Gut Health and Thyroid? There IS a Connection!

It’s Thursday and my goal is to bring you an informational blog post on Thursdays. I love sharing recipes but my heart is for you to be equipped with knowledge and information so you can make wise choices AND be in charge of your own health and wellness.

My heart has been and always will be to help others. I just have such a passion for people opening their eyes and experiencing truth. Some say truth is relative, but in reality truth never changes. There are laws that govern how we obtain health and wellness and the fact of the matter is that we were CREATED to consume God made foods and live an overall healthy lifestyle through movement, sunshine, quality sleep, clean air and water. Those are truths that will never change no matter what anyone else says. That is just how our bodies were created to function and when we take those things away, that is when we see disease and people living in un-wellness.

So on to today’s topic: Thyroid Health

Without a healthy gut, people can’t absorb nutrients, filter toxins, and eliminate waste from the body. All of these functions are essential to ongoing wellness. In fact, seemingly unrelated conditions can arise from poor gut health like anxiety, ADHD, depression, thyroid issues, and more. Once the you have restored your gut health, the symptoms of these conditions will often disappear.

Some issues that may be related to poor gut health include allergies, inflammation, and malnutrition. Because much of the immune system exists in the digestive tract, poor gut health can make you more susceptible to autoimmune diseases, mental disorders, and infections.

90% of those with hypothyroidism is caused by Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune thyroid disease.  Since most of the immune system is situated in the gastrointestinal tract, poor gut health is a significant factor in triggering and exacerbating autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s. Thyroid issues lead to hormonal imbalances and stressed out adrenals.

One little known role of the gut bacteria is to assist in converting inactive T4 into the active form of thyroid hormone, T3.  About 20 percent of T4 is converted to T3 in the GI tract, in the forms of T3 sulfate and triiodothyroacetic acid. The conversion of T3S and T3AC into active T3 requires an enzyme called intestinal sulfatase.  Where does intestinal sulfatase come from? You guessed it: healthy gut bacteria. Intestinal dysbiosis, an imbalance between pathogenic and beneficial bacteria in the gut,  which significantly reduces the conversion of T3S and T3AC to T3.  This is one reason why people with poor gut function may have thyroid symptoms but normal lab results. Inflammation in the gut also reduces T3 by raising cortisol. Cortisol decreases active T3 levels while increasing levels of inactive T3; thus possibly leading to burned out adrenals.  Are you with me so far? Your thyroid function has less to do with your thyroid and more to do with your gut health. “But Kasey I have tried to eliminate XYZ from my diet and take my probiotics and nothing worked.” Well, good for you for trying but I hate to tell you that your gut health is WAY more involved than semi-eliminating some foods and taking a probiotic. We need to heal, literally on a cellular level. We need to close any gut permeability. We need to address parasite and yeast overgrowth like candida. We need to check for SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) because somewhere along the way your gut didn’t just magically stop functioning properly leaving you with compromised gut health and an improper functioning thyroid. Something triggered your thyroid issues and typically it’s a combination of years of poor eating, hidden food allergies, parasite or fungus in the gut just to name a few. So many of your thyroid anti-bodies are actually created in the gut. Poor gut health over time leads to thyroid issues. Some people say, “oh but mine is genetic,” but guys EPIGENETICS. YOU ARE NOT BOUND TO YOUR GENES. Just because your mother, sister, and aunts have it doesn’t mean YOU have to. Think of your genes like a switch. You have the power to keep them off or turn them on and good news for you is, you can turn them off once they are on. Epigenetics is amazing. 

So we’ve made the connection that poor gut health can lead to thyroid issues like hypothyroidism and hashimotos but what else? This is where is where we see some more pieces of the puzzle start to come together. How many people have thyroid issues who also have gallbladder or liver issues? A sluggish gallbladder interferes with proper liver detoxification and prevents hormones (ope now we have introduced gut health, thyroid malfunction, gallbladder and liver issues and now hormones) from being cleared from the body, and hypothyroidism impairs gall bladder function by reducing bile flow. While some fat in the liver is normal, if it exceeds 5 to 10 percent of total weight of the organ, it is considered fatty liver and the first stage of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). If fatty liver progresses unchecked, it can lead all the way to cirrhosis. (Alcohol abuse can also cause fatty liver disease and the majority of alcoholics have a fatty liver.) NAFLD is the most common liver disorder in the west, affecting as many as one third of Americans. It primarily afflicts those who are overweight and middle-aged, but NAFLD is increasingly affecting children and teens due to their over consumption of sodas, sweets, and high-carb foods. High cholesterol and diabetes are typically found with NAFLD too. People with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism are also at a higher risk of NAFLD because of the affect of hypothyroidism on fat metabolism and liver function.

Now we have a messed up gut and digestive system which can lead to a plethora of issues that aren’t really even related to the gut…or are they?! Of course they are! So when doctors try to fix the thyroid only, or manage it’s symptoms, WITHOUT addressing the entirety of what started the thyroid issues in the first place, they are really doing you a disservice and not allowing you to fully heal. It is a lie that you will always have thyroid issues and be on medication forever. That is a lie from the enemy because he wants to keep you in bondage. I repeat, your body was designed to heal! That is truth. If it wasn’t, then when we get sick we would just die.

