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11 Ways to Reduce Thyroid Gland Inflammation

THYROID DISEASE IS AN INFLAMMATORY DISEASE

It both causes inflammation and is made worse by inflammation. Getting on top of Inflammation is one of the most important aspects of changing our Thyroid life.

This topic is a constant source of research for me as I continuously look for ways that we can get on top of inflammation as it is a leading cause of other chronic diseases, which we really don’t need on top of thyroid problems do we? The most common comorbidities (sideline issues) with thyroid problems include tendonitis, bursitis, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and cancer.

Since our thyroid contributes to making inflammation, this is where we have to be vigilant about not contributing to it with external factors and also getting our thyroid into a balanced state to help calm inflammation from the inside out.

SIGNS OF INFLAMMATION

  • It is hard to swallow and you feel like there is a lump in your throat when you swallow. This can literally be inflammation in your thyroid gland.
  • Your gums bleed whenever you brush your teeth, which is also known as gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums. Gum health and cardiovascular health are linked, so if there is inflammation in the gums you can make an educated guess that it is also in your cardiovascular system.
  • You suffer from tendonitis, bursitis, or anything ending in “itis” which literally means “inflammation of…” so tendonitis is inflammation of the tendons, bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa sacs in the joints, and so on.
  • Your voice is struggling to get out. This can also be a sign of an inflammatory condition in your thyroid gland as the thyroid wraps around your vocal cords.
  • You just generally have stiffness in your joints and aches and pains, particularly when you first get out of bed in the morning.
  • Any kind of swelling or redness or pain in any part of your body can indicate inflammation is going on at the site.
  • Loss of function of anything can be a sign of inflammation in that area.
  • Asthma and allergies are a sure sign of inflammation in the body as it continues to fight pathogens on a daily basis.

CAUSES OF INFLAMMATION

  • Autoimmune Disease. In the case of thyroid disease, autoimmune disease can be the result of inflammation already in the thyroid which the body then sends the white blood cells in to attack. Thyroid tissue and thyroid receptors are often “cleaned up” during the battle.
  • Pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, fungal or yeast infections are all germs that cause the body to release white blood cells to clean up. 
  • Chemicals and Radiation will cause the body to go after these foreign items in a bid to protect us from them. If we are subjected to them daily, the body will continuously be in fight and inflammation-causing mode.
  • Food & Beverages can be a cause of inflammation in many areas of the body. Particularly processed and junk food items along with alcohol and soda. 

TESTS TO HAVE FOR INFLAMMATION

  • hs-CRP – High-Sensitivity C-reactive protein - this is more sensitive than CRP and will give you a much clearer picture of the level of inflammation going on in the body. I recommend that you always ask for this test over the other two.
  • ESR - erythrocyte sedimentation rate - measures how quickly red blood cells come to rest at the bottom of a test tube. Inflammation will make them settle faster causing the test result to be high.
  • CRP - C-reactive protein - made by the liver and is a common first sign of inflammation. It does not show where the inflammation is coming from, just how severe it is.
  • You also don’t need to have an actual test to see if you have inflammation. Honestly, if you have thyroid problems you can kind of assume that you already have inflammation. Other than that, have you got any red patches or heat anywhere in your body? Go through the list above of “Signs” and if you have any of them, then you are carrying inflammation. Sometimes we like to avoid addressing the issue until we have had the test “to confirm it” but to be frank, there is not a single thyroid person out there that is not struggling with inflammation so don’t get too caught up in needing a test to confirm it. Just start addressing the problem.

11 WAYS TO CALM THYROID INFLAMMATION

  1. Turmeric – The king of spices! There are so many studies around turmeric and its amazing bright yellow anti-inflammatory abilities. However, it is now becoming a front runner for indigestion and peptic ulcers, liver detoxification, asthma, cardiovascular disease,  high cholesterol, mental health such as anxiety and depression, and Alzheimer’s disease.  

If you love your curries, then this is a great way of getting it in or another way includes the growing popularity of Turmeric Lattes in the more “aware” coffee shops (make sure you have plant milk with it or you may defeat the purpose!). However you can get it, it will improve and downregulate your inflammation pathways and it’s tasty to boot! Turmeric is always absorbed better in the body when paired with black pepper, so if you don’t like curries, get yourself some empty capsules and mix some turmeric and black pepper together and fill your little capsules!!

