Thyroid conditions get a lot of attention lately.
In the last several years I’ve had more patients come to me with a diagnosed or suspected thyroid condition, most of them complaining of fatigue, weight gain or digestive issues, sometimes all three. Sometimes the complaint list is longer.
This segment of the 5-part series on Brain-Gut really deserves its own series. It is SO tempting for me to go into massive detail, but then I may end up overwhelming the non-medical reader. So, I will simplify. My goal is to create an understanding that thyroid conditions (like many) are not isolated conditions. There are other systems involved either as a cause or an effect. A patient should be viewed as a whole functioning person, not as thyroid patient or a pancreas patient, for example.
A “wholistic” approach ensures you will have more success in not only resolving your conditions but also addressing other malfunctions related to or not related to this complaint. You can also resolve those you may not be fully aware of because they are not causing any symptoms yet! I call this prevention and making preemptive strikes against other potentially serious issues!
In a future article, I will outline some basic tips on achieving a healthy thyroid through supporting the gut and brain. (I think you will pick-up some hints throughout this article!)
The Gut-Thyroid Connection
The performance of the thyroid depends significantly on a healthy gut, particularly the balance of healthy gut flora. The majority of your immune system is in your gut (at least 60%), so poor digestive health is a trigger for autoimmune disorders, such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. If the body is not eliminating toxins, wastes and unneeded hormones effectively, the system is backed up (constipation) and estrogen starts accumulating. This is one cause of estrogen dominance in both men and women. The accumulation of estrogen will slow down thyroid function.
The Brain-Thyroid Connection
Have you or someone you know been experiencing brain fog and forgetfulness? As a result of this and perhaps other findings, were you diagnosed with low thyroid function? There’s a reason for this, and it is because the brain is saturated with thyroid hormone receptors. The brain also secretes a hormone (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone or TSH) to tell the thyroid to make thyroid hormones. Often people are prescribed thyroid medications based solely on a TSH lab reading or an incomplete lab profile.
It’s important also to evaluate brain function, or neurotransmitters (as I’ve discussed in the earlier parts of this series). Serotonin and dopamine are neurotransmitters that impact thyroid health. When the lifestyle reflects a poor diet, unstable blood sugar control, adrenal stress and gut compromise (infections, leaky gut), this leads to poor brain health (brain inflammation and degeneration) and a deficiency of neurotransmitters, resulting in symptoms such as depression and poor memory. So, supplementing with nutrients and making better food and lifestyle choices will boost healthy brain activity (neurotransmitters) and help to improve thyroid health. Likewise, supporting thyroid health improves brain function. It goes both ways!
If you found this article helpful or know someone who would benefit from any of the information that I’ve shared so far, I ask, please feel free to share!
Stay tuned for the conclusion of this series next week where I will wrap up with discussing, “Exercise, and the Brain.” (Yes! The necessary evil for anti-aging!).
– Dr. Melanie
Resource: “Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms When My Lab Tests Are Normal?” Datis Kharrazian, DHSc, DC, MS, 2010, visit my Shop page to order your copy on Amazon.
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