Wellness

Top 5 Thyroid Tests to Ask For and Why

Are you a questioner? Do you like to know the why behind things? Do you feel like you need more information before you buy in? Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t but when it comes to my health, I definitely do! I need the what, when, how and why! Getting more information through thyroid lab testing is a great example of how we can answer some of the “why’s” you might be asking. Why do I continue to have symptoms even though my TSH is normal? Why does my doctor refuse to run any additional lab tests? Why do I continue to feel like this when I am being treated for my condition? Why do I continue to feel like it’s a thyroid problem but my doctor keeps dismissing me? Why, why, why? 

One of the biggest challenges in determining what is actually happening with the thyroid gland and other systems involved with thyroid hormones is the ability to get the proper labs completed. Thyroid health is an area where we really need to look at the big picture and how all of the little pieces work together. Research shows that about 5% of the US population has thyroid dysfunction and about another 5% are undiagnosed. That is 5 of every 100 people that don’t know they have a thyroid problem. 

Many conventional doctors, where most of us go for routine visits, base a thyroid diagnosis on a TSH level and sometimes also a total T4. These labs are how they diagnose and decide on treatment with medications, typically Synthroid, a T4 only med. Let’s be fair, though, it is what they know and how they were trained and we can’t expect them to be thyroid experts. Oh, and they also use outdated conventional reference ranges for the labs. It’s no wonder why so many of us are misdiagnosed or undiagnosed and dismissed with continued nagging symptoms. We need to be our own advocates and keep asking “why?” I typically recommend working with a functional medicine practitioner if you can as they take a different approach to your health. They will want to do additional testing and use functional ranges to get more information on why you continue to have problems. 

I’ll share with you a client story. A recent client, let’s call her Lucy, came to me with Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism. Lucy’s symptoms include fatigue, weight loss resistance, irregular and painful periods, low libido and anxiety. Symptoms that have not improved even though she is being treated for her condition under a physician’s care. The previous labs she sent included a TSH and a free T4 and she is on Synthroid, a T4 only hormone medication. Her TSH is functionally low at <0.5 and her Free T4 is slightly high most likely due to too much Synthroid. What we don’t know is her Free T3, which is the active thyroid hormone that is going to help control all the things that cause her symptoms. Does she have enough T3? Is T4 appropriately being converted to T3? Is too much T4 converting to reverse T3 causing a halt in thyroid hormone function? What are her antibodies? Is her immune system attacking her thyroid? Holy unanswered questions Batman! This is why I want to see the full panel. You get me? 

Knowing these answers will help me help Lucy. If we are looking at an immune system issue, I want to work through diet and lifestyle factors that can make a difference with autoimmune thyroid disease. If there is a problem converting T4 to T3, we can look at ways to optimize it and things that can be hindering the conversion. Do we need to go back to the doctor to try a T3 hormone supplement as well? 

In this blog post, we will talk about how the thyroid works, who should be tested for thyroid disorders, why you should get a thyroid panel run, and the tests in a thyroid panel including functional ranges.

How Does the Thyroid Gland Work? 

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the front of the neck below the Adam’s apple. It works in a feedback loop with the hypothalamus and pituitary gland to produce thyroid hormones. The hypothalamus produces TRH, or thyrotropin-releasing hormone, which stimulates the pituitary gland to produce TSH, or thyroid-stimulating hormone, which stimulates the thyroid gland to produce T4, T3, and calcitonin. 

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T4, or thyroxine, and T3, or triiodothyronine, are thyroid hormones produced by the thyroid gland. They are what control the body’s metabolism, body temperature, and many other functions. T4 is produced in about 4x the amount of T3 but T3 is about 10x as active in the body as T4. Most of our T3 needs to be converted from T4 primarily in the liver and kidney. 

Here is how the thyroid should work: when there is too much thyroid hormone (T4 and T3) circulating in the body, TSH is decreased and thyroid function decreases in order to stop producing hormones. When there is too little thyroid hormone circulating in the body, TSH is increased in order to increase thyroid function and produce more hormones. There should always be adequate amounts of hormones circulating to be used by cells in the body. 

