Gut-Thyroid Connection


Everyone needs to take care of their gut microbiome, men, women, and kids alike. However, I have found in my practice over the past few years that many of the issues that plague women have to do with this, so I thought it important to speak specifically on matters that affect us.

For example, there’s a lot of talk about the thyroid in the world of wellness today. Some of you reading might have thyroid issues. This butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the throat is part of the endocrine system. The thyroid is small, but mighty. It creates hormones that regulate the body’s energy, otherwise known as metabolism! We all know why we need to care about that.



The thyroid also plays a role in:

  • Immune function

  • Detoxification

  • Weight

  • Sex drive

  • Blood pressure regulation

  • Tissue development

  • Energy levels

  • Sleep patterns

The thyroid is constantly in conversation with your body and the environment. As you can imagine, when it stops working properly, many functions are affected. The two main ways the thyroid can malfunction are referred to as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.


Hypothyroidism occurs when not enough thyroid hormone is produced. The most common cause is an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. With this disease, we tend to see weight gain, mood swings, hair loss, and constipation, among other things.


Hyperthyroidism occurs when too much thyroid hormone is produced. The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is another autoimmune disease called Graves’ disease. Those affected by this are more likely to see weight loss, insomnia, anxiety, brain fog, and diarrhea.

Another common thyroid condition is goiter, which is a non-cancerous enlargement of the thyroid.


All three conditions are a type of autoimmune disease (AID). The common theme with these thyroid imbalances is that they typically emerge as autoimmune issues, which result from a combination of genetic and environmental toxins. They have to make it into the body somehow, and it’s usually through the gut. When the toxins leak into our body, it makes matters way worse!

Gut health is proving to be directly correlated to autoimmune disease in the thyroid. Thyroid autoimmune conditions occur at higher rates in those with celiac disease. Hypothyroidism has been correlated with heartburn. Many people with autoimmune diseases of all kinds also test positive for a leaky gut. And studies are finding that people with AID tend to have altered gut bacteria. Yikes!

As I mentioned just earlier, when the gut is leaky, all kinds of toxins can irritate the system. This can activate the immune response and irritate the immune tissue that lines the gut. When gut immune tissue is irritated, it causes cortisol to rise, which in turn decreases thyroid hormone production.

Don’t let this scare you if you do feel you have some issues with your thyroid. Find a primary care MD (again, preferably in functional medicine) to get some testing done. In the meantime, the following actions will help:


  • Crowd out gluten and dairy.

  • Avoid endocrine disruptors in the environment.

  • Eat your (organic) veggies.

  • Support the gut with fermented foods and probiotics.

  • Limit foods with heavy metals.

 

Sources:

Jes Royston | Green Mama Tribe

jesroyston.com

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