Anyone with a low thyroid knows that watching the scale go up is a very frustrating symptom of hypothyroidism.

Excess body fat is triggering thyroid disorders instead of the other way around.

Researchers published findings from a new study showing a significantly higher rate of thyroid antibodies (as well as other autoantibodies) in obese patients with and without diabetes diagnosis compared to healthy subjects.   This led researchers to conclude that obesity is a risk factor for the most common cause of hypothyroidism, autoimmune thyroiditis. From a medical perspective, this makes an lot of sense and this is why.

1. Belly Fat Causes Inflammation

Is Belly Fat Sabotaging Your Thyroid?

First, it’s critical to know that fat cells, especially around the belly, act as their own endocrine organ and produce hormones and inflammatory molecules that damage surrounding tissue.

Low-level inflammation interferes with healthy immune function and optimal hormone signaling related to thyroid, blood sugar, and fat storage.

Belly fat, also called central obesity, causes gut permeability, also referred to as leaky gut.  This means that the intestinal wall is damaged which allows undigested food and pathogens to enter circulation instead of being contained and excreted through digestion. This leads to food allergies, a burdened immune system, and increasing inflammation.

2. Inflammation Causes Damage to the Thyroid Gland

Inflammation can damage thyroid hormone receptors on cells throughout the body so even if you’re producing enough thyroid hormone, your cells may not receive the signal.  This means your metabolism will be reduced, leaving you fatigued and at risk of more weight gain, even though conventional lab tests may say your thyroid levels look normal.

Is Belly Fat Sabotaging Your Thyroid?

Another bi-product of inflammation and gut damage is that undigested proteins that have a similar structure to thyroid can trick your immune system into launching an attack on thyroid cells. A leaky gut also lets pathogens into the bloodstream that can lodge in the thyroid, causing infection and damage.

3. Inflammation Causes Damage to Hormone Signaling and Reduces Metabolism

Leptin is a hormone that is linked to both obesity and thyroid function.  It’s produced by fat cells to signal satiety in the brain and to regulate fat burning throughout the body.  However, when you have too much body fat, inflammation causes leptin resistance which means cells stop recognizing leptin signals that tell the brain to stop eating and the body to burn fat.  This leads to excessive hunger, and lower metabolism. Leptin imbalance is linked to decreased thyroid function, autoimmunity and weight control.

Take Away

There is a vicious cycle of low thyroid and weight gain.  However, if you’re holding extra weight, especially around the middle, it’s critical to identify potential risks for thyroid and other disorders.  Not only can these imbalances be sabotaging weight loss, they can be unknowingly manifesting disease.

This is why we use thorough and innovative testing to identify every factor that may be pushing your body away from health and towards illness.  If you’re concerned that belly fat or thyroid function are issues, don’t brush your worries under the rug. The sooner imbalances are identified, the easier it is to correct them and put you on the road to healing.  Don’t waste time with one-size-fits all conventional care, instead get to the root of your symptoms and repair your health from the ground up.