Who should be tested for thyroid disorders?

According to the American Thyroid Association, anyone age 35 and over should be tested for thyroid disorders and then retested every 5 years after that if within normal ranges. I would absolutely argue that women need to be tested before age 35 and at least every year. The age really depends on symptoms, if you’re having trouble conceiving, and other factors. Thyroid disorders don’t discriminate based on age. You should absolutely be tested if you have multiple symptoms of a thyroid disorder or a family history. Symptoms of hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s include:

  • Fatigue

  • Weight gain

  • Dry, brittle hair

  • Constipation

  • Depression 

  • Anxiety

  • Puffy face

  • Dry skin

  • Sensitivity to cold

  • Brain fog

  • Irregular menstrual cycles

  • Muscle fatigue and weakness

If you are experiencing 2 or more of these symptoms and aren’t sure if they could be thyroid related, I would encourage you to get tested. Otherwise, you might be treated for the individual symptom(s) that may not improve if it’s related to your thyroid but the thyroid is not addressed. 

Why Run a Thyroid Panel

More information can be very helpful when looking at the thyroid and the typical symptoms of a thyroid problem. Remember that we want to know why! Thyroid testing is a controversial subject where some don’t believe that running a full thyroid panel is useful in the treatment of thyroid disorders. I disagree. I believe in running the full thyroid panel as it can show that problems don’t always just come from the thyroid. The tests can provide information on where there is a break in the chain of events that leads to adequate thyroid hormones being produced and used appropriately. A break in that chain can equal symptoms that won’t go away. Testing only a TSH and T4 can lead to misdiagnosis when we can’t see the other pieces of the chain. 

I also believe in testing thyroid antibodies as over 90% of hypothyroid cases are due to the autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s. It is important to know if you have an autoimmune disease because if you have one you are at a much higher risk of having another and some autoimmune diseases can go hand in hand. You better believe I would want to know if I am at a higher risk of my body continuing to attack itself in different ways and if there is something I can do to prevent that! Doctors don’t often run them because it doesn’t change their treatment plan. Do you need to run antibodies every time you do thyroid labs? No. Antibodies don’t typically change quickly, but having them tested occasionally is a good idea, especially if you are working on supporting your immune system and bringing them down. Then, you will know if your efforts are paying off or if you need to try something different. 

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Click here to access this free guide to thyroid testing.

Tests included in a Thyroid Panel

TSH (1-2 mU/L) - Thyroid-stimulating hormone, produced by the pituitary gland, stimulates the thyroid to produce more hormones when there aren’t enough circulating in the body. TSH is increased when there aren’t enough thyroid hormones circulating as it is trying to signal the thyroid to produce more. It is suppressed when there is too much hormone circulating as it doesn’t need to stimulate the thyroid to produce more hormone at that time. This is the most common thyroid lab tested and often what diagnosis and treatment is based on. A TSH alone is not an adequate marker of thyroid function. 

Free T4 (1.1-1.8 ng/dL) - T4, or thyroxine, is a hormone produced by the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland produces T4 and T3 but T4 is produced in a much greater amount. Free T4 is not bound to a protein and is able to be used in the body. T4 must be converted to T3, the more active thyroid hormone, so it is important to know if the thyroid is producing enough T4. 

Free T3 (3.2-4.2 pg/mL)- T3, or triiodothyronine, is a hormone produced by the thyroid gland. There is a very small amount produced by the thyroid and the rest needs to be converted from T4 in the liver and gut. T3 is the main active hormone and free T3 is not bound to a protein and able to be used in the body. If the T3 level is inadequate, there will still be thyroid symptoms. 

Reverse T3 (10-15 ug/dl or <10:1 ratio of RT3:FT3)- This is the opposite of free T3. Reverse T3 is the inactive thyroid hormone that blocks thyroid receptors and can put the brakes on thyroid hormone functions. Some T4 can be converted to reverse T3 in the liver. This is often seen with illness, increased stress and cortisol, and fasting. 

