Key Points from last post:
- 90% of Thyroid problems are actually autoimmune (hashimoto’s)
- Once this happens, this is an immune system problem at the root cause and no longer just a thyroid problem
- Your doctor is missing the boat if they’re only running TSH and T4
- A comprehensive thyroid lab should include the following:
- TSH, Total and Free T4 AND T3, reverse T3 and T3U, as well as TPO and Thyroglobulin Antibodies
- Thyroid Underconversion occurs when the T3 is lower than T4, and most of this conversion from T4 to T3 occurs in the gut and liver
Many functional medicine practitioners feel (and research has been showing) that autoimmunity begins with Leaky Gut Syndrome.
The digestive system is composed of a single layer of cells (called a mucosal membrane) that is held together by tight junctions (think interlocking your arms with another person). There’s enough room for specific (small) food particles to get through, but anything larger or undigested is kept out of the blood stream that lies underneath. The blood stream is where your immune system is.
Foods like gluten have been shown to breakdown the tight junctions by activating Zonulin. High levels of Zonlulin have been shown to directly breakdown occludin (the tight junctions). So basically gluten immediately activates gut breakdown mechanisms. Other things like alcohol and chronic stress break down the gut barrier making it more permeable, or leaky to larger undigested food proteins.
Once the gut becomes leaky, and these larger food particles get through the leaky mucosal layer, they enter the blood stream and activate the immune system. Immune cells within the blood stream mark and activate the foreign food proteins as intruders, and the body begins to launch an immune attack against them. This immune attack is the same attack that occurs when you stub your toe, or when you cut your finger. The immune attack causes inflammation and continually attacks all of these foods that continue to enter the blood stream as long as the gut remains leaky.
Many people begin to experience increasing food sensitivities after a very stressful event. This is because they have a leaky gut due to chronic stress. Some people get concussions or brain injuries and their gut barrier (the mucosal layer) immediately begins to break down and become leaky because the vagus nerve isn’t communicating with it very well anymore due to the damage from the concussion.
There are tests you can perform to find out what food sensitivities you have, and you can perform a gut-repair protocol in order to close up the tight junctions and repair the mucosal layer, but you always have to begin with addressing WHY your gut became leaky in the first place. Stress, gluten, alcohol, concussion, infection, blood sugar dysregulation, antibiotics and a host of other things can create a leaky gut, so you’ll need to begin addressing those components, along with removing the problematic foods (often gluten, dairy, corn, soy and others) in order to begin healing your Leaky Gut.
Once your immune system is activated due to leaky gut, all foods that you eat become suspect and potentially can cause immune reactions (called food sensitivities aka non-celiac gluten sensitivity). Chronic inflammation leads to chronically activated and over-activated immune components called antibodies. Your body begins to identify different parts of your body (often the thyroid) as foreign because their amino acid sequences look similar. For example your thyroid and cerebellum look very much like a gluten protein at the level of the amino acid. So when you ingest gluten, and you have a leaky gut and autoimmunity to your thyroid and cerebellum, your immune system will begin attacking these areas of your body by mistake. This is a bad situation, and you MUST avoid gluten at all costs if you have any form of autoimmunity because gluten repeatedly breaks down the gut barrier.
In the following posts you’ll learn what different components of a Thyroid blood lab look like, and what to look for on labs to help identify leaky gut and other digestive problems.
If you have or think you have Leaky Gut Syndrome, please contact our office for an evaluation so we can help you improve your gut health, and hopefully save yourself from developing an Autoimmune disease. 480-756-2600