Does your immune system impact thyroid health?

When you think about your immune system, the first thing that probably comes to mind is warding off a cold or the flu. But your immune system is directly linked to the health of your thyroid and it is important to understand this connection.

Thyroid hormones play a key role in the developmental and functional activity of your immune system. Even the slightest imbalance can affect your body’s natural defense mechanism. Research indicates a strong link between the endocrine and immune system. This two-way communication helps protect and maintain the internal homeostasis of the human body.

An underactive thyroid leads to the suppression of immune responses, leaving you vulnerable to diseases. Both the thyroid and adrenal glands have a direct impact on immune function, and vice versa. Thus, it’s important to keep your immune system strong through healthy lifestyle habits and good nutrition.

Thyroid and Immunity

According to health experts, impaired thyroid function can hamper the body’s response to viruses. Individuals with low levels of thyroid hormones have fewer NK and NKC cells, which have a direct on immunity. Additionally, the adrenal glands produce cortisol, which keeps your immune system functioning at its peak. However, excess cortisol release can weaken immune response by suppressing neutrophil function. Neutrophils are white blood cells that fight infections and kill pathogens. They are also the first immune cells that respond to inflammation.

In over 90 percent of cases, hypothyroidism is triggered by an autoimmune disorder. Basically, the body produces antibodies to thyroid tissue, which in turn, causes your immune system to attack the thyroid. Conventional medicine uses steroids to suppress immune response, putting you at risk for Crohn’s disease, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and other debilitating illnesses. As you begin to experience new symptoms, you will receive additional drugs. This leads to a vicious cycle in which the patient relies on medications and struggles with multiple diseases.

Simple lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, ditching the gluten and sugar, and working out more, can boost immune function. A strong immune system is crucial for thyroid health. Studies show that avoiding gluten can be helpful for people with thyroid disease. This protein, which is found in wheat and other grains, causes inflammation and impairs immune function. Things are even worse for those with celiac disease or wheat allergy.

The Gluten-Thyroid Connection

Gluten consumption has been linked to skin rashes, bone loss, recurring infections, gastrointestinal discomfort, migraines, fatigue, brain fog, and other common ailments. Gliadin, a protein is gluten, is foreign to the human body. When you eat foods containing gluten, your immune cells attack gliadin along with the thyroid gland, which boasts high levels of transglutaminase, an enzyme that resembles gliadin.

Another problem is that gluten may cause leaky gut syndrome, which affects nutrient absorption. This weakens your immune system and depletes your thyroid of the minerals needed to produce hormones. Regular gluten consumption may lead to depression, chronic inflammation, GI problems, frequent headaches, ischemic stroke, and mental illnesses.

The good news is that you can remove gluten from your diet anytime. Nowadays, most stores offer gluten free pasta, bread, and flour, making it easier to change your eating habits. As a rule of thumb, avoid wheat, malt, barley, rye, wheat starch, farina, graham, and other grains.

Make sure to always check food labels carefully and cook your own meals. Be aware that many common foods, such as croissants, potato bread, couscous, pretzels, soy sauce, and beer, may contain gluten.