Lesson 9. Good bacteria and thyroid health

Nutritional Guide for Hashimoto’s Disease Series

The intestinal lining is an important immune barrier that is responsible for more than 60% of the immune defence. Good bacteria perform a range of essential health critical functions in the human body, however its benefits are not fully recognized by Western medicine.

In fact, in 1908 European scientists Paul Ehrlich and Ilya Mechnikov were awarded a Nobel Prize in Medicine as a recognition for their work on autoimmunity and discovery of phagocytosis. One of the major responsibilities of the beneficial intestinal bacteria is to enable phagocytosis which is a destruction by the immune system of  the pathogenic bacteria, viruses, allergens and other foreign objects that act as antigens. The specific blood cells called phagocytes attack the invaders as a part of the immune system defence before the antibodies get involved.

Intestinal flora contains all the residing bacteria of the intestinal tract and is considered as an independent organ because of the inability of any other organs to duplicate the functions of the good bacteria. One of the common intestinal imbalances directly connected to the thyroid autoimmunity and hypothyroidism is dysbiosis, which is a deficiency or absence of the good bacteria in the intestine.

How good and bad bacteria affects thyroid health

Humans obtain good bacteria from mother’s milk and build their intestinal flora during the first six months of life. If the mother of the newborn was previously exposed to environmental pollutants, use of antibiotics or is sensitive to the mercury found in the dental amalgams, the breast milk could lack the essential bacteria due to dysbiosis.

Children who were put on the infant formula, did not receive breast milk long enough or had mothers who were suffering from acute dysbiosis are likely to develop following health issues later on:

  • gastrointestinal problems such as food allergies, diarrhea and constipation
  • poor general health
  • autoimmune disorders related to absence of beneficial bacteria including thyroid autoimmune diseases.

Intestinal imbalances attribute to low thyroid function and thyroid autoimmunity. Good bacteria support conversion of T4 into T3 thyroid hormones in the intestine and modulation of both Th1 and Th2 immune responses.

Up to 20% of thyroid hormone conversions from T4 to T3 take place in the intestine but only in the presence of good bacteria. Having not enough beneficial bacteria makes less active T3 hormone available causing hypothyroid symptoms in many patients despite normal lab test results.

Constipation is one of the symptoms of hypothyroidism that slows down metabolism causing longer transition time of food through the digestive tract. Absence of good bacteria aggravates this problem. One of the side effects of constipation is enlarged hemorrhoids that are present in about half of the general population by age 50.

Imbalance of the intestinal flora contributes to colonization of undesirable bacteria such as Candida overgrowth (yeast bacteria), H Pylori or the infective strains of E.coli. Pathogenic bacteria affects the intestinal walls causing adhesion of mucosa and contributing to leaky gut syndrome, allergies and thyroid autoimmunity.

If you suffer from any type of yeast infection, it is highly likely that you came across a lot of conflicting information and ineffective advice about how to treat candida infection that it can become very confusing. Furthermore, the symptoms of candida infection vary from one person to another and also can change from one day to another.

Candida infection does not mean that you have a problem with your organs such as skin, genitals, head, muscles or bones where it settles in your body. It is a serious health condition that is systemic and affects the whole body weakening your immune system over time.

Many other health problems such as recurrent sinus infections, cravings for sugar and carbohydrates and low energy levels are often all coming from the same source – systemic candida overgrowth.

The decimation of intestinal flora weakens the immune system and causes shortage of essential vitamins. Bacteria participates in the synthesis of a wide range of substances such as vitamins B complex, B12 and vitamin K which are essential for proper blood coagulation. Healthy gut supports the conversions of vitamins A and D into the form that helps thyroid hormones enter into the cells.

Treatment approaches

Although you could not have any influence whether you got enough bacteria with the breastfeeding as a child, there are some steps you can make to achieve the intestinal balance. You may want to consider to start with a reliable testing to evaluate digestion, bacterial imbalances and immune status of the intestine.