TPO and Tg antibodies (<4 or negative) - when antibodies are present, this can suggest an autoimmune thyroid disease (discuss with your physician). Antibodies are proteins produced by the immune system to attack against what it thinks are invaders. This blog post will give you more information about testing for antibodies. Many doctors won’t test as it doesn’t change their treatment plan. 

I hope this helps to clear up the importance of getting a full thyroid panel run in order to see all components involved in thyroid health. You don’t have to continue to live with life-affecting symptoms because you aren’t getting the care and treatment you need and deserve. I always recommend discussing these labs with your doctor. You can check with them and your insurance about the cost. Also, don’t be afraid to get a 2nd opinion if your doctor won’t work with you. Be sure to scroll back up and get my free thyroid testing guide, if you didn’t already, to have access to information about these labs and the functional ranges.

In health,

Lin










Italian Sausage and Veggie Stuffed Peppers

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I love recipes that are 1. delicious 2. easily customizable and 3. can withstand adding lots of extra veggies!. This stuffed pepper recipe fits all of these so well! Oh, and it also needs to make good leftovers. Yep, does that too. 

This summer I have been going to the local farmer’s market more often and I’ve discovered some of the best, high-quality meats from one of the farms, Pastimes Farm and Bakery out of Lincoln, Missouri.  If you’ve never thought about purchasing meat at your farmer’s market, I would encourage you to check it out. They often have grass-fed and pasture-raised meats at a competitive price. We have really been loving their Italian pork sausage, which is where I got the idea for the stuffed peppers. It is unbelievably flavorful and works perfectly in this recipe. We also love to use it for homemade pizza.

What to serve with stuffed peppers

Stuffed peppers can really be a meal in itself. You have your protein with the meat or a meat substitute, fat from the meat and olive oil, carbs from the veggies and rice, and lots of veggies of different colors. Here are a few ideas for side dishes:

  • small side salad

  • roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes

  • fruit or fruit salad

Substitution Options

There are a lot of different things you can do with this recipe. You can change out proteins, veggies, starch or just eat the filling on its own. Customize to your hearts desire, friends. Here are some ideas:

  • Use ground beef, turkey, chicken or pork in place of the sausage. You will want to add some additional seasonings for flavor.

  • I think lentils or black beans would be really good here as a substitute for the meat. Or even half meat and half beans.

  • You can really mix up the veggies for your taste preferences, sensitivities or what you have available and need to use from your fridge. I like veggies that will hold up well and still have a little crunch like the broccoli slaw and zucchini. Some ideas that would work are chopped or shredded carrots, celery, eggplant, diced tomatoes, and mushrooms. 

  • You can use quinoa in place of rice. You could use all grains instead of cauliflower rice or all cauliflower rice instead of grains. Lots of options here. 

  • If you eat dairy, you could mix in feta or goat cheese or top with shredded cheese. 

  • There is always the option to eat the filling plain or in a wrap if you’re not a big fan of bell peppers. I serve the filling with a little additional rice for my son when we have this and he really likes it. It would also be really good over a baked sweet potato.

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Italian Sausage and Veggie Stuffed Peppers

Gluten-free, dairy-free, option for grain-free

Makes: 4-6 servings

Ingredients:
  • 4 -6 bell peppers, any color (use fewer if serving some of the filling on its own)
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli slaw
  • ½-¾ cup chopped zucchini
  • 1 ½ cup or 6-8oz riced cauliflower
  • ½ - 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup chopped spinach
  • 1# ground Italian sausage or meat of choice
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Instructions:
    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    2. Heat olive oil in pan over medium heat.
    3. Saute onion in olive oil until soft.
    4. Add ground sausage to onions and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon. Drain if needed.
    5. While meat is cooking, slice each pepper in half lengthwise and remove tops and cores.
    6. Add broccoli slaw, zucchini, riced cauliflower and rice to meat mixture. Cook another 5 minutes until tender.
    7. Add spinach and cook until just wilted.
    8. Stir in Italian seasoning and sauce.
    9. Spoon meat mixture into peppers. Can cover with foil to prevent the meat mixture from getting overcooked.
    10. Bake until peppers are tender, about 30 minutes.
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I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do! If you try this recipe, please leave a comment! I love your feedback.

