The gut contains different kinds of microbes
- Pathogenic. These are harmful and actively attempt to create an environment that they prefer.
- Commensal. These are non-harmful and peacefully co-existing within/on the human body.
- Symbiotic. These get and provide benefit from/to the human body.
Some functions of a balanced, thriving gut microbiome include:
- Production of vitamins and other beneficial nutrients (B, K, short chain fatty acids)
- Supporting digestion
- Supporting the immune system
In a healthy gut, there are way more symbiotic microbes and very little pathogenic.
However, our modern lifestyle is not supportive of gut health and a balanced microbiome. The widespread use of antibiotics in our food supply, high stress lives, and a poor diet are making it very difficult for our symbiotic microbes to thrive in our guts.
What’s gut dysbiosis?
Gut dysbiosis occurs when the balance of pathogenic to symbiotic/commensal microbes in the gut is skewed. Research shows that individuals with hypothyroidism and PCOS struggle with gut dysbiosis. In fact, gut health plays a huge role in hormonal health and there’s a cyclical relationship between PCOS/hypothyroidism and gut health.
How are gut health and hypothyroidism interlinked?
- Physiological stress is high in hypothyroidism, because balancing blood sugar is harder. Stress shuts down the rest and DIGEST system, which shunts resources away from the gut.
- Gut bacteria are responsible for activating a significant amount of thyroid hormone. Gut dysbiosis can reduce the amount of thyroid hormone activated and available for use by our body.
- Thyroid hormone directly impacts gut motility or how well our gut muscles work and are able to move food along the digestive system.
- Thyroid hormone also influences how much stomach acid we make, which is very important for digesting food and preventing the overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Not surprisingly, a difficult to treat digestive issue, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), is directly linked to hypothyroidism. ⠀
How are gut health and PCOS interlinked
Research shows that women with PCOS have:
- Gut dysbiosis
- Lower gut microbiota diversity
- Lower total amount of microbial species in the gut
- Lower number of beneficial bacteria
- Significantly higher number of pathogenic gram-negative bacteria, which create endotoxin. Endotoxin overload causes inflammation, insulin resistance, liver inflammation, and increased scar tissue in the liver which eventually causes the liver to become sluggish.
- Insulin resistance, a root cause of PCOS, can cause leaky gut (when the intestinal barrier between the blood and the gut is compromised). Leaky gut is also linked to increased endotoxin.
Are you looking for help with gut issues, PCOS, or hypothyroidism?