Did Hashimoto’s Cause Your Gut Issues or The Other Way Around? (How to Improve Both with Josh Dech)

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Thyroid Mystery Solved: Hashimoto's and Hypothyroidism Revealed Podcast with Inna Topiler

Did Hashimoto’s Cause Your Gut Issues or The Other Way Around? (How to Improve Both with Josh Dech)

How Weight Gain and Digestive Issues are Related to Hashimoto’s (with Gut Health Expert, Josh Dech)

The Case: 

  • Beth had Hashimoto’s and has been dealing with weight gain and digestive issues.
  • She fluctuated from constipation to diarrhea and always feels gassy, bloated and uncomfortable. 
  • She’d also been diagnosed with IBS but none of her health care providers offered any solutions beyond medication. 

When I met Beth in my Hashimoto’s program, she was overwhelmed trying to research the connection between her gut and Hashimoto’s. She was frustrated that her traditional doctors weren’t offering any solutions beyond treating the symptoms and wanted to reclaim power over her own health journey. That started with her joining the Thyroid Mystery Solved program where she discovered that she didn’t have to figure it all out on her own. I knew exactly where to start to get to the bottom of her thyroid mystery. 

Gut Health Expert

I was thrilled to invite Josh Dech on the show. Josh is a holistic nutritionist specializing in gut health. He’s a medical lecturer helping to educate doctors on the holistic approach to gut health and digestive issues. He’s also the host of the Reversible Podcast. I knew he’d be able to shed light on what Beth was going through and offer so many others some insight into how closely connected the gut and thyroid health really are. 

The Gut’s Role in Autoimmune Conditions

Josh explains that the gut is often one of the primary factors involved in autoimmune disorders. The gut’s main job is to break down, digest, and absorb nutrients from the food we eat. If this process doesn’t work properly, it can throw the body out of balance, leading to various health issues, including autoimmune conditions. As Josh points out, the gut is essential for maintaining homeostasis, which is the body’s ideal state of equilibrium.

I loved when Josh used the analogy of a sprained ankle to illustrate how disruptions in the gut can impact the body. When the gut isn’t functioning optimally, the body compensates by pulling nutrients from other areas, leading to a cascade of problems. He also shares that he is personally experiencing Candida which has leached minerals from his body, affecting his teeth. This example underscores why addressing gut issues is crucial for maintaining overall health, especially in the context of autoimmune conditions.

The Gut and Immune Function: Understanding the Connection

Connecting the dots between gut health and immune function is something that both Josh and I are passionate about. He shares that 70-90% of immune cells are derived from the gut, indicating how central gut health is to overall immunity. If the gut is compromised, it can lead to significant immune system dysregulation, affecting the body’s ability to maintain optimal health.

Josh compares this relationship to having guests at your house—if they’re relaxed, everything is fine, but if they’re agitated, it creates discomfort. Similarly, if the gut is inflamed or compromised, it can lead to irritability and increased immune responses, which can contribute to autoimmune conditions and other health issues. Understanding this connection is crucial to addressing autoimmune disorders.

Understanding Leaky Gut and Its Impact on the Immune System

We’ve talked about leaky gut on this show many times (i.e. Eps. 105, Eps. 23, Eps.32) but in case you’re not familiar with the term it refers to increased permeability in the gut lining, where the cells start to open, creating gaps. This can allow larger particles, such as undigested food, to force their way into the bloodstream or lymphatic system, triggering an immune response. Josh describes this process as a “border crossing” where unwanted particles sneak through, causing the body to react by sending out an immune alert. While leaky gut can be a natural (and necessary) response to certain foods or substances, sustained leaky gut can lead to an overactive immune response, contributing to autoimmune conditions and other health issues.

Addressing Gut and Thyroid Issues: Where to Start?

If you’re dealing with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or other gastrointestinal (GI) issues, GI mapping is one tool that can help uncover bacterial imbalances, dysbiosis, or other factors contributing to gut issues. However, Josh suggests a multi-step approach to addressing gut health and thyroid function effectively. It starts with meeting with a functional medicine clinician for a thorough medical history, and then determining what might be disrupting the gut.

Here are some common factors that can disrupt the gut:

  • Stress
  • Medication, such as antibiotics
  • Mycotoxins from mold
  • Dietary imbalances

By pinpointing the cause, you can take specific steps to address the issue and work toward restoring balance. While GI mapping provides valuable insights, other tests like organic acid testing and mycotoxin tests can also offer insights into gut health.

