World Thyroid Day: How are thyroid and gut health connected

Thyroid and gut health have a connection, A gastroenterologist explains how thyroid may impact stomach problems and how to manage them.
Link between thyroid and gut health
Know the link between thyroid and gut health. Image courtesy: Adobe Stok
Team Health Shots Updated: 17 Oct 2023, 06:32 pm IST
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Thyroid is an important gland in the body, and responsible for producing the vital thyroid hormone. This hormone plays a key role in many basic body functions such as metabolism and growth. Not having enough of thyroid hormone or too much of it lead to thyroid diseases, which increase the risk of other aspects of health, including menstruation, gastrointestinal problems and cardiovascular well-being. This World Thyroid Day, let us understand how thyroid and gut health are connected.

Can thyroid problems cause gastrointestinal problems?

According to Dr Amit Miglani, Director and Head of Department – Gastroenterology, Asian Hospital, Faridabad, thyroid problems can indeed cause gastrointestinal problems.

“The thyroid gland plays a crucial role in regulating various body functions, including metabolism and digestion. When the thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones in excess (hyperthyroidism) or insufficient amounts (hypothyroidism), it can impact the digestive system and lead to gastrointestinal issues,” says Dr Miglani.

What are the gut health symptoms of thyroid disease?

Thyroid disease can manifest with several gastrointestinal symptoms, the expert shares.

Thyroid gland
The thyroid gland produces the thyroid hormone. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

In hyperthyroidism, where there is an overproduction of thyroid hormones, patients may experience increased bowel movements or diarrhoea, which can be watery and frequent. They may also have an increased appetite and unintentional weight loss abdominal pain.

Conversely, hypothyroidism, characterized by an underactive thyroid gland, can cause constipation, bloating, and a decreased appetite. Some individuals may also experience abdominal discomfort, flatulence, or indigestion.

“It is important to note that these symptoms can vary among individuals, and not everyone with thyroid disease will experience gastrointestinal problems,” adds Dr Miglani.

Also read: Thyroid myths you’ve always believed as ‘facts’

Tips to manage gut health problems due to thyroid

If you are experiencing digestive issues related to thyroid problems, the following tips may help manage these symptoms:

1. Maintain a well-balanced diet

Ensure your diet includes an adequate number of fibre-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This can help alleviate constipation and regulate bowel movements.

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2. Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent dehydration and promote healthy digestion.

Tips to manage thyroid
Staying hydrated is important to manage thyroid and gut health. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

3. Monitor your iodine intake

Iodine is essential for thyroid function, but excessive or inadequate intake can impact thyroid health. Consult with your doctor or a registered dietitian to determine the appropriate iodine levels for your specific condition.

4. Consume small and frequent meals

Eating smaller, more frequent meals instead of large meals can ease digestive discomfort and prevent bloating.

5. Manage stress levels

Stress can exacerbate both thyroid and gut health problems. Engage in stress-reducing activities like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or engage in hobbies you enjoy.

6. Follow your prescribed treatment

It is crucial to adhere to your prescribed thyroid medication and treatment plan as recommended by your healthcare provider. This helps stabilise your thyroid hormone levels, which can alleviate gastrointestinal symptoms over time.

Remember, it is essential to discuss any concerns or symptoms you are experiencing with your healthcare provider, as they can provide personalised advice based on your specific situation.

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