For good thyroid health, it’s important to have sufficient acid in your stomach.
With all the TV commercials for antacids, it seems like excess stomach acid is a big problem for Americans. The opposite is actually true: acid reflux, heartburn, or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disorder) is usually caused by too little hydrochloric acid being produced in the stomach, a problem that antacids only make worse. About half of people suffering with acid reflux actually produce too little stomach acid, a condition called hypochlorhydria.
How is your stomach related to your thyroid gland?
Hypothyroidism can weaken your lower esophageal sphincter, which is the valve at the opening to the stomach that prevents food and acid from leaking up into your esophagus. In fact, when someone has acid reflux, it is important to do a thorough thyroid evaluation.
In addition, the production of hydrochloric acid depends on a hormone called gastrin. Hypothyroidism reduces gastrin, which means the stomach can’t produce enough acid.
Not only can hypothyroidism be a cause of acid reflux, but low stomach acid can make the hypothyroid condition worse:
Low stomach acid and H. pylori infection
Insufficient stomach acid can also lead to infection of the stomach with Helicobacter pylori. H. pylori causes inflammation and stresses the adrenal glands, which in turn weakens thyroid function.
Low stomach acid creates intestinal permeability (“leaky gut”)
Sufficient acid is needed in the stomach in order to break down food enough to be admitted into the small intestine for further breakdown by digestive enzymes and bile.
When you don’t produce enough stomach acid, food rots in your stomach instead of being broken down into a form the small intestine can use. The sphincter at the bottom of the stomach refuses to open to admit the putrefying food from the stomach, but the pressure needs to be relieved somehow, so the sphincter at the top of the stomach opens, resulting in acid reflux.
As the hours pass, the food does ultimately pass down to the small intestine. However, the food entering is supposed to be very acidic in order to activate the gallbladder and pancreas to complete the job of digesting food. When the acid level is too low, this creates problems in extracting nutrients from the food.
In addition, undigested food moving into the small intestine leads to inflammation, promotes the growth of parasites and other harmful organisms in your digestive tract, and ultimately causes leaky gut.
Low stomach acid impairs absorption of key nutrients for thyroid health
When there isn’t sufficient acid in the stomach to break down protein and extract minerals from our food, we are unable to absorb the nutrients. You may be paying more for the best local and organic produce, buying 100% grass-fed meats, and spending money on mineral supplements, but it’s wasted if your body is unable to process it properly.
Low stomach acid limits the body’s ability to absorb vitamin B-12 as well as minerals including magnesium, iron, zinc, and calcium.
Low stomach acid can be a reaction to gluten and/or gliadin
Gluten intolerance can be a major contributor to acid reflux, too. Often, a gluten-free diet is effective in restoring digestive health.
Gluten intolerance is related to celiac disease, but many more of us are intolerant to the gliadin portion of gluten. Gliadin is the protein most abundant in wheat. Through hybridization, gliadin has changed drastically since the 1960s, with virtually all wheat farmers in North America growing this new type of wheat since 1985. Conventional medicine does not typically test for gliadin reactivity, so many cases of gliadin intolerance go undiagnosed.
Acid reflux and other digestive issues? Check for hypothyroidism
Your digestive issues may be connected to other symptoms you assume are unrelated, such as fatigue, hair loss (especially the outer 1/3 of the eyebrows), loss of motivation, dry skin and eyes, and more.
It is also critical to find out if you are intolerant to gluten/gliadin or to other foods, possibly even foods you thought were safe alternatives to gluten!
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I’ll help you discover just what is behind your digestive problems and thyroid problems and support you in returning your body to true, natural health. To find out how I can work with you to help you or a loved one with their symptoms, schedule a complimentary 20-minute phone consultation with me.