Science has taught us how important good gut bacteria are to healthy immunity, brain function, mood, digestive health, and, management of autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s low thyroid. Science has also taught us the best way to improve your good gut bacteria when you have Hashimoto’s low thyroid is by consuming ample amounts and a diverse array of produce every day. But researchers have discovered yet another way to increase your good gut bacteria: Regular exercise.
The gut is home to about three to four pounds of gut bacteria, which are comprised of about 1,000 different species and 5,000 strains. Our body needs these gut bacteria to:
- Maintain health of the digestive tract
- Protect the intestinal wall
- Prevent inflammation
- Metabolize nutrients
- Produce vitamin K and short chain fatty acids (SCFA), which are important for immune health
- Regulate immunity, including of autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism
- Promote good brain health and function
So far, we know to cultivate healthy gut bacteria through fermented foods, probiotics, and eating a diet comprised primarily of vegetables and fruits. It’s important to continually change up the produce you eat to cultivate a diverse “microbiome.”
Researchers used both a mouse study and a human study to demonstrate regular exercise also promotes healthy gut bacteria. This is independent of diet or other factors.
When you are managing Hashimoto’s low thyroid, exercising daily at an appropriate level (over training is inflammatory) is a powerful way to aid you in your journey to repair immune health and Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
In the first study, scientists transplanted fecal material from both exercised and sedentary mice into sterile mice. The activity level of the mice receiving the transplants clearly mirrored that of their donors. This demonstrated gut bacteria greatly influence whether we are sedentary or active.
The mice that received gut bacteria from exercised mice also showed more bacteria that produce butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) that promotes healthy intestinal cells, reduces inflammation, and increases energy. They also were more resistant to ulcerative colitis. Healthy gut bacteria produce butyrate.
In the second study, scientists investigated the composition of gut bacteria in 18 lean and 14 obese human adults as they transitioned from a sedentary lifestyle, to active, and then back to a sedentary. Their exercise routine consisted of 30 to 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise three times a week for six weeks while their diets remained unchanged.
The study showed that exercise raised SCFA levels and being sedentary caused them to decline again. The lean subjects demonstrated a more dramatic rise in SCFAs compared to obese ones, but increases happened in both populations.
The good news is we can cultivate healthy “exercise” gut bacteria simply through regular exercise. Although Hashimoto’s low thyroid often causes fatigue, use your good days to do some fun exercise you enjoy.
As our knowledge of gut bacteria, functional medicine, and autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s low thyroid expands, it always seems to come back to some age-old pearls of wisdom: Eat your vegetables and exercise.
Ask my office for more advice on how we can help you manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism using functional medicine protocols.
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.