How does inflammation impact thyroid health?
To fully understand how inflammation can impact thyroid health we need to understand how the thyroid works. This process starts with our pituitary gland. It is in charge of maintaining balance. When the levels of our thyroid hormone levels are low it releases TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) into the bloodstream to stimulate the thyroid gland. Once the thyroid gland is stimulated it produces thyroid hormones T4 and T3. The body must convert T4 to the T3 (active form) for our body to properly use it. Inflammation comes in and disrupts this delicate process. This leads to different thyroid conditions like hyperthyroidism ( too much of the thyroid hormone ) and hypothyroidism ( not enough of the thyroid hormone ). Hypothyroidism being the most common.
How does inflammation work, and how, specifically, can it affect your thyroid?
Inflammation can be acute or chronic. Acute inflammation is beneficial as it alerts our body to potential problems or injury. It is a vital part of our immune system, releasing chemicals into the bloodstream to help fight foriegn invaders and signal our body to repair damaged tissue. However chronic inflammation has been linked to several disease types and symptoms. It can trick the body into staying in a repairative state when there is nothing to repair or fight off. As a result the immune system attacks healthy tissue and cells.
There are several ways inflammation can affect the thyroid. Here are a few examples:
-Inflammation can interfere with the neurotransmitters that signal TSH. If TSH is not properly stimulated T4 and T3 can not be made.
-Inflammation inhibits the conversion of T4 to T3. If T4 can not be properly converted to T3, our bodies never receive the active form of the thyroid hormone that is necessary to function.
-Inflammation impedes the transportation of iodine. Our thyroid needs the correct amount of iodine to function at optimal levels.
There is a lot of information to indicate that decreasing inflammation can actually help the thyroid (on top of meds, of course). So how can a patient reduce inflammation?
Treating inflammation is great but the goal should be looking into why our body is in a state of chronic inflammation. Some things that cause chronic inflammation are diet, gut health, stress, environmental toxins, and chronic infection. Here are some tips to combat chronic inflammation:
-Load up on anti-inflammatory food like berries, green leafy vegetables, and fatty fish. Avoid foods like refined carbs and sugar, and fatty fried foods.
-Try to avoid any toxins you could be introducing into your diet on personal hygiene products. Opt to purchase organic and grass fed so you do not have to worry about pesticides, hormones and antibiotics that could have been introduced into your foods. Purchase hygiene products without endocrine disruptors and volatile chemicals.
-Practice good gut health. Cleanse when necessary.
-Manage stress levels
-Exercise, a 20 minute walk a day can make a difference.