The human thyroid has long been connected with substances that have either positively or negatively affected the body, as long as it has been around. Now, research on caffeine’s effect on the thyroid are becoming more and more prevalent in our society today.
One of the main reasons is because caffeine is in a lot of drinks that people consume on a daily basis. From soda to tea to coffee to energy drinks, caffeine is more available than it ever has been before on planet Earth. No one before has ever had so much available caffeine to consume day in and day out.
Unfortunately, people are drinking so much caffeine that it is starting to take its toll on the human body. Of course, in small amounts, caffeine is fine for the body, but if too much is consumed, people start