Are you feeling bloated and can’t figure out why? Low thyroid hormones can be to blame! Hypothyroidism can have a significant impact on the gut microbiome, digestion and nutrient absorption. In this post, I’m going to share with you how hypothyroidism affects your gut and how it can cause bloating.
Hypothyroidism, or an under active thyroid, is a condition that affects your body’s hormone production. With under active thyroid everything else in your body slows down as thyroid controls lots of processes and other systems, including your gut. One of the most common symptoms associated with hypothyroidism is weight gain and bloating.
How hypothyroidism disrupts your gut microbiome and cause bloating?
When your metabolism slows down, your body is not able to process food as quickly, resulting in food sitting in the stomach and gut for too long, causing excess gas and digestive discomfort. With poor gut motility you are more likely experience constipation which can worsen sensation of bloating. Moreover, undigested food, sitting for too long in your in your gut can also lead to SIBO (small intestine bacteria overgrowth). SIBO is a condition where too many bacteria that usually belong in the large intestine migrate to the small intestine. SIBO is actually quite common amongst women with hypothyroidism. Typical sign of SIBO is bloating, flatulence, sometimes loss of appetite. Consuming sugars and high carbohydrate diet can worsen bloating for those with SIBO.
Hypothyroidism, low stomach acid and poor digestion
Poor digestion can significantly contribute to gut dysbiosis too. Dysbiosis is basically imbalance between good and bad bacteria. What is quite common with hypothyroidism is low stomach acid. Chronic stress can make things even worse. Stomach acid is absolutely necessary to digest food and absorb nutrients. If you can’t digest food well you won’t be able to absorb nutrients, but what is also important, you won’t be able to feed your beneficial gut bacteria. With time, it can lead to overgrowth of bad bacteria. With bad bacteria overgrowth, you are more prone to various infections and even leaky gut as there are certain strains of good gut bacteria that protect your gut wall from damage and help get rid of pathogens. If you are not sure if you have low stomach acid or not, you can do this simple home soda test to get some idea (best to do it for 5 consecutive days). You can also read here more about how to increase stomach acid naturally and what are other common causes
Does hypothyroidism cause leaky gut and food intolerances?
Hypothyroidism and low stomach acid can be also a risk for developing food sensitivities and intolerances, which can also cause bloating. Around 80 percent people with hypothyroidism suffer from some degree of low acid production in the stomach and food sensitivies. Bloating is a typical symptom of a food intolerances. So how low stomach acids causes food intolerances?
The most-important role of the stomach is the initial digestion of protein and fats. Most food intolerances start with poor digestion. Undigested food remains and rots in your gut. It results in inflammation and gradual damage to the mucosa and intestinal villi (in other words your gut wall). That leads to leaky gut. If undigested food enters the bloodstream it acts as irritant and can cause even autoimmune reaction. With leaky gut you may experience negative reactions to variety of foods.
Hypothyroidism and water retention
Lastly, hypothyroidism can cause over-accumulation of fluid in the body. This occurs because low thyroid hormones decreases the body’s ability to regulate salt and and other electrolytes, resulting in an increase in fluid retention, exacerbate sensation of bloating. It can also cause swelling and puffiness. Swelling related to hypothyroidism usually occurs in the face, around the eyes, and within the hands and feet.
Hypothyroidism bloating – key take away
Bloating can be a frustrating symptom of hypothyroidism and it’s important to address it as soon as possible. As it’s not only about physical discomfort but its about your health. We all know that your health start with the gut. If you leave your gut in poor condition, it may lead to way more serious complications in the future, both physical and mental as also there is strong connection between the gut and your brain. You can read here more about how hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s can cause brain fog and how to improve it.