The vast network of connections inside the human body frequently astounds us. One such fascinating relationship is the one that exists between gut health and thyroid function.
The gut, sometimes known as the “second brain,” plays an important role in general well-being, and recent research suggests a significant link between a healthy gut and good thyroid function.
Research has indicated that individuals with autoimmune hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) have an increased susceptibility to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). In SIBO, particular microbes can infect and multiply in the small intestine, giving rise to gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms such as gas, bloating, and abdominal distention.
The gut and thyroid may appear to be peripheral musicians in the orchestra of body functioning, but they are intricately connected. Trillions of bacteria, collectively known as the gut microbiota, live in the gut and impact numerous aspects of health, including immune function, digestion, and hormonal balance.
The gut is a target organ of thyroid hormone and the gut microbiome is involved in thyroid hormone metabolism. The gut acts as a reservoir for thyroid hormones, particularly triiodothyronine (T3), and interacts with thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and T3.
Gut microbes contribute to autoimmune thyroid disease through altered intestinal permeability and molecular mimicry. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease, two common autoimmune thyroid conditions, have been linked to a disrupted gut.
- Leaky Gut Syndrome: An important element in the gut-thyroid relationship is the leaky gut syndrome, a disorder in which the intestinal lining becomes more porous, enabling undigested food particles, poisons, and germs to enter the circulation. This, in turn, can set off an immunological response, resulting in inflammation and perhaps autoimmune responses affecting the thyroid.
Leaky gut causes include NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen), antibiotics, birth control pills, chronic stress, high-sugar diet, and gluten consumption.
- Gut microbiome influence: The ratio of good to bad bacteria in the gut is critical for general health. A healthy gut flora aids in immune system regulation, inflammatory management, and even vitamin production. An imbalance can lead to the development of autoimmune illnesses, including thyroid disorders such as Graves’ disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, thyroid nodules, and thyroid cancer.
Studies have reported that that gut microbial imbalance can affect the availability of nutrients essential for thyroid hormone production.
Studies have reported an association between gut dysbiosis and primary hypothyroidism.
The gut microbiota among individuals with high-grade thyroid nodules is characterized by increased degradation of amino acids and decreased production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) such as butyrate.
A 2014 study reported that individuals with hyperthyroidism have significantly lowered Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria counts and significantly increased Enterococcus abundance compared to healthy individuals.
- Gastrointestinal (GI) inflammation can truncate gut villi, which are small, finger-like projections that increase the surface area of the lining, which is responsible for nutrient transfer to the body. The truncation decreases the absorption of selenium and iodine, which are critical to thyroid health.
GI inflammation can also increase cortisol levels, which can interfere with the ability to produce active thyroid hormones. This can increase estrogen levels, making thyroid hormones unavailable.
- Gut motility: Thyroid hormones increase gut motility, which is the contraction of smooth muscles in the gastrointestinal system responsible for transporting food and waste through the tract. Bacterial overgrowth thrives in the small intestine due to decreased motility and constipation.
Here are some methods to enhance your gut health and boost thyroid activity:
- Dietary changes: Adopting a gut-friendly diet can help significantly. Include probiotic-rich foods like kefir, yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kimchi in your diet to encourage the growth of healthy bacteria. Fiber-rich meals including vegetables, fruits, and whole grains can also help maintain a healthy gut.
- Probiotics: Probiotic supplements may be useful in some circumstances, particularly if there is a significant imbalance in the gut flora. These supplements can help reestablish a healthy balance by introducing helpful microorganisms.
A study reported that the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum combined with methimazole enhanced thyroid function in Graves’ disease patients. The improvement might be attributed to the gut-thyroid axis. Lactobacillus reuteri supplementation can improve thyroid function in mice.
- Remove food sensitivities for four to eight weeks. An elimination diet can be followed to remove top allergens such as dairy, gluten, corn, soy, caffeine, legumes, and nuts. Removing potentially irritating foods reduces inflammation as well as the self-attack in autoimmunity.
- Stress management: Chronic stress can have an adverse effect on gut health and lead to inflammation. Yoga, deep breathing, and meditation can help reduce stress, which benefits both gut and thyroid health.
- Avoid inflammatory foods: Certain foods might cause inflammation and aggravate digestive troubles. Limit or avoid refined grains, alcohol, sugar, and processed foods, as they can negatively impact the gut lining.
- Identify food sensitivities: Some individuals may be sensitive to specific meals, which can lead to stomach troubles. Working with a healthcare practitioner to identify and eliminate certain trigger foods may be extremely beneficial to gut healing.
- Balanced lifestyle: Regular exercise, appropriate sleep, and a balanced lifestyle all help to improve general health, including gut and thyroid function. Prioritize enough rest and physical activity to aid your body’s natural healing process.
- Repair the gut lining. Glutamine and immunoglobulin supplementations can heal a leaky gut. Curcumin may also be beneficial in gut lining repair.
Improving thyroid function may benefit from addressing gut health and establishing a healthy gut flora. The gut microbiota and its metabolites may alter thyroid function by influencing dietary intake, hormone conversion, and immunological modulation.
You empower yourself to take proactive actions toward general well-being by knowing and fostering the gut-thyroid relationship.
Consultation with a healthcare practitioner is required to build a customized strategy geared to your unique requirements and health objectives. Adopting a holistic strategy that takes into account both gut and thyroid health may be a life-changing path toward a happier, more balanced existence.