Graves disease is a form of hyperthyroidism which occurs as a result of an overactive thyroid. Though the initial diagnosis can be extremely frightening, self empowerment through information and education can be they key to successful management of this autoimmune disease.
First Step: The Basics
Graves disease is believed to be caused by the overproduction of specific hormones in the body. This increased activity creates a unique catch up scenario whereby the body is constantly trying to effectively utilize key essential vitamins and minerals introduced through food. As a result, diet is an extremely important component in regulating this disease. Understanding how foods work together to create an optimal nutritional absorption scenario in your body is an integral factor toward improved overall health.
Step Two: Foods To Avoid
Simply put, since the thyroid hormone is made from iodine atoms, if your thyroid is producing this hormone in overdrive mode, the first thing to avoid is iodine. Removing foods such as iodized salt, seaweed and kelp, shellfish and beef liver, red #3 and vitamins containing iodine, is a fantastic first step as they all have extremely high amounts of iodine.
Some vegetables high in iodine include: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, corn, asparagus and kale. It should also be noted that as iodine can also be found in some dairy products, care should be used when purchasing dairy. Avoid red #3. In addition, avoiding stimulants like caffeine and suppressants like alcohol are also important as allowing your body to work at its peak is your ultimate goal.
Step Three: Where To Tweak
When facing the diagnosis of a disease in which a change of diet is encouraged, it is natural to wonder what things we CAN eat! Fortunately, the diet for Graves disease does not have to mean a life of deprivation and hunger. Quite the contrary, It is simply a matter of food modification…or as I like to think of it…just a simple tweaking!
- Use whole grains instead of refined grains whenever possible.
- Eat plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids (found in nuts and seeds such as flaxseed and walnuts).
- Maintain a high protein diet. When eating meat, make sure it is very lean.
Step Four: Individual Views
Some researchers believe protein to be a key component in stemming some of the symptoms of autoimmune diseases like Graves disease. Dr. Ronald Hoffman for example, believes the challenge with respect to protein comes from the type of protein consumed and has drawn correlations between exacerbations of the disease with certain types of protein, specifically soy. He believes in returning to a Paleolithic diet consisting of meats, fruits and vegetables, omitting dairy, legumes and beans. Other experts believe that Graves disease is often accompanied by an underlying food allergy, often missed due to poor or inconsistent eating habits. These researchers believe in eliminating specific food groups temporarily. Once removed, they can be introduced back into your diet slowly over time. By process of elimination, you are most likely to determine if a food allergy has a contributory effect. Food triggers, as they are often termed, are most commonly dairy products, eggs, wheat, corn, soy, and nightshade vegetables.
Step Four: What NOT To Avoid
Okay, so the list of foods to avoid seems long, and the task seems arduous. Even the experts seem to disagree with respect to foods that are “suspect.”
So, what is a person to do? Simple. Look at all the foods that are “safe”:
- fresh fruits
- dried fruits
- nuts (unsalted)
- nut butters (without salt)
- fresh vegetables (except those previously listed)
- fresh, lean meats (whole cuts are best)
- whole grain products (verify low iodine content)
- grain pastas
- egg whites
- brewed coffees and teas (decaffeinated)
- colas (watch for red #3)
So how about we put these foods to the test!
Let’s start out with some delicious flaxseed pancakes with maple syrup for breakfast, enjoy a fabulous cob salad filled with cucumber and carrot slices, with dried cranberries, and roasted unsalted almonds and a cup of brewed decaffeinated tea, and round out a wonderful day with a piece of lean beef grilled in some sautéed mushrooms and zucchini with a side of sliced grapefruit and pear, rounding out your fabulous meal with a baked apple topped with some raspberry jelly…What a great dietary experience!
Last Step: The First Step…
In actuality, it is all about outlook. Sure the diagnosis of a challenging health condition brings about feelings of fear, doubt and anxiety. But also included in this equation of emotion is your own power that comes with the reality of controlling a new and fantastic dietary path. This path, achieved through the right diet for Graves disease can bring the excitement of new and delicious taste sensations both pleasing to the palate and health. These two components can only soothe your soul creating, a perfect balance.
- Nutrition Almanac By Dunne
- Patient Heal Thyself by Rubin
- Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Balch and Balch
- Blended Medicine by Castleman