How Thyroid Disease
May Be Caused By Inflammation

There are many causes of thyroid disease. One of the most common causes is inflammation in the body. In this article we will cover the impact inflammation has on the production of thyroid hormones, what causes inflammation in the first place and how you can minimise the inflammatory response.

The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that lies in the neck at about the level of the Adam's apple and weighs around 30 grams. It is responsible for producing the thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which control the metabolism (energy production) of all body cells.

T4 is the 'inactive' thyroid hormone whilst T3 is the 'active' form. Most of the T4 is converted into T3 in the liver with a small portion being converted into reverse T3 (rT3), which has the effect of blocking the T3 receptors on cells.

Thyroid Disease

The production of thyroid hormones as well as the conversion into the active form is an extremely delicate process that requires essential nutrients to be present in addition to an ideal internal environment. If the nutrients aren't supplied in your diet or your internal environment is upset, then the production of thyroid hormones is adversely affected, which can then cause a range of problems throughout your whole body! This is known as thyroid disease or dysfunction.

Inflammation in the body may have a negative impact on thyroid function and lead to thyroid disease. Since the healthy production of thyroid hormones is a multi-step process requiring a range of nutrients, it is easy to see how inflammation may have an impact at one or several stages throughout the process (see Diagram).

For example, inflammation in the gut causes malabsorption of essential nutrients that are required for optimal thyroid function, and in the case of inflammation caused by intestinal dysbiosis (imbalance between the good and bad gut bacteria), the conversion of T4 into T3 may be impaired.

In addition to these examples, inflammation caused by an autoimmune response may result in the body's immune system attacking the thyroid gland. Furthermore, liver dysfunction (which often results in it being inflamed) results in impaired conversion of T4 into T3.

All of these inflammatory responses result in thyroid disease.

Here are the major causes of inflammatory responses in the body that may cause thyroid disease / dysfunction:

  • Autoimmune response
  • 'Leaky gut' (intestinal hyperpermeability)
  • Food sensitivity/ intolerance
  • Liver dysfunction
  • Gut problems (candida, parasitic or viral infection, bacterial imbalance)
  • High stress

  • Autoimmune response

    The number one cause of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is Hashimotos thyroiditis or autoimmune thyroid disease. This inflammatory condition results in the thyroid cells being attacked by the body's own immune system causing destruction of the thyroid gland. It also causes chronic inflammation, which further exacerbates the thyroid problem.

    There are many possible causes of the initial autoimmune response including: intestinal hyperpermeability, food sensitivity (i.e. lactose or gluten intolerance), candida or other yeasts, food allergens, high stress, infections, drugs, antibiotics, poor digestion, and environmental toxins.

    'Leaky gut' (intestinal hyperpermeability)

    'Leaky gut' is a condition characterised by gaps opening up in the intestinal wall allowing undigested food particles and toxins to enter the bloodstream uninhibited. It is generally caused by food allergens like, dairy, gluten, soy, tomato, peanuts, corn and eggs.

    This causes an inflammatory response in the body and puts additional stress of the body's immune system, which may result in an autoimmune response. It also causes adrenal stress, chronic fatigue and thyroid hormone imbalance.

    Food sensitivity/ intolerance

    A food sensitivity is where the body is unable to completely digest a certain food or food ingredient. It most often results in an allergic reaction and symptoms of 'silent inflammation' result. It may also cause a 'leaky gut'.

    Liver dysfunction

    When the liver is inflamed, which may result from an overload of toxins and hormones, poor nutritional habits or excessive alcohol intake, its ability to convert T4 into T3 becomes impaired, resulting in hypothyroid symptoms.

    Gut problems (candida, parasitic or viral infection, bacterial imbalance)

    Most gut problems result in an inflammatory response that causes malabsorption of nutrients (which may be required for optimal thyroid function). Gut problems may even lead to intestinal hyperpermeability ('leaky gut').

    High stress

    Cortisol is the main stress hormone in the body. It increases inflammation in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and prevents the cells that line the tract from regenerating which increases the risk of ulcers. This leads to increased gut problems resulting from parasites, yeasts, mould, fungi, viruses, and bacteria, which then causes more inflammation.

    High cortisol may also lead to 'leaky gut', again resulting in greater inflammation in the body.

    Here are the most effective ways to reduce the causes of inflammation in your body and therefore improve the functioning of your thyroid gland:

  • Remove parasitic or viral infections
  • Antibiotics or natural alternatives like, wormwood, black walnut, barberry, garlic, and peppermint may be necessary. Garlic is the main ingredient in BCN's HemoGard and peppermint is one of the ingredients in BCN's DigestEZE.

  • Repairing your gut
  • L-glutamine, aloe vera, slippery elm all help to repair the gut lining and therefore avoid having a 'leaky gut'. These ingredients are contained in BCN's DigestEZE.

  • Optimise gut flora
  • This may be achieved by using both probiotics, good bacteria, as well as prebiotics, which are soluble fibre source. Many prebiotics are contained in BCN's DigestEZE and Gastro Forte AG.

  • Avoid food allergens
  • Limit your intake of dairy foods, gluten-containing foods, soy products, eggs, peanuts, tomatoes, and corn.

  • Reduce stress
  • Employ relaxation strategies like, meditation or breathing techniques, or perhaps use an adaptogenic herb like, Rhodiola rosea, which is contained in BCN's Rhodiola Advanced.

  • Improve your nutritional habits
  • Eating more natural foods like, fruits, vegetables, seeds, good oils and lean meats are a great way to reduce the inflammation in your body. These foods can be readily obtained from your local IGA Supermarket.

  • Supplement your diet
  • There are various nutrients that have anti-inflammatory properties and can therefore reduce the inflammation in your gut and body, resulting in improved thyroid function. Turmeric is one example of a powerful anti-inflammatory nutrient and is found in BCN's Relieve Turmeric Forte, DigestEZE, and MultiSpice (coming soon).

    Also, it may be worthwhile providing your body with all the nutrients it needs to support optimum thyroid functioning. These are all contained in BCN's Thyron, which is safe to use even if you're currently taking thyroid medication.

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    Here is the complete list of thyroid articles:

    Can You Get Off Thyroid Medication?

    T3 and T4 Thyroid Hormones

    Thyroid Disease Caused By Inflammation

    5 Common Thyroid Problems

    The Ideal Thyroid Diet For You

    Thyroid Diet Foods and Nutrients

    The Importance of a Healthy Thyroid Gland

    What Causes Thyroid Disease Symptoms?

    Do You Have Low Thyroid Symptoms?

    Alternative Thyroid Treatments

    How Stress Affects Your Thyroid

    What is Hashimoto Thyroiditis?

    Reverse T3- The Hidden Cause of Thyroid Problems

    Should You Use a Thyroid Supplement?

    The Causes of Thyroid Problems

    Underactive Thyroid and Nutritional Deficiencies

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