5 Foods to Avoid for a Healthy Gut, Thyroid, & Brain

As we all know, diet plays a major role in your health. Today, I’d like to talk about 5 foods that are linked to leaky gut, and inflammation in your brain and thyroid gland (master gland for your entire metabolism).
If you want to feel great and enjoy your life as fully as possible, then listen up!

Gluten

I know, I know. Gluten certainly isn’t a new dietary villain, but do you know why that is?

Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale–a cross between wheat and rye. The main function of gluten is to help foods maintain their shape and texture, like a sort of glue that holds food together. It can be found in many different foods because it’s added to them or due to cross contamination. In fact, most processed foods in the grocery store contain gluten; like cereals, noodles, crackers, baked goods, etc. You can check out more sources of gluten here.

Gluten has long been famous for causing leaky gut. When a patient consumes gluten, it triggers an increased release of zonulin, a protein produced by your gut cells and is responsible for increased intestinal permeability. Just imagine your intestinal lining as a cheesecloth; it only allows the tiniest particles to pass through. Zonulin makes the holes of the cheesecloth bigger and that makes it possible for large particles to pass through. Because of this, larger food particles, bacteria, toxic digestive metabolites, bacterial toxins, and small molecules leak into the bloodstream (say hello to inflammation and symptoms!!).

Unfortunately, leaky gut can cause an autoimmune response within your body as 70% of your immune cells are stored in your gut tissues. These immune cells attack and produce antibodies against foreign substances like bacteria and viruses. Since the substances that leak through the intestinal lining don’t belong outside the gut, the immune system attacks them. In short, the body wages war against itself.

During this autoimmune response, it is highly possible that the thyroid can be attacked. Gluten molecules are structurally very similar to that of your thyroid gland. This means that when your body gets overwhelmed and turns against its own tissues and organs, your thyroid is more vulnerable. 

Dairy

Dairy allergy and sensitivity is extremely common, though there are certainly people who tolerate it just fine. IF you have a dairy allergy or sensitivity or suspect that you do, I recommend that you avoid it (or test and confirm if it is a problem for you). If you’re sensitive to dairy, it can cause leaky gut problems and lead to the leading to your body attacking your thyroid as in the gluten example.

In addition to leaky gut, dairy products can also cause a condition known as leaky brain. This happens when the blood-brain barrier (BBB) becomes compromised and allows bacteria and toxins to leak to the brain itself.

Removing dairy products from your diet can help with issues of leaky gut and leaky brain. Consider dairy-free substitutions. For example, regular milk can be substituted with almond milk, cashew milk, or coconut milk and yogurt can be coconut yogurt or hemp yogurt. Same for cheese, believe it or not! Kite Hill is a popular and well liked brand.

Soy

Soy is a phytoestrogen, which means it mimics the function of estrogen in your body. This can cause trouble to people dealing with hormonal imbalance.

Soy is also a goitrogenic food which means that it blocks the function of thyroid peroxidase (TPO), an enzyme necessary for your thyroid to produce T3 and T4 hormones. To compensate for this decrease in thyroid hormone production, the thyroid increases its size, and this enlargement of the thyroid gland is known as goiter.

If you have Hashimoto’s or hypothyroidism, you must be cautious about soy products. 41% of people with Hashimoto’s disease are sensitive to soy and 60% of them have reported gut symptoms such as abdominal pain, loose stools, etc.

If you do choose to eat soy, choose non-GMO whenever possible.

Alcohol

Did you know that alcohol is the world’s third-largest risk factor for disease and disability? It causes at least 60 types of diseases and contributes to 200 others!

It is a psychoactive substance, and consuming alcohol regularly causes the brain to inflame, altering the normal function of the brain and causing it to send different messages throughout your body. It has multiple effects on the thyroid gland resulting in the worsening of your symptoms.

Alcohol also disrupts the digestive system and can cause leaky gut. As we have discussed earlier, leaky gut results in inflammation and an autoimmune response which may attack your thyroid.

So easy on the alcohol, especially while you are recuperating.

Sugar

Sugar is a contributor to inflammation in your body. Eating foods rich in added sugar frequently predisposes you to chronic low-grade inflammation that leads to serious health problems. It’s not good for your gut, brain or thyroid!

Sugar and artificial sweeteners may be linked to the development of Hashimoto’s thyroid disease, according to a report presented at the 2015 International Thyroid Congress.

Since your thyroid controls metabolism, it impacts your blood sugar level. If your gut and thyroid aren’t functioning well, this can lead to imbalanced blood sugar and increase your risk of developing diabetes.

It works both ways. A problem with your sugar level could also contribute to a problem in the thyroid. Those with hypothyroidism have more difficulty managing blood sugar levels.

I encourage you to cut out or cut back on the added sugar to save yourself all these added health risks. I’ve got some great recipes using alternatives on my website. There are also more brands using monk fruit, erythritol, and stevia as sweeteners so look for those instead of sugar on food labels.

If you are struggling with gut symptoms, thyroid issues, or brain fog, these are some great foundations that you can start to lay. 

It is my passion is to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully. I hope that today’s suggestions are helpful to you.

Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!

-Rebecca

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