Cheers!

Lin

Thyroid Antibodies: Why Test?

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Thyroid antibody lab tests are tests often overlooked by physicians when checking for thyroid disease. This is unfortunate because when caught early, the amount and length of time the thyroid is being attacked could be decreased. If you are interested in learning more about thyroid health, click here for my last post. Hang with me here and we will talk about why thyroid antibody tests are important and if you should have yours checked.

What are Antibodies?

An antibody is a protein made by plasma cells in response to an antigen, or a substance the body thinks is a “bad guy”. Each antibody can bind to only 1 antigen in order for the immune system to attack and destroy that antigen. So, obviously, thyroid antibodies set up an attack on the thyroid gland, each one in a different way.

Anti-thyroperoxidase (TPO) antibodies are the most common and are associated with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis along with anti-thyroglobulin (Anti-Tg) antibodies. Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) Receptor (TSHR-Ab) antibodies are associated with Graves’ Disease.

Did you know that thyroid antibodies can be present before other thyroid hormones are out of “normal” range?  

So, if I ask you if you’ve had your thyroid labs check and you are like, “yep, my doctor says my thyroid is good”, it is usually only a TSH level that is checked. This lab test can only give us a small picture of what is going on with the thyroid or maybe not tell us anything at all. Antibodies can be present for years before we see a change in the TSH level. This is super frustrating because if antibodies are present, they can slowly destroy the thyroid over time. This will eventually cause the thyroid to not be able to produce hormone efficiently, then causing the change in TSH.

Thyroid antibodies can produce symptoms even when there is no hypothyroidism detected. Symptoms can include fatigue, anxiety, depression, weight gain, general poor feeling and potential for miscarriage. So no, you are not crazy when you tell your doctor you think there is something else going on even though your labs don’t show it.

Thyroid antibodies with a normal TSH can be an early warning sign of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease. It is estimated that 90% or more of those with hypothyroidism have Hashimoto’s disease. But, not all of those with Hashimoto’s will have elevated antibodies and will need a thyroid ultrasound if symptoms persist. I am one of the few with hypothyroidism and not Hashimoto’s. If there are antibodies present and an elevated TSH, Hashimoto’s is likely in the later stages.

Why are doctors not testing antibodies?

After reading the information above, you may be asking this same question. Right? Many general medicine practitioners don’t think that an autoimmune disease can be treated and reversed. Therefore, there is no need to know if antibodies are present because it doesn’t change their treatment plan. The root cause doesn’t really matter. They will treat the thyroid if the labs show that it makes sense. Or, if they are aware of autoimmunity, they want to suppress the immune system causing more problems and side effects.  

If I have antibodies will I always have antibodies?

There is no cure for autoimmune disease. Once autoimmunity is present, there is always a potential for your immune system to attack your own cells causing problems. There is, however, a way to support the immune system, reverse or decrease autoimmunity and prevent further attack on the body. Nutrition and lifestyle play a large role in supporting the immune system and this topic deserves multiple blog posts! And, just so you know, I care about the root cause and it does matter!

Antibody levels will change in response to underlying causes, like stress, food sensitivities and infections. It is important to also look at the big picture of how you are feeling. If you have antibodies, it is great to have them checked occasionally with your other labs because it can tell you if your interventions are working or if you are maybe having a flare up and need to try something different.

Who should have thyroid antibodies tested?

If your doctor is already doing blood work to check your thyroid health, I recommend asking for a full thyroid panel, which will include antibody tests. It is great to get these labs done and see the full picture from the start. If this isn’t being done, here are some reasons you may want to ask for thyroid antibody tests:  

  • You have another autoimmune disease like celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, Sjogren’s, etc. Once you have an autoimmune disease, you are 3x more likely to develop another one.

