I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” It seems that there are many situations in life that can be represented by this. One of which is the connection between gut health and thyroid health. A healthy gut supports a healthy thyroid, and vice versa. The reverse is also true: problems in the gut create problems with your thyroid health, and low thyroid function can create problems in your gut.
Many people have symptoms of a thyroid imbalance, and yet their blood work comes back normal. What causes this? How can you balance your thyroid if there is nothing measurably wrong? That is where the gut comes in.
The Gut Immune System
Most people are aware of the fact that a good portion of your immune system resides in your gut. In fact, 70-80% of your immune cells are found in your gut immune system.
Something people generally do not know is the fact that thyroid health is very closely linked to gut health. This was news to me! While this may seem like an odd connection, there are very clear reasons why.
The gut immune system controls the production of the active thyroid hormone. Inactive T4 is converted to active T3 in the digestive tract using an enzyme: intestinal sulfatase. When your gut is full of healthy bacteria and your gut immune system is working properly, intestinal sulfatase can flourish and accomplish this conversion.
Why do people have Gut Issues?
In my journey, I have learned that people usually have gut issues due to the long list of antibiotics taken. The more you have taken, the more likely you may have abnormal gut bacteria as well as yeast overgrowth and parasites.
Another huge reason can be stress. Have you heard the saying “stress can kill you”? Well I think it's true! Stress causes low stomach acid production, bile flow, and pancreatic enzyme production. Of course, this will not allow your body to digest and absorb all the vitamins and nutrients needed to be healthy.
A poor diet and food sensitivities can also be contributing factors, causing inflammation and spiking your blood sugar too. Eating on the run causes additional stress to your gut. Try to relax and stay away from watching TV, texting, reading, etc. And most definitely stay away from excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption, especially if you already battle gut problems.
When you suffer from GERD, you’re often given medications to reduce your stomach acid. With a lack of the appropriate amount of stomach acid, harmful bacteria are allowed to proliferate, disrupting the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. This leads to a reduction of intestinal sulfatase, which then leads to a reduction of active T3 that is available to your body.
GERD is also strongly associated with issues like leaky-gut. This is connected to the problem of low stomach acid. The proliferation of unhealthy bacteria causes the intestinal walls to become permeable and porous, and proteins that are not supposed to be in the blood stream are released. These proteins are supposed to stay confined to the digestive tract and when they escape, they trigger the body’s immune response. The body sees these molecules and knows they don’t belong. As your body attempts to eradicate what it sees as an intruder, it is actually attacking itself, and autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s can develop.
Interestingly, the correlation goes both directions. Because your thyroid regulates your body’s metabolism, a sluggish thyroid affects the timely completion of many important bodily functions, including digestion. Slow and sluggish digestion increases the time that food and related bacteria are in your digestive system, giving bad bacteria additional time to multiply and take over. It can also reduce the production of stomach acid, which also contributes to the problem of increased bad bacteria. When the harmful bacteria are allowed to overrun the good bacteria, it leads to the issue we described above—the decrease of the enzyme that converts T4 to T3—reducing your thyroid function even further. It is a vicious circle that if left unchecked can cause a multitude of health issues.
I was diagnosed with GERD since I was really young and I honestly didn’t pay attention to it, I just took my purple pill. Nobody explained to me how serious this condition is and how it can lead to more life threatening illnesses. Many of us ignore the warning signs our bodies send us and hope it will just go away.
Now I understand what has been happening all these years, which explains all the health issues I am now dealing with. Imagine years of accumulating toxins, poor digestion, poor thyroid function leading to a weakened immune system, exposing yourself to develop chronic illnesses.
Our bodies have been created in perfection and it has the capacity to heal. Take responsibility of your health, listen to that inner voice, your healing light that lies from within.
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