The Gut-Thyroid Connection
Did you know that your gut is one of the most important organs in your body?
From digesting the food that we eat to protecting our bodies from unwanted toxins, it is the powerhouse behind many critical processes in the body - including your thyroid function.
The gut (also known as the gastrointestinal tract) is responsible for absorbing and digesting food and the thyroid is a gland that produces hormones that regulate metabolism. While they may be opposite areas of the body, reactions in the gut can cause a domino effect for the thyroid.
The connection between gut and thyroid health is a complex one, but it is important to understand as they are closely linked.
What is leaky gut disease?
One of the major connections between the gut and thyroid function is the concept of "leaky gut disease." Developing from the overuse of medications or consuming a poor diet (consuming gluten, sugar and high-inflammatory foods), leaky gut means the gut lining has developed small microscopic holes. When this happens, food macromolecules begin to leak through the holes into the bloodstream. This initiates an autoimmune response, as the body's immune system begins to attack the molecules that have leaked into an area they don’t belong. Unfortunately, this autoimmune response can also trick the body into attacking other tissues in the body, including the thyroid.
When the thyroid becomes damaged, it can lead to a range of health problems. One of the most common symptoms of a thyroid disorder is weight gain or weight loss, but other symptoms can include fatigue, depression, and changes in skin and hair.
If you are experiencing thyroid dysfunction, you will have to play a bit of detective to get to the root cause of what is REALLY going on.
A simple TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) test that you would receive at a doctor's office will only tell you if your thyroid hormones are off - but not the true root cause. Therefore, it is important to consider other tests such as a comprehensive stool test, food allergy testing, and other diagnostic tools to get a full picture of what is going on with your body. It is essential that you partner with a functional medicine doctor to complete this comprehensive testing panel if you want to find out what is really going wrong.
Start healing your gut naturally
One way to start improving gut and thyroid health is by eating a healthy diet. A diet high in gluten and sugar can contribute to the development of a leaky gut, while a diet high in nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can help to improve gut and thyroid health. It is also important to avoid processed foods and foods that are high in artificial ingredients as they can contribute to inflammation in the gut and thyroid.
Another way to improve gut and thyroid health is by taking probiotics. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in the gut and can help to improve gut function and overall health. They can also help to reduce inflammation and improve the gut's ability to absorb nutrients. It can take months of probiotic supplementation to counteract ONE round of antibiotics, so if you’ve been prone to infections in your life, it’s time to start supplementing ASAP.
If you suspect that your thyroid is not behaving optimally, it’s time to get back to basics and reevaluate what is going into your body. By preventing leaky gut disease, you can avoid thyroid dysfunction, decrease your chances of developing other autoimmune conditions, and get on the fast track to feeling healthier.