I’m eating healthily, working out, and sleeping plenty, but I just can’t seem to shake my exhaustion or lose those last 10 pounds. Sound familiar?
If this is you, you may be experiencing the consequences of a slow metabolism. If so, what can you do about it – and what does it have to do with gut health?
Recap: What Exactly is Metabolism?
We’ve all heard the word “metabolism” before – but what exactly does it mean?
The body’s metabolic rate is a measure of how much energy your body expends per day. Each process your body completes – reading, walking, digesting, even circulation – requires energy.
Understandably, a well-regulated metabolism is critical to daily life. If it’s too fast, you might experience weight loss, anxiety, and trouble sleeping. If it’s too slow, you might experience fatigue, brain fog, weight gain, constipation, depression, and over-sleeping.
You might be asking yourself – are these actual conditions? Yep! Let’s take a look.
What Controls Metabolism? The Thyroid
Ask around, and you might find that people believe they are stuck with the metabolism they have naturally. They might say, “my whole family’s that way,” or “I can’t lose weight. I have a naturally slow metabolism.”
We’re here to tell you that’s not necessarily true.
Your metabolism is controlled by a gland in your neck called the thyroid.
Your thyroid sets the pace of your metabolism. You can think of it as a pacemaker or a conductor of an orchestra.
If the conductor slows, the orchestra will follow suit. And if the conductor speeds up, so will the orchestra. The thyroid must set the right pace for the body to expend energy properly.
How does the thyroid accomplish that, you might ask?
The thyroid sends out chemical messengers called thyroid hormones to every cell in your body – yep, you read that right – to stimulate their energy expenditure.
If an excess of thyroid hormones is deployed, the body will expend too much energy, resulting in a sped-up metabolism. If the thyroid does not deploy enough thyroid hormone, the body will not expend enough energy, resulting in a too-slow metabolism.
But does it matter if your metabolism is too fast or too slow? And what does all of this have to do with gut health?
Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism
Let’s review quickly.
Your metabolism is the amount of energy your body expends while carrying out daily functions like thinking, moving in any way, digesting, and even breathing. So if your thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones, your metabolism slows, resulting in slower conduction of all bodily processes.
In a condition called hypothyroidism, the thyroid does not produce enough hormones, resulting in a too-slow metabolism.
If you’re experiencing digestive issues and unexplained weight gain, this is for you.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism may include:
- Digestive issues (usually constipation)
- Weight gain
- Mental health issues
- Brain fog
- Irregular menstruation
- Bradycardia (slow heartbeat)
- Swelling of hands, feet, or face
On the other hand, hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid produces too many hormones, resulting in a too-fast metabolism. Symptoms may include anxiety, trouble sleeping, fast motility, heartburn, and more.
If you think you may have a thyroid issue, make an appointment with an endocrinologist in your area as soon as possible.
The Gut-Thyroid Connection
Here’s the part we’ve all been waiting for: the gut-thyroid connection.
Gut health influences the health of your thyroid, which in turn affects your metabolism. Let’s take a look at how these two go hand in hand.
The thyroid depends on vitamins to manufacture thyroid hormones. Iodine, selenium, L-tyrosine, zinc, iron, and B-vitamins are vital to the gland’s proper functioning.
If you have gut issues of any sort – whether it’s dysbiosis, slowed or sped up motility, or a simple lack of enzymes – your gut may struggle to absorb vitamins thoroughly.
If this lack of vitamin absorption persists, you may develop vitamin deficiencies – which can, in turn, lead to a lack of thyroid hormones. These deficiencies often result in hypothyroidism.
Put simply: proper gut health is critical to adequate vitamin absorption, which is crucial to thyroid hormone production.
Stomach Acid Production
In some cases, thyroid issues result in dysregulated stomach acid and enzyme production.
Stomach acid and enzymes are necessary for the proper breakdown of food, which precedes the absorption of the vitamins needed for composing thyroid hormones.
In Sum: Proper Digestion for Regulated Metabolism
In short, a well-regulated metabolism is vital to a healthy life. A too-fast metabolism may be just as detrimental to health as a too-slow one.
The thyroid regulates the body’s metabolic rate. And since the thyroid depends on adequate vitamin absorption to do its job, a healthy gut is critical to its functioning.
For a healthy metabolism, start with your gut. If you suspect that you have a thyroid issue, check out Izabella Wentz’s website to learn more. Make an appointment with an endocrinologist in your area and screen for vitamin deficiencies.
Tag us in photos of your digestive wellness journey on Instagram @igynutrition. Thanks for joining us today!