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Nutritional Support for Graves Disease and Hyperthyroidism




Did you know that up to 60% of cases of Graves' Disease and hyperthyroidism go undiagnosed? Or that women are 5 to 8 times more likely to have a thyroid condition? Knowing these facts, it is shocking that so many of us are still unclear about these common issues. As a soon-to-be dietitian who was recently diagnosed with Graves' Disease and hyperthyroidism, I delved into the research to help educate individuals on what these conditions are and how functional medicine and allopathic medicine approaches can help.





First, what is Graves' Disease and how is it different from hyperthyroidism? Graves' Disease is an autoimmune condition that leads to hyperthyroidism, where the thyroid gland produces an excess of hormones. This can result in symptoms such as weight loss, rapid heartbeat, sweating, and anxiety. In many cases, Graves' Disease goes undetected because symptoms may be attributed to other causes or overlooked. Your thyroid gland sits in the neck and is responsible for many bodily functions such as metabolism, digestion, heart, and muscle function to name a few.


When an individual has hyperthyroidism, their T3 and T4 levels will typically come back high on a blood test, while their TSH levels will typically come back low. The most common symptoms of Graves' Disease and hyperthyroidism include weight loss, rapid heartbeat, sweating, anxiety, fatigue, irregular menstrual cycles, and heat sensitivity. It is important to note that many of these symptoms can also be indicative of other issues within the body and that your doctor will best help you diagnose any symptoms.



When I received the news that I had Graves' Disease and hyperthyroidism, I felt a mix of emotions, but also a sense of relief because I finally had an answer for why I had been feeling so "off" for a long time. The most common treatment for hyperthyroidism is medication to reduce the production of thyroid hormones. In addition to medication, dietary and lifestyle changes can also play a role in managing symptoms and supporting overall health.


While research on the specific effects of diet and supplementation for Graves' Disease and hyperthyroidism is limited, there have been promising studies suggesting that certain dietary approaches may help manage symptoms. An anti-inflammatory diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, and healthy fats, may help reduce inflammation and support overall well-being. Additionally, certain nutrients such as selenium, zinc, Vitamin D, and iron may be beneficial for thyroid health and immune function.




The final point I want to emphasize is the importance of advocating for your health. With many cases of Graves' Disease and hyperthyroidism going undiagnosed, it is essential to communicate any symptoms, concerns, or desires to your healthcare team. Many tests may be covered by insurance or have a low out-of-pocket cost, providing you with valuable information about your health and well-being. At the end of the day, we are the stewards of our bodies, and it is our responsibility to prioritize and support our health.


References

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (n.d.). Hyperthyroidism (Overactive Thyroid). https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/hyperthyroidism


American Thyroid Association. (n.d.). Graves' Disease.

Institute for Functional Medicine. (2017). Clinical strategies for treating hypothyroidism.


Harvard Health Publishing. (2014). Should you be taking a supplement?


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