  • You have classic symptoms of a thyroid issue but your TSH continues to come back in the “normal” range.

  • You have a close family member with an autoimmune disease, especially Hashimoto’s or Graves’ disease.

  • You’ve been diagnosed with hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism but have not had antibody tests done.

Antibodies can be an important piece of information when we are looking at thyroid health and thyroid diseases. They do matter and they can be decreased with immune system support. Antibodies can be present long before the thyroid is showing signs of attack and decreased function. As always, be aware of symptoms and be diligent in finding a doctor who will listen to you.

In health,

Lin

Thyroid Awareness Month: What You Should Know

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January is Thyroid Awareness Month so I wanted to bring a little more awareness to this growing group of diseases and overall thyroid health throughout this month. Have you ever heard of thyroid disease? Do you know what your thyroid is and what it does? Did you know that Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is one of the most prevalent autoimmune diseases? In this post I’ll talk more about the thyroid gland, thyroid diseases, thyroid testing and and why it is all important.

I wish I had known way more about thyroid health much sooner than when I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. The more I’ve learned and read about hypothyroidism, the more I’m convinced it started after my pregnancy, which was 8 years prior to my diagnosis. I dealt with postpartum depression as well as some other bouts of depression, anxiety, stubborn weight that doesn’t come off easily, thinning and dry hair, and mood issues. I still deal with some of these occasionally but it’s so much better than it was. You can read more about my story in this post. Determination to figure out how to feel better is what drove me toward integrative and functional nutrition, especially working with others with thyroid disease.

According to The American Thyroid Association, more than 12% of the American population will develop a thyroid condition at some time in their life. That is about 1 out of every 8 Americans, with women being 5 to 8 times more likely to develop thyroid disease. But, they say that up to 60% of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition. That is a very large percentage! Undiagnosed thyroid disease can lead to many health problems including cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and infertility. That is why thyroid awareness is so important!

What is the Thyroid Gland?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the middle of the neck that produces hormones. It plays a major role in metabolism and growth and development. It controls our body temperature, how efficiently our body burns energy, and our menstrual cycles just to name a few. Basically, thyroid hormones affect every cell and organ in the body.

The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine or tetraiodothyronine). The body needs more T3, the active form, but produces more T4, which must be converted into T3. There is a potential of underlying causes not allowing proper conversion of T4 to T3, which can cause hypothyroid symptoms.

Then there is thyroid stimulating hormone, or TSH, which is produced by the pituitary gland. Its job is to signal the thyroid to release hormones, which will depend on the amount of hormones already circulating in the blood. It all needs to work together properly for optimal thyroid function.

What is Thyroid Disease?

There are different types of thyroid diseases where too little or too much thyroid hormone is produced. There are also autoimmune thyroid diseases that attack the thyroid gland. I’ll briefly discuss hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Graves’ Disease.

Hypothyroidism is where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone, or is underactive. It is much more common than hyperthyroidism. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include weight gain, sensitivity to cold, fatigue, brain fog, anxiety, depression, constipation, dry and brittle fingernails, loss or thinning of hair, irregular menstrual cycles, edema and puffiness, joint aches, and trouble sleeping. I suffer(ed) from many of these symptoms and didn’t realize they were all related.

Hyperthyroidism is an overactive thyroid or where the thyroid produces too much hormone. Symptoms include unexplained weight loss, rapid heart rate, excess sweating, irritability, and shaky hands.

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease, meaning the immune system attacks its own healthy cells. With Hashimoto’s, the immune system attacks the thyroid gland and produces antibodies against the thyroid eventually causing the thyroid to not produce hormone properly. It is estimated that around 90% of those with hypothyroidism have Hashimoto’s.

Graves’ Disease is also an autoimmune disease, where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. The antibodies produced in Graves’ Disease cause the thyroid gland to grow and produce too much thyroid hormone. It can also cause problems with the eyes, called Graves’ Ophthalmopathy.

