Thyroid Awareness Month
Thyroid awareness month presents many topics for further research. The thyroid is a gland which controls and affects more processes than we may initially think. Unsurprisingly our second brain –the gut- affects how well our thyroid is working and vice versa.
There are two main thyroid problems from which others can stem, hypothyroidism (an under active thyroid) and hyperthyroidism (an over active thyroid). There are several risk factors worth noting; women and individuals over 60 are most at risk, as are people with diabetes and autoimmune disorders like celiac, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. Diseases of the thyroid include Graves disease and Hashimoto’s. In all of the diseases listed above, diet is a singularly important factor in managing symptoms or curing the illness.
Not only is the diet a source of nutrients and antioxidants, but it also provides fibre that feeds the microbiome which is responsible for the uptake of these minerals and amino acids to the thyroid, as well as managing toxin levels affecting the thyroid.
The thyroid is the organ most commonly affected by auto immune disorders, one reason is because of its communication with the nervous system. Autoimmunity and gastritis are particularly intertwined because of the gut-brain axis. In both thyroid and gut issues, short chain fatty acids have been identified as a possible treatment to reduce symptoms. Short chain fatty acids are a by-product of a healthy microbiome and dietary fibre.
In cases where a diet rich in thyroid friendly minerals is ineffective in treating an underactive thyroid, researchers have found low levels of the bacteria responsible for nutrient uptake to the thyroid. This presents an interesting possibility that improving the microbiome may reduce the need for drastic treatments or medications in treating thyroid disorders.
Thyroid problems are second only to diabetes in the endocrinology field. Both hormone related problems can be traced back to gut health and are largely treated with a change in diet alongside medication. In any of the previously mentioned cases it would be wise to see a dietician about specific needs for an illness or combination of illnesses. Below is a list of foods which may have a negative impact on the thyroid and the microbiome which you may choose to avoid.
Soy: containing a phytoestrogen, large quantities will put a strain on the gut bacteria and on the endocrine system if there is an issue with oestrogen dominance or the thyroid.
Gluten: while gluten is well tolerated by some, it can irritate and cause gaps in the intestinal lining for those with an intolerance, and confuse signals sent to the brain through the thyroid.
Sodium, fat, refined sugar: this trifecta marking processed and fast foods, is generically speaking, bad for most people. For those with thyroid or autoimmune disorders, it is especially bad, aggravating inflammation, blood pressure, hormone regulation, and unhealthy weight gain.