Scientists and health practitioners know that you can’t have a healthy gut without a healthy thyroid, and vice versa. This is known as the healthy gut-thyroid axis. To restore proper function of the gut-thyroid axis, both areas need to be taken care of simultaneously. Let’s take a look at what the thyroid does.
What is the Thyroid Gland?
Located in the front of the neck, the thyroid gland is vitally important for the metabolism, growth and maturation of the human body. It helps regulate many bodily functions by releasing a steady amount of hormones into the bloodstream. When the body requires more energy, more hormones are produced—for example, during growth spurts, pregnancy, or when cold.
When the thyroid is overactive, it is called hyperthyroidism. Overproduction of hormones causes a variety of symptoms, which may include:
- Hot flashes
- Weight loss
- Hair loss
- Emotional stability
- Potency Problems
- Racing heartbeat
When the thyroid is underactive, it is called hypothyroidism. Bodily functions slow down when not enough hormones are produced. This condition can either be genetic or develop over the course of a lifetime. An underactive thyroid in adults often develops gradually and goes unnoticed for some time.
In older people, symptoms are often not recognized, as they are confused with the normal signs of aging. Possible symptoms may include:
- Loss of energy
- Slowing metabolism
- Concentration difficulties
- Mental slowness
- Sensitivity to cold
- Dry Skin
How Does Hormone Production Affect the Gut?
The thyroid gland produces three hormones: T3, T4, and Calcitonin, which help maintain a healthy level of calcium in the blood. T3 and T4 increase basal metabolic rate and optimize calorie burning, metabolic rate, heart rate, sexual libido, energy and mood.
Healthy gut bacteria assists in converting about 20 percent inactive T4 thyroid hormone back into the active form of T3 by producing an enzyme called intestinal sulfatase. An imbalance between harmful and beneficial bacteria in the gut, called intestinal dysbiosis, significantly reduces the conversion of precursor thyroid hormones to active T3. This is one reason people with poor gut function may have thyroid symptoms but normal lab results. Inflammation in the gut also reduces T3 by raising cortisol.