LET’S TALK ALCOHOL & THYROID

Much like last episode on sleep, consider this an introduction to alcohol and thyroid as it’s fairly complex. You will have a different relationship with alcohol, different experiences and different impacts on your thyroid health than me. We each need to find our own path through our use of alcohol and it will probably look different and different parts of your thyroid healing journey! Hopefully this podcast epsiode will give you a few things to think about and explore for yourself.

Thyroid function

Autoimmune thyroid diseases are primarily autoimmune issues that lead to thyroid function problems but aren’t problems with thyroid function alone. So when it comes to the impact of alcohol, there is both the impact on the thyroid gland, other parts of the body that are part of thyroid function and on the autoimmune aspect.

Impact of alcohol on the thyroid gland

  • Direct toxic effect on thyroid cells – destroying them -leads to  shrink the size of the thyroid gland itself which can mean less thyroid cells to produce hormones therefore less hormones
  • Cellular toxicity from alcohol leads to reduced thyroid function.
  • Alcohol can reduce production of T4 and T 3 and blunts the TSH response.

Impact of alcohol on the gut

  • Gut health is key for thyroid function and autoimmune thyroid health
  • Much of the T4 to T3 conversion takes place in the gut so it needs to be healthy.
  • Alcohol can cause leaky gut
  • Gluten can cause leaky gut and is found in in beer
  • Sugar in alcoholic drinks can also contribution to leaky gut and negatively impact the immune system.
  • Impact blood sugar on both gut but also hormone regulations 

Impact of alcohol on the liver 

  • Remember the liver is a key place for thyroid hormones conversion so this can be impaired if the liver is busy dealing with processing alcohol
  • Estrogenic nature of alcohol also means it further burdens your liver and prevents your liver from detoxifying estrogen.
  • Body trying to deal with sugars, toxins generally – extra burden.
  • Need to always support the liver. How you react to alcohol may be a ‘test’ of your liver health? 
  • Those with Graves and on prescribed meds really important to have excellent liver health, so alcohol can impact this and conversion issues apply here too.
  • Liver support  – talk to your health practitioner about supplements or herbs to support your liver. This is especially important if you don’t have a gallbladder.

Impact of alcohol on estrogren

  • Alcohol is estrogenic (I didn’t know this)
  • Estrogen can suppress or block thyroid function (listen to the hormones episode and talking about estrogen dominance) 
  • Liver’s job to detoxify excess estrogen, so extra pressure on the liver.

Impact of alcohol on adrenal health

  • In response to rising estrogen the body can become stressed – leading to increased cortisol.
  • Can impact on adrenal function

Stress

  • Alcohol can be a stress on the body. 
  • Many people use alcohol to reduce stress, but does it really?

Impact of alcohol on vitamins and minerals required for thyroid function

  • Eg magnesium, zinc, B vitamins, selenium and Vitamin C
  • Impairs absorption of nutrients and minerals from foods/supplements –  connection back to gut and liver.

Impact of alcohol on weight

  • Common symptoms of thyroid issues is weight gain, difficulty losing weight.
  • Don’t need to be exacerbated by alcohol.

Impact of alcohol on mood

  • Alcohol is a depressant. Depression, anxiety, irritability and other mood issues are common hypo and hyper thyroid symptoms. 
  • Don’t need to be exacerbated by alcohol.

Impact of alcohol on sleep

  • Study on hypothyroid rats show 16% had impact on sleep
  • Can lead to cortisol spike – night waking

Autoimmune impacts of alcohol 

  • Moderate alcohol consumption may be associated with reduced risk of autoimmune thyroid disease (both Hashimoto’s & Graves
  • BUT it can also be an environmental trigger
  • Might feel a ‘flare’ after drinking – take a day or 2 to recover
  • Immune system – prevents the defence against infection and leads to inflammation.
  • Leaky Gut
  • Alcohol weakens the immune system (think gut and liver connected here too)

Benefits of alcohol for the thyroid

  • Maybe associated with reduced risk of autoimmune thyroid disease
  • Maybe associated with a reduced risk of thyroid cancer
  • A small amount may reduce the development of Graves disease
  • May be protective against the development of goiters
  • Used in treatment of thyroid nodules and some thyroid cancer but it’s injected not drunk!!  – because of the toxic effect on thyroid cells – so don’t want to be doing this to healthy thyroid cells! 

Peer pressure/dealing with social situations

  • Prepare
  • Take alternatives
  • Practice saying no – check out the episodes on boundaries and personality – listed below.
  • Try Dry July – have a month off and see how you feel?
  • Decide what’s best for you – might be having a drink or might not.

If you’re going to drink, what are the best options?

 ** Might depend on your current gut and liver health

  • Gluten free (no beer or GF beer)
  • Low/no sugar – so avoid sweet cocktails, mixers
  • Avoid artificial sugars too – read labels. 
  • Wine/Sparkling – blood sugar 
  • Generally clear spirits – gin, vodka and tequila 

Mitigating the impacts

  • Dr Raymond Peat according to this article recommends following alcohol with fructose – juice or fruit in order to help the liver metabolise it.
  • Essential oils: Take 1 drop Grapefruit + digestive or detox blend before bed – capsule or in a shot of water. Make sure the essential oils you use are food grade or better.
  • Drink lots of water with a cleanser like lemon slice in it. Or drop lemon essential oil which contains antioxidants that reduce free radicals in the body.

Non-alcoholic Alternatives

  • Wide range now – but watch sugar
  • Juniper, grapefruit, lime essential oils in sparkling water
  • Invest in a soda stream machine.
  • Kombucha, water kefir
  • Lime & soda
  • Ginny Mahers watermelon mocktail recipe – check Hypothyroid Ched on Instagram.
  • Coconut water natural way to replace electrolytes

 

Further reading

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3743356/ summary of the studies

https://www.thyforlife.com/how-alcohol-can-affect-your-thyroid/

https://www.thrivenwmed.com/alcohol-thyroid

https://www.theinvisiblehypothyroidism.com/alcohol-and-your-thyroid/

https://www.forefronthealth.com/thyroid-after-drinking-alcohol/

https://www.palomahealth.com/learn/the-impact-of-alcohol-use-on-thyroid-function

https://www.epainassist.com/infections/can-you-drink-alcohol-when-you-have-graves-disease

related podcast episodes

If you enjoyed this episode and are looking for similar discussions, check out these episodes:

#50 Is there a thyroid personality?

#28 Herbs for thyroid support

#18 How to say no – Boundaries

#64 Hormones & thyroid.

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Suspect you have a thyroid issue? PLEASE trust your instincts and get it thoroughly checked out with your health practitioner. This thyroid basics page has an overview of what tests to ask for and an affiliate link to use a private lab if your doctor won't order them.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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