Right now with everything that is going on in the world it’s more important than ever to take a proactive approach to strengthening immune system health. And for those living with thyroid dysfunction it’s vital to consider the thyroid-immune connection.
The thyroid hormones influence every major system in the body, including immune system health. Therefore when the thyroid struggles to work properly it can weaken immune function.
But that said, there is currently no reason to believe those with thyroid conditions are at far greater risk of contracting infectious diseases. Immune function is influenced by a number of factors and there is so much you can do to support a robust immune system.
From a natural health perspective how you eat, move and live lays the foundation for a strong immunity. Your daily healthy choices help ensure you stay fit and healthy!
What The Research Tells Us About The Thyroid-Immune Connection
Over the past few years a lot of research has been done to highlight the important role the thyroid hormones play in maintaining a healthy immune response.
In particular, circulating thyroid hormones help power up various immune cells including monocytes, macrophages, natural killer cells, and lymphocytes. Additionally, the thyroid hormones affect several inflammatory processes such as chemotaxis, phagocytosis, antioxidant defence pathways, and the production of cytokines.
In effect, the thyroid hormones are constantly communicating with the immune system to help maintain strong everyday immunity to fight illness.
SIX Things To Know About Immunity and Daily Wellness
A well-functioning immune system protects the body from a variety of pathogens that are detrimental to health. In addition, a healthy immune system helps guard the body from harmful environmental chemicals or abnormal cells within the body.
Like to learn more?
Here’s six things you may not already know about immunity and thyroid wellbeing;
1. It’s a Complex, Integrated System
The immune system is a complex system of cells and proteins that defend the body from pathogens. From a science perspective, the most common pathogens includes viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites and emerging infectious diseases.
2. Innate v. Adaptive Immunity
There are two distinct branches to the immune system; the general innate system and the highly specialized adaptive system.
In an ideal scenario these two systems work in harmony to effectively respond to threats from the environment. While there is still more research to be done it does appear the thyroid hormones support activity of various immune cells, thereby playing a crucial role in both innate and adaptive immunity.
3. Peak Immunity Declines With Ageing
The prevalence of thyroid disorders increases with ageing which is also associated with a decline in peak immune function. When the body is no longer able to mount an appropriate immune response it leads to innate and adaptive immune dysregulation. It explains why older people are more prone to infections and symptoms associated with an infection are often more severe.
4. The Immune System Has a Memory
One of the most significant features of the immune system is the ability to retain a memory of previous infections. The capacity of immune cells to remember and respond to pathogens helps halt reinfection and limits the spread of infection within a local community. Herd immunity occurs is when a significant portion of a population develops immunity to a specific pathogen.
5. Stress And Trauma Wreak Havoc On Immunity
All types of stress impair immunological function. This could be a physical stress to the body, or psychological stress associated with feeling lonely, grief or caregiving. Another consequence of chronic stress is activation of latent viruses. This is topic is covered here on the blog as activation of latent viruses can be the root cause of thyroid fatigue.
6. Micronutrient Deficiencies Matter
It’s worth noting that micronutrient deficiencies are associated with a weakened immune response. Studies show specific nutritional factors play a fundamental role in promoting a balanced immune response. Key micronutrients to maintain immune system health include vitamins A and C, D3, zinc, selenium, iron, B6, B12 and folate.
For many with a diagnosed thyroid disorder this is a challenging time. So, the general advice is to take your thyroid medication as prescribed, take your health supplements regularly, eat well, stay active and choose effective self-care practices to naturally support thyroid wellbeing.
How you eat, move and live lays the foundation for strong immune defence to ensure you stay strong and healthy!
Canas-Gonzalez B, Fernandez-Nistal A, Ramirez JM, Martínez-Fernandez V. Influence of Stress and Depression on the Immune System in Patients Evaluated in an Anti-aging Unit. Front Psychol. 2020;11:1844. Published 2020 Aug 4.
De Vito P, Incerpi S, Pedersen JZ, Luly P, Davis FB, Davis PJ. Thyroid hormones as modulators of immune activities at the cellular level. Thyroid. 2011 Aug;21(8):879-90.
InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. The innate and adaptive immune systems. Updated 2020 Jul 30. Link
Mancini A, Di Segni C, Raimondo S, et al. Thyroid Hormones, Oxidative Stress, and Inflammation. Mediators Inflamm. 2016;2016:6757154.
Montesinos MDM, Pellizas CG. Thyroid Hormone Action on Innate Immunity [published correction appears in Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2019 Jul 19;10:486]. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2019;10:350. Published 2019 Jun 4.
Morey JN, Boggero IA, Scott AB, Segerstrom SC. Current Directions in Stress and Human Immune Function. Curr Opin Psychol. 2015;5:13-17. doi:10.1016/j.copsyc.2015.03.007
Palacios-Pedrero MÁ, Osterhaus ADME, Becker T, Elbahesh H, Rimmelzwaan GF, Saletti G. Aging and Options to Halt Declining Immunity to Virus Infections. Front Immunol. 2021;12:681449. Published 2021 May 12.
Waggoner SN. Circadian Rhythms in Immunity. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2020;20(1):2. Published 2020 Jan 10.
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