A new study turned the focus on antioxidants for powerful treatment of thyroid disorders. They used a strong prescription antioxidant on rodents induced with thyroid disease and measured their levels of oxidative stress and inflammatory cells before and after treatment. Not surprisingly, scientists found that inducing animals with thyroid disease spiked their oxidative stress causing increased levels of inflammatory immune cells and free radicals, but after the antioxidant drug was administered, signs of oxidative stress were inhibited. Can this study cross over and help the millions suffering from thyroid disease? Let’s break this down.
The Thyroid-Inflammation Connection
Over 90% of low thyroid sufferers actually have an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This means that the immune system has labeled your thyroid cells as intruders and has launched an attack to destroy. This damage on top of an out-of-whack immune system leads to increased oxidative stress, inflammation and is responsible for many of the exhausting symptoms of low thyroid.
What is Oxidative Stress?
At any moment, oxygen is being inhaled and then used to manufacture energy. Oxygen bi-products are called reactive oxygen species (ROS), and while they are important for cell signaling and other function, if we build up too many, they cause problems. Specifically, there is a class of ROS called free radicals that are unstable and run around causing damage to other tissues in the body. You have probably heard of free radicals being linked to cancer and many other chronic diseases.
Anything that causes inflammation and damage in the body, whether it’s poor diet, stress, obesity, smoking, pollution, etc. will increase free radicals.
Increased oxidative stress happens when the body has more free radicals than it can healthily manage.
What is an antioxidant?
Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, so they can’t cause harm to other tissues. This is important for autoimmunity because when the immune system is striking out against your own tissues, excessive free radicals are produced.
Researchers think that accumulation reactive oxygen species could be the first step in triggering the inflammatory response against the thyroid leading to Hashimoto’s.
Ready to up your antioxidants? There are three simple ways to increase antioxidants and fight oxidative stress.
- Reduce oxidative stress by reducing exposure to alcohol, tobacco, processed food, sugar, air pollution, and pesticides.
- Increase intake of antioxidant-rich foods like blueberries, artichokes, cranberries, cilantro, blackberries, elderberries, goji berries, dark chocolate and pecans.
- Add antioxidant supplements to your daily routine such as NAC (n-acetylcysteine), quercetin, lutein, vitamin C, resveratrol, selenium, astaxanthin.
Whether you’ve already been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s or you’re suffering from low thyroid symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, low mood, dry skin and hair, etc. your body needs support to prevent further damage. While the suggestions above are a great start, the key to reversing symptoms of thyroid imbalance is using comprehensive testing to personalize therapies that take your unique health status into account. Don’t waste time with one-size-fits all conventional care that masks symptoms with drugs. Instead, get to the root of your thyroid problems and repair your health from the ground up.