 

  1. Boswellia – Used for centuries in natural medicine, it comes from the Boswellia serrata tree which is found in North Africa, the Middle East, and India, the resin is collected from the trunk and processed in different ways depending on the outcome required, such as essential oils or herbal tinctures or resin for incense.

This is a great herb for inflammation, particularly for arthritis, Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis, Parkinson’s Disease, and fluid retention caused by brain tumors. It is also useful with disorders where there are elevated cytokines. These disorders include psoriasis, hay fever, lupus, gout, urticaria, multiple sclerosis, and cystic fibrosis. Once we control inflammation we can minimize the likelihood of getting more chronic diseases on top of thyroid disease, with the possibility of helping to reverse our current thyroid problems.

For those of you that love your essential oils and know about the healing powers of Frankincense, this is actually Boswellia serrata also, so great for thyroid inflammation or general inflammation, just ensure it is a pure Frankincense.

 

 

  1. Eat more Anti-inflammatory foods – Berries and Cherries, Cayenne Pepper, Celery and celery seeds, dark leafy greens (limit kale, broccoli, and rocket, or be sure to cook them, as they are goitrogens), sweet potatoes, flaxseeds, ginger, turmeric, beetroot, garlic, onions, kelp, fatty fish, nuts (particularly macadamia nuts which are higher in Omega 3s).

Really, you can’t go wrong if you just consume a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables in lots of different colors. Don’t just get the same apples every week, get several different kinds. Get all the different colored carrots you can find, get all the different varieties of onions, and so on. They all play a huge role in inflammation by improving our immune system and gut function.

 

 

  1. Limit or remove Inflammatory foods – This is kind of a no-brainer for health but I’m going to cover a few things in case you hadn’t considered them inflammatory and are consuming them daily.

Gluten and wheat are some of our biggest allergens and culprits when it comes to inflammation. There are studies that show humans cannot actually digest gluten without producing inflammation in the body. Even if you are a person who it doesn’t seem to affect, this is still the case. It produces something called Zonulin which is the main player here if you want to go down the research rabbit hole. From a thyroid perspective, the gluten molecule is also remarkably similar to thyroid tissue, and since we now know the body always sees it as an invader, then our thyroid can come under attack by our immune system as a case of mistaken identity. This is why all people with thyroid problems should avoid gluten.

Other foods in this area include refined grains, dairy products, sugar, grain-fed animal products (just more grain), trans fats (from bakery products and processed foods like biscuits), alcohol and coffee, Omega 6 oils, MSG, food additives, processed foods of all kinds, junk and takeaway foods.

I just want to highlight the Omega 6 oils for a moment. For good health, we require a ratio of 1:4 Omega 3:Omega 6 oils. Unfortunately due to the high consumption of trans fats, and vegetable oils we are getting a ratio of more like 1:20. This causes inflammation, so one of the easiest ways to reduce inflammation is to avoid packaged foods and stop using copious amounts of oil when we cook.

 

 

  1. Remove Intolerant Foods – True food allergies are not as common as you would think.  Most of the time, the discomfort from food comes from a low-grade intolerance to it. Intolerances change over time and often can be altered by removing the offending item from the diet for 6 months and then slowly reintroducing it. 

Intolerances still cause inflammation though and get the little soldiers inside of us all fired up ready to attack, so removing them is important if we are going to reduce the inflammatory response. This can be achieved by going on an elimination diet for 2-4 weeks. Remove the food you think is causing problems and monitor your response both without it, and then when you eat it again. This is part of the process doctors use for diagnosing celiac disease (along with medical testing), where patients go without gluten strictly for a period of time, then they are asked to “gluten load” for several days.

A shortcut to this process (we all love a shortcut right, plus less painful if it is something you react to) is by having a food intolerance test. This test runs your saliva or hair against 600 different household items or food products to see what you are intolerant of. This test is incredible at pinpointing the foods and products that you may have a low intolerance to. By this I mean, it is obvious when we eat a food we have a high intolerance to it, as we feel symptoms straight away such as heart palpitations, sweating, general uneasiness, mucus forming, coughing, etc. But the ones we have a low intolerance to we won’t really notice, and because of that, we continue to eat them or use them on a daily basis. These are the ones that are generally keeping us inflamed and in discomfort with symptoms. I highly recommend this test, and you can order it from me HERE.

