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The gut and thyroid are intricately linked through multiple pathways. The gut's impact on thyroid health can be significant, influencing everything from hormone production to immune function. In this article, we explore four of the key ways in which gut health can affect thyroid function.
- Nutrient absorption: The gut plays a key role in the absorption of nutrients, including those that are important for thyroid function such as iodine and selenium. If the gut is not functioning properly, it may lead to a deficiency in these nutrients, which can affect thyroid function.
- Inflammation: The gut is home to a large number of bacteria, and an imbalance of these bacteria (also known as dysbiosis) can lead to inflammation. Chronic inflammation in the gut can contribute to autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis, which is the most common cause of hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid).
- Hormonal signaling: The gut and thyroid are also connected through hormonal signaling pathways. For example, the hormone ghrelin, which is produced by cells in the gut, has been shown to regulate thyroid function.
- Stress: The gut and the brain are connected through the gut-brain axis, and research has shown that the gut can affect the brain and vice versa. Stress can affect both the gut and the thyroid, and managing stress through techniques such as meditation or exercise may help to support healthy thyroid function.
Overall, it's important to maintain a healthy gut to support healthy thyroid function. This can involve eating a balanced diet rich in nutrients, managing stress, sleeping well and reduce inflammation.