Alcohol and Hashimoto’s: Is It A Good Mix?
While not quite as common as rheumatoid arthritis or Grave’s disease, Hashimoto’s disease is still a very prevalent autoimmune disease in the United States. And if you guys have been following my series on chronic illnesses, then you know we have a few chronic illnesses in the family – including Hashimoto’s. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, also known as Hashimoto’s disease, is an autoimmune thyroid disease that directly affects the thyroid glands by preventing proper functioning. In general, the symptoms of Hashimoto’s are managed by practicing a healthy lifestyle and with the help of medication. However, this is not the case when it comes to drinking alcohol with Hashimoto’s.
Drinking alcohol can affect all kinds of bodily functions – we all know this to be true. But, while drinking alcohol in moderation is generally safe for everyone, it’s a completely different story when you have Hashimoto’s.
Alcohol can drastically impact thyroid functioning, which is potentially dangerous to someone that is already experiencing improper thyroid functioning. So, this is why it is so important for each and every person who has Hashimoto’s to learn about how alcohol affects the thyroid gland and the consequences this can have on the body.
Alcohol and Hashimoto’s: Is It A Good Mix?
It Directly Poisons The Thyroid
According to research published in the National Library of Medicine, drinking alcohol causes direct cellular toxicity to the thyroid. More simply put, drinking alcohol is like an attack on the thyroid cells. This not only suppresses thyroid functioning but also reduces the volume of the thyroid. In turn, this can result in increased autoimmune flare-ups and other physical and mental side effects.
It Suppresses Thyroid Functioning
The official function of the thyroid is to control your metabolism. Your thyroid tells the body how much energy to use and how fast to use it. When consuming alcohol, many hormone-producing systems are suppressed – including the thyroid glands. And when your thyroid is suppressed, you may experience some serious negative side effects. These include fatigue, confusion, heat intolerance, high blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, and weight loss or gain. For more on losing weight with Hashimoto’s, click here.
It Reduces The Physical Size Of The Thyroid Glands
Chronic alcohol consumption can reduce the physical size of your thyroid glands. And as your thyroid glands get smaller, so does the amount of hormones they can produce. In turn, this can lead to faster destruction of the thyroid. Plus, it can present serious complications for both men and women who plan on starting a family. This condition is called atrophic thyroiditis, and unfortunately, studies show that a whopping 10% of Hashimoto’s victims are already predisposed to this condition.
It Suppresses The Release Of T3 and T4 Hormones
As mentioned earlier, the primary function of your thyroid is to regulate your metabolism. The hormones that are directly responsible for metabolism regulation are the T3 and T4 thyroid hormones. These hormones tell your body how slowly or quickly to burn calories by telling your heart how fast to beat. Drinking alcohol directly affects the secretion of the T3 and T4 thyroid hormones and, in turn, can cause your heart to beat irregularly. An irregular heartbeat can have serious consequences if left unchecked. These include shortness of breath, tiredness, fatigue, and increased blood clots. And, in more severe cases, stroke or heart attack.
It Increases The Risk Of Thyroid Nodularity, Goiter, and Thyroid Cancer
As many of you already know, drinking alcohol increases the risk of cancer throughout the body. This, of course, includes the thyroid. In addition to the increased risk of thyroid cancer, consuming alcohol can also increase the risk of thyroid nodules and goiter. Thyroid nodules, while typically benign, can lead to cancer if left unchecked. And goiter is a term used to describe irregular thyroid growth. Both of these issues can add stress to an already stressed thyroid, especially if you are a victim of Hashimoto’s.
It Puts Extra Stress On The Body
Although drinking an alcoholic beverage can make you feel calm and relaxed, it still puts undue stress on the body. In fact, drinking alcohol puts undue stress on the whole body. Effects of alcohol include dehydration, a compromised immune system, soreness, weakness, lack of motivation, and more. It can also make some symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease, such as leaky gut or sensitivity to cold, even worse and trigger those dreaded flare-ups. With a disease like Hashimoto’s, your immune system is already compromised. Keep this in mind as you contemplate consuming alcohol – especially now that you know it will only further inhibit your immune system.
It Can Interfere With Thyroid Medication
Although Hashimoto’s is a chronic illness, there are many treatments for Hashimoto’s that help victims better manage their symptoms. These include medications, a change of lifestyle, the AIP diet, and so on. As with many medications, alcohol can interfere with the effectiveness of your medicine. And, of course, this can be very dangerous. If you enjoy consuming alcohol, be sure to ask your doctor about the consequences of drinking alcohol while taking this medication. Be sure to also check out these other important questions to ask your endocrinologist as well. The more you know about your disease and your medication – the better!
All in all, alcohol consumption should be avoided with Hashimoto’s.
But I totally get it. You have to live a little sometimes. And who can resist a nice glass of wine at the end of a hard day? Everything is good in moderation, right? So, consuming alcohol in moderation, even with Hashimoto’s, is okay as long as you’re not experiencing any extreme side effects.
Some tips to keep in mind when drinking alcohol with Hashimoto’s include:
- Eat plenty of healthy food before drinking alcohol.
- Drink plenty of water before, during, and after consuming alcohol
- Don’t drink to excess
- Consider drinking liquor or wine as opposed to a gluten-heavy beer
- Give yourself plenty of time to recover between nights of heavy drinking
Okay, friends, that’s it on drinking alcohol with Hashimoto’s. If you guys have any questions or comments, feel free to drop them below! To learn about other things that can cause a flare-up, read 5 Hashimoto’s Flare Up Causes.
Until next time, just remember to consume wisely, take care of your body, and take care of yourself!