My own experience using this test is discovering I had a low lying intolerance to tomatoes, capsicum, olives, and chicken along with the natural dishwashing liquid I had been using and consuming on a daily basis (amongst other things). After removing these items for a few months, I had chicken again without thinking about it, and that night I snored like a freight train my husband will tell you. Plus if I eat tomatoes I get a rash on my belly, so I still have a ways to go in reversing my issues to these intolerances, but it is amazing to know exactly what the low lying food issues are without having to go through the time frame of an elimination diet. I update this test for myself every 6-9 months. 

 

 

  1. Improve Gut Health – Although not proven, theory in the health world suggests that one of the possible root causes of autoimmune disease is caused by a leaky gut. This happens when your digestive tract starts to let food into your bloodstream, which your body then recognizes as being in the wrong place, and attacks it. There is mounting evidence that this issue is caused by inflammation coupled with an imbalance of gut bacteria.

Twenty percent of thyroid hormone is converted into its active form in the gut. Not many people are aware, but the Immune System is actually located in the gut, so calming and healing the gut along with getting our microbiome in balance will not only help with lowering inflammation but also our thyroid health and autoimmune issues.

We can do this by consuming Bone Broths, fermented foods, prebiotics, and probiotic foods such as Jerusalem artichokes, onions, Bananas, and turmeric but also with mucilaginous herbs like slippery elm and marshmallow (no not the white sugary kind lol, talk to your herbalist about these ones!) will all help to heal the gut and in doing so reduce inflammation. A good probiotic is also vital if you are not the kind of person that likes to eat a lot of vegetables. I recommend and use these ones myself.

As we discovered in our recent Thyroid Life Academy mini Challenge of 100 in 30 (100 different plant foods over 30 days) the cultures with the largest variety of plant foods in their diets were also the cultures with the least amount of chronic disease and the people that lived happy, healthy and very long lives. These cultures eat up to 600 varieties of plant foods over a year, which I didn’t think was even possible, but once we dug into it in our mini-challenge it is more than possible! 

 

 

  1. Reduce Stress – Yep this is not the easiest thing to achieve in our modern-day lives, but it is not to be underestimated as a way to improve our inflammation levels and therefore our thyroid health. So where do we start??? 

Start with something you know you can do! Might seem obvious but sometimes we overlook the obvious when we are extremely stressed. And quite honestly, if it is not something simple and easy, then it could just cause you more stress trying to figure out how to incorporate it into your life right?

Here are some simple ideas. If you work in a crowded office with lots of negative energies around you, leave it at lunchtime, and go put your feet on some grass somewhere grounding yourself.  Take some lessons in deep breathing (yes it is a skill!) and try to sit in quiet peace or even meditation for 5 minutes every day and build up from there. Write a gratitude journal - studies show that when we are in gratitude we cannot be under stress, so grab a book and start recording all the little things that are amazing in your life. 

A major one that contributes to our lives these days is social media. Unplug that stuff for as much of the day as you can. Maybe even remove it from your phone and only use it on your computer. And definitely don’t start your day with it. Instead, start your day watching the sunrise! Getting in sync with your circadian rhythm is amazing for inflammation and general health. And no, it won’t burn your eyes. The UV rays that do that don’t appear till around 9 am, so if you are staring at the sun as it comes over the horizon you are absolutely fine! I have been doing this for around a year now, and this year is the first year in a decade that my glasses script didn’t need to be made stronger… I’ll let you decide what you think about that!

Oh… and saying you don’t have time for any of this is like saying you don’t have time to get your arm set after it has been broken. Yes, it is that important!!!

 

  1. Limit Sitting – Sitting is the new smoking. Yep, I will keep saying that for as long as it takes for you to soak it in!  We all sit for many more hours a day than our bodies are designed for, particularly as people with thyroid problems and endless fatigue. 

Sitting causes nerve impingement which leads to inflammation and also turns on the famine pathways, which tells our body to “hang onto all fat reserves because we are heading into famine” – nobody with thyroid disease wants that!! 