The GI Mapping Process: What to Expect

GI mapping involves analyzing a stool sample to assess the balance of bacteria in your gut. I actually think that the GI test is one of the easiest but I’m probably just used to dealing with poop after having two babies. Here’s what happens with a GI mapping test. You get a GI mapping home testing kit. The kit includes gloves, a cardboard tray (kind of like a french fry container), and vials for collecting the stool sample. Once the sample is collected, you ship it to a lab for analysis. Josh describes his experience with GI mapping, emphasizing the need for precision and a bit of humor. It can be awkward, but the insights gained from this test are invaluable for solving health mysteries and finding the right path to recovery. 

Dealing with Pathogens in the Gut: Herbal Remedies, Pharmaceuticals, and Probiotics

One important thing to remember when working on your gut health is that pathogens in the gut are common and determining the best approach to address them requires careful consideration. Some pathogens are more aggressive and require immediate action, while others can be managed through dietary adjustments and probiotics. Probiotics can help restore balance by introducing beneficial bacteria, but it’s essential to choose the right strains. Josh mentions specific strains like Lactobacillus Reuteri, which can combat certain overgrowths, and Saccharomyces Boulardii, which can be effective against Candida and mold toxins. Herbal remedies can be a gentler approach, while pharmaceuticals may be necessary in severe cases.

Postbiotics: What They Are and How They Help

Most people are familiar with probiotics and prebiotics, but postbiotics are not normally part of that conversation. Postbiotics are the byproducts of probiotic activity, such as short-chain fatty acids and vitamins, that support gut health, immune function, and inflammation regulation. One of the most accessible postbiotics is butyrate, often found in the form of tributyrin, which has a range of health benefits. However, you do have to be careful because blindly starting a supplement or over-supplementing could cause imbalances or other issues. 

Food Choices for Gut Health: Finding What Works for You

Of course, supplements can play an important role in addressing gut imbalances, but diet is often the foundation for a healthy gut. Focus on whole, unprocessed foods and avoid heavily processed items – as Josh puts it, don’t eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize. Remember that food plans are not a one-size fits all – your diet should be tailored to your body’s needs. Here are some tips to help you choose gut-friendly foods:

  • Opt for whole, unprocessed foods: This includes fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and quality meats. These foods are less likely to contain additives and preservatives that can harm the gut.
  • Be mindful of common triggers: Some foods, like sugar, alcohol, and gluten, can be problematic for gut health. Reducing or eliminating these from your diet may help improve gut function.
  • Consider organic options: Organic foods can be beneficial but they can also be more expensive so if cost is prohibitive be intentional with which foods you buy organic. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) provides a “Dirty Dozen” list of the most pesticide-laden foods and a “Clean 15” list of those with fewer pesticides, which can guide your choices.

Addressing Autoimmunity and Thyroid Issues with a Customized Approach

The gut plays a significant role in autoimmunity and hypothyroidism. In my Thyroid Mystery Solved program, we look at the connection between gut issues and thyroid health. Everyone in the program learns their thyroid type which really helps to determine the best next step for optimizing their health. In Beth’s case, we identified her thyroid type as ‘low T3’ type, meaning her body wasn’t converting T4 (a less active thyroid hormone) into T3 (the more active form that influences metabolism, energy, digestion, and brain function).

Given Beth’s thyroid type, it wasn’t surprising that she was also experiencing gut issues, since the gut is one of the main places where T4 converts to T3. With this knowledge, we tailored a customized plan for Beth, addressing both her low T3 and the triggers for Hashimoto’s. The plan wasn’t just about medication; we worked on specific steps to support her T3 levels and identified over 20 potential gut triggers to find out which ones were affecting Beth.

Happy Ending

Beth’s customized protocol didn’t require tackling 20 different things. Often, addressing one trigger can help with others. By the end of the process, Beth experienced a significant improvement. We focused on proper digestion and breaking down her food, leading to a noticeable reduction in her GI discomfort, gas, bloating, and even her bowel movements. After about three and a half months, Beth lost 10 pounds, got rid of her bloat and constipation, and felt relief from constant GI discomfort. It’s amazing what a targeted, holistic approach can do for health and well-being!

Eliminating Health Mysteries

For Beth, we were able to find that missing piece of the health puzzle and help her regain her health. Could this be the missing clue for you or someone in your life? 


Resources mentioned

Thanks to my guest Josh Dech. You can connect with him through his website: https://gutsolution.ca/

Suggested Products

Thyroid Mystery Solved Program

Related Podcast Episodes:

The Biggest Hidden Food Trigger for Hashimoto’s and Autoimmune Diseases You Need to Know with Jeffrey Smith The Case of Bloating, Gas, and Irregular Bowel Movements Are You Ignoring an Important Connection Between Gluten, Your Gut, and Hashimoto’s? With Vincent Pedre Solving the Autoimmunity Mystery w/ Inna Topiler

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