The Leaky Gut–Thyroid Connection You Wished Your Doctor Told You About
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Leaky gut is a condition that has become more prevalent in the recent years. This condition isn’t talked about in every doctor’s office but for the doctors that do treat this condition, they claim that 80% of the United States population has a leaky gut to some degree.
What Is Leaky Gut And What Are The Symptoms
Since this condition hasn’t been in the media until recently, you’re probably wondering what leaky gut even mean.
This condition begins in the small intestine. Leaky gut is the result of damage that appears in the intestinal lining, which makes it less likely to filter nutrients. Because of this damage, some toxins, bacteria, incompletely digested fat and protein, and other wastes “leak” into the bloodstream from the intestines.
This process triggers an autoimmune reaction. If you’ve ever experienced the following symptoms, you may have some degree of leaky gut:
- Abdominal gas, bloating and cramping
- Chronic diarrhea or constipation (much like IBS)
- Excessive fatigue
- Poor immune system, falling sick easily
- Headaches, brain fog, poor concentration
- Food Sensitivities
- Skin rashes and problems, such as acne, eczema, hives
- Arthritis or joint pain
- Anxiety, depression, mood swings
- Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, celiac or Crohn’s
Leaky Gut Can Lead To Thyroid Issues
Have you ever wondered why thyroid issues are becoming so common lately? Per The American Thyroid Association, over 12% of the United States population will endure a thyroid condition at some point in their life. Nearly 20 million Americans live with some form of thyroid disease!
Each day you live in a constant state of risk for leaky gut. Between the stress that consumes your life, toxins in your home and office, and the processed food that you eat, it can be hard to avoid leaky gut.
When leaky gut becomes an issue in your body, it can wreak havoc on your body’s immune system. In fact, did you know that 70% of immune system is in your gut? When toxins pass through the lining of the small intestine into the bloodstream, your immune system will create inflammation throughout the body.
Several studies reveal that leaky gut can be a culprit of autoimmune diseases, such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. The more your gut health becomes compromised, the severity of autoimmune diseases rise.
Thyroid Issues Can Be A Culprit For Leaky Gut
Although it may seem like leaky gut is the bad guy who causes different conditions, thyroid disease can lead to leaky gut. Ironic, right?
Thyroid hormones influence the stomach and small intestines significantly. The thyroid hormones T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine) have been shown to protect the gut mucosal lining from ulcer formation due to stress.
The same happens with leaky gut. When thyroid hormones are out of balance, it causes inflammation in the gut.
Leaky Gut–Thyroid Connection: How It Affects Your Digestive Health
For optimal thyroid function, inactive T4 must convert into the active form of T3 thyroid hormone. Approximately 20% of T4 is converted to T3 within the gut.
As thyroid hormones convert in the gut, an enzyme called intestinal sulfatase is required. Intestinal sulfatase comes from healthy gut bacteria.
When there is an imbalance between beneficial and pathogenic bacteria within the gut, the conversion of T3AC and T3s to T3 significantly decreases. If you find yourself having thyroid symptoms but your lab tests keep coming back fine, this could be the culprit.
Leaky gut can cause further issues with your overall digestive health. Leaky gut causes damage to your intestinal cells, causing them not to produce the enzymes they need for proper digestion.
If you notice bloating after meals, cramping, gas, constipation or loose stools, heartburn, burping, and inconsistent stool formation, you could have a digestive problem.
Simple Thyroid Tests You Can Do At Home
Leaky gut testing is something important to bring up to your doctor if you have symptoms. Thyroid testing is also critical.
Although blood tests are generally the ideal option for testing thyroid disease, there are simple thyroid tests that you can do at home.
For this test to work correctly, keep a thermometer within reach by your bed. As soon as you wake up in the morning, before moving at all, take your temperature in your armpit. This test should be completed for four consecutive days. Be sure to record your temperature each day so you can compare.
A normal temperature is between 97.8 to 98.2 degrees. If your average temperature is 97.8 degrees and below, you may have an underactive thyroid. And if your average is 98.2 and above, you may have an overactive thyroid.
NOTE: If you are a woman, it is best to do this test in the first four days of your menstrual cycle for accurate results.
Another test you could do, is to feel around your trachea (windpipe) for any swelling or bumps. If you do notice any swelling or some bumps, this is an indicator that your thyroid could be stressed.
You should not judge your thyroid function based solely on this test. However, it’s a good idea to check for swelling every now and then. If there is swelling, your thyroid needs to be examined by a medical professional.
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