Effectively Managing Type 1 Diabetes And Thyroid Disease
If you are struggling to manage both thyroid disease and type 1 diabetes, or if you want to learn more about managing these conditions early on in your diagnosis, it is crucial to stay informed about the way these conditions can affect you.
Up to one-third of people living with type 1 diabetes develop thyroid disease. Researchers have paid significant attention to understanding the link and proposing effective treatments for managing both conditions.1
In this article, we have summarised the most up-to-date research about the connection between type 1 diabetes and thyroid disease. We have suggested several lifestyle tips that may help you manage both conditions.
What Is Thyroid Disease And How Does It Affect The Body?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland which plays a vital role to produce specific chemical messengers, called hormones, that control how fast your body uses energy.
Thyroid disease, also known as thyroid dysfunction, is a term used to refer to a group of conditions that negatively affect how the thyroid functions, which, in turn, affects the entire body.
Some types of thyroid dysfunction are caused by autoimmune conditions. In autoimmune conditions, the immune system mistakes healthy cells and organs as dangerous. When this happens, the immune system attacks and damages thyroid cells and the thyroid does not function as it should.
The most common thyroid disorders include:
- Hyperthyroidism – caused by conditions that lead the thyroid to make more hormones than your body needs.
- Hypothyroidism – caused by conditions that lead the thyroid to make fewer hormones than the body needs.
- Goitre – enlargement of the thyroid gland.
- Thyroid cancer.
- Thyroid nodules – lumps in the thyroid gland.
- Thyroiditis – swelling of the thyroid gland.
In general, conditions that affect your thyroid will affect your energy levels, mood, and metabolism, which may also affect your emotional wellbeing.
The specific effects thyroid disease has on the body depends on which type of thyroid disease affects you. For example, people living with hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) lose weight unintentionally, have trouble sleeping, and experience anxiety and irritability.
In comparison, people living with hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) may feel tired, gain weight unintentionally, or experience forgetfulness.
What Is The Link Between Type 1 Diabetes And Thyroid Disease?
Having one autoimmune disease makes it more likely to develop another autoimmune disease, so living with type 1 diabetes may increase your risk of developing thyroid disease and vice versa.1
However, thyroid disease and type 1 diabetes have a closer connection than some other autoimmune diseases because they affect parts of the body that produce hormones involved in how your body uses energy.2,3
Here Is What You Need To Know If You Are A Person Is Living With Both Type 1 Diabetes And Thyroid Dysfunction: 1
- Between 17% and 30% of adults living with type 1 diabetes are also affected by autoimmune thyroid dysfunction.
- When a person living with type 1 diabetes later develops thyroid dysfunction, glucose levels may be more of a challenge to manage until the correct thyroid medication has been established.
- Insulin treatment should be adjusted in people living with type 1 diabetes after they have developed thyroid dysfunction.
- Diabetes healthcare teams should re-evaluate medication in a person living with type 1 diabetes who has recently been diagnosed with thyroid dysfunction.
- After thyroid dysfunction is under control, methods to control high blood glucose should be re-evaluated.
Lifestyle Tips For Managing Thyroid Disease And Type 1 Diabetes
It is vital for you to know that, even though managing type 1 diabetes and thyroid disease can be challenging, there are lifestyle choices you can make that could help you manage both conditions.
- Avoid processed foods, food high in refined sugar, and foods rich in saturated fat.
- Eat whole-grain bread and rice.
- Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables daily.
If you have an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), talk to your diabetes healthcare team about:
- Eating foods that are fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
- Avoiding foods rich in iodine, like seafood, dairy products, seaweed, whole eggs, and iodized salt.
If you have an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), talk to your diabetes healthcare team about:
- Eating more foods rich in iodine, zinc, and selenium can help maintain proper thyroid function. Some of these foods include seafood, dairy, seaweed, and whole eggs.
- Limiting your consumption of foods with soy and foods that disrupt the production of thyroid hormones by interfering with iodine uptake such as brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.
Make exercise part of your weekly routine. This can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels and healthy thyroid hormones (TSH, T3, fT3, T4, fT4).
Have your diabetes healthcare team re-evaluate your medication regularly. Depending on your insulin and thyroid hormone levels and blood sugar levels, your team may need to adjust your medication.
Remember that lifestyle management solutions may change depending on the type of thyroid disorder affecting you. Follow your medication regimen closely and report to your diabetes healthcare team if you notice any changes in your symptoms.
Managing type 1 diabetes with thyroid dysfunction can be a challenge. By working actively with your diabetes healthcare team to regularly evaluate your medication regiment and setting up a diet and exercise plan that makes sense for your lifestyle, it can help you to manage both type 1 diabetes and the specific thyroid disorder you are facing so you can have a great quality of life.
- Biondi B, Kahaly G, Robertson R. Thyroid Dysfunction And Diabetes Mellitus: Two Closely Associated Disorders. Endocr Rev. 2019;40(3):789-824.
- Li L, Liu S, Yu J. Autoimmune Thyroid Disease And Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus: Same Pathogenesis; New Perspective? Ther Adv Endocrinol Metab. 2020;11: 1-19.
- Nishi M. Diabetes Mellitus And Thyroid Diseases. Diabetol Int. 2018;9(2):108-112.
- British Thyroid Foundation. Thyroid And Diet Factsheet. https://www.btf-thyroid.org. 2020. Available At: https://www.btf-thyroid.org/thyroid-and-diet-factsheet. (Accessed December 2020).
- Altaye K, Mondal S, Legesse K, Abdulkedir M. Effects Of Aerobic Exercise On Thyroid Hormonal Change Responses Among Adolescents With Intellectual Disabilities. BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2019;5(1):1-4.