Get up and move around for 10 mins every hour that you are sitting, or move your computer to a spot where you can stand and use it. I put mine up on my 3 drawer filing cabinet which is perfect for my height. If sitting is your only option at work, then look at getting a large Fit Ball or Exercise Ball and sit on that as you work. It will engage your core muscles and you will be exercising as you work!  And it may seem like a small thing but If you work in an office, don’t flick your workmate a quick question online, get up and go talk to them. It all helps!

 

 

  1. Exercise – I read a study once that said our genome is wired for walking 18,000 – 22,000 steps a day. That is a long way off the recommended 10,000 steps a day that many of us still fail to achieve. Is it any wonder we are getting sicker? Exercise lowers inflammation, improves immunity, tones muscle, burns fat, improves blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and above all moves the lymphatic fluid around the body helping the thyroid hormone get to where it is needed.

If you are like me, you struggle with getting enough exercise, because you are either too exhausted or (this is my case) you just don’t enjoy it. I find that instead of “finding” something I enjoy, I am better off having a purpose for my exercise. So by that I mean, I hate just going for a walk, but I’m happy to walk into town to go meet someone for a chai. I hate just going for a walk, but when I’m in Thailand I am happy to walk through the streets and markets all flipping day right? So first of all you need to figure out if you are not exercising because you are tired or you don’t like it, or maybe you like it but it causes you pain, in which case non-load bearing such as swimming might be for you.

I know this particular topic is a tough one for many of us with thyroid problems, but as someone who has a love-hate relationship with it, I can tell you, I always feel so much better when I have exercised at some point in my day.

 

 

  1. Remove Toxins – Let’s face it, in this world we live in, we are subjected to every kind of chemical and toxin available, just by going outside and taking a deep breath. Studies have shown that before a woman leaves the house in the morning she has been exposed to over 500 chemicals. That’s scary, right?

We slather toxic creams into our bodies, make up our faces with heavy metal-laden lipsticks, eat foods that have been sprayed to kill all bugs including the good ones in our gut and spray our house with every kind of antibacterial product we can find, which again, also kills the bacteria in our gut.

Since none of these toxins is a natural state in our body, the minute they are in there our body is on the attack. So start reducing the toxic burden to your body by choosing organic where you can, using a flyswat instead of spray, and being a little choosy about the ingredients in your skincare. Try swapping chemical-laden perfume for essential oils and get onto youtube and learn how to make your own cleaning products with Bicarb, vinegar, and lemon.

When it comes to personal care items I started with my toothpaste many years ago by swapping to a non-fluoride option and then after spending time in India I became addicted to, and still use this one, and although I have to order it online, it's totally worth it!!  I then slowly started changing my skincare to this one. I have swapped slowly over the years, most things that I use on a daily basis, and I am sure it has contributed to my continued improvements in health.

 

11. Improve Sleep Hygiene - I know this is a tough area for some of us, but it is essential in the fight for lower inflammation. Our body uses this time for repairing and recycling tissue which is vital for lowering inflammation levels.

The concept of sleep "hygiene" is the act of having a clean routine leading up to sleep and throughout the night. There are many studies around the effects of screens (particularly backlit blue light screens such as phones, iPad's and computer screens) changing our circadian rhythms and confusing our bodies, so limiting these after the sun goes down is a great start for both sleep and mental health... win-win right?

Other things you can do to set up a sleep routine are to use essential oils, have a cup of herb tea, take a bath, have a shower, read something uplifting or listen to a short meditation.

Keeping the bedroom as dark as possible and on the cooler side, will also contribute to better sleep hygiene allowing your body to completely rest and do its thing.

If you find yourself always getting up at a certain time through the night, check out the Chinese Body Clock and see if it's perhaps your liver or intestines telling you it needs a little support!

 

So there are plenty of ways for you to start reducing your thyroid inflammation. Pick one or two ideas that you can easily fit into your life and when you have those down, add another couple. Inflammation, according to many health experts is the leading cause of all diseases, so finding ways to get on top of it when we have a disease that fuels it in the first place is vital.

Above all be kind to yourself as you change your thyroid story – it's not easy – but I know you can do it! Thyroid people are a special kind of people. I believe we have a huge amount of strength and courage, so use that, pick some anti-inflammatory protocols and help improve your thyroid problems.

 

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