Hypothyroidism and Leaky Gut

Hypothyroidism and Leaky Gut

Ever heard the saying, “heal your gut, heal your health?”

Theoretically, it would make sense.

Your digestive function is your only access to nourishing foods and because the food you eat is designed to be the fuel for your body, having a healthy, functioning digestive system is imperative to healthy thyroid function and  good health.

But what breaks down the health of the digestive system in the first place?

You might be tired of hearing it but the answer is stress.

Stress is at the root of all disease.

In our last blog we explored how stress (a physiological reaction) affects the health and function of the thyroid.And in order for your gut to be healthy and well balanced, you must have a healthy thyroid.

How can we say this in a more simplified way?

If your thyroid is being suppressed your gut is being suppressed. If your gut is being suppressed, your thyroid is being suppressed.

The effects of stress on the thyroid and the gut are a vicious, vicious cycle and if you stand any chance of healing your gut this nasty cycle of events is essential to break!

Despite tremendous efforts there has been case after case of bloating, gas, diarrhea along with an assortment and long list of other digestive issues where no food elimination diet, no amount of drinking broth and no detoxification attempt made has been enough

If you want to heal your gut you have got to get your body out of chaos!

The digestive tract and function is a top to bottom process (meaning if something is out of balance from the get go, everything following will be too) and a portal for nutrients from the environment to gain access to the circulatory system.

Before this transfer occurs, the foods have to be reduced to very simple molecules by a combination of mechanical and enzymatic degradation. The resulting sugars, amino acids and fatty acids are then transported across the lining of the intestine, known as the epithelium and into the blood.

Like any well-run factory, proper function of the digestive system requires robust control systems. Control of the digestive system is achieved through a combination of electrical and hormonal messages originating in the GI systems own nervous and endocrine system as well as from the central nervous system and other endocrine organs such as the adrenal and thyroid glands.

According to Hans Selye MD, with stress more than 50% of gastric juices are halted and peristaltic movements is inhibited (leading to constipation) as blood is shunt away from the gut and to the extremities in preparation for fight or flight. Remember, from an evolutionary point of view, stress is the body’s signal to run like hell and digestion is not a priority when running for your life.

Excess cortisol not only reduces the production and secretion of hydrochloric acid (HCL) , an essential piece to the signals being sent down the tract, it also compromises the body’s first line of defense, secretory IgA (ie. your immune system). Salivary enzymes, acid levels in the stomach gastric acidity and surface mucous production not only assist in digestion but are an essential tool to protecting the inside from the outside.

The reduction in enzyme production leads to stagnation in the gut, which then leads to the body relying on bacteria to break down foods instead of the intended digestive enzymes.

Over time this leads to the formation of toxic by-products (endotoxins), bacterial imbalances or dysbiosis, a sluggish liver and the recirculation of estrogen, which eventually damage the intestinal walls. Furthermore, low stomach acid, increases intestinal permeability, inflammation and infection resulting in a number of GI issues including leaky gut.

Imbalances in gut bacteria interfere with the conversion of inactive thyroid hormone T4 to active to active thyroid hormone T3 explaining why those experiencing thyroid like symptoms have normal labs.

The GI tract is heavily laden with 70-80% of all immunoglobulin producing cells (GALT -gut associated lymphoid tissue). In fact, the intestine possesses the largest mass of lymphoid tissue in the body.

Thyroid hormones influence tight junctions in the gut. These tight junctions are closely associated areas of two cells whose membranes join together to form the impermeable barrier of the gut. Normal thyroid levels have been shown to protect gut mucosal lining from stress induced ulcer formation while also influencing the development of the GALT.

The influence of thyroid hormones on the gut is immense. Low thyroid hormones make it difficult to heal the gut, while an inflamed and leaky gut contributes to many illnesses including hypothyroidism. After exploring the interrelationships between cortisol, thyroid health and the effects these have on the immune system,  we can begin to understand how specific digestive diseases such as leaky gut may be associated with autoimmune thyroid processes, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

Can food choices exacerbate the issue?

Yes. 100%

Think about it.

If your ability to produce digestive enzymes is being compromised, food choices then become a very big conversation.

Consuming excess amounts of foods high in PUFA’s such as raw veggies, grains, greens, nuts and seeds are extremely damaging to the cells and place a tremendous amount of stress on a compromised digestive system.

