Did you know that your thyroid is connected to your gut? For patients with autoimmune disorders like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a healthy gut is very important because gut health significantly influences autoimmunity.
How Does Poor Gut Health Affect Your Thyroid Health?
Your gut is home to 70% of your body’s immune system. Tissues within the gut store immune cells that attack and produce antibodies against foreign substances such as viruses or bacteria. A healthy intestinal lining allows nutrients and other biological substances to be filtered through for use by the body. It also serves as a barrier to keep unhealthy substances from passing through, including bacteria, toxins, yeasts, undigested proteins and fats, and other toxins.
When the intestinal lining becomes inflamed and porous, these toxins may pass, or “leak,” through the lining of the small intestine into the sterile environment of the blood stream. This triggers an immune response, which creates inflammation throughout the body.
Studies have shown that leaky gut can play a role in the development of autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. As gut health becomes more compromised, autoimmune diseases can becomes more severe.
What Causes Leaky Gut?
A variety of factors can cause leaky gut, including poor diet, chronic stress, infections, dysbiosis (an imbalance in intestinal bacteria), parasites, yeast, prescription drugs, and exposure to environmental toxins.
- A healthy gut requires a healthy diet. Eating a diet high in sugar and processed foods can increase the risk of leaky gut.
- A deficiency in nutrients can also contribute to leaky gut, especially a deficiency in vitamin D. Other important nutrients for gut health include zinc and vitamin B-6, which maintain intestinal wall integrity and product hydrochloric acid. Vitamin A helps build healthy mucosal linings, including the lining of the intestines. And the amino acid, L-glutamine, plays a role in the normal repair process of the intestines.
- Poor glutathione levels can also be a factor in leaky gut. Glutathione is often called the master oxidant. It is necessary to repair and defend the gut lining.
And, while a leaky gut can cause an autoimmune disorder such as Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disorder can be the cause of leaky gut.
What are the Symptoms?
In spite of its ability to cause serious issues with your health, leaky gut can have very vague symptoms. Patients often complain of joint pain, swelling or arthritis, and may experience mental fog or fatigue. Food allergies or sinus and nasal congestion can also be a symptom, especially if it appears shortly after you eat. Other signs can include poor healing, poor memory and mood swings, chronic inflammation, and bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and celiac disease.
How Can You Heal Your Gut?
One of the most common causes of leaky gut is eating gluten, a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, and spelt. Many studies have linked Hashimoto’s thyroiditis with gluten intolerance. Eliminating gluten from the diet can be very beneficial in reducing inflammation and allowing the gut to restore and heal.
Supplements beneficial to healing the gut include L-glutamine, Quercetin, Bromelain, Tumeric, and milk thistle, among others. These supplements can support healing of the intestinal lining and reduce inflammation.
Digestive enzymes can help digestion and absorption of foods while creating a healthy pH within the gut.
Finally, many patients find improvement with an anti-inflammatory diet. While these diets vary, they all typically focus on eating whole foods found in the produce and meat sections of the grocery store, with an emphasis on lots of healthy fruits and leafy green vegetables. Some diets call for elimination of common food allergies, including dairy, soy, eggs and nuts.
An important strategy in managing an autoimmune disease like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is to repair the health of your gut. If you are having vague symptoms or digestive issues, it might be time to speak with your doctor about your gut.