Does Having A Thyroid Condition Affect Your Immunity?
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, many people have become concerned about their immune health. This includes people who have had thyroidectomies and autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s and Graves’.
I understand – there is a lot of panicking and worry out there on social media! If you’re stressed out, I’m here to put your mind at ease. Let’s take a look at some of the frequently asked questions that have popped up recently, as well as some actionable steps to support your immune system.
I’ve had a thyroidectomy. Am I at a higher risk of infection?
At this stage, there is no evidence to suggest you’re at an increased risk. Even if you have had lymph nodes removed due to cancer, you still have an extensive lymphatic system. This system helps to support your immune system and your ability to fight off infection.
I have an autoimmune thyroid condition. Am I at a higher risk of infection?
In general – no. Autoimmune disorders do not compromise the branch of the immune system that fights off infections. It is another branch that becomes overactive and causes autoimmunity to occur. In fact, some evidence suggests that the autoimmune branch may even protect you from getting sick!
There may be some indirect ways that an autoimmune thyroid condition may affect your general immunity. For example, you may be deficient in some nutrients that contribute to your autoimmune condition. Many of these nutrients also play a role in fighting infections.
What can I do to help my body fight off a viral infection?
Even though the world feels like a scary place right now, there are steps we can take to protect our health and reduce our risk of infection. With that in mind, here are my top tips for supporting your immune system.
Manage your stress levels
One of the biggest contributors to poor immunity is stress. Unfortunately, many of us are stressed for a variety of reasons right now! So the goal is to manage it as best as you can.
Use any time you need to remain isolated as a way to rest and recoup. Minimise your time on social media or watching the news. Instead, find ways to fill up your own cup. Meditation, deep breathing, reading, journalling and resting are all good ways to dial down your stress.
Get a good night of sleep
Another overlooked aspect of immune health is sleep. Sleep is the time when your body does all of its repair and healing, so a good sleep is key for a happy immune system.
Remember, quality is just as important as quantity when it comes to sleep. Ideally, you’ll get 7-9hrs sleep and wake up feeling refreshed.
Soak up some sunshine
Time outside is good for your immune system in a variety of ways. The obvious one is through sun exposure – vitamin D is essential for both immune defence and managing autoimmunity. But it is also an excellent stress reliever.
Even if you’re social distancing or in isolation, you can get some fresh air. You could:
Go for a walk at a local nature reserve
Set up a blanket in the backyard on a sunny day and read a few chapters of a book
Do some gardening
Move your workout or yoga session outside
Minimise your sugar intake
When you’re stressed out, it’s natural to reach for the sweet treats (especially if it’s all that’s left at the supermarket!) The bad news is that sugar can actually suppress your immune system. A large dose has been shown to inhibit the function of white blood cells that fight off infections.
Craving something sweet? Reach for some berries instead. They’re low in sugar and will give you a good dose of antioxidants.
Up your immune-supporting foods
Want to get some anti-viral and anti-microbial goodness into your day? Your first stop is food! Aim to include a variety of immune-supporting foods such as:
Onions, spring onions and leeks
Herbs such as thyme, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage
Brightly coloured fruit and veggies
Not everyone will need a supplement. But there are a few supplements that I recommend to my clients when they need to fight off germs or prevent an infection. They include:
I am also able to tailor supplements and herbal blends to suit my client's specific health concerns.
Not sure if a supplement is for you? Book an appointment with Tara here.
This is a difficult time for many people. But there are lessons for us all. Be positive, resist the fear, and embrace what this time will give you and your family as a whole. Now is your time to spend more time together, slow down and do the things you’ve been putting off.
Above everything else – be well!