Christel started working with me because she experienced bloating, stomach pain and acid reflux. During the intake she shared that her GP told her recently that thyroid was on the borderline of working too slow. “Can my thyroid cause stomach pain and bloating?” she wondered. Yes it can and it’s actually very likely that it does.
Your thyroid is responsible for providing energy to nearly every organ in your body. It controls functions such as how your heart beats and how well your digestive system works. Without the right amount of thyroid hormones, your body’s natural functions begin to slow down.
Low thyroid slows everything down
One of the things that an underactive thyroid can slow down is the movement of food through your gut. Smooth muscle contractions move the food along, from your esophagus to the final destination – the toilet bowl. If that process is slow, you can get constipation, fermentation of food in your intestines (read: gas and bloating), overgrowth of the wrong bacteria and on top of it all: poor absorption of the beautiful nutrients you’ve been eating!
If your thryoid is working too fast, the opposite can happen: foods moves through your gut too quickly and you get loose stools and diarrhea. That’s not only painful and inconvenient, it also prevents you from absorbing the nutrients you need.
Hypothyroidism also seems to lower the levels of stomach acid. This is called hypochlorhydria. The result? It becomes harder to break down and absorb important nutrients and you may end up with low levels of iron, B12, Vitamin D and calcium. Low stomach acid can also mean that food stays too long in the stomach, starts fermenting and producing gas. This in turn can cause indigestion, burning and acid reflux. And on top of that irritate the wall of the stomach and lead to gastritis. Yikes!
Two way street
It’s not just the thyroid affecting the gut, it’s a 2-way street: the gut affects the thyroid too.
Your thyroid produces a hormone called T4. T4 needs to be converted into T3, which is the active form your body can use. A large part of that conversion takes place in the gut. But only if you have a healthy population of bacteria.
The gut is also the place where we absorb the important nutrients like iodine, selenium and zinc that are necessary for the thyroid to function.
What can you do?
First thing to do if you have bloating, acid reflux, constipation and you tried everything is to have your thyroid function checked. Your GP can do that for you but they only check for two markers: TSH and free T4. I ask clients with these symptoms to do a more comprehensive (and quite affordable) thyroid test they can do at home.
A simple thing you can do NOW is to chew your food! When we break our food down by chewing more, we make it easier to digest and absorb nutrients and this increases stomach acid to help prevent an overgrowth of bacteria or fungi.
As you might have guessed this thyroid and gut conundrum is not always easily fixed with a probiotic, some digestive enzymes or with thyroid medication. It requires a more holistic look at your health. That’s the work I love to do!
If you want to finally address your bloating, acid reflux and constpation, let’s talk.
I offer a free 30 minute are-we-right-for-each-other call and you can book yourself in here.