What Tests Detect Thyroid Disease?

TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) - This is the most common thyroid test run when checking for thyroid function. The lab range is controversial. Most functional medicine doctors looking for a lower number than conventional medicine ranges for optimal symptom improvement.

Free T3 - the amount of T3 hormone circulating in the bloodstream

Free T4 - the amount of T3 hormone circulating in the bloodstream

Reverse T3 - produced from T4 but blocks the action of free T3 so it can not be used.

The following antibody tests are used to diagnose autoimmune thyroid disease.

TPOAb - thyroid peroxidase antibody

TgAb - thyroglobulin antibody

A full thyroid panel should include all of these tests. The reverse T3 may be an add-on test and not included in the panel.

Takeaways

With as many as 60% of Americans unaware that they have a thyroid disease, it is important to be aware of symptoms and to have a regular screening done by your physician. Many women present to their doctor with symptoms of a thyroid disorder but are referred to other specialists or are treated for their individual symptoms rather than looking at the thyroid. If you are like me, you don’t even realize that the thyroid can be to blame.

If you aren’t sure if your doctor is checking any thyroid labs when you do blood work, ask. If you aren’t sure if your doctor is running all of the appropriate thyroid labs, ask. If your doctor is dismissing your symptoms or prescribing medications for your individual symptoms, find a second opinion and someone who will listen. Know your body, know your symptoms and take control of your health.

Comment below on anything you’d like to know more about with thyroid health. Want to learn more about what I do? Schedule a free call here.

In health,

Lin

Inflammation: What You Need to Know and How to Reduce It

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Inflammation is a word that gets thrown around a lot in the nutrition world. Maybe you’ve heard of inflammatory diseases or an anti-inflammatory diet? I was pretty unaware of inflammation until it affected me. I first found out about my inflammation about a year ago after tests run by a functional medicine clinic. I started going there because of some problems I was having that I couldn’t figure out. My inflammatory marker, CRP, was high and I was also having insulin resistance, which goes hand-in-hand with inflammation. I was completely shocked that I was dealing with insulin resistance but it was starting to make much more sense. There were things happening in my body causing problems that I didn’t know about. That’s just my story but it also may sound a lot like your story.  

So, what exactly is inflammation and how does it work in our body? There is a lot of information when it comes to inflammation and it can be very sciency! Is that even a word? Yep, pretty sure it is. Let’s break this information down to help make sense of it. And, just the juicy tidbits instead of all the blah, blah, blah stuff. I personally like the blah, blah, blah stuff but I’m a geek.

What is Inflammation?

Inflammation is the body’s natural immune response to a stimulus, usually to protect itself from harm. Inflammation can be good and bad, also known as acute and chronic. Acute inflammation happens when we get a cut and our body sends out the defenses to heal the wound. This is good and is shorter in duration. We need inflammation to survive. Chronic inflammation happens when our immune system is consistently in the “on” switch causing a release of chemicals that cause damage leading to disease. This is bad and long term. Chronic inflammation is responsible for pain and tissue destruction in disease.

What Causes Inflammation?

In working to figure out how to calm chronic inflammation to heal, we must understand the causes of inflammation. According to integrative and functional Dr. Mark Hyman, the list of causes isn’t very long. His list of causes of inflammation:

  • Poor diet: mostly sugar, refined flours, processed foods and inflammatory fats such as trans fats.

  • Lack of exercise

  • Stress

  • Hidden or chronic infections with viruses, bacteria, yeasts or parasites

  • Hidden allergens from food or environment

  • Toxins such as mercury and pesticides

  • Mold toxins and allergens

 I would also add to this list:

  • Excessive exercise

  • Gut dysbiosis or imbalance of good and bad bacteria (often caused by diet and medications)

  • Negative thoughts and emotions

Inflammation is very individual and it can be hidden to some. It can present in different ways, even in people with the same disease. The key is for health practitioners to work with an individual to find their specific inflammatory triggers by digging into their health history and testing to get more specific information. Testing can be very helpful when we talk about food allergies or sensitivities, toxins and chronic infections. There are also a few tests that can determine inflammation in the body with C-reactive protein (CRP) being most common. This is the test I had run. Mine was 1.2 with optimal (according to my practitioner) being <0.3 so it wasn’t terrible but wasn’t awesome. If you suspect inflammation, ask your doctor for this test with your next set of labs.

