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3 Ways Your Gut Microbiome Affects Your Thyroid

Still feeling tired, bloated, sluggish even with thyroid medications?

Your thyroid gland is effectively a window for overall health, signaling a problem in some other area of the body.Your thyroid alerts you to a problem somewhere else in the body. Therefore, when your microbiome gets out of balance, your thyroid gland will be negatively affected, resulting in poor cognitive function, low mood, sluggish metabolism, poor energy levels.

What common factors can cause an imbalance in gut bacteria?

· Western diet (i.e. high carb and processed carbs)

· Excessive sugar intake

· Being overweight (or obese)

· Over-use of antibiotics

· High chronic stress levels

· Over-use of stomach acid lowering drugs

· Birth control pills

· Gluten consumption

· Lack of exercise

· Excessive high-intensity exercise

Unfortunately, conventional medicine treats only the symptoms, like placing duct tape over the warning light (so you can’t see it anymore). It doesn’t address the fundamental question of “why” your microbiome (and thyroid) are out balance in the first place.

Here are 3 ways your gut microbiome affects your thyroid:

1) Gut Bacteria & Blood Sugars

Recently, researchers made a major discovery with respect to the impact your microbiome has on your blood sugar response to meals. Conversely, high-GI foods will rapidly increase blood sugars and the blood sugar hormone insulin, leading to increased likelihood you’ll store more of the “excess energy” as body-fat, as well as new research showing it leads to poor cardiovascular and cognitive health in the long-term.

A recent study decided to test the GI-index hypothesis by testing different people - over 800 people fit and overweight subjects - with the same exact foods (i.e. low, medium or high-GI foods). In theory, the GI-index of a food (i.e. an apple) should be very similar for all individuals. However, in practice researchers found markedly different blood sugar response to exactly the same foods. Overweight subjects eating low-GI snacks were exhibiting very large blood sugar spikes, and thus, the authors concluded the gut bacteria was exerting a significant impact on blood sugar response from person to person.

In short, your gut bacteria play a major role in your blood sugar response to food (regardless if it’s a “healthy” choice). This has major trickle down effects on your thyroid because big blood sugars swings lead to energy crashes and a subsequent over-reliance of caffeine and sugar for energy. Blood sugar and insulin dysfunction is a major underlying cause of thyroid dysfunction and restoring a healthy balance of gut bacteria is crucial for stabilizing blood sugars.

2) Microbiome & Chronic Inflammation

If your microbiome is out of balance you’ll likely struggle with consistent bouts of gas, bloating, constipation (or loose stools) and digestive discomfort. An imbalance of “good” to “bad” gut bacteria – known as dysbiosis in medical terms - can wreak havoc on thyroid function because it can trigger a low-grade and systemic inflammatory response by your immune system. Your gut is home to over 80% of your immune system and inflammation is its first response to an insult or damage.

Chronic inflammation throws off your thyroid function in a couple of ways. First, inflammation ignites a fire in your brain (upstream of your thyroid gland), dampening the message from your brain to your thyroid to produce thyroid hormone. This results in low TSH output from the brain, and thus low T4 output by your thyroid. The less thyroid hormone your body makes, the less energy every single cell in your body receives. (No wonder you’re tired).

Next, inflammation impairs thyroid hormone conversion downstream of your thyroid at the tissue level. The fires of low-grade inflammation wear out the receptors at a the tissue level, much like fraying the charger connector on your iPhone, once it no longer fits, you can’t recharge your phone. Similarly, your body can’t recharge its cell and convert T4 into the active T3 hormone.

3) Microbiome & Thyroid Hormone Conversion

One of the most overlooked aspects of thyroid health is the conversion of thyroid hormone. Your T4 hormone (i.e. thyroxine) made by your thyroid gland, must be converted to the “active” T3 (i.e. triiodothyronine) thyroid hormone to exert its positive effects in your body. If you can’t convert T4 into T3 effectively, you won’t reap the benefits of healthy thyroid function, such as a clearer mind, better mood, quicker metabolism, healthy bowel function, healthy skin and hair, the list goes on and on.

Once again, dysbiosis and an imbalanced microbiome is a major roadblock to thyroid hormone conversion. In fact, 20% of your T4 thyroid hormone is converted to the active T3 form in the gut, therefore if struggle with regular gas or bloating, constipation or consistent discomfort then chances are you’ll have poor conversion. In short, if your digestive system isn’t running smoothly, your thyroid won’t likely be either.

There are many reasons why thyroid may be out of balance. Find the root cause.

To set up a FREE 15 minute phone consultation with Dr. Megan Ding, call 704-543-5540 or book online (click here).

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