The connection between your gut health and metabolism is just one example of how complex, multifaceted, and interconnected your body is.
A couple common ways you may have felt this yourself:
- Gut health issues – Dealing with bloating, feeling really full, never knowing what foods are going to make you gassy, constipation, diarrhea, etc. super fun stuff. You almost feel worse when you eat healthy foods. Some days are better than others but there just seems to be no rhyme or reason to when you might be extra gassy, constipated, or bloated.
- Metabolism struggles – You’ve done all the “right” things but are unable to lose weight (assuming you have weight to lose). Or you’ve worked really hard to lose weight only for it to come back when you even consider eating a muffin.
Okay that last muffin part is a bit of an exaggeration but if you’ve struggled to lose weight I bet you know what I mean!
While these two examples may seem like separate problems, they’re actually intimately connected.
Your gut affects your metabolism and your metabolism affects your gut.
(Even if you’ve experienced the symptoms of gut health problems but are thin. Metabolism isn’t just about weight.)
You might not have obvious symptoms with your gut. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a consideration in why your metabolism feels off.
Or you might not have obvious symptoms with your metabolic rate. But that doesn’t mean there can’t be a metabolism connection to consider if you have gut symptoms. It’s one of the 3942838924293 ways in which your body is complex.
How your metabolism affects your gut.
Every organ, tissue, and system in your body is made of cells. And the metabolic efficiency of each of those cells (the rate at which they burn energy) relies on thyroid hormones.
Thyroid hormones stimulate metabolic activity. Optimal amount of active, usable thyroid hormone allows for an ideal metabolic rate.
Lower amounts of active thyroid hormone will slow down the cellular metabolic rate.
A healthy metabolism relies on a healthy thyroid and optimal active thyroid hormones.
How does this impact gut health? Well, thyroid hormones impact the metabolism of all cells, including:
- The cells that make stomach acid
- Cells in the pancreas that make digestive enzymes
- The cells of the gallbladder that secrete bile for fat digestion
- Cells in the small intestine that maintain the integrity of the intestinal lining
- Cells in the large intestine that allow the wave-like motion that moves waste through the system.
If the thyroid, or your body’s ability to convert thyroid hormone into the active form, are not in great shape, this is likely going to have an effect on the health of your gut.
Reduced rate of stomach acid production means food will not be properly broken down. Low stomach acid is one common reason behind reflux or heartburn. Low stomach acid also decreases the ability to kill off bad bugs that enter into the system with your food.
Lack of digestive enzymes further decreases the ability to break down food, meaning larger pieces will be forced into the small intestine, which isn’t meant for that.
There is a whole cascade of repercussions here that could be traced back to slowed metabolic rate because of lack of optimal thyroid hormones. (Now, the thyroid and its hormones don’t just not work out of the blue, so that isn’t the cause in and of itself of a slowed metabolic rate. This just points us back to the complexity of the body!)
What about gut health impacting the metabolism?
This happens in lots of ways. But to continue the thyroid connection – your hormones are not made out of nothing. Your thyroid gland requires nutrients to produce thyroid hormones and then your body requires nutrients to convert that T4 to T3.
These nutrients come from the food we eat. Food that must be digested and absorbed by the gut.
There are also trillions of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and yeasts that affect how everything in the body works, including the metabolism. More bad guys calling the shots results in an impaired metabolism.
Gut health is also a vital component of managing inflammation. When there is increased inflammation, there is often a slowing of the metabolism. Just dieting for weight loss isn’t going to make inflammation go away.
So what the heck do we do with all of this?
When it comes to trying to decipher whether problems originate with the gut or metabolism, we can end up with a bit of a chicken or the egg situation.
What this means is that we just need to take a more well-rounded approach to supporting your body.
Instead of trying to just keep dieting and exercising to manage the metabolism or just taking supplements and medications forever to manage bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or heartburn, we can look at your body as a whole and take steps to improve both your metabolism and your gut.
We do this by first assessing what your current symptoms are and what your blood work looks like.
Then we make nutritional and lifestyle adjustments that are going to set your body up for success.
Your metabolism doesn’t just slow down for no reason. And you don’t just get bloated because some foods just aren’t right for you.
There are real, tangible reasons these things happen and real, tangible steps we can take to help you feel better!
The struggles themselves can be very frustrating. They can seem complicated and we feel stuck, like things will never improve.
They can improve though! It just takes some specific steps. I can help you simplify those steps.