Is Caffeine Hurting Your Thyroid?
If you’re drinking caffeine, be it from a cup of coffee, tea, or even a can of caffeinated beverage, your adrenal glands immediately release a series of hormones – this is essentially what causes the person to experience the boost in mental and physical energy, and what makes you more alert. The reason why the adrenals release these hormones, is that caffeine is known as a stimulant.
Drinking a cup of coffee now-and-then won’t cause any serious problems, but when the adrenal glands are constantly stimulated (especially in cases of adrenal fatigue), it can cause their function to become impaired. The hormones that are frequently released by the adrenal glands can also start to have an adverse impact on different areas of the body – and this includes the thyroid gland.
Caffeine increases blood sugar levels
This is especially dangerous for people with hypoglycemia (or low sugar levels) who feel jittery, shaky, moody and unfocused when hungry. Blood sugar fluctuations cause cortisol spikes, which not only exhaust the adrenals, but also deregulate the immune system. This is highly undesirable for those with adrenal fatigue, Hashimoto’s or Graves’ disease. Such cortisol spikes are also highly inflammatory.
Creates sugar and carbohydrate cravings
As the result of the above (increase in sugar levels), when our blood sugar levels come down, we need an emergency fix to bring them back up. This is why people who drink coffee at breakfast or indulge in sugary and processed breakfasts crave carbs and sugar by 11am or later in the day.
Exhausts the Adrenals
Coffee stimulates the adrenals to release more cortisol, our stress hormone; this is partly why we experience a wonderful but temporary and unsustainable burst of energy.
What many of us don’t realize is that our tired adrenals are often the cause of unexplained weight gain, sleeping problems, feeling emotionally fragile, depression and fatigue. Drinking coffee while experiencing adrenal fatigue is only adding fuel to the fire.
People with Hashimoto’s should be extra careful as the adrenals and cortisol also modulate the immune system and Hashimoto’s is a condition in which the immune system is already out of whack.
Causes estrogen dominance = thyroid nodules, worse PMS and lumpy breasts
Coffee can contribute to estrogen dominance, which can mean one of two things: we either have too much estrogen in relation to progesterone, or we have an imbalance in the estrogen metabolites (some are protective and some are dangerous). PMS, lumpy breasts, heavy periods, cellulite and even breast cancer (an estrogenic cancer) can be symptoms of estrogen dominance.
Estrogen is especially problematic for people with thyroid conditions. High estrogen levels (also known as estrogen dominance) rise thyroid binding globulin, making less thyroid hormone available for the body. Estrogen dominance is also often cited as the cause of thyroid nodules as well.
Impacts the conversion of T4 to T3 hormones
Coffee impacts the absorption of thyroid medications, this is why thyroid patients need to take their hormone replacement pill at least an hour before drinking coffee.The indirect but important point is that coffee contributes to estrogen dominance, and estrogen dominance inhibits T4 to T3 conversion.
Gluten-cross reactive food
50% of people with gluten sensitivities also experience cross reactivity with other foods, including casein in milk products, corn, coffee, and almost all grains, because their protein structures are similar. Cyrex Labs provides a test for gluten cross-reactive foods (Array 4). Many people report having a similar reaction to coffee as they do to gluten..
Still feel like having your cup of coffee in the mornings? Try weaning yourself off gently with some matcha green tea which has less caffeine than coffee. Then move to white tea, which has even less caffeine, and eventually to your favorite herbal tea!