An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, hypothyroidism being one of them. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid, a small butterfly-shaped gland located at the front of the base of the neck does not produce enough thyroid hormone. When it produces enough thyroid hormone, your body works well, and you feel great, but when it’s not working right, everything can go out of whack.
NUTRIENT DEFICIENCIES IN THYROID PATIENTS
The body needs nutrients to remain strong and healthy and to help the immune system resist and ward off disease. The Thyroid controls most of the body systems, including the digestive system through the production of thyroid hormones known as thyroxin (T4) and tri-iodothyronine (T3). These hormones are carried through the bloodstream around the body. If the thyroid is working correctly, the body functions well, but if it produces too much hormone, which is rare, it leads to hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism causes the body function to speed up; but, if one has an under-active thyroid, hypothyroidism occurs and everything S-L-O-W-S-D-O-W-N, including your digestion. This leads to low stomach acid which further leads to a reduction in the absorption of important nutrients which leads to nutrient deficiency and additional side effects.
DIGESTION & LOW STOMACH ACID
Gastric acid breaks down proteins and minerals with an enzyme produced in the stomach called pepsin. Pepsin helps to breakdown proteins into peptides, and, without these natural enzymes the stomach cannot break down proteins adequately enough to produce the amino acids the body needs. Pepsin also promotes the digestion and absorption of carbs, without it, it can also lead to acid reflux, heartburn, indigestion, and early onset aging as well as low vitamin D, B12 or iron.
Additionally, it can cause an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine leading to dysbiosis, gas and bloating, a chief complaint among thyroid patients. Low levels of stomach acid can also lead to gastritis, an inflammation of the stomach.
Doctor: “Your TSH is Normal”
Patient: “But, I Don’t feel Normal”
This is a common complaint among thyroid patients. Their TSH is normal yet they’re still not feeling normal despite normal blood tests. This leaves patients feeling unheard and oftentimes that it’s all in their head. Doctors will treat these “ghostlike symptoms” by prescribing more drugs instead of treating the root cause which is nutrient deficiency.
SIDE EFFECTS OF NUTRIENT DEFICIENCY:
● Excessive hair shedding
● Body aches and pains
● Brain Fog
● Unpredictable and oftentimes severe Mood changes
● Changes in heart rhythm or heart rate
● Muscle wasting or weakness
● Frequent and extended illnesses i.e colds, flu, and allergies.
NATURAL REMEDIES FOR LOW STOMACH ACID:
Ginger: Experts consider this to be the best herb for digestion. Ginger encourages the gallbladder to release bile, thereby stimulating digestion and absorption of nutrients. Ginger either fresh, dried, powdered or in juiced form also provides relief from stomach cramps, diarrhea and bloating as well as heartburn. It also has powerful anti-inflammatory & antioxidant effects on the gut.
Apple Cider Vinegar with MTHR: Apple cider vinegar helps increase stomach acid production. Mix one teaspoon with 8 oz. of water 15-20 minutes before a meal.
Digestive enzymes: These are enzymes that break down molecules like fats and protein into smaller molecules that the body can easily absorb. There are three main types of digestive enzymes:
● Proteases which break down protein into peptides and amino acid can be obtained naturally from pineapple, pawpaw, kiwi fruit, raw honey, ginger, etc.
● Lipases break down fat into three fatty acids and also glycerol molecule. It can be obtained naturally from avocado.
● Amylases break down carbohydrates into simple sugars and starch. Mango and soy sauce are natural foods that are rich in amylases enzyme, however some thyroid patients should stay away from soy products.
NB. Digestive enzyme supplements are also good
Hydrochloric acid (HCL) with Pepsin: hydrochloric acid is created naturally in the body, it turns pepsinogen into pepsin so they body can break down food. However, it should be taken while under the care of a physician.
Honey: Honey apart from being a good source of proteases, honey contains antimicrobial properties that fight against small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). It’s also good for ulcer patients.
REPLENISHING LOST NUTRIENTS AND MINIMIZING SYMPTOMS
Vitamin supplements like ThyVita ® are advisable to help replenish lost nutrients. Even after taking natural remedies to improve acid production, patients can replenish their nutrients and help minimize their symptoms. ThyVita helps the body absorb more nutrients, with higher bioavailability patients actually feel results.
In addition to natural remedies patients should chew their food very well and eat smaller more frequent meals.
If you’re experiencing symptoms like these, call your doctor and ask for your nutrient levels to be tested. Often times your micronutrients can be tested and when deficiencies are detected a nutritionist or dietician can help guide you on the proper foods to eat.