The Impact of Leaky Gut on Hashimoto’s

What is leaky gut and is it even a real medical condition?

I’m often asked this!

And I’m also often told by sceptics of whether diet and lifestyle make any difference that leaky gut doesn’t even exist!

So is leaky gut actually real or not?

To clear things up leaky gut is a real medical condition, it’s referred to as intestinal permeability in research and the medical community.

Hashimoto’s has been linked with leaky gut (1).

Leaky gut has been shown to precede the development of auto-immune conditions such as Hashimoto’s. If leaky gut is not addressed it keeps that auto-immune attack going and this is what keeps you struggling with endless symptoms!

So how does leaky gut impact Hashimoto’s?

When the digestive tract becomes inflamed it impacts the mucous layer that protects your gut wall (2). Incidentally a huge proportion of your immune cells live in this mucous layer, so it affects immune function.

The digestive tract can become inflamed from a poor diet, food sensitivities, stress, low stomach acid, poor bacterial balance, etc.

An inflamed digestive tract

Once this mucous layer is damaged it allows the cells that line the gut wall to become damaged which creates gaps in which food particles and pathogens can pass through into your blood stream.

Intestinal Permeability allowing food particles and pathogens to pass into the blood stream
Intestinal permeability allowing food particles and pathogens to pass into the blood stream

These pathogens and food particles are then treated as foreign as they shouldn’t be in your blood stream, your immune system then creates antibodies against them and tags them in order to remove them.

Immune system activation: antibodies are created against the pathogens and food particles, increasing the likelihood of molecular mimicry
Immune system activation: antibodies are created against pathogens and food particles, increasing the likelihood of molecular mimicry

The protein structure of these pathogens and food particles may be similiar in structure to some of your own tissue, organs and glands, in which case the antibodies will also tag your own tissue. This process creates inflammation and damage, which eventually impacts the function of that tissue, organ or gland.

This is known as molecular mimicry.

Which is why addressing inflammation and gut health are the foundations of recovery!

Dietary Factors that can impact leaky gut:

There are various foods and nutrients that can impact leaky gut either positively or negatively.

Fibre, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Zinc, Anthocyanins, Amino Acids (cysteine, methionine, glutamine, tryptophan, arginine) can all help to improve leaky gut. Which is why a varied whole foods diet is so important for Hashimoto’s recovery.

On the other hand Gluten, Sugar (glucose, fructose), fats (not all, which is why it’s so important you go for healthy, anti-inflammatory fats), alcohol and emulsifiers (found in many processed, low fat foods) can actually increase leaky gut and in turn make your Hashimoto’s symptoms much worse.

Dietary components that affect intestinal permeability.
Dietary components that affect intestinal permeability (3)

Processed foods are therefore best avoided as they increase gut permeability, which in turn leads to an upregulated autoimmune response (4), this is in part due to the additives found within these foods. 

Processed foods also often lack fibre and essential nutrients, this combined can lead to further gut dysbiosis, inflammation and insufficient nutrients for vital bodily reactions and functions.

The end result is increased fatigue and other Hashimoto’s symptoms. 

Need a little help getting that leaky gut under control?

If you’d like help addressing inflammation and gut health so that you can get rid of persistent symptoms and start to feel normal again, then get in touch

Prefer to chat face to face? No problem, book a free 30 minute call here to find out how I can help with your recovery.

Or head over to my website to find out more about me and what I do.