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Importance of digestive health for underactive thyroid symptoms.

Probiotic Foods in your thyroid diet

As a naturopath I believe that good health starts in our gut. The digestive system is our first defence from the environment and any toxins in our food and drinks. It has a very important role. It is also responsible for breaking down and allowing nutrients into our cells. If the digestive system is struggling it makes it harder to absorb nutrients and increases our chances of nutritional deficiencies, this inturn increases your chances of developing an underactive thyroid.

As the first line of defence the digestive system is also a major part of our immune system. In fact most experts believe the digestive system as being responsible for a whopping 70% of our immune response. So if our digestion is sluggish we are more likely to have increased allergy responses, autoimmune conditions, underactive thyroid symptoms as well as common conditions such as colds and flu.

Many people suffer for years in silent from constipation, bloating, indigestion, reflux, diarrhoea and constant discomfort. This is not necessary and is very bad for your health in the long term. This has a very negative effect on the level of toxins in your body, the health of your liver, as well as metabolism and underactive thyroidsymptoms. I have also found that poor gut health can make weight loss very difficult. New research is showing that certain probiotics have been found in the gut of people who are easily able to stay slim and are missing in those suffering obesity or struggling with their weight.

About your gut (how it all works)

There are several different organs that make up the digestive system or gut. If there is an imbalance in any of these it can cause a lot of pain and discomfort.

Stomach. Once we have chewed our food (hopefully well) it enters the stomach where it is mixed with a range of bile and digestive juices to help breakdown the food. The most common problem people suffer from the stomach area is reflux (heartburn) and ulcers. These can be the result of poor food choices, such as fatty foods, acidic foods and alcohol. These can also be execrated with excess weight and pregnancy. So it is vital that we maintain a healthy weight and eat a balanced diet (such as the thyroid diet) to ensure that our food is broken down in the stomach to a mixture that is easy for the rest of the body to absorb the goodness from and not cause any damage. This mixture is then slowly released into the small intestines.

Small Intestines. The small intestines are infact the longest part of the digestive tract and if we were to lay them out flat could take up the surface space of a tennis court!!! The reason the surface area is so large is that our body needs to get all its nutrients from the food that passed through it. Without these important nutrients we would not survive.

The lining of the small intestines is filled with tiny little areas called villi that extend the surface area to increase absorption of nutrients. Unfortunately these villi can become inflamed and swollen, due to allergies and poor food and drink choices. As a result the nutrients from our food are not absorbed well and we suffer from bloating and discomfort. To top it off this may also slow down the movement of the food through the bowel and lead to constipation. Un underactive thyroid further exacerbates this. If the food is left to ferment in the gut as with constipation it leads to an inflammation of the intestine and a build-up of toxins.

One of the body’s ways of protecting the gut wall from toxins from our food and drinks is probiotics. Most people have heard of probiotic supplements and the benefits they have on healthy digestion. The reason probiotics are so important is that the good healthy probiotics assist your body to break down food and there nutrients. It helps us to get as much as the good stuff out and remove the bad. Probiotics also help to reduce inflammation in the gut lining. Probiotics are passed onto us from our parents, especially during our birth. The food, drink and medicines we put in our body from here play a part in our levels as we age. Some medications significantly reduce our probiotics as does excess alcohol, sugars and processed foods. All of these are unfortunately a big part of our modern life!

It is vital that we replenish these probiotics. Supplements can be a significant part of this process if the balance is seriously out. However it is important to also look to healthy food options (such as in the thyroid diet) to ensure that these levels and gut health are maintained long term.

Large Intestines. The large intestines are much thicker than the small and are where we absorb water from our food and drink sources. Similar to the small intestines it can become inflamed and “blocked up” with the wrong food choices and an underactive thyroid, leading to further toxic load.

Liver. While not a direct part of the digestive system it plays a vital role in the absorption of nutrients and detoxification in our body. If the gut is suffering from poor detoxification, the liver needs to work much harder. It is alos in the liver that the thyroid hormones need to be converted to the active T3, so it is essential to have it working well if you are suffering from underactive thyroid symptoms.

Importance of probiotics.

As mentioned above probiotics are important for reducing inflammation in the gut and helping breakdown the nutrients from our food for optimal absorption. Some other benefits include:

  • Reduced inflammation and bloating
  • Reduced allergy
  • Improved immune response
  • Improved nutrient uptake
  • Reduced toxic load
  • Reduction in candida symptoms
  • Better elimination (greater regularity of bowel movements)
  • Improved general health and wellbeing

Probiotics and prebiotics.

Probiotics are the strains of good bacteria that populate our gut and allow the natural and healthy processes of the gut to take place. There are many different strains of healthy bacteria, some have been found important for particular conditions but for most people a balanced of many is important for health.

Prebiotics are a fibre that helps the probiotic to attach and bred on the gut wall and is important in a balanced healthy gut flora.

What kills probiotics?

High sugar, high fat, alcohol, medication (especially antibiotics), low fibre and slow digestion. Basically most modern diets and lifestyles reduce probiotic counts. It is vital to add back the natural bacteria to ensure optimal digestion and detoxification that is so important for optimal health

There are many foods that are a great source of probiotics, however with out sterilized and super clean environments we have been wiping out these foods. They can be an easy and tasty addition to anyone’s diet. The thyroid diet is full of these healthy probiotic rich foods.

Food sources of probiotics.

  • Yoghurt (sugar free natural probiotic rich).
  • Sauerkraut (Usually from cabbage, but can be made with other vegetables such as carrot and zucchini. Make sure it is made with seas salt and vegetables only. The common one available in the supermarkets are made with vinegar and do not have the probiotics).
  • Miso.
  • Temph.
  • Kombucha.
  • Kimchi.
  • Kefir.
  • Spirulina.

I know this can seem a bit unusual at first but you will be amazed at the difference that just adding these foods to your diet will have on your weight loss and energy levels. I was sceptical at first too! If you want to learn more foods that are important to your recovery from underactive thyroid enter your email below.



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