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Dietary Advice for Someone with Thyroid Disease

Dietary Advice for Someone with Thyroid Disease
  • PublishedDecember 12, 2022

What Are The Functions Of The Thyroid Hormone?

The thyroid hormone is an energy hormone. When you exercise and are active, your thyroid levels go up. When you rest, it goes down. It is important to understand that your thyroid level fluctuates according to your condition. When you do a thyroid function test, you are measuring your thyroid level at that point in time. If you are unwell, stressed or if you have an illness, you may have an abnormal thyroid function and that does not mean your thyroid is diseased. 

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Thyroid Disease

An underactive thyroid means that your metabolism is lower. In other words, you are tired and feel fatigued. You can also get a bit of swelling around the eyes, hair loss or abnormal periods for ladies. If you have an overactive thyroid, your metabolism is high. You would experience a fast heart rate, tremors and increased sweating. You would also feel generally unwell. 

What Are The Weight Changes That Can Occur In Thyroid Disease?

Weight changes can potentially happen in thyroid disease. Commonly, if your thyroid is underactive, you tend to gain weight. If you have an overactive thyroid, you tend to lose weight. But that is not always the most accurate. You would be surprised to know that in some cases, the opposite might happen. 

What Are The Relationships Between Thyroid Diseases And Other Metabolic Diseases Such As Diabetes?

Any kind of thyroid disease is a metabolic problem. This means that your body cannot use energy properly. If you have an underactive thyroid, you would tend to use too little energy. In contrast, if you have an overactive thyroid, there is too much energy burnt up. Can this lead to diabetes? It certainly can. This is because diabetes is a condition where there is a problem with your sugar metabolism while thyroid disease is a problem with energy. Therefore, it is not surprising that if you have a problem with energy metabolism, you can have diabetes as well since sugar is a form of energy. 

Moreover, both thyroid disease and diabetes are caused by metabolic problems. Diabetes is an inability to use sugar and thyroid is an inability to use energy properly.  If you have an overactive thyroid, you tend to have a higher metabolism. If you have an underactive thyroid, you tend to have a lower metabolism. There is certainly an association between thyroid disease and diabetes. Therefore, it is important to control your thyroid disease, so your blood sugars will automatically improve.

How Are Thyroid Diseases Being Treated?

When you have an underactive thyroid, the simple treatment is to replace it. Your doctor would give you a medication called thyroxine as a replacement. It is important to know the correct amount of thyroxine to take. The amount can also vary from circumstance to circumstance. If you are doing more activity, if you are overweight, or if you have lost some weight, the dose of your thyroxine can change. 

If you have an overactive thyroid, there are more treatment options because your condition can be more complicated. The initial treatment option is to induce remission. In other words, you would initially be started on oral therapy. The aim of oral therapy is to get you to have a normal thyroid and stop treatment. Unfortunately, this does not work all the time. In certain circumstances, you might need to consider surgical options. Your doctor would have to operate and remove your thyroid gland. An alternative would be to radiate your thyroid gland by giving radiation to treat the underlying condition.

Is There Any Dietary Advice If I Am Suffering From Thyroid Disease?

  • Iodine and Thyroid Disease

There are many people who talk about iodine and thyroid disease. The principle is that iodine is used by the thyroid gland to produce thyroxine. If you have an overactive thyroid and you over-consume iodine, then your body will tend to produce more thyroid hormones, which is clearly a problem. If you are on medication, this will hopefully help and you can still have some iodine products such as seafood. But do be careful not to consume too much. If you have an underactive thyroid, consumption of iodine or not does affect you very much. 

  • Dietary Effects on Immune System 

The other principle of thyroid disease and diet is that many people believe that their diet affects their antibodies and immune system. To a certain extent, this is probably true. Most thyroid conditions are autoimmune diseases. In other words, your body attacks your own thyroid glands. Many people have tried different diets and claim that a certain diet would reduce their antibodies and therefore cause less thyroid inflammation. However, the data to support this claim is very limited. 

Can Patients With An Overactive Thyroid Drink Coffee?

There are many people with overactive thyroids that are concerned about the amount of coffee that they drink. This is because coffee causes palpitations. It makes the heart go a bit faster. If you have an overactive thyroid, one of the symptoms of a higher metabolism is a fast heart rate. So if you start to drink more coffee and you have thyroid disease, you may notice that your heart goes a bit faster. Is that a problem? Well, not really. It is important first to control your thyroid condition. Moderate coffee consumption is not an issue, especially after a while, your thyroid condition is getting better, and you can certainly still consume coffee. 

Written By
Cherine

Cherine is a registered pharmacist with the Singapore Pharmacy Council (SPC). With experience in hospital pharmacy, retail pharmacy and private sectors, Cherine carries with her a wealth of healthcare and medical expertise. In her free time, she also takes part in many fitness and exercise programmes.