Hyperthyroid Warning

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 03/01/2024

Dietary and lifestyle changes can be a game-changer for individuals with an overactive thyroid. Learn about the various aspects of hyperthyroidism and diet's role in managing this condition.

First, discover the causes and symptoms of hyperthyroidism to help you better comprehend your body's needs. Then, explore the significance of iodine in thyroid activity and why it's critical to watch your overall intake when diagnosed with this ailment. Examine why certain foods like sea kelp should be avoided due to their high iodine content while offering alternative nutrient sources safer for those with hyperthyroid conditions.

Understanding Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid gland produces excessive amounts of thyroid hormones, leading to an overactive metabolism.

This can cause various symptoms, such as weight loss, increased heart rate, and anxiety. To correctly manage hyperthyroidism, it is crucial to understand its causes and effects.

Causes of Hyperthyroidism

The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves' disease, an autoimmune disorder that stimulates the production of thyroid hormones.

Other potential causes include inflammation (thyroiditis), nodules or lumps within the gland, and medications like amiodarone.

Common Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

If you suspect that you might have hyperthyroidism, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment. Blood tests can be taken to ascertain if your thyroid hormone levels are outside the normal range, thus enabling you and your physician to formulate a suitable plan. The following are common symptoms that indicate you may need to see a professional:

Weight loss: An overactive metabolism may lead to unexplained weight loss despite maintaining regular eating habits.

Rapid heartbeat: Increased levels of thyroid hormones can result in a faster-than-normal heart rate (tachycardia).

Anxiety: People with hyperthyroidism often experience nervousness or irritability due to hormonal imbalances.

Tremors: Fine tremors in hands or fingers are another common symptom among those suffering from this condition.

Sleep disturbances: Insomnia or difficulty sleeping through the night may also be experienced by individuals with hyperthyroid issues.

Once diagnosed by a physician, gaining an understanding of the role of iodine in thyroid function is vital in managing hyperthyroidism.

The Role of Iodine in Thyroid Function

When it comes to thyroid function, iodine plays a crucial role. This essential element is required to produce thyroid hormones that regulate metabolism and overall body functioning.

However, when dealing with hyperthyroidism, it's essential to be cautious about iodine intake, as excessive amounts can exacerbate the issue by further stimulating hormone production from an already overactive gland.

Importance of Iodine for Normal Thyroid Function

Iodine is necessary for our bodies to produce two vital hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones regulate various processes such as growth, development, energy levels, and temperature regulation.

Without sufficient iodine intake through diet or supplementation, the body cannot produce adequate amounts of these hormones, leading to potential health issues like hypothyroidism or the formation of a goiter.

Why Sea Kelp Should Be Avoided

Sea kelp is a type of seaweed that’s naturally rich in iodine, and many people use it as a supplement or ingredient in their diet.

However, for individuals diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, consuming sea kelp can worsen their condition due to its high iodine content, which stimulates hormone production even more.

Benefits and Risks of Sea Kelp

While sea kelp offers various health benefits, such as being an excellent source of vitamins and minerals like vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, and iron, it also contains significant amounts of iodine. 

Some sea kelp supplements can provide over 2000% of the recommended daily intake for this essential nutrient.

This makes it potentially dangerous for those with an overactive thyroid gland since excessive iodine intake may further increase thyroid hormone levels.

Purified Bile Salts and Their Effects on Hyperthyroidism

Purified bile salts are often used as supplements for individuals experiencing gallbladder issues or those following ketogenic diets. However, they should be avoided by those suffering from hyperthyroidism.

Bile salts are produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. They play a crucial role in breaking down fats during digestion, allowing them to be absorbed into the bloodstream more efficiently.

When someone experiences problems with their gallbladder or follows a high-fat diet like keto, supplemental purified bile salts such as ox bile can help support proper fat digestion and absorption.

However, since purified bile salts aid in fat breakdown and absorption, they might increase metabolic activity in people with hyperthyroidism. This could exacerbate weight loss, anxiety, and heart palpitations.

Although purified bile salts may benefit those experiencing gallbladder problems or on a keto diet, people with hyperthyroidism should use them cautiously. Always speak to a medical professional before significantly changing your supplement routine or diet plan.

Dietary Approaches to Manage Hyperthyroidism

Proper nutrition plays a significant role in managing hyperthyroidism, so consuming plenty of healthy fats to support metabolic pathways and hormone production is key. Individuals with hyperthyroidism are prone to weight loss, and consuming fats can support healthy weight and overall well-being.

Consuming various colorful vegetables ensures you get the necessary vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber for optimal health. Some examples include leafy greens like spinach or kale and cruciferous veggies like broccoli or cauliflower.

In addition, add nuts like almonds or walnuts and seeds such as chia or flaxseed to your diet for an extra boost of healthy fats, which may benefit thyroid hormone production.

Hyperthyroidism Diet Tips

While there is no specific diet for hyperthyroidism, certain dietary changes can help manage symptoms and improve overall health. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Low-iodine diet: Consuming a low-iodine diet can help reduce thyroid hormone production. Foods to avoid include iodized salt, seafood, dairy products, and processed foods. Instead, opt for non-iodized salt and fresh fruits and vegetables.

  • Foods rich in nutrients: Eating a balanced diet with foods rich in nutrients like vitamin D, calcium, and selenium can help support thyroid health. Foods include fatty fish, leafy greens, nuts, and seeds.

  • Avoid food allergies: Some people with hyperthyroidism may have food allergies that can exacerbate symptoms. Allergy testing can help identify foods that can aggravate symptoms.


Hyperthyroidism can be challenging to manage, but it is possible to lead a healthy life with the proper diet.

It's essential to avoid excessive intake of iodine, such as from sea kelp or iodized salt, and incorporate foods that support optimal thyroid function. And of course, always consult a physician before making any changes to your dietary or supplement routine.


1. What is the best diet to lose weight with hyperthyroidism?

The best diet for losing weight with hyperthyroidism involves a balanced nutritional plan focusing on whole foods, healthy fats, and plenty of green leafy vegetables.

Avoiding excessive iodine intake by limiting high-iodine foods like sea kelp and iodized salt is essential. 

2. How can I improve my hyperthyroidism?

To improve your hyperthyroid condition, work closely with your healthcare provider to develop an appropriate treatment plan.

This may include medication or other therapies alongside dietary changes such as reducing iodine-rich foods and increasing consumption of selenium, zinc, and vitamin D-rich sources.

3. How can I improve my hyperthyroidism naturally?

Natural ways to support thyroid health include maintaining a diet low in iodine-rich foods while focusing on selenium, zinc, and vitamin D-rich food sources.

Incorporating stress-reduction techniques like deep breathing techniques, walking in nature, gardening, and regular exercise can also help alleviate some symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism. 

4. What foods should people with hyperthyroidism avoid?

Individuals diagnosed with hyperthyroidism should avoid foods high in iodine content, such as seaweed (e.g., kelp), shellfish, fish sauce, soy products (in large amounts), dairy products from cows given supplemental iodine feed additives, or supplements containing high levels of iodine.

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