Medically reviewed by
Natalie Bessom, D.O. Board-certified family medicine doctor with specialty training in nutrition, USA
The term “gut health” and the importance of a “healthy gut” have been a hot topic in recent years. But what does gut health really mean? Simply put, gut health refers to the balance between the 40 trillion microorganisms that live in your digestive tract.
Different bacterias, yeast, and viruses make up the trillions of microorganisms and are collectively called the gut microbiome or gut flora. The balance between these different microorganisms is important for physical, mental, immune, and overall health.
If you suffer from a thyroid condition, you may be familiar with the condition called leaky gut. Research has shown that a leaky gut is a warning sign for an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s or Graves’ Disease.
Therefore, a healthy gut can promote a stronger immune system, better digestion, and lessen any abdominal bloating and overall discomfort.
In this article, we list 6 science-based ways to improve your gut health.
What are probiotics? Probiotics are essentially the “good” or beneficial bacteria in your body. Research has shown that increasing the amount of probiotics in the body is not only a great way to improve your gut health but it also supports a healthy digestive system, prevents intestinal issues, and helps reduce inflammation.
For people with thyroid conditions, inflammation can be one of the triggers for a Hashimoto’s flare up.
You can try adding these items into your diet to boost the beneficial bacteria in your body.
- Kimchi (located at any asian grocery store)
- Kefir (usually available in the dairy section)
- Kombucha (lots of different flavor options and a great alternative to soda!)
- Miso (located at any asian grocery store)
If some of the foods listed above are not to your liking or not easily accessible where you live, you can head to your local health food store and elect to try probiotic supplements.
If you are looking for supplements, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider beforehand to ensure it does not interfere with any medication or treatments you may be taking right now.
We’ve talked about probiotics but what about prebiotics? Prebiotics are foods that promote the growth of probiotics in the gut. Naturally, they go hand in hand when trying to improve your gut health.
Prebiotics are normally fibers and carbs that the human cells cannot break down or digest. Instead, certain microorganisms in the gut can break these down for energy and fuel.
Studies have shown that increasing the amount of prebiotics in the body can help probiotics become more tolerant to certain environmental changes such as temperature changes and pH levels in the gut.
Some examples of prebiotic rich foods include:
- Bananas (use them in your smoothies with berries for a prebiotic anti inflammatory boost!)
- Whole Grains
Stress doesn’t just affect your health mentally, it can have physical effects on the body as well. Research has shown that a variety of stressors (mental, physical, and environmental) can play a part in gut health.
Some experts often talk about the “gut-brain connection” and that the gut is sometimes the body’s “second brain”. It has been shown that one’s mental health and gut are immediately connected.
Stress, anxiety, and depression have been shown to increase the changes of digestive problems such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Dealing with a thyroid condition can cause anyone to feel stressed. Trying to stay on top of all the blood tests, medication, supplements, trying a thyroid friendly diet, and exercising is overwhelming and it’s easy to forget to take a step back and destress.
Finding time to create and practice self love can be a great way for people with thyroid issues to destress and not focus on the negatives.
Switch Out Your Cleaning Products
We’ve mentioned a lot about what to put into your body to improve your gut health, but did you know there are everyday products that can affect your gut as well?
Research conducted on infants analyzed the amount and type of gut flora. Researchers found that households that used disinfectant cleaning products frequently were twice as likely to have high levels of a gut bacteria called Lachnospiraceae – found to be associated with type 2 diabetes and child obesity.
Avoid Taking Unnecessary Antibiotics
In certain cases it is necessary to take antibiotics to combat some infections. But, did you know that antibiotics can be damaging to your gut microbiota and overall immunity?
Other research found that even after 6 months of using antibiotics, some people were still missing certain types of beneficial bacteria in their gut.
Go Veggie or Plant Based
Eating more fruits and vegetables has always been an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
Researchers have compared the gut health between those who eat a vegetarian diet versus an omnivore diet. It’s proven that there is a significant difference between the two.
A vegetarian or plant based diet is proven to reduce the levels of disease causing bacteria in the gut, as well as inflammation and cholesterol levels.
Next time you’re doing your grocery shopping, refer to our list of thyroid friendly grocery basics to add to your household!
- Gut health refers to the balance between the 40 trillion microorganisms that live in your digestive tract
- The balance between these different microorganisms is important for physical, mental, immune, and overall health
- An unhealthy gut can cause a condition called “Leaky Gut” that many with thyroid conditions suffer with
- A healthy gut can promote a stronger immune system, better digestion, and lessen any abdominal bloating and overall discomfort
- By making appropriate lifestyle and diet changes, people are able to improve their gut health
Staying on top of all the different aspects for your thyroid health can be overwhelming. ThyForLife is an award-winning mobile platform that provides a solution for people with thyroid conditions to effectively manage and optimize their health.
It is the only all-in-one global community platform and tracking app that provides support for all thyroid conditions.
At ThyForLife, we do our utmost to provide accurate information. If you require more detailed information regarding medical terms, conditions, and practices please consult your healthcare professional. Always listen to the advice of your healthcare provider.