Let’s get one thing straight, alcohol does in fact directly affect your thyroid health.
The real questions you should be asking are these…
“How much alcohol is too much?” and “What can you do to help protect yourself?”
We’ll cover the answer to the second question in a minute.
The answer to the first question is a little trickier because like most things, it depends entirely on you.
It’s well known that hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s sufferers oftentimes develop an intolerance to alcohol.
This is because your thyroid health is essential to the health of your liver.
And it’s your liver that has to process and metabolize alcohol.
While small amounts of alcohol have been shown to provide some antioxidant effects, most people over-consume polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) which negate this and instead promote oxidative cell damage.
Yet, it’s the other effects of alcohol that make it far more dangerous to your thyroid.
For example, estrogen is well known for directly suppressing or blocking your thyroid gland.
(Note: We cover how to unblock your thyroid gland in detail in this article on “How We Overcome Hypothyroidism When All Else Fails”.)
And all alcohol is estrogenic including…
So, while we can’t say for sure how much alcohol you can tolerate without negative effects, we can look at what the available research tells us.
Below is an infographic we put together based on the available research today showing what happens to your thyroid after drinking alcohol…
As you can see, it doesn’t take much alcohol to negatively affect your hormones.
Although alcohol’s ability to significantly increase estrogen plays a big role in suppressing thyroid function, there are many other factors involved as well including alcohol’s ability to:
- Decrease progesterone
- Increased prolactin
- Create a thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency
- Disrupts blood sugar handling
However, the effects of alcohol on estrogen dominance are so significant because it increases estrogen levels in three ways.
3 Ways Alcohol Increases Your Estrogen and Suppresses Your Thyroid
1. Alcohol Contains Phyto-estrogens
Studies of rats whose ovaries were removed and produced little to no estrogen showed that simply consuming alcohol raised estrogen levels significantly.
This showed that the estrogenic compounds (phyto-estrogens ) produced in the process of making the alcohol contribute significantly to this rise in estrogen.
2. Alcohol Activates Your Aromatase Enzymes
Studies have also shown that alcohol increases the activity of the aromatase enzyme found in your fat cells.
When activated, this enzyme converts androgens and testosterone into more estrogen.
This is one of the most common causes of low testosterone found today, especially among thyroid sufferers.
3. Alcohol Impairs Your Liver Function
Alcohol further burdens your liver and prevents your liver from detoxifying estrogen.
And if you can’t detoxify estrogen, it builds up within your tissues causing your estrogen levels to rise even further.
All of these factors lead to estrogen dominance.
And estrogen directly suppresses your thyroid gland from releasing thyroid hormone.
As estrogen continues to rise, it also activates your body’s stress response.
This rise in stress hormone also blocks your liver from converting T4 into T3.
(Note: Want to learn how to protect your thyroid and liver? We show you how in this article on “How to Heal Your Thyroid By Healing Your Liver”.)
So, now that we’ve established that alcohol in its entirety is not good for your thyroid, I still get asked by clients all the time…
“If I’m going to have a drink, what’s the safest option?”
The Safest Way to Consume Alcohol
Safe is a relative word when it comes to alcohol.
But there are some things that we can do to help protect us.
The safest alcohol according to Dr. Raymond Peat is a pure colorless (clear) highly distilled alcohol.
And the best way to protect yourself is by giving your liver plenty of fructose.
Research shows that consuming fructose after drinking alcohol can protect your liver by increasing the rate at which your liver metabolizes alcohol by 80%.
So, mixing your clear highly distilled alcohol with fruit juice would be ideal.
And having extra fruit or fruit juice before and after consuming alcohol would be even better.
So there you have it…
What is your experience with alcohol?
Do you find that your thyroid condition makes it difficult to tolerate?
Or maybe you avoid it all costs?
Let us know by leaving a comment below.
1. Holtorf Medical Group. “The Impact of Alcohol on Thyroid Function.” Holtorf Medical Group, www.holtorfmed.com/the-impact-of-alcohol-on-thyroid-function/.
2. Addiction Treatment Services. “How Alcohol Abuse Affects Thyroid Function.” Addiction Treatment Services, Addiction Treatment Services, 30 Sept. 2018, addiction-treatment-services.com/blog/how-alcohol-abuse-affects-thyroid-function/.
3. Coleman, Erin. “Underactive Thyroid, Diet & Alcohol.” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, www.livestrong.com/article/494696-underactive-thyroid-diet-alcohol/.