Thyroid Health and Candida
Having a healthy good flora is key to your health. A healthy gut bacteria balance with plenty of ‘good’ bacteria helps to keep your candida levels in check. However, the candida population in your body can get out of control for a variety of reasons. Here are a few of them:
Causes of Candida Overgrowth
pH Imbalance: When your pH balance is thrown off, candida has the chance to grow and populate into larger amounts than what’s beneficial. When the body does not have good strong healthy gut bacteria or the pH balance is out of whack, it can make it very difficult to fight off a candida infection. What can throw off your pH? Stress, lowered immunity, medications, alcohol, high carbohydrate diet, sugar, and lack of sleep.
Medications: Certain medications, antibiotics, and birth control pills can increase your risk of candida overgrowth. The problem with antibiotics is that they take the good with the bad. While they kill off the harmful bacteria, they also rid the body of the healthy bacteria it needs to help with digestion as well as keeping things like candida in a healthy range. If you are frequently prescribed antibiotics then there is a chance that your intestinal bacteria are out of balance. This can lead to candida overgrowth. Additionally taking oral contraceptives can also increase your risk of candida infections. The pill can lead to estrogen dominance, which in turn triggers a Candida overgrowth. In fact, a University of Michigan study recently suggested that regular oral contraceptive use typically doubles the risk for developing Candidiasis. Did you know that yeast cells have estrogen receptors which are stimulated by hormones in the pill?
A Weak Immune System: Anyone who is immunocompromised is more likely to suffer from an infection like candida. This includes anyone who has an autoimmune condition such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis or Epstein Barr. Eating an inflammatory diet high in sugar and processed foods and low in greens, vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and clean protein, poor sleep, high stress levels, smoking, drinking alcohol, leading a sedentary lifestyle, and environmental toxins can all weaken your immune system and increase your risk of candida infection and overgrowth.
How does Candida Overgrowth Spread?
Candida is a very tricky yeast. It has a unique ability to change shape in order to protect itself from shifts in acidity level to temperature or other environmental changes. It can turn from a rounded yeast cell into elongated hyphal cells that can get through your gut lining and potentially cause leaky gut syndrome. Once candida gets into your bloodstream, it can turn from a gut health issue into a full-body health issue and can colonize in your mouth, skin, thyroid, ears, reproductive organs, and other parts of your body. It’s not surprising that candida overgrowth can produce symptoms in all parts of your body affecting your entire health. This is one of the reasons I like to stay ahead of it by changing up my approach every few weeks to months. Switching anti-candida supplements every few months can keep us on top of the Candida.
Bad Gut Bugs and Your Thyroid
When there is an imbalance in the bacteria in the gut, T4 to T3 conversion can be disrupted. And this is where about 20% of the conversion takes place. Gut microbes are able to do a large part of the work here by converting inactive T4 into T3 sulfate. When the bacteria in your gut are imbalanced or there is an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, this process can become disrupted. Your gut is also essential for nutrient absorption so when there is an imbalance in the gut, nutrient absorption may decrease which could ultimately lead to a vitamin or mineral deficiency. A deficiency can then cause any thyroid imbalance. Staying on top of your gut health issues can be one of the best things you can do to prevent and eliminate Candida overgrowth.
Candida and Thyroid Health
I often see patients who suffer from Hashimoto’s who also have an underlying candida overgrowth. We commonly have to address underlying candida overgrowth to support their thyroid health as well. Candida overgrowth can affect your thyroid for a number of reasons. Let’s take a look at some of the possible links between candida overgrowth and thyroid dysfunction.
- Candida overgrowth can lead to leaky gut by breaking down the walls of the intestines and then getting into the bloodstream if this fungus is found in large amounts in the GI tract. When not addressed, leaky gut can lead to autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis as it taxes the body’s immune system and the immune system may begin attacking its own tissue and in certain circumstances, this is the thyroid gland.
- Candida overgrowth in the gut can put stress on your adrenals as well as the HPA axis. Your adrenal glands work with your body’s stress response and also help with regulating the immune system. When dealing with candida overgrowth and even nutrient malabsorption due to the overgrowth, hormonal imbalances can occur along with adrenal health issues and imbalances in stress hormones. Any type of hormone imbalance can ultimately lead to thyroid health problems and dealing with a thyroid condition on top of adrenal health issues can cause your symptoms to be much worse than they already are.
- When you are consuming a food that you are sensitive to for a period of time there is a good chance that leaky gut can develop which can then lead to autoimmunity. Consuming reactive foods time and time again causes your immune system to go haywire and triggers inflammation. Any time your body is in a chronic state of inflammation, you are at a higher risk of developing disease, and when your immune system is in overdrive it can begin attacking your own body tissue. In this state, your body may go after your thyroid leading to autoimmune thyroid conditions, such as Hashimoto’s disease or Graves’ disease.
Candida and your Immunity
There may be molecular mimicry between Candida and the thyroid gland leading your immune system to mistake your thyroid for a candida yeast infection leading to thyroid dysfunction. Molecular mimicry means that there is a structural similarity between a foreign substance, called a foreign antigen that activates your immune system and your body’s self-antigen. Candida may also release superantigens triggering your immune system to attack your thyroid gland causing autoimmunity. Also, a distracted immune system that is focused on attacking your thyroid gland by mistake but neglects to keep your candida levels balanced can lead to uncontrollable candida growth, serious candida overgrowth, and increased vulnerability to autoimmune thyroid disease.
Holistic Options for Candida and Thyroid Health
Candida overgrowth can be easily misdiagnosed, especially when your symptoms may appear to be affecting different areas of your body. It is very common for doctors to mistake your symptoms for depression, sinus infections, or other infections, and simply prescribe antibiotics. As you know, antibiotics are one of the worst offenders for candida overgrowth and can feed into your symptoms instead of resolving them. Diagnosing candida overgrowth takes a holistic approach to get you on the proper healing path. The good news is that you don’t have to suffer from symptoms of candida overgrowth and thyroid dysfunction anymore.
If you are dealing with symptoms of candida overgrowth, Hashimoto’s disease, or other thyroid issues, I invite you to schedule a consultation with me. I can help to identify the root cause of your condition and recommend a personalized treatment plan to repair your body and regain your health and well-being. Schedule your consultation here.