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Prebiotics and Thyroid Health: Balancing Hormones Naturally

The thyroid gland, a small butterfly-shaped organ located at the base of the neck, plays a crucial role in our overall health. It produces hormones that regulate metabolism, energy levels, and numerous bodily functions. Ensuring the thyroid operates efficiently is essential for maintaining good health. The connection between gut health, prebiotics, and thyroid function has recently garnered attention. This comprehensive article'll delve into the relationship between prebiotics and thyroid health, exploring how these dietary fibres can help balance hormones naturally.

Understanding the Thyroid: Functions and Common Disorders

The thyroid gland produces hormones like thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), critical for regulating the body's metabolism. These hormones influence various bodily functions, including heart rate, temperature, and energy production. The thyroid also works with the hypothalamus and pituitary gland to maintain hormonal balance through a feedback loop mechanism.

Thyroid disorders can significantly impact health. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid does not produce enough hormones, leading to symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, depression, and cognitive impairment. On the other hand, hyperthyroidism is characterised by an overproduction of thyroid hormones, resulting in symptoms like weight loss, anxiety, tremors, and increased heart rate. Understanding these disorders helps underscore the importance of maintaining thyroid health through diet and lifestyle choices.

Autoimmune thyroid diseases, such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis and Graves' disease, are also prevalent. Hashimoto's thyroiditis leads to hypothyroidism because the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. Graves' disease causes hyperthyroidism because the immune system overstimulates the thyroid. Both conditions highlight the need for a holistic approach to thyroid health, which includes gut health as a vital component.

The Link Between Gut Health and Thyroid Function

The gut microbiota, composed of trillions of microorganisms, is essential to overall health, including thyroid function. Research shows a significant connection between gut health and thyroid function. A balanced gut microbiota supports immune function, reduces inflammation, and aids in nutrient absorption, all crucial for thyroid health.

Gut dysbiosis, an imbalance in the gut microbiota, can lead to chronic inflammation. This inflammation can adversely affect thyroid function, potentially contributing to autoimmune thyroid diseases. A healthy gut microbiota can help regulate the immune system, potentially preventing or mitigating autoimmune responses that attack the thyroid gland.

Additionally, the gut plays a crucial role in nutrient absorption. Nutrients like iodine, selenium, and zinc are vital for thyroid hormone production and function. A healthy gut ensures these nutrients are adequately absorbed, supporting optimal thyroid health. Therefore, maintaining a balanced gut microbiome is essential for supporting thyroid function and overall hormonal balance.

What Are Prebiotics and How Do They Work?

Prebiotics are a non-digestible fibre that serves as food for beneficial gut bacteria. Unlike probiotics, which are live beneficial bacteria, prebiotics support the growth and activity of the existing beneficial bacteria in the gut. This distinction is crucial as prebiotics help maintain a healthy gut environment over the long term.

Prebiotics come in various forms, including fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galactooligosaccharides (GOS), and inulin. These fibres are found in many plant-based foods and enhance gut health by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. This growth helps maintain a balanced gut microbiome, which is essential for overall health.

Prebiotics support gut health through the fermentation process. When prebiotics reach the colon, they are fermented by gut bacteria, producing short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like butyrate. SCFAs have numerous health benefits, including reducing inflammation, enhancing immune function, and supporting the integrity of the gut barrier. These effects collectively contribute to improved gut health and, by extension, thyroid health.

The Role of Prebiotics in Hormone Regulation

Prebiotics play a significant role in hormone regulation by supporting a healthy gut microbiome. A balanced gut microbiota can improve nutrient absorption, vital for producing thyroid hormones. For instance, iodine and selenium, crucial for thyroid function, are better absorbed in a healthy gut, ensuring adequate levels for hormone synthesis.

Moreover, prebiotics help reduce chronic inflammation, a known factor in thyroid dysfunction. By promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria, prebiotics can help lower inflammation markers in the body. This reduction in inflammation is particularly beneficial for individuals with autoimmune thyroid conditions, as it can help mitigate the immune response against the thyroid gland.

Prebiotics also support immune function, which is closely linked to thyroid health. A healthy gut microbiota helps regulate the immune system, potentially preventing or reducing the severity of autoimmune thyroid diseases. Prebiotics indirectly support hormonal balance and thyroid health by fostering a healthy gut environment, highlighting their importance in a holistic approach to managing thyroid function.

Foods Rich in Prebiotics: A Guide to Natural Sources

Incorporating prebiotic-rich foods into your diet is an effective way to support gut and thyroid health. Various natural sources of prebiotics are readily available and can be easily integrated into daily meals. Some of the best sources of prebiotics include garlic, onions, bananas, oats, asparagus, leeks, and chicory root.