In addition, these foods are:

  • anti-thyroid and immunosuppressive
  • non-digestible and a huge burden on the liver
  • have similar actions to estrogen, which stimulates the stress reaction

Part of the healing process must include consuming metabolic foods your body can digest and avoiding those with properties known to burden the digestive system.

Over time and as your resiliency begins to build back up and digestive processes are restored, incorporating these foods in moderation and with proper preparation are not as much of a burden.

Here are some minor things you can do to begin the process of restoring balance and healing your gut:

  1. Eliminate the ingestion of nuts and seeds, as well as their respective oils.
  2. Cut way back on veggies, always over cook them and pair them with a fruit or root. Veggies are not a metabolic carbohydrate and metabolic carbs in the proper amounts and in proper balance are essential to restoring thyroid function.
  3. Utilize more fruit (preferably cooked) in your diet. Cooking your fruit assist in the digestive process while also helping to regulate blood sugar, break the stress cycle and up regulate thyroid hormone conversion.
  4. Drink homemade broth 3x per day with an optimal carbohydrate (fruit or root)
  5. When eating root vegetables, always overcook them and pair them with a fruit.
  6. Always eat 1-2 RAW carrots per day. Fiber in carrots are non-digestible and aid in the absorption and elimination of toxins and estrogen.
  7. Breathing exercises stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and massage the gut. Try breathing a 5-5 (inhale-exhale) tempo for 5min, 3x a day

To learn more about our services or to schedule some time to speak directly with Josh or Jeanne, please click here.

P.S. If you have a moment, we would love to hear from you! Just scroll down and leave a comment:)

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Share Your Thoughts

  1. Faylene Romsa

    I joined Eastwest Healing a month ago and I’m pleased to see they put out so much information on a level I can understand (most of the time). They are always available for questions😊.

    I have to say, I’m pretty surprised at how my temperature and heart has changed (for the better, of course) since I’ve been fueling my cells with the right foods for my thyroid. This has only happened because Eastwest Healing has given me the right tools to be healthy. Thank you.

    November 1, 2017 • 10:20 am •
  2. East West Healing

    Hi Faylene! Thank you for your comment, we really appreciate you as a client and it just goes to show what happens when you are open to learning and just as equally important, willing to put the work in. Great work and you’re just getting started!

    November 1, 2017 • 3:23 pm •
  3. Ann

    Can you please explain more clearly what it means to breathe a 5-5 (inhale-exhale) tempo for 5min, 3x a day? I am getting your Metabolic Breathing e-mails, but I still do not understand what this means. Thanks!

    November 1, 2017 • 2:19 pm •
  4. East West Healing

    Hi Ann,
    The 5-5 is a 5 second inhale and 5 second exhale. Hope this helps=)

    November 1, 2017 • 3:24 pm •
  5. Am hypothyroidism and it affects mostly on right side of the body.I have muscle spasms and also affects my right side of the face/throat is swollen. Pls advice

    November 2, 2017 • 8:31 pm •
  6. EastWest Healing

    Not really sure what is going on. I would need to be able to assess you in person to understand it a bit deeper.

    November 21, 2017 • 8:53 pm •
  7. Steven P Estrada

    Hello Josh & Jeanne

    I found Ray Peat about 3 months ago and then along with all the other Peatarians I found you. I’ve been adopting and studying the methods and philosophies over these last 3 months and am amazed and hungry for more. I’ve been looking for a “translator” for Peat’s stuff and you guys seem to have a path for “getting there”.

    Fitness and Health have been a passion of mine for 30+ years. I’ve worked in this field as a trainer/coach/salesman but mostly this has been a passionate hobby. In 1982 when I started this journey I worked with Harvey and Marilyn Diamond along with Tony Robbins promoting their book “Fit for Life” and their seminars. I’ve seen a lot and tried most of it. I just turned 60 years old and am ready to go commercial with my passion. I have a great story to tell and look the part.

    I have a genuine interest in helping people get healthy and like you I know the traditional “sickness” field isn’t helping enough. I want to learn and teach these methods and take them to the masses. I’m looking for partners, mentors and like minded good people. I believe the highest levels of the human experience involve constant growth and contribution. If what I’m saying resonates with you please let me know.


    Steve Estrada

    November 27, 2017 • 11:57 am •
  8. EastWest Healing

    Contact us anytime you like.

    December 6, 2017 • 7:54 am •