What Diseases are Correlated with Chronic Inflammation

Inflammation is at the root of many common and chronic conditions. It can slowly cause problems with many systems in our body. We usually don’t know about the inflammation until major issues and symptoms show up. If it is a chronic disease, you can bet there is underlying systemic inflammation that needs to be dealt with. Here is a small list of inflammatory diseases:

  •   Metabolic disorders

    • Type 2 Diabetes, sleep apnea, heart disease, fatty liver disease

  • Cancers

  • Neurological Disorders

    • Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, ALS

  • Autoimmune diseases

  • Bone, muscular and skeletal disorders

    • Osteoporosis, osteoarthritis

  • GI disorders

    • IBS, IBD, Chron’s, Colitis (microscopic and ulcerative)

  • Mental disorders

    • Depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, Autism spectrum disorders

Symptoms of inflammation include

  • Brain fog

  • Swelling

  • Headaches and migraines

  • Insulin resistance

  • Fatigue

How Can You Reduce Inflammation?

There are a number of strategies that can help to reduce inflammation in the body. Let’s talk about the heavy hitters that can give you a big bang for your efforts.

1. Eat real food. Yes, I said it. Eat real, high-quality food, lots of colors, lots of flavors and things you can pronounce. Anti-inflammatory diets can be helpful in reducing inflammation as the name would suggest. See your dietitian (or me =) ) for guidance starting an anti-inflammatory diet.

2. Decrease inflammatory fats and oils and increase anti-inflammatory fats and fatty foods. This could go with #1 but I like it on it’s own. Inflammatory oils are often found in processed packaged foods like chips, crackers, frozen meals, and shelf-stable peanut butter. Get my free guide to healthy fats here.

3. Exercise, but not too much. Studies have shown that exercise can protect against chronic diseases. Over-exercising can cause more stress on the body leading to increased inflammation.

4. Control blood sugar levels. Decrease or eliminate sugar and processed carbohydrates, eat at regular intervals and include protein and healthy fat with meals and snacks.

5. Address food sensitivities. This can reduce inflammation quickly. An elimination diet can help with finding food sensitivities but you can have a sensitivity to even the healthiest foods you eat. See my post on the MRT food sensitivity test and the LEAP program for more information.

6. Address nutrient deficiencies. Talk to your physician or dietitian about testing for nutrient deficiencies, and more than just vitamin D and B12. If this isn’t an option, a high-quality multivitamin and mineral supplement is never a bad idea to fill in the gaps. I also like a high-quality vitamin D with vitamin K-2 supplement for most of us.

7. Relax, de-stress and get adequate sleep. Is this a joke? No, no it’s not. Lack of sleep increases stress. Stress, as mentioned above, can cause inflammation. Find your favorite ways to relax. Maybe yoga, meditation, bubble baths, music, more time with friends, a vacation. Allow yourself this time. Get on a better sleep routine and aim for 8 hours a night. Read my post on the importance of sleep.

8. Minimize toxic burden. Decrease exposure to plastics, pesticides, oxidative fats, pollutants, and harsh chemicals. What goes on your body and on/in your food is important also.

I hope this gives you some good, useful information. I am definitely not saying that everyone is dealing with chronic inflammation that is causing problems. I am saying that if you have a chronic condition or generally don’t feel well, taking some action to reduce inflammation can make a big difference. I would also take away that your lifestyle now can play a role in your health later down the road. I know it is a lot of information to digest so feel free to leave me your questions. You can also schedule a free 15 minute discovery call with me if you would like to learn more about working with a registered dietitian.

Lin