Hashimoto’s low thyroid, a disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland, is one of the most common autoimmune diseases today and affects mostly women. It used to be autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s low thyroid were believed to be primarily genetic in origin. But studies shows that intestinal permeability, or leaky gut, also plays a primary role. This means what you eat may determine whether you develop an autoimmune disease like Hashimoto’s.
Examples of autoimmune disorders include:
- Type 1 diabetes
- Celiac disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Crohn’s disease
- Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Leaky gut main trigger in Hashimoto’s low thyroid
Leaky gut is a disorder in which the intestinal lining becomes inflamed, damaged, and overly porous. This lets bacteria, yeast, undigested foods, and other foreign invaders into the sterile bloodstream where they trigger inflammation. This type of situation keeps the immune system in a chronically over zealous state. Eventually, the immune system begins attacking body tissue causing autoimmune disorders such as Hashimoto’s low thyroid. Which tissue is attacked depends on genetic predisposition.
People develop leaky gut for different reasons, but one of the more common is inflammatory foods such as excess sugar, processed foods, junk foods, and fast foods. Undiagnosed food sensitivities, such as to gluten, dairy, egg, or other foods, also inflame and damage the gut. These can damage the gut lining if you have an intolerance to them.
Gluten, in particular, is notorious for its ability to cause leaky gut and trigger autoimmunity. Studies show a direct link between gluten sensitivity and Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
For those with a gluten intolerance, gluten causes inflammation in the gut and other places. In gluten intolerant people, gluten also acts on messenger compounds in the intestinal wall to make it more permeable. This allows more inflammatory factors into the bloodstream, including more gluten, in a self-perpetuating vicious cycle.
For some people, just going gluten-free can heal a leaky gut and manage Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
Other things that cause leaky gut
The cause of your leaky gut is important to know in order to better your chances of repairing it and also in managing Hashimoto’s low thyroid. Below are some common causes of leaky gut:
- Gluten sensitivity
- Inflammatory foods (sugars, junk foods, fast foods, etc.)
- Medications (corticosteroids, antibiotics, antacids, some arthritis medications)
- Infections (poor gut bacteria balance, H. pylori, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, yeast, parasites, and viruses)
- Chronic stress
- Hormone imbalances
- Processed foods, artificial food additives, thickening gums
- Environmental toxins
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Autoimmunity (although leaky gut triggers autoimmunity, autoimmunity can also cause leaky gut, especially if the immune attack is against tissues of the gut)
Healing leaky gut can help tame Hashimoto’s
Repairing leaky gut has been shown to help many people manage Hashimoto’s low thyroid and even drive it into remission. This involves initially following an anti-inflammatory diet to identify which foods trigger inflammation in you, restoring oral tolerance, and using specific nutritional compounds to support gut healing.
How do you know if you have leaky gut?
Many people have leaky gut but don’t know it. Leaky gut is increasingly being accepted by conventional medicine, although many doctors still not know about it. Symptoms to be aware of include bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea, food intolerances, and inflammation throughout the body, such as the joints, skin, or brain. Brain inflammation can cause brain fog, depression, slow thinking, and fatigue.
When autoimmunity leads to leaky gut
Autoimmunity can cause leaky gut on its own because it inflames the gut lining. This is especially true with autoimmunity to gut tissue, which can cause symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Ask my office how we can help you repair leaky gut and manage your Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
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.