When I was diagnosed with Celiac disease years ago, the only guidance I was really given was to go strictly gluten-free. While this did help a bit, I still struggled with serious digestive problems and extreme fatigue for at least two more years following my initial diagnoses. It wasn’t until I discovered and was treated for a parasite, then spent time healing my gut, that I finally felt like myself again.
It’s a very similar story with Hashimoto’s, which is another common autoimmune condition where the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid tissue, leading to hypo or hyperthyroidism.
Most people who are diagnosed with Hashimoto’s are put on medication to manage the symptoms, but are not told about their diet, lifestyle, supplements or any other healing that needs to take place.
This is why some people with Hashimoto’s continue to experience digestive problems, exhaustion, hair loss, brain fog, inflammation and anxiety. What I hope to highlight though is that even if you don’t have digestive symptoms, focusing on your gut health is a very important part of Hashimoto's recovery.
The origins of Hashimoto’s is complex, and while there is a genetic component, the latest research demonstrates that there is a link between leaky gut and the development of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Normally your gut lining acts as a separation between what’s in your digestive tract and what’s in the rest of your body, while also enabling nutrients to pass through. As we’ve discussed before, (The Gluten Connection, The Connection Between Seasonal Allergies & Your Gut Health and Get Sick Often? It Might Be Due to This) leaky gut is when the lining of your gut becomes too permeable, which allows undesirable particles like bacteria, toxins and undigested food to pass from the digestive tract to the bloodstream and throughout the body.
When this happens, your immune system springs into action to neutralize these “threats”. The thing is though, unlike a cold that passes shortly, these bacteria, undigested food and toxins are part of your everyday life, so your immune system is ALWAYS triggered, leading to chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is thought to be one of the primary cases of autoimmune disease.
It’s normal to have some degree of leaky gut but there are some things that can tilt this in an unfavourable direction. This includes:
Interestingly, studies have found that Hashimoto’s patients have different gut bacteria composition from those without Hashimoto’s, further demonstrating the link between leaky gut and Hashimoto’s.
You can read more about causes of leaky gut here.
Not everyone with Hashimoto’s will have digestive symptoms, but with more and more research linking gut health and Hashimoto’s, and with chronic inflammation often starting in the digestive tract, optimizing your digestion and strengthening your gut lining is the best place to start in order to heal the body. We will often recommend our clients get tested for food sensitivities, which can help us identify if you have leaky gut, chronic inflammation, and a sensitivity to gluten and dairy.
If you’d like a personalized plan to heal your gut, bring down inflammation in the body and balance your thyroid hormones, along with custom recipes and supplement recommendations, click here to book a complimentary info session with a nutritionist at HEAL.