What do depression, autoimmunity, skin issues, joint pain, headaches, and thyroid issues all have in common? They can all be linked to the health of our gut.
You may be wondering how our thyroid--a butterfly-shaped gland in our necks--can be rooted in the gut. The answer lies in the cyclical nature of the relationship between the gut and thyroid.
Low thyroid function (also known as hypothyroidism) can cause poor digestive health. In turn, poor digestive health can exacerbate the symptoms of hypothyroidism and trigger Hashimoto’s disease (the autoimmune aspect of poor thyroid function).
If you suffer from any of the following symptoms, you may be experiencing issues of the gut that could potentially be affecting your thyroid: heartburn, bloating, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), diarrhea, constipation, or leaky gut. Other, less obvious gut-related symptoms can include: cough, sinus congestion, mood swings, headaches, fatigue, and rashes.
Scientists have discovered nearly 20 percent of our thyroid function depends on the availability of “good” gut bacteria. These beneficial bacteria aid the body in converting the inactive thyroid hormone (T4) to its active form (T3).
Conversely, according to Dr. Datis Kharrazian, an overgrowth of “bad” bacteria in the gut can “reduce thyroid hormone levels, dull thyroid hormone receptor sites, increase the amount of inactive T3...and promote autoimmune thyroid disorders.”
Nearly 70-80 percent of our immune system is found in our gut. Problems, however, may begin to arise when the intestinal lining becomes “leaky”--allowing food particles, pathogens, and other harmful invaders to pass through and enter our bloodstream. An inflammatory response ensues causing an increase in cortisol levels and decrease in active T3.
Potential causes of leaky gut include: NSAIDS (such as ibuprofen), hormonal birth control pills, antibiotics, chronic stress, and a diet high in sugar and/or low in fiber.
Over time, the body will respond to a leaky gut by creating antibodies that potentially can destroy thyroid tissue. If our digestive system is functioning well, however, it can aid in suppressing these antibodies that are associated with autoimmune thyroid diseases such as Graves’ and Hashimoto’s.
Steps Toward Optimal Gut Health
If you suffer from thyroid issues, you need to start healing your gut. Your first step should be to eliminate any possible food triggers (such as dairy, gluten, soy, legumes, corn, and stimulants) and focus on consuming whole foods. It’s also important to eliminate unnecessary medications such as NSAIDS, PPIs, antibiotics, and hormonal birth control.
While healing, it may also be beneficial to incorporate a digestive enzyme in your daily regimen. Also include fermented vegetables and probiotics to add beneficial bacteria.
Our thyroid gland is responsible for regulating our metabolism, heart, digestive function, muscle control, and mood. In order to achieve both physical and mental wellness, the thyroid must be functioning efficiently.
If you suffer from issues of the gut, it is unlikely that your thyroid will ever function optimally. As such, it is imperative to address the health of your gut in order to address suppressed thyroid function.
At Total Body Health, with the help of functional lab testing, we can assess the health of your gut and thyroid and develop a protocol to relieve you of your symptoms. Give us a call for your FREE consultation.