Health

The Sneaky Thyroid Sapper Doctors Almost Always Miss

Tired all the time? Show your gut some love.

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Mysterious fatigue and brain fog can make you feel like a feel like a walking zombie. For 75 percent of women with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an imbalance in gut bacteria is to blame, says Raphael Kellman, MD, author of The Microbiome Breakthrough: Harness the Power of Your Gut Bacteria to Boost Your Mood and Heal Your Body ($8.99, Amazon).

“The trillions of bacteria that live in the GI tract maintain the integrity of the gut wall and oversee immune system function,” he says. But when bad bacteria outnumber good, the gut wall can become permeable, allowing undigested food into the bloodstream. This causes the immune system to go haywire, leading to vague symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, weight gain, and joint and muscle pain that most doctors chalk up to aging, he says.

The gut and the thyroid need each other to function properly, says Dr. Kellman. Thyroid hormone is activated in the intestines, but when the microbiome isn’t balanced, that’s not possible, and the thyroid slows. Thyroid hormone also signals the gut to contract, digest food and expel waste, he says. “Without it, leaky gut is more likely.”

Your doctor can order a stool or breath test to see if your gut is overrun by bad bacteria, Dr. Kellman says. But if you have any of the symptoms at left, these strategies can help restore microbiome health — and your energy:

  • Drinking red wine increases the diversity of good gut bacteria, reveals new research from Kings College London. “Red wine has polyphenols, compounds that feed beneficial gut bacteria,” says study author Caroline Le Roy, PhD. Polyphenols are also found in red berries and chocolate.
  • Supplementing with prebiotics (to nourish gut bacteria) and probiotics (to improve GI health) can restore microbiome balance, says Dr. Kellman. His advice: Look for synbiotics, which contain both, like Align Dualbiotic Prebiotic + Probiotic ($21.99, Amazon).

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