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Nutrition advice for thyroid conditions
last updated:
Fri, 3/22/2013 3:40 PM

March is National Nutrition Month, and Methodist Registered Dieticians are answering your questions.

Q: Are there certain foods a person with Graves' Disease should avoid (in relation to their metabolism)?

A: Individuals who have not had their thyroid removed typically require a high-calorie (especially from carbohydrates, i.e., grains, fruit, milk, starchy vegetables, sugar) and high-protein diet. To prevent weakened bones, adequate phosphorus, calcium, and vitamin D should be included in the diet with a multivitamin-mineral (without iodine).

Limit iodine-rich foods like seaweed wraps (nori) on sushi or shellfish/seafood, iodized-salt (meat tenderizer and MSG), E-127 Erythrosine food coloring (Red Dye #3), dairy and milk chocolate, and egg yolks. Keep in mind that some meats (especially poultry) are injected with broth (i.e., salt) to maintain the juiciness of the meat. Processed meats are often sodium rich as well, and the food label will not differentiate between iodized and non-iodized salt ingredients.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine (coffee, tea, cola soft drinks, and chocolate). Raw cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, soybeans, and peanuts may compound the side effects of anti-thyroid medications. Non-iodized salt is permitted.

Q: What diet advice do you have for someone with Hashimoto's Disease?

A: A calorie restriction is often needed to prevent weight gain. Calorie needs are based on age, sex, height, and activity level. Thus, they are specific to the individual. Generally, reduction of 500 calories per day from one’s current intake will result in safe weight loss. Weigh yourself frequently to determine if weight change is true or due to fluid retention/loss. You should monitor your vitamin B12, folic acid, and iron and supplement them if you're deficient. Raw cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, soybeans, and peanuts should be avoided. Avoid dietary supplements, like kelp tablets, unless discussed with your physician first. Iodized salt is permitted.

Please contact a Methodist dietician at the information below for additional information regarding these issues. 

(Answers provided by Allison Kent, MS, RD, LDN, CNSC at Methodist Germantown Hospital.)

Registered Dietitians can provide Medical Nutrition Therapy related to blood pressure, blood sugar, preventive care, gluten free needs and some GI disorders, food allergy, decreased kidney function, weight loss/gain and more.

Most insurances cover the cost of nutrition therapy at the request of your physician. Check with your insurance company to find out if your plan covers classes, and talk to your doctor about providing a written request.

More Information:
Contact Amanda Carmichael, BS, RD, LDN, 901.516.6357
Fax physicians requests: 901.937.3334

Poor Sleep Can Result in Heart Disease
last updated:
Fri, 2/03/2012 10:41 AM

More than 18 million Americans have Sleep Apnea Syndrome*

What is sleep apnea? Sleep apnea is a sleep-related breathing disorder in which a person quits breathing for a minimum of 10 seconds while sleeping. Sleep apnea occurs frequently throughout the sleep cycle.

How do I know if I have sleep apnea? Some of the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea are:

  • Snoring
  • Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
  • Morning Headaches
  • Bedwetting

So what is the connection between heart disease and poor sleep? People with cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure, heart failure, stroke, irregular heartbeat, and diabetes have a high prevalence of sleep apnea. Whether sleep apnea actually causes heart disease is still unclear; however, if you have sleep apnea, the chance that you will develop hypertension in the future increases significantly.

Also, because events that occur while you are sleeping tend to carry over into your daytime or normal “awake” hours, people with moderate to severe sleep apnea often develop high blood pressure.

How does my body react if I have sleep apnea? Your blood pressure rises when you have sleep apnea. Because you stop breathing with sleep apnea, the oxygen levels in your blood often fall below normal levels¬. As a result, your brain sends signals through the nervous system that essentially tell the blood vessels to constrict or "tighten up" in order to increase the flow of oxygen to the vital organs like the heart and the brain. This “tightening” of the blood vessels increases the pressure of the blood flowing through them.

The good news. The good news for patients with heart disease is that with treatment of your sleep apnea, your chances of improving your condition are considerably better. Those who are treated for sleep apnea who also have a heart condition often see significant improvement in the measures of blood pressure, heart failure, and irregular heartbeats.

If you or anyone you know has heart disease, they should discuss the possibility of sleep apnea with their treating physician.

To find out more about disorders that may be impacting your sleep, visit our website at

*According to the National Sleep Foundation.

Heart Disease Prevention
last updated:
Fri, 11/05/2010 10:24 AM

Weight gain and and an inactive lifestyle can influence heart diseases. These also increase the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and increased blood cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of heart disease. Knowing how to maintain or lose weight and also to maintain cardiac (heart) fitness is important.

Tips on Calories:

  1. The formula for losing or gaining weight is generally simple. If you burn more calories than you take in, you'll lose weight because the calories are used up and your body begins burning fat instead. If you take in more calories than you burn, the extra calories are converted to fat and are stored in the body.
  2. Use up at least as many calories as you take in.   
  3. Find out how many calories you should be eating and drinking to maintain your weight. 
  4. Don’t eat more calories than you know you can burn up every day. 
  5. Increase the amount and intensity of your physical activity to match the number of calories you take in. 
  6. Regular physical activity can help you maintain your weight, keep off weight that you lose and help you reach physical and cardiovascular fitness. 
  7. For weight maintenance, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. If you can’t do at least 30 minutes at one time, you can add up 10-minute sessions throughout the day.

Tips on Physical Activity:

  1. Being active brings many benefits for your heart and your health.
  2. Regular exercise improves blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  3. It also reduces risk for diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, depression, and colon and breast cancer
  4. Try to live an active lifestyle: incorporate as much physical movement into your usual daily activities as you can. For example, decide to take the stairs instead of riding the elevator; try not to drive to a nearby shop, and instead try walking to the shop. 
  5. How much activity do you need?  At least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week. For losing weight, 30 to 60 minutes moderate physical activity is required on most days.


Dr. Santhosh K.G. Koshy, DM, FACC, FSCAI is the Director of Interventional Cardiology and Director of UT services at Methodist Healthcare and the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center in Memphis, Tenn. All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and not of their employer. Information provided here is for medical education only. It is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice. Call 888.777.5959 for more information.


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Methodist Healthcare is an integrated health care delivery system, dedicated to the art of healing through our faith-based commitment to minister to the whole person. 1211 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee 38104 • (901) 516-7000