Dysbiosis and resulting diseases such as diarrhea, constipation, infectious diseases, sever colorectal disorders, leaky gut syndrome, thyroid dysfunction and vitamin deficiencies can be successfully treated with the restoration of intestinal flora that should always follow a treatment with antibiotics.

Commercial yogurts and other fermented dairy drinks are rarely as effective as high quality probiotic supplements because they are often treated with heat to stop fermentation and prevent the products from spoilage, which destroys good bacteria.

The best way to replenish good bacteria is through a probiotic-rich diet. If you make kefir and yogurt at home using the starter cultures you have more control over the preparation process. This guaranties you to produce more effective liquid probiotic preparation with different kinds of good bacteria.

Kefir is a drink similar to liquid yogurt that contains beneficial yeast and friendly probiotic bacteria. Kefir can be made from any type of milk, coconut, rice or soy. During the preparation healthy bacteria and yeast produce lactase which is an enzyme that consumes most of the lactose during the culturing process. Kefir and other fermented dairy products do not cause lactose intolerance as greatly as milk products.

There are two types of active cultures that could be used for kefir preparation:

It is easy to make kefir at home by adding the fresh milk to the kefir grains that yield a probiotic drink within 24 to 48 hours. After the kefir is ready and the grains are removed to be reused you could add different flavours, use it for smoothies, make some types of cream cheese or drink it alone.

If you have a dairy intolerance there are easy to make dairy-free alternatives to milk kefir which are probiotic rich beverages:

  • Water kefir that is made with sugar water, juice or coconut water and kefir grains. It could be used as a replacement for juices, soda pops and water, and makes a great base for dairy free smoothies. Water kefir can be flavoured using juice, dried and fresh fruits, flavour extracts such as vanilla and different herbs.
  • Coconut milk kefir made using milk kefir grains and coconut milk.
  • Cultured fruit juices that make a delicious refreshing beverage made with water kefir grains.

However, using probiotics for recurrent candida infection is only one of necessary steps that seldom works alone. In fact, about 95% of conventional yeast infection treatments such as antibiotics, drugs, creams, lotions, anti-fungals, vitamins, special herbal supplements and detox diets that are focused only on one organ and aspect of the disease, fail or bring the relief only temporarily.

Do not forget that there is a multi-billion dollar industry that wants you to believe that there is a fast and easy solution to candida yeast infections. But NO magic pill or fix-it-all product exists. Many people often end up worse than before they started with these types of treatment and experience multiple side effects from the anti-candida drugs. OTC formulas for yeast infection often lose their effectiveness over time and result in increased body resistance to the treatment and can also cause various side effects in pregnant women and girls under 12.

The only way to successfully treat candida infection and stop it permanently is to address the underlying cause and systemic nature of this condition. There is a proven 5-step holistic candida treatment that corrects circumstances that promote the yeast growth and treats the exact source of candida using a multi-level holistic approach. Over 138,000 men and women in 157 countries already used this program to completely eliminate and prevent candida overgrowth.

P.S. If you got here from Twitter or a link from a friend, why not pick up the whole series? This is one of the lessons in a free e-mail course Nutritional guide for Hashimoto’s disease. You can find out more about it and sign up here.


 Fiber menace: the truth about fiber’s role in diet failure, constipation, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and colon cancer by K. Monastyrsky, Ageless Press, 2005

Why do I still have thyroid symptoms? When my Lab tests are normal: A revolutionary breakthrough in understanding Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism by D. Kharrazian, Morgan James Publishing, 2009

The probiotic revolution: The definitive guide to safe, natural health solutions using probiotic and prebiotic foods and supplements by G.B. Huffnagle, S. Wernick, Bantam, 2088

Probiotics – protection against infection: Using nature’s tiny warriors to stem infection and fight disease by C. Adams, Sacred Earth Publishing, 2009