While there is no specific diet to prevent or treat thyroid disease, there are certain foods best avoided and others that are best chosen to promote health and avoid inflammation.
While what you eat can matter, it’s more about planning meals and filling your plate with foods that won’t aggravate your Hashimoto’s or Graves’ disease symptoms. In addition to selecting foods wisely, you’ll most likely need a combination of treatments, such as medications and radioactive iodine, as part of your Graves’ disease treatment plan so you can feel your best.
Graves’ disease is actually the most common cause of hyperthyroidism—when your thyroid gland over-produces thyroid hormone. Although Graves’ disease can’t be prevented or treated through diet alone, certain foods may help ease Graves’ disease symptoms. And, keep in mind that everybody is different so that which foods may exacerbate or worsen your symptoms will be a matter of trial and error.
More universal are the foods you should choose most often to help manage the symptoms of Graves’ disease.
Foods to Eat More of If You Have Hashimoto’s or Graves’ Disease:
- Berries: In particular, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries are brimming with antioxidants. Fresh or frozen, these anti-inflammatory foods help to keep your immune system strong. Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder, which means that your immune system attacks healthy tissues in your body. Eating berries can’t prevent Graves’ disease, but they can help protect your overall health. Whenever possible choose organic berries to lessen your exposure to pesticides and fertilizers, which will challenge your immune system. How much you need to eat: 1 or more servings a day.
- Cruciferous Vegetables: Cruciferous vegetables, such as arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, radish, and kale, are part of the goitrogen family of foods. These vegetables may help reduce the amount of thyroid hormone your thyroid gland produces, but you can’t treat Graves’ disease solely by eating more of these vegetables. How much you need to eat: 1 or more servings every day
- Foods Containing Vitamin D: Such as salmon, eggs, and mushrooms can help prevent osteoporosis, a complication that can occur if Graves’ disease goes untreated. But that’s really the tip of the iceberg for vitamin D. This is a mighty nutrient that supports functions assuring a healthy immune system as well as brain and nervous system activities. It also has an important role in regulating insulin levels important in diabetes management and contributes to a cardiovascular health. Many people cannot eat enough to meet your needs for this powerhouse nutrient so your doctor may recommend you take a vitamin D supplement. How much you need to eat: 1 or more servings daily depending upon whether your vitamin D status is within range or too low.
- Protein: Wild-caught fish, Poultry, Plant-based proteins, organic non-GMO sprouted tofu (limit once per week), and raw nuts are quality sources of protein—an essential nutrient that helps build muscle and gives you energy. Because weight loss is a common Graves’ disease symptom, eating plenty of protein can help ensure you maintain muscle mass. Getting sufficient protein may help restore muscle mass once Graves’ disease is treated. How much you need to eat: A serving (2-3 ounces) at every meal
- Fats: Omega-3 fatty acids—essential fatty acids found in salmon and other fish, olive oil, and walnuts—keep your body healthy and strong. Your body doesn’t naturally produce these fatty acids, so you have to get them from food. How much you need to eat: 1 or more servings every day
What to Limit When You Have Graves’ Disease
- Caffeine: Foods that contain caffeine—coffee, soda, tea, and chocolate—can aggravate Graves’ disease symptoms, such as anxiety, nervousness, rapid heart rate, and weight loss. Switch to products with green tea which gives you natural energy and is high in anti-oxidants.
- Food allergens: If you have a food allergy—even if it’s a mild food allergy—you may want to avoid that food to lessen any adverse effects. The effect that some food allergens have on the body can mimic Graves’ disease symptoms, so eliminating those foods may help your doctor figure out what exactly your Graves’ disease symptoms are. Common food allergens include dairy products, wheat-based foods (gluten), genetically modified soy, corn, and nuts.
- Base your meals on vegetables and fresh fruits, then add a little lean protein (chicken, turkey, fish and seafood, beans and legumes, nuts and nut butters), ancient grains, and heart-healthy fats (eg, olive oil).
- Eating or limiting certain foods alone won’t completely treat symptoms of Graves’ disease. But a healthy diet is essential to help you feel your best and reduce risks for many chronic diseases.
- Where’s the beef? Leaving out red meat as a good option for protein was done on purpose. While not specific to Graves’ disease, a high intake of red meat has been linked to an increased risk of nine diseases including reproductive cancers such as breast and prostate, heart disease, diabetes, diseases of the liver and kidneys, stroke, and greater risk of infections. If the appeal is still there…limit your portion to 2.5-3 ounces of grass-fed meat once a week.
- Taking dietary supplements is necessary. Choose products that are organic whole food & plant-based. Choose high-absorption products and particularly liposomal delivery. Stay away from synthetic vitamins that have binders, fillers and ingredients that make you feel nauseous. You should not need to take your supplements with food. Whole Food supplements will never make you feel sick.
- Add products that have anti-inflammatory nutrients like organic CBD Oil, Curcumin, Ginger, Mushroom blends and anti-oxidents.
- Use supplements that help with detoxification. Liposomal Glutatione is essential. Additionally plant-based supplements that detox the major organs including the liver, kidneys, colon and skin.
A final word—because everyone has unique dietary needs, such as high cholesterol, vegetarian, or gluten sensitivity, you should talk to your doctor or ask for a referral to a registered dietitian to get some guidance about creating a meal plan that meets your needs and gives you more of what you like while avoiding the foods that worsen your Graves disease symptoms.