Garlic and onions are culinary staples and excellent sources of inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS). These compounds help stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Incorporating these ingredients into your diet can enhance gut health and support thyroid function. Additionally, their anti-inflammatory properties further contribute to overall health.

Bananas, especially when slightly underripe, are rich in FOS. They provide a convenient and delicious way to boost your prebiotic intake. Oats contain beta-glucan, a type of prebiotic fibre that supports gut health. Including oats in your breakfast routine can provide a sustained source of prebiotics, benefiting your gut microbiome and thyroid health.

Asparagus, leeks, and chicory root are also excellent sources of inulin. Asparagus can be easily added to salads or used as a side dish, while leeks can be incorporated into soups and stews. Often used as a coffee substitute, Chicory root is particularly high in inulin and can be a valuable addition to your diet to support gut health.

Prebiotics vs. Probiotics: Understanding the Difference

While prebiotics and probiotics are essential in maintaining gut health, they serve distinct functions. Probiotics are live beneficial bacteria found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi. These bacteria can help restore balance to the gut microbiome, especially after disruptions such as antibiotic use or illness.

Prebiotics, on the other hand, are non-digestible fibres that feed the beneficial bacteria already present in the gut. By promoting the growth and activity of these bacteria, prebiotics help maintain a healthy and balanced gut microbiome over the long term. This distinction is crucial, as prebiotics provide the nourishment needed for probiotics to thrive.

Both prebiotics and probiotics are important for gut health, but they work best in tandem. Consuming a combination of prebiotic-rich and probiotic-rich foods can provide a synergistic effect, enhancing the overall health of the gut microbiome. This combined approach can support gut health, thyroid function, and hormonal balance.

Prebiotics and Hypothyroidism: Potential Benefits and Considerations

Incorporating prebiotics into the diet can offer several benefits for individuals with hypothyroidism. One of the primary advantages is enhanced nutrient absorption. A healthy gut microbiome ensures better absorption of essential nutrients like iodine and selenium, critical for thyroid hormone production and function.

Reducing inflammation is another significant benefit of prebiotics for those with hypothyroidism. Chronic inflammation can exacerbate thyroid dysfunction and contribute to the severity of symptoms. By promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria and reducing inflammation markers, prebiotics can help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with hypothyroidism.

Supporting overall gut health is crucial for managing hypothyroidism. A balanced gut microbiome can help regulate the immune system and reduce the risk of autoimmune responses that attack the thyroid gland. Incorporating prebiotic-rich foods into your diet can be a simple yet effective way to support thyroid health and improve hypothyroidism management.

Clinical Studies on Prebiotics and Thyroid Health

Numerous clinical studies have explored the connection between prebiotics and thyroid health, providing valuable insights into their potential benefits. One study found that prebiotic intake can improve gut microbiota composition, supporting thyroid function. The study highlighted that a balanced gut microbiome is essential for maintaining hormonal balance and overall health.

Another study focused on the anti-inflammatory properties of prebiotics. The research showed that prebiotic supplementation could reduce markers of inflammation, benefiting individuals with autoimmune thyroid disorders. By lowering inflammation, prebiotics can help mitigate the severity of autoimmune responses and support thyroid health.

A third study emphasised the role of prebiotics in enhancing nutrient absorption. The findings suggested that prebiotic supplementation improved the absorption of thyroid-supporting nutrients like iodine and selenium. These results underline the importance of prebiotics in supporting thyroid hormone production and function through better nutrient absorption.

Incorporating Prebiotics into a Thyroid-Friendly Diet

Incorporating prebiotics into a thyroid-friendly diet can be straightforward with some practical tips. Starting slow is essential, as introducing too much fibre too quickly can cause digestive discomfort. Gradually increasing your intake of prebiotic-rich foods allows your gut to adjust and maximise the benefits.

Mixing and matching different sources of prebiotics can provide variety and ensure you get a range of beneficial fibres. Combining garlic, onions, bananas, and oats can enhance your diet's overall prebiotic content and support a diverse gut microbiome. Staying hydrated is also crucial, as water helps your body process the added fibre effectively.

Sample Meal Plan

Breakfast: Overnight oats with bananas and a sprinkle of chia seeds. This combination provides a sustained source of prebiotics and supports gut health.

Lunch: A salad with mixed greens, asparagus, and a garlic and leeks dressing. This meal incorporates multiple sources of prebiotics and is easy to prepare.

Snack: Serve Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey and chicory root fibre. This snack combines probiotics and prebiotics, enhancing gut health.

