While here at Supercharged Food HQ we love talking about all things gut health, there’s another intrinsic part of the body that plays a key role in keeping us functioning properly; the thyroid gland.
The gut and thyroid have a very strong relationship - poor gut health can suppress thyroid function and similarly, thyroid dysfunction can cause an inflamed gut. It goes both ways.
If you've never looked into thyroid health, gather round! Basically, the thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits in your neck. It produces two types of hormones: Thyroxine, known as T4, which is the inactive thyroid hormone and then there’s Triiodothyronine, A.K.A, T3, which is the active form. We need both T3 and T4 for growth, energy, development and much more.
In order for our thyroid hormones to do their job properly, T4 needs to be converted into its active form T3. Did you know that 20% of this conversion happens within the gut flora? It’s a bigger conversion rate than Australia and US Dollars! This conversion process can be enhanced by an enzyme known as intestinal sulfatase, which is produced in the gut. Therefore, if we have any gut imbalances, this can disturb the conversion and alter the exchange rate.
One major side-effect of gut problems that’s actually linked to thyroid health is constipation. Constipation can decrease our clearance of oestrogen and also, increase thyroid-binding globulin, a protein that binds to T3. This makes T3 chemically inactive and reduces its ability to be released into the bloodstream.
Another gut-wrenching problem is inflammation and stress. Both of these increase our cortisol levels which reduce T3 and therefore, inhibit the conversion that we need for proper thyroid functioning.
So, how do we best support our thyroid?
Eating a diet that’s good for your gut can help support your thyroid hormones. You can read my Gut Health 101 here for more.
One way to reduce bodily inflammation and therefore, improve thyroid health, is to include anti-inflammatory ingredients. Take turmeric, for example. It’s a delicious addition to any meal and it actually works. If you’re looking for tasty ways to include turmeric, you have to try my Gut Healing Turmeric Chicken Broth. Also, don’t forget to get yourself some Golden Gut Blend; it’s seriously life-changing when it comes to thyroid function as it contains both turmeric and ginger which are two star ingredients for fighting off inflammation.
Bone broths are a magical meal that help restore the gut and support thyroid function as they contain plenty of potent ingredients such as zinc, which is an essential mineral for supporting immune function and gut healing. Low zinc can actually inhibit the thyroid-stimulating hormones. Another mineral that we often talk about is iron. Iron is essential for repairing thyroid imbalances, as decreased iron can reduce thyroid function. Love Your Gut capsules are great for upping iron levels. Bone broth is an easy way to increase your iron levels and help look after that thyroid gland of yours.
One of the other things I recommend when faced with thyroid imbalances is cutting down on leaky gut triggers such as gluten, dairy and sugar. These foods can cause damage to your intestinal lining and cause cell ways to become more permeable to proteins and releases them into the bloodstream. This can cause a whole myriad of issues like abnormal immune responses, thyroid imbalances, intolerances and even autoimmune conditions.
Another key way to improve your thyroid is to reduce stress, so try to stop worrying so much! While a dose of stress now and then is necessary, stress inevitably weakens your body’s ability to fight off foreign invaders, such as bacteria and viruses, and can limit your innate immunity. This can cause inflammation which as we now know, can reduce that conversion and make it hard for our thyroid hormones to function properly. It’s time to roll out that yoga mat and start the deep belly breathing.
While the gut and thyroid connection is essential for our wellbeing, there are plenty of links within the body where your gut holds major influence. By nurturing your gut, you’re one step closer to strengthening these connections and letting your body heal and work at its prime!
If you're looking for a delicious thyroid-friendly and gut-friendly recipe, you have to check out my Fermented Turmeric & Fennel Cauliflower! It takes cauliflower to new heights in this colourful Indian-spiced ferment.
Fermented Turmeric & Fennel Cauliflower
MAKES 1 X LITRE MASON JAR
- 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 2 tablespoons Celtic sea salt
- 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) filtered water
Place the cauliflower, turmeric and fennel seeds in a bowl. Toss to mix the spices through the cauliflower.
Transfer the mixture to a sterilised 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cup) mason jar, pressing down to remove any large air gaps, and leaving about 2.5 cm (1 inch) of headroom at the top.
Dissolve the salt in the filtered water, then pour it over the cauliflower, ensuring it is fully submerged, and leaving about 2.5 cm (1 inch) of breathing room at the top of the jar, to allow for expansion.
Cover the jar with plastic wrap, then screw the lid on tightly.
Keep in a warm place for 3–4 days, then open and taste test until you’re satisfied with the result; the vegetables should taste tangy.
Store in the fridge and use within 3–5 days.