Probiotics seem to be one of the more recent trends that health-savvy consumers are eager to try. There are even commercials and ads on television that tout foods with probiotics as beneficial to digestive health. While probiotics are certainly beneficial for overall health and wellness, including digestive health, they also have the added benefit of helping improve other aspects of our health and bodies. More specifically, probiotics for thyroid health!
WHAT ARE PROBIOTICS
Before I get too far into the research and the studies behind the benefits of probiotics when it comes to overall health and wellness as well as thyroid health, it is probably a good idea to introduce a little bit about what they are and what they do. Most people are extremely familiar with antibiotics. They are generally medications we apply or consume that are designed to kill bacteria.
The thing with antibiotics, while they can certainly be extremely beneficial and even life-saving when it comes to ridding our bodies of harmful bacterial infections, they generally don’t discriminate against different types of bacteria in our bodies. That means that often the flora in our gut, our skin, our mouths, our urinary tracts—essentially ALL the flora that make up the healthy ecosystem of our bodies—can be disrupted by taking antibiotic medications. Women often find they suffer from vaginal yeast infections when they take oral antibiotic medications. Often, doctors are quick to prescribe anti-fungal medications at the same time to try to eliminate these secondary infections. Many doctors are also getting onto the probiotic bandwagon and are suggesting probiotic supplements in addition to antibiotics to try to balance the healthy flora of bacteria in the body.
So what exactly are probiotics? They are essentially compounds or substances that encourage growth of good bacteria in our bodies. A 2013 study shows that there are documented health benefits associated with consuming probiotics, most of which are aimed around digestive health. This study breaks down the definition of probiotics into understandable terms. Most literally, the Greek roots of the words Pro-Biotic is broken down into “for life”. Over time, that definition has evolved somewhat. Today, we consider probiotics to be bacteria or yeast that are good for you. They are essentially “living medicine” that work with the body’s natural processes and flora to promote overall health and wellness.
PROBIOTICS FOR THYROID HEALTH
It goes without saying, if there is any chance something might promote and protect thyroid health that I would want to learn more about it. Probiotics for thyroid health are something that certainly had me curious. Could there really be a natural product out there that could help protect the thyroid and help keep it functioning properly? The answer is a bit of a mixed bag. When I first started learning about probiotics for thyroid health, I was surprised at how much research had indicated the benefits of probiotics. Yet very few products exist specifically made for the thyroid gland. That’s even more surprising when you consider that thyroid disease is increasing each year. A 2000 research paper indicated that as many as 10% of the population suffers from some type of thyroid disfunction! A 2013 research study shows that the incidence of thyroid cancer is increasing by 6% each year as well.
Among people who are diagnosed with thyroid disorders, one of the most common complaints and most common symptoms (often the main reason patients will visit a doctor) is disruptions in digestion. Weight gain and constipation are some of the biggest concerns among patients with an underactive thyroid gland. Conversely, those patients who are experiencing an overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism have digestive complaints as well. Their symptoms tend to focus around a fast-moving digestive system including weight loss and diarrhea. With these types of issues plaguing sufferers of thyroid disease, it seems that improving the microbiota of the gut would be beneficial.
The lack of products supporting thyroid health is one of the biggest reasons why I launched my own line of probiotics. It contains the most synergistic probiotic species of active flora, and not only helps to promote thyroid health, but also promotes gut health as well.
Gut health is surprisingly important to thyroid health. In a study published in May-June 2014, scientists revealed a link between hypothyroidism and an overgrowth of certain types of gut bacteria. This study shows that while a number of health conditions are associated with a slowing of gut motility, hypothyroidism chronically leads to altered gastro-intestinal motility, and many of these patients experience an overgrowth of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.
Another groundbreaking study finds a link between people with autoimmune thyroiditis and celiac disease in May of 2017. The study asserts that the intestinal microbiota can be considered an endocrine network, and makes substantial connections between autoimmune thyroid disorders and autoimmune disorders of the digestive system. The correlations between conditions such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Celiac’s disease indicate that there is a connection between the two conditions. The study also asserts that screening for antibodies for Hashimoto’s in those diagnosed with Celiac’s and vice versa could be extremely beneficial in treatment for both diseases. By balancing the gut microbes through probiotics, many patients with both Celiac’s disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis have found significant improvement in health!
FINAL THOUGHTSThere are still connections being made between the thyroid and the gut. We know without a doubt that the thyroid has an impact on our digestive systems. One of the most common symptoms of thyroid problems is a disruption in digestion. Studies indicate that an overgrowth of certain types of bacteria can lead to certain types of thyroid conditions. Conversely, thyroid conditions can also disrupt the delicate balance of healthy bacteria in the gut and digestive system. Probiotics for thyroid health are designed to support thyroid health while also supporting the balance of healthy bacteria and other microorganisms that exist in the digestive tract.
My line of probiotics is something I am very excited to be able to offer people who find themselves struggling with thyroid disease or to plainly maintain a healthy lifestyle. When your thyroid isn’t working properly, the symptoms are uncomfortable at best and unbearable at worst. Suffering from digestive issues along with the myriad of other symptoms associated with thyroid disease adds insult to injury. Probiotics can help to improve gut health associated with different types of thyroid disease.