10 things that can cause leaky gut and worsen Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism

leaky gut

If you’ve been researching how to manage your thyroid and hormones, chances are you’re heard of leaky gut. Leaky gut is what it sounds like — the lining of the intestines have become “leaky,” allowing undigested foods, bacteria, and other undesirables into the sterile bloodstream.

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This causes system-wide inflammation that becomes chronic health issues: autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, chronic pain, brain fog, food allergies and sensitivities, depression, eczema, asthma, and myriad other complaints.

It makes sense, then, that people need to heal leaky gut in order to manage thyroid symptoms.

However, it’s best to know why you have leaky gut first. That way you’re not chasing down the wrong remedies.

Ten causes of leaky gut that worsen your thyroid and hormone symptoms

Although we understand the role of leaky gut in chronic health disorders, the underlying causes of leaky gut itself can be harder to pin down.

Here are the causes we know about:

Food

Many inflammatory foods damage the intestinal walls, leading to leaky gut. Gluten in particular is associated with leaky gut. Dairy, processed foods, excess sugar, and fast foods are other culprits.

Alcohol

Excess alcohol is another common cause of leaky gut.

Prescriptions and OTC Medicines

Some medications cause leaky gut, including corticosteroids, antibiotics, antacids, and some medications for arthritis  It’s important to note some drugs have inflammatory fillers such as gluten.

Bacterial Infections

Certain infections, such H. pylori overgrowth (the bacteria that causes ulcers) or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) can cause leaky gut. Yeast, parasites, and viruses are other possibilities.

Stress

Chronic stress raises stress hormones, which damages the gut lining over time.

Hormone Imbalances

Hormone imbalances can cause leaky gut as the intestines depend on proper hormone levels for good function. Imbalances in estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid hormones, and stress hormones all contribute to leaky gut.

Autoimmune Conditions

We often think in terms of leaky gut causing autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, or psoriasis. However, sometimes it’s the other way around. The constant inflammation of autoimmune disease can make the gut leaky. Or autoimmunity in the digestive tract can sabotage gut health. In these cases, managing autoimmunity is a strategy to improve leaky gut.

Processed Foods

Food processing changes the natural structure of foods in a way that makes them inflammatory to the gut. Examples include deamidating wheat to make it water soluble and the high-heat processing (glycation) of sugars. Additives such as gums (xanthan gum, carrageenan, etc.), food colorings, and artificial flavors are inflammatory for some people, too.

Environmental Toxins

Our environment surrounds us with toxins, some of which have been shown to degrade the gut lining. Regularly taking glutathione, the body’s primary antioxidant, helps protect the body from toxins.

Vitamin D Deficiency

Sufficient vitamin D is vital to protecting the gut lining and a vitamin D deficiency can make the intestinal lining more vulnerable to damage.

These are some of the factors known to contribute to leaky gut and flare or exacerbate Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. By understanding the cause of your leaky gut and Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, you will have more success restoring health to your gut and managing your autoimmune thyroid condition.

For more information on how to support leaky gut and manage your thyroid and hormone health, contact our team.

Joni Labbe

About Joni Labbe

Dr. Joni Labbe is a board-certified clinical nutritionist specializing in science-based nutrition with a focus on women's health issues. She has successfully helped pre-menopausal and menopausal women regain and maintain their health since 1995. Dr. Labbe is the author of the Amazon #1 Best Selling book Thyroid & Menopause Madness and It’s Not Just Menopause: It’s Your Thyroid. She is also a professional speaker, radio personality, fitness expert, and former host of “Healthier Way With Dr. Labbe.” Dr. Labbe is one of the country’s leading authorities on thyroid disorders, including Hashimoto’s disease. Dr. Labbe has also authored numerous articles and blogs on health, nutrition, and thyroid health, as seen in Naturally Savvy, Thyroid Nation, and Fox News. She is a Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Doctor of Chiropractic, and has post graduate training in Functional Neurology, Functional Endocrinology, Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis, and earned a Diplomate and Fellow in Nutrition from the American Association of Integrative Medicine.

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