How Inflammation Is Flaring Your Thyroid Symptoms
If you have a thyroid condition such as Hashimoto’s or Grave’s disease, you know that the smallest thing can trigger a flare-up. A poor night of sleep might lead to a day of feeling down or a tiny crumb of gluten could cause brain fog for days. Sometimes, you don’t even know what set it off!
But what you might not know is that there is a root problem that can lead to symptoms flaring up. You probably don’t even know it’s happening because there are often no direct signs of this issue. But inflammation is often to blame when your symptoms spike.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is a physical reaction in the body that defends us from things that irritate and harm the body. The process of inflammation is the start of a healing cascade. It increases blood flow to the area to bring more nutrients and oxygen, and it attracts white blood cells to clean up the mess.
But when inflammation becomes chronic, problems start to arrive. Instead of protecting the body, it starts to damage the body and deplete it of vital nutrients. Unchecked chronic inflammation can lead to chronic health conditions and long-term health concerns.
Because inflammation is a general response, all sorts of factors can trigger it. But it also means you can experience symptoms throughout the body that are related to inflammation. For example, inflammation might:
Zap your energy levels
Cloud your brain (the dreaded brain fog!)
Induce symptoms of anxiety and/or depression
Cause aches and pains throughout the body
Upset your gut
Affect your fertility
Stall weight loss efforts
Make you more vulnerable to illness
How does inflammation affect the thyroid?
The thyroid is particularly vulnerable to inflammation. The effects of inflammation can be seen both directly and indirectly. For example, inflammation plays a significant role in poor gut health and autoimmunity – two common contributors to thyroid disease.
Thyroid disease itself causes inflammation – the term ‘thyroiditis’ means inflammation of the thyroid. Inflammation also plays a role in thyroid cancer.
Inflammation is often behind the triggers we commonly see with thyroid conditions. Poor sleep, high stress, dietary triggers like gluten and environmental factors all lead to inflammation in the body.
So if you want to get a handle on your flare-ups, tackling inflammation is a must.
How to cool down inflammation naturally
So how can you calm down your inflammatory response and reduce your chances of a flare-up? Inflammation is a complex process, but there are some simple steps you can take from the comfort of your own home.
Boost up your colour intake
No, I don’t mean eat more Skittles (sorry!) To combat inflammation, you want to incorporate plenty of colourful plant foods. Plant foods are packed full of nutrients and antioxidants that halt the process of inflammation.
When it comes to colours, the more the better. Different colours are indicators of different types of antioxidants.
The goal is to eat a rainbow every day – start with at least 4 different coloured plant foods per day. For example, you might have some blueberries with breakfast, some carrot and spinach in your lunch, then some sautéed mushrooms as a side for dinner.
Ditch the gluten (and any other food intolerances)
Gluten is a major issue when it comes to thyroid problems thanks to molecular mimicry. Put simply, a protein in gluten looks almost identical to a protein in a thyroid cell.
In the case of autoimmunity, eating gluten causes your immune system to go on high alert and attack the thyroid gland. This causes, you guessed it, inflammation.
However, any food intolerance can also trigger inflammation in the gut. As inflammation tends to spread, identifying and cutting out intolerances can be an important step for many people with thyroid issues.
Skip the junk food
Unfortunately, even intolerance-free junk food can be a trigger for inflammation. Processed foods, some additives and high-sugar foods can all lead to inflammation. The same goes for alcohol.
Show your gut some love
Inflammation often begins in the gut. Our gut microbes produce either pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory compounds, depending on how healthy and balanced they are.
A strong gut lining will prevent particles from entering the bloodstream and setting off inflammation, but a weak gut lining can lead to intolerances and repeated immune responses.
So how can you swing your gut towards happy and balanced? Start with these tips.
Work with a practitioner
Because inflammation has so many moving parts, it can be tough to decide on the best steps for you to take for your specific case.
That’s why working with a practitioner is a good idea. Together, we can identify your triggers and make a plan to reduce your inflammation and symptoms naturally. To get started, book an appointment with Tara here