All of these connections make it clear that you can’t have a healthy gut without a healthy thyroid, and you can’t have a healthy thyroid without a healthy gut.  We have this thing called the gut-thyroid-adrenal-hormonal axis and when one is out, they all will be. We cannot reverse or heal one of those issues without looking at all 4. To restore proper function of the gut-thyroid-adrenal-hormonal axis, all must be addressed simultaneously. 

How do you start on your healing journey? The way to do it isn’t complex but it is too hard and bioindivideal to write in this short blog post. But I will give you a few points you can work on. Please, if you are suffering from thyroid issues know that you are not bound to them for the rest of your life. You CAN heal it. I would highly encourage you to work with a naturopath or functional medical doctor who will not just address surface levels issues but will dive deep and help you and EQUIP you with the knowledge to heal on a cellular level.

1. The absolute number one thing to do if you are suffering from thyroid issues is to remove gluten and dairy from you diet. No, not forever, although consuming them in a highly processed non-organic form will not bring health to your body even after your body is healed, but at least until we have eliminated all unwanted symptoms and you are thriving in your every day life. Why gluten and dairy you are thinking?

Gluten is one of the main causes of leaky gut in people that I see with thyroid issues, hormonal problems, and autoimmune diseases.  When one eats gluten-containing food, the gluten proteins make their way through the stomach and arrive at the small intestine, where the body responds by producing zonulin, a chemical that signals the tight junctions of the intestinal walls to open up, creating permeability.  Now that your permeable small intestine has allowed toxins, microbes, and partially digesting food to leak into your bloodstream, your immune system goes on high alert to neutralize all of these threats. But, because your gut is still key, the threats just keep on coming, putting your body in a state of chronic inflammation and putting you on the path to develop an autoimmune disease or other disease as your immune system becomes so stressed that it begins attacking your own tissue by mistake.  Unfortunately, the gluten that caused your gut to become leaky also makes it more likely that you will develop thyroid disease, due to its structural similarity to your thyroid tissue. Now hear me out, this is an important part of equipping you with knowledge: Every time your body is exposed to a dangerous outside invader, your immune system memorizes its structure, specifically its protein sequence, so that it can develop the perfect defense to that pathogen and recognize it in the future.  But, the immune system’s recognition system isn’t perfect; as long as a molecule’s structure and protein sequences are similar enough, the immune system can be fooled into attacking look-a-like molecules that are actually your body’s tissue, causing disease.  Unfortunately for the thyroid, it has two common doppelgangers that put it at risk for rogue autoimmune attacks: gliadin (the gluten protein) and casein (a protein found in dairy), both of which are likely rampant in your bloodstream now, thanks to leaky gut.  

Gluten and dairy literally mimic your own thyroid’s protein structure and can cause your thyroid function to worsen every single time you consume them. UNTILLLLL we restore the integrity of the gut that is. So don’t lose hope. Never lose hope because remember, your body IS designed to heal. Just not having gluten and dairy every now and then won’t cut it. The gliadin and casein proteins actually stay in your blood stream and produce a response for up to 4 weeks so at minimum, a 4 week elimination is a must but preferably more.

2. Eat 2-4 raw, organic brazil nuts a day. This is an easy way to get selenium into your diet without taking a supplement. Selenium is highly concentrated in the thyroid and plays a critical role in its proper function. It actually helps to catalyze the conversion of T4 to T3. Selenium also binds to mercury which can be stored in the thyroid making it toxic! Anyone have thyroid issues and mercury fillings? Or used to? Yeah, another piece of the puzzle.

3. Consume kelp every day either on your organic eggs (which are loaded with micronutrients your body needs like selenium, um hello!) or in a smoothie. Kelp is found in the sea and is a concentrated source of iodine. If you are a thyroid patient that doesn’t respond well to synthetic iodine, try kelp. Also, we need both iodine AND selenium; they are cofactors. So if you have tried iodine without selenium and felt worse, that’s why. You needed the selenium too and vice versa. We need iodine to make thyroid hormones. Simple as that and because we as a society and culture do not eat high enough amounts of wild caught sea vegetables and fish, we can easily become deficient in it.

4. Consume fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickles, apple cider vinegar and bone broth. Fermented food help to restore the gut tight junctions and also are loaded with probiotics which help to restore the gut microbiome. BUT you need to feed those good bacteria you are replenishing your gut with and they can’t replenish without having PREbiotics. Prebiotics are found in fibrous vegetables like leafy greens, celery, and any type of vegetable and fruit. So load up on those. A heavy plant-based diet is definitely recommended.

5. Lastly, consume coconut oil. Coconuts are an excellent food all around. Coconut oil contains essential fatty acids needed for proper metabolic function. These fatty acids are easily assimilated by the body and contribute to thyroid function, thyroid hormone production and regulating the metabolism.

Obviously, these are practices that ANYONE can do without side effects or taking your health history into consideration. With that said, and like I said before, there is so much more to healing your thyroid than what your doctor says or even what I have expressed here! I would love to help you on your healing journey if this is something you are struggling with. Please email me office@dosewellness.com and we can connect to make sure you are living a life of wholeness!

Blessings to you! Kasey

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