If you’ve been diagnosed with a thyroid disorder, you may have been told there is nothing more you can do than take your prescription and have your TSH level monitored. It doesn’t matter if you’re still tired, anxious/depressed, constipated, losing your hair, or gaining weight. Your TSH is normal and you just have to deal with it. This is simply not true!
Healing your gut can improve your thyroid function!
Endocrinologists address your hormone levels but not your gut. You might even be wondering, how is my thyroid connected to my gut? They are closely connected, and healing your gut can help restore the function of your thyroid!
Autoimmunity is the most common cause of thyroid dysfunction
The primary cause of hypothyroidism is autoimmunity. What that means is that your immune system doesn’t work properly, typically from some kind of trigger at some point in your life, such as an infection, exposure to a toxin, or food sensitivities. These kinds of exposures can create something called “leaky gut” and cause these foreign substances to cross through this lining. Potential causes of leaky gut include NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen), birth control pill, antibiotics, chronic stress, a diet high in sugar, and even eating gluten.
What is leaky gut and how does it contribute to autoimmunity?
When the gut becomes permeable to foreign substances and they cross through the lining, it stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies and go into attack mode. In Hashimoto’s, or autoimmune thyroid disorder, the body then attacks its own thyroid.
How is your immune system connected to your gut?
The cool thing is that the majority of your immune system lies in your gut. With functional medicine, we can heal the gut, which can then improve your immune system, thereby improving thyroid function!
Additionally, there are other factors in your gut that will contribute to your thyroid not functioning properly. These include:
- GI inflammation. This creates high cortisol, which interferes with the ability to make active thyroid hormones
- This can lead to increased estrogen levels making thyroid hormones unavailable.
So what are the steps we can take to heal your gut?
- Remove potential food sensitivities for 4-8 weeks. An elimination diet removes the top allergens including gluten, dairy, soy, corn, nuts, legumes, and caffeine. Removing potentially irritating foods decreases inflammation and the self attack that occurs in autoimmunity.
- Eradicate bacteria, yeast or parasites. Overgrowth of any of these potential pathogens can contribute to immune system dysregulation, GI symptoms, and autoimmunity. Ask your doctor to test for overgrowth, as even infections that were present as a kid may still be an underlying issue. Many of these “bugs” go undetected for years so it’s best to get assessed and clear them out if necessary.
- Replace digestive enzymes. As we age, our bodies naturally stop producing as many enzymes as they used to. Low stomach acid can contribute to inability to break down food, leading to vitamin deficiencies and more susceptibility to bacterial, yeast, or parasite overgrowth.
- Reinoculate the gut with good bacteria. There are strains of beneficial bacteria in your gut! Fermented foods like pickles, sauerkraut, and kombucha can promote growth of good bacteria in the gut. Supplementing with probiotics is also helpful. Consult your practitioner for the best strain, because they are not created equal. The ones sitting on the shelf in the store are often not viable.
- Repair the gut lining. Supplementing with glutamine or even immunoglobulins can heal leaky gut, as can consumption of high quality bone broth. Curcumin is also beneficial in repairing the lining. This involves more than just eating curry or putting turmeric in your food. A potent supplement with higher amounts of active curcumin is going to provide benefit.
Want to know more? Contact me today for a free consultation so we can begin your healing journey!
Dr. Lori Jokinen, DC CACCP CFMP BA