Graves’ disease and nutrition recommendations

What is Graves’ disease and what are some nutrition recommendations to improve your health?

Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease. What happens to your body when you have this disease is that your immune system produces antibodies that stimulate the thyroid gland, making it produce more thyroid hormones than what your body needs. In more than 70 percent of cases, Graves’ disease is the main cause of Hyperthyroidism according to the National Institute of Health. Hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid disease, means your thyroid gland makes and releases too much thyroid hormone, affecting your metabolism.

Symptoms

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the most common symptoms are:

  • nervousness and irritability
  • fatigue or muscle weakness
  • heat intolerance
  • trouble sleeping
  • hand tremors
  • rapid and irregular heartbeat
  • frequent bowel movements or diarrhea
  • weight loss
  • goiter (enlarged thyroid that may cause the neck to look swollen)
  • swollen, reddened, and bulging eyes
Nutrition Recommendations

There are no specific nutrition recommendations for Graves’ disease but there are healthier options we can follow to improve our health: 

  1. Increase the intake of antioxidants: since this disease is an autoimmune disease, antioxidants help keep your immune system strong. Some example are: blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, tomatoes and bell peppers.
  2. Increase the amount of calcium in your diet: Graves’ disease can cause bone loss that can lead to other complications such as osteoporosis. Obtain calcium from dairy products, such as low fat milk, low fat cheese, low fat and no added sugar yogurt, fortified foods, like, orange juice, soy milk, whole grains cereal and bread. Another source of calcium is green leafy vegetables, such as, spinach, okra, collards and turnip greens.
  3. Protein sources are going to be very important for strength and muscle mass restoration when you have Graves’ disease. Choose protein with low fat content, for example, fish, salmon, chicken without the skin, eggs, turkey, mushrooms and beans.
  4. Avoid refined foods, solid fats and foods with added sugars since those have less nutritional value, for instance, white bread, pastas, sugar, butter and fried food. Choose whole grains, baked or broiled foods, margarine, canola oil in spray and olive oil.
  5. The University of Maryland Medical Center, recommends avoiding caffeine, such as tea, coffee, chocolate and soft drinks. Caffeine could aggravate symptoms like anxiety and rapid heart rate.

You should always check with your health care provider before following any health recommendation.  If you would like to learn more about ways to maintain good health, visit Michigan State University Extension. Michigan State University Extension offers various educational programs for adults, families, and children that focus on lifestyle changes to promote healthy eating. For more health and nutrition tips, visit Michigan State University Extension.

Supportive Research

For more information about this disease visit the following websites:

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