – T3 and T4. And they are responsible for palpitations, weight loss, jitters, diarrhea, and excessive hunger and sweating.
Some foods and exercises help control these symptoms and have amazing effects on the overall well-being of hyperthyroid patients. Stick around to know the best diet and exercise tips we have in store for you.
Table of Content
Effects of Diet on Thyroid-gland
- Body metabolic rate regulation
- Thermal regulation
- Growth and development
- Heart functioning
- Mineral homeostasis and bone density
The thyroid gland relies on specific nutrients and minerals for its functioning. Any imbalances caused by these nutrients and minerals can drastically affect the thyroid gland, leading to an overactive or underactive thyroid.
Hyperthyroid Diet and Exercise: 5 Best Foods
Along with medication and lifestyle changes, a few foods can be handy to keep your hyperactive thyroid under control. Lets’s take a look at those.
Foods low in iodine
Iodine is the building block of both T3 and T4 thyroid hormones. Most of the iodine in our body is sourced from iodized table salt. Lower iodine intake means reduced production of thyroid hormones and enhanced hyperthyroidism.
Foods that are low in iodine include:
- Iodide-free salt
- Egg whites
- Fresh fruit (1 banana/day)
- Fresh vegetables
- Unsalted peanut butter
Foods high in Calcium and vitamin D
In a hyperthyroid state, excess thyroid hormones cause uncontrolled bone resorption and decreased bone mineral density. This can lead to osteoporosis and an increased risk of fractures.
Both calcium and vitamin D plays a vital role in bone formation and health. Vitamin D increases the absorption of calcium from the intestines. Dairy sources of calcium are usually avoided due to iodine content.
Non- dairy foods high in calcium and vitamin D include:
- Fortified juices
It is proven that iron deficiency impairs thyroid metabolism. So, here is a list of iron-containing foods to keep hyperthyroidism in check:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Dried fruits
- Iron-fortified cereals
- Liver – meat
Foods high in Protein and Unsaturated Fats
Hyperthyroidism is a state of a high metabolism that needs an ample supply of proteins and fats. This is to ensure there is no unnecessary breakdown of body mass, helping in weight management.
Foods high in protein and unsaturated fats include:
- Lean meat – chicken
- Freshwater fish
Studies have shown that deficiency of the element selenium can cause hyperthyroidism. So, including it in your diet can reduce the risk of worsening symptoms.
Foods that contain ample selenium include:
- Sunflower seeds
- Brazil nuts
- Brown rice
Some vegetables, nuts, and grains tend to act as goitrogens – substances that reduce the uptake of iodine and the production of thyroid hormones. These are beneficial in hyperthyroidism but are not recommended in hypothyroidism due to worsening of symptoms.
Goitrogenic cruciferous vegetables to include:
- Brussels sprouts
Foods to Avoid in Hyperthyroidism
Although many vegetables and foods help manage hyperthyroidism, a few can worsen the symptoms and cause more harm than any benefits.
Avoid the following foods in hyperthyroidism:
- Iodine-containing foods (Iodized salt, egg yolks, seafood, dairy products, etc.)
- Caffeine-containing foods and beverages (chocolate, coffee)
- Gluten-containing foods – celiac disease is a risk factor for Graves disease
- Soy products – interferes with radioactive iodine uptake during treatment of hyperthyroidism
Effects of Exercise on Thyroid-gland
If you think the only diet will magically help you with hyperthyroidism, then I am sorry. Diet and exercise in hyperthyroidism go hand in hand. I know you’re already discouraged by the word ‘exercise.’
A regular hyperthyroid diet and exercise, along with symptoms like anxiety, palpitations, and tremors, are very challenging. But, at the same time, it is very satisfying. Although incorporating exercise into your schedule does not treat the root cause of hyperthyroidism, it surely can alleviate some of these symptoms.
CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week for an adult. It works fine even if it is staggered into 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week. There are many options to obtain optimum physical activity gradually.
Before you start a new physical activity, it is essential to discuss your present condition, management options, and other factors with your physician and then proceed.
5 Best Exercises for Hyperthyroidism
You can keep hyperthyroidism under control with a few exercises. However, don’t ignore the thyroid medications if prescribed by your doctor.
These are rhythmic, sustainable, and moderate-intensity exercises. These burn a few unwanted calories and increase HDL – the good fat – in the body. Aerobic exercise is very versatile, including:
Resistance makes you put more force into performing. It is proven that resistance training in hyperthyroidism promotes the recovery of skeletal muscle function and muscle mass improvement.
There are several forms of resistance training like:
- Own body weight against gravity (Squats, lunges, planks, etc.)
- Weight lifting
- Resistance bands
These are exercises that target your core body and aid in gaining muscle and bone mass. Some of these exercises may overlap with resistance training.
Strength training exercises include:
- Overhead press
- Chest press
These are specially curated exercises that improve flexibility and posture and strengthen the core. It might sound tedious and fancy but trust the process. These can easily be done without gears, just on a mat too.
Some beginner Pilates exercises include:
- Single-leg circles
- The 100
Doing yoga every day is not only helpful for the body but also for the mind. Regardless of other exercise regimens followed, try to incorporate a few yoga asanas daily.
Here are a few poses that claim to be beneficial in hyperthyroidism:
- Sarvangasana – Shoulder stand pose
- Halasana – Plough pose
- Matsyasana – Fish pose
- Surya namaskar
Exercises to Avoid During Hyperthyroidism
Since hyperthyroidism can lead to severe consequences, you should avoid your symptoms any hyperthyroid diet and exercise that causes discomfort and aggravates you.
Overexertion is highly discouraged. I know there are times we all feel invincible. Even if you think you have all the willpower in the world to keep going, it is best to draw a line when your body disagrees.
Always start your fitness regime with easy physical activities and then slowly ease into the moderate and advanced ones based on your comfort. If you are new to exercise, take time to learn the form before you injure yourself.
Some advanced level exercises to avoid for beginners include:
- HIIT – High-intensity interval training – short bursts of high-intensity exercise alternating with a low-intensity exercise allowing recovery. This can cause severe fluctuations in heart rate, palpitations and worsen the symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
- Advanced yoga postures – like the crane, crow, monkey and wheel poses, etc.-can result in accidents.
- Heavy weight lifting – trying to lift weights beyond capability can cause severe injuries.
What are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism?
The range of symptoms can vary from person to person based on the severity and cause of hyperthyroidism. There are some common signs and symptoms that include:
- Palpitations – the feeling of one’s heartbeat
- Jitters – unintentional trembling and feeling nervous
- Moody feeling
- Easy fatigability – feeling tired even at rest or after simple tasks
- Low tolerance to heat and warmth
- Excessive sweating
- Increased appetite
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please visit your doctor to assess your health. Neglecting them now can later have serious consequences.
What tests are done for hyperthyroidism?
Your doctor will first take a comprehensive medical history and perform a physical examination.
Depending on that, you might be asked to get a few diagnostic tests and procedures done. These tests are ordered to rule in and out thyroid-related conditions like hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Initial laboratory test
Thyroid panel – this is to assess the levels of TSH and free T3 and T4 hormones in your blood. This requires a blood sample and laboratory testing.
Further laboratory tests
ESR – to check for inflammatory processes like thyroiditis
Anti-thyroid antibodies – to check if the cause is immune-mediated, like in Grave’s disease.
Usually, these are done to assess the thyroid, look for cysts and nodules, and classify them into benign and malignant tumors.
- Ultrasound of the thyroid
- Computerized tomography (CT) – the best modality
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Nuclear medicine scanning – also known as a thyroid scan – to assess the functionality of the nodules using radioactive iodine
What are the common medicines used for hyperthyroidism?
There are many causes of hyperthyroidism. Your doctor will diagnose your condition and prescribe accordingly. The commonly prescribed Anti-thyroid medicines include:
Other modalities of treatment include:
- Radiotherapy – radioactive iodine
- Surgery – lobectomy, subtotal thyroidectomy, and total thyroidectomy depending on the condition
Do not self-medicate without proper medical consultation. Misusing these medications can cause harm.
Is hyperthyroidism curable with proper diet and exercise?
No. Hyperthyroidism is a medical condition that requires proper treatment, including medicines, procedures, or surgery in some cases.
Hyperthyroid diet and exercise can only help in reducing your symptoms. If you think you have hyperthyroidism seek medical advice instead of searching for miracle cures.
What are the best foods to get rid of hyperthyroidism?
There is no specific diet regime to get rid of hyperthyroidism. But, there are some foods proven to ease the symptoms. These foods are low in iodine and high in calcium, vitamin D, iron, protein, and unsaturated fats.
Best foods for hyperthyroidism include:
- Non-iodized salt
- Cruciferous vegetables (radish, cabbage, broccoli, etc.)
- Green leafy vegetables
- Selenium-rich foods (chicken, brazil nuts, etc.)
Can I discontinue my medicines for hyperthyroidism if I follow a hyperthyroid diet?
No! Do not discontinue the medicines prescribed by your doctor. A healthy diet is not the definitive treatment of hyperthyroidism. It can only help with your overall well-being but not cure your condition.
Is it okay to exercise with hyperthyroidism?
The answer to this can be yes and no, depending on your physician’s advice after evaluating your condition. If allowed, you can exercise with moderate intensity regular only until you are comfortable.
Discontinue exercise if you experience symptoms like palpitation, increased heart rate, anxiety, fatigue, and unnecessary weight loss.
Hyperthyroidism is a medical condition that needs proper treatment based on your doctor’s advice. A hyperthyroid diet and exercise can only be an add-on advantage in managing your symptoms.
So, if you want to see positive changes, discuss your diet and exercise plans with your physician to jump right into a healthier life.