Exercise and Nutrition for Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism, commonly caused by Grave’s disease, is a disease that attacks the thyroid gland (located at the lower front of the neck) by the overproduction of thyroid hormones.
What does the thyroid gland do?
The thyroid gland creates thyroid hormones, which are secreted into the blood and then carried to every tissue in the body to keep the brain, heart, muscles and other organs functioning. Thyroid hormones regulate metabolism in animals and humans. The thyroid gland creates thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which play an important role in the way the whole body functions – by making too much, is defined, as hyper.
Thyroid, Metabolism and Weight Loss
There is a complex relationship between thyroid disease, body weight and metabolism. Many patients with an overactive thyroid gland experience weight loss relative to the severity of the over-working thyroid.
Unlike hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism creates an increase in appetite. Whilst the metabolism is working over time, some may gain weight depending on how much the caloric intake increases. In some cases the metabolism turns destructive leading the body to consume tissue and muscles to obtain raw materials to maintain BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate).
There are a number of symptoms of hyperthyroidism that may prevent a patient from enjoying a healthy lifestyle, including experiences of anxiety, rapid heartbeat, hand tremor, excessive sweating, weight loss and sleep problems.
Typical medication to assist in the treatment of hyperthyroidism includes methimazole and beta-blockers. Common side effects of these include muscle, joint or nerve pain (methimazole) and drowsiness/fatigue (beta-blockers). Exercise and a healthy diet can help manage all of these symptoms and improve overall health.
Due to a hyper-metabolic state, there is little to no way of regulating the amount of nutrients ingested and can often lead to unexplained weight loss. Trace minerals such as selenium, iron, zinc, copper and magnesium are important. Selenium converts thyroxine to its active form (T3) needed for glutathione production to help decrease thyroid antibodies (note – those with Hashimoto’s should avoid).
Brazil nuts are the richest dietary source of selenium and are also a good source of magnesium, zinc, calcium, vitamin E and some B vitamins. Chlorophyll will help to boost energy levels and remove heavy metals that may be inhibiting thyroid function.
Make sure to avoid or limit foods, supplements and medication containing iodine (seafood, eggs, iodised salt, milk), too much may cause the thyroid gland to overproduce thyroid hormones. Avoid soy products as they can impact an already over-stimulated thyroid, and avoid alcohol, smoking, and excessive tea, coffee and sodas.
It is important to create a regular exercise routine focusing on engaging the larger muscle groups. Avoid overtraining muscles by involving aerobic exercises (dancing, cycling, swimming, etc.) and resistance training 2-3 times per week with rest and recovery. Resistance bands, body weight exercises and even light gardening are great ways to keep active.
Excessive exercise can play havoc on cortisol which can further escalate thyroid levels and worsen symptoms. Yoga and meditation will assist in coping, increasing calm, improve psychological balance and improve overall health, ease anxiety and insomnia.
The American Thyroid Association (2016) Thyroid and Weight, retrieved from https://www.thyroid.org/wp-content/uploads/pationes/brochures/Thryoid_and_Weight.pdf
Thyromate (January 2016) The Best Natural Supplements for Hyperthyroidism, retrieved https://www.thyromate.com/blog/the-best-natural-supplements-for-hyperthyroidism
Grazie Aleppo; Endocrine Web (July 2017) Hyperthyroidism Overview, retrieved https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/hyperthyroidism/hyperthyroidism-overview-overactive-thyroid
Amy Sutton; Live Strong (September 2017) Exercises for Hyperthyroidism, retrieved https://www.livestrong.com/article/433648-natural-remedies-vitamins-minerals-for-hyperthyroidism