Dinner: Grilled chicken with roasted onions and garlic. This meal is rich in prebiotics and offers a delicious way to support gut and thyroid health.

Holistic Approaches to Balancing Thyroid Hormones

Balancing thyroid hormones naturally involves more than just diet. Holistic approaches support thyroid health, including stress management, regular exercise, and adequate sleep. Stress management practices such as yoga, meditation, and deep-breathing exercises can help reduce stress, which can negatively impact thyroid function.

Regular exercise is crucial for maintaining a healthy metabolism and supporting overall health. Physical activity helps regulate energy levels and improve mood, which is important for individuals with thyroid disorders. Incorporating moderate exercise into your daily routine can enhance the benefits of a thyroid-friendly diet.

Adequate sleep is another critical factor in maintaining hormonal balance. Poor sleep, including thyroid hormones, can disrupt the body's natural hormone production. Ensuring sufficient rest each night supports overall health and helps maintain a balanced hormonal state. Combining these holistic practices with a prebiotic-rich diet can provide a comprehensive approach to supporting thyroid health.


Thyroid Function: 
  • It produces hormones that regulate metabolism, energy, and bodily functions.
  • Common disorders include hypothyroidism (low hormone production) and hyperthyroidism (high hormone production).
  • Autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto's thyroiditis and Graves' disease impact thyroid health.
Gut Health and Thyroid: 
  • Gut microbiota influences thyroid function through immune system regulation and nutrient absorption.
  • Gut dysbiosis can lead to inflammation and thyroid issues.
  • Healthy gut microbiota ensures proper absorption of thyroid-supporting nutrients.
  • Non-digestible fibres that feed beneficial gut bacteria.
  • Types include fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galactooligosaccharides (GOS), and inulin.
  • Promote the growth of beneficial bacteria, enhancing gut health and reducing inflammation.
Role in Hormone Regulation: 
  • Improve nutrient absorption essential for thyroid hormone production.
  • Reduce chronic inflammation, beneficial for autoimmune thyroid conditions.
  • Support immune function, potentially preventing autoimmune responses against the thyroid.
Prebiotic-Rich Foods: 
  • Garlic, onions, bananas, oats, asparagus, leeks, and chicory root are excellent sources.
  • These foods can be easily incorporated into daily meals.
Prebiotics vs. Probiotics: 
  • Probiotics are live beneficial bacteria found in fermented foods.
  • Prebiotics are fibres that nourish existing beneficial gut bacteria.
  • Both are essential for maintaining a balanced gut microbiome.
Benefits for Hypothyroidism: 
  • Enhance absorption of iodine and selenium.
  • Reduce inflammation and support immune regulation.
  • Improve management of hypothyroidism symptoms.
Incorporating Prebiotics: 
  • Start slow and mix different prebiotic sources.
  • Stay hydrated to aid fibre processing.
  • Sample meal plan includes overnight oats, salads, Greek yogurt, and grilled chicken with prebiotic-rich foods.
Holistic Approaches: 
  • Stress management through yoga, meditation, and deep-breathing exercises.
  • Regular exercise to regulate metabolism and energy levels.
  • Adequate sleep to maintain hormonal balance.

Prebiotic Information

For everything you need to know about prebiotics and prebiotic supplements, check out our comprehensive information page here.

Prebiotic Information


Biosphere Nutrition’s Prebiotic Powder is a unique blend of Sunfiber® and Black Elderberry Extract, designed to nurture gut health and support the immune system. This easy-to-mix, great-tasting formula ensures optimal absorption and digestive comfort. To learn more about our Prebiotic, check out the product page here.

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Ron Goedeke MD, BSc Hons MBChB, FNZCAM

Dr. Ron Goedeke, an expert in the domain of functional medicine, dedicates his practice to uncovering the root causes of health issues by focusing on nutrition and supplement-based healing and health optimisation strategies. An esteemed founding member of the New Zealand College of Appearance Medicine, Dr. Goedeke's professional journey has always been aligned with cutting-edge health concepts.

Having been actively involved with the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine since 1999, he brings over two decades of knowledge and experience in the field of anti-aging medicine, making him an eminent figure in this evolving realm of healthcare. Throughout his career, Dr. Goedeke has been steadfast in his commitment to leverage appropriate nutritional guidance and supplementation to encourage optimal health.

This has allowed him to ascend as one of the most trusted authorities in the arena of nutritional medicine in New Zealand. His expertise in the intricate relationship between diet, nutritional supplements, and overall health forms the backbone of his treatment approach, allowing patients to benefit from a balanced and sustainable pathway to improved wellbeing.

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