Osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease affects more than 31 million people and is the number one cause of disability. Treatment has always been aimed at pain relief but not the underlying cause. With Hashimoto’s low thyroid affecting an estimated 25 million people, perhaps you have both.
Now however, new research demonstrates improving gut bacteria — or the gut microbiome — through prebiotic fiber can not only reduce osteoarthritic pain but also dampen inflammation. These same benefits will better manage Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
Inflammation drives joint pain and Hashimoto’s low thyroid
Obesity is a risk factor for developing osteoarthritis, but not for the reasons we believe. It has always been thought the extra weight overloading the joints caused the pain, but new findings suggest it’s more likely caused by inflammation from a “obesity-prone” gut microbiome profile.
In the study, obese mice with arthritis had less beneficial Bifidobacteria and too much inflammatory bacteria that caused joint deterioration.
When researchers gave the mice a prebiotic fiber called oligofructose, an inulin, their gut microbiome signature shifted to reduce inflammation despite still being obese.
This research suggests osteoarthritis treatment should focus on gut bacteria and inflammation. This same approach will also help manage your Hashimoto’s low thyroid to prevent autoimmune thyroid flare ups.
Prebiotics improve your gut microbiome
Good gut bacteria not only help alleviate arthritis pain, they also improve your immune function, brain function, mood, and Hashimoto’s low thyroid condition. Chronic inflammation, regardless of obesity, is the root cause of many common chronic health problems, including Hashimoto’s low thyroid, heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.
While probiotics are recognized as helping gut bacteria, prebiotics are more recently getting the recognition they deserve.
Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates your gut bacteria (probiotics) depend on for sustenance. You can get them from the fruits and vegetables you eat or prebiotic supplements.
Once prebiotics make it to the colon, gut bacteria consume them and create byproducts such as vitamins and short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which are valuable to human health.
Good sources of prebiotics include all vegetables but particularly:
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Dandelion greens
- Brussels sprouts
Prebiotics and probiotics work together to battle inflammation and lower disease risk.
Support SCFAs to dampen pain and inflammation
The short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) produced by the gut microbiome are necessary to dampen the inflammation of obesity, arthritis, and Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
The most important SCFAs is butyrate. To increase butyrate and other SCFAs:
- Eat abundant and varied fruits and vegetables daily — 7 to 9 servings is recommended.
- Eat probiotic-rich fermented and cultured foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and coconut water kefir.
- Take SCFA-supporting supplements such as Saccharomyces boulardii, Lactobacillus sporogenes, and DDS-1 Lactobacilli acidophilus.
- Take arabinogalactan, a compound made up of protein and sugar, which is helpful for immune support and SCFA production.
Intolerance to foods also triggers joint pain and Hashimoto’s low thyroid
Joint pain and Hashimoto’s low thyroid can also be triggered by an immune reation to certain foods.
Two of the most common dietary triggers are gluten and dairy. Gluten sensitivity triggers pro-inflammatory immune cells that cause inflammation that damages soft tissue, including the joints and the brain. The same can happen for dairy and other foods. Gluten intolerance has been linked in several studies to Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
Many people find nightshade vegetables cause pain and inflammation in their joints. These include eggplant, potatoes (but not sweet potatoes or yams), peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, hot pepper products (cayenne, Tabasco, etc.), and pepper-based spices. Simply removing nightshades from the diet has helped many people find relief from joint pain, especially those with rheumatoid arthritis.
Gluten, dairy, and nightshades are common reactive foods, but there are other common ones, such as corn and soy. An anti-inflammatory diet is a great strategy for dampening pain and inflammation while helping you figure out which foods trigger an immune reaction.
Another way to find out which foods are inflammatory is via a food sensitivity panel.
Chronic pain creates vicious cycles in the immune system and the brain that perpetuate even more pain. Fortunately, functional medicine strategies can unwind these vicious cycles.
Ask my office for more information on alleviating your chronic joint pain and Hashimoto’s low thyroid by addressing the root causes.
How to learn if you have Hashimoto’s low thyroid
Many patients are not diagnosed with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s until after several years and going through several doctors. It is a demoralizing journey richly illustrated in my book The Truth About Low Thyroid: Stories of Hope and Healing for Those Suffering With Hashimoto’s Low Thyroid Disease, through real-life stories from patients in my practice. Managing Hashimoto’s goes far beyond using thyroid medication as you must work to stop the immune system from attacking the thyroid. For more information on identifying and managing Hashimoto’s low thyroid, contact my office.
About Dr. Josh Redd, Chiropractic Physician — Utah, Arizona, New Mexico functional medicine
Dr. Joshua J. Redd, DC, MS, DABFM, DAAIM, author of The Truth About Low Thyroid: Stories of Hope and Healing for Those Suffering With Hashimoto’s Low Thyroid Disease, is a chiropractic physician and the founder of RedRiver Health and Wellness Center with practices in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. He sees patients from around the world who suffer from challenging thyroid disorders, Hashimoto’s disease, and other autoimmune conditions. In addition to his chiropractic degree, Dr. Redd has a BS in Health and Wellness, a BS in Anatomy, and a MS in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine. He speaks across the nation, teaching physicians about functional blood chemistry, low thyroid, Hashimoto’s, and autoimmunity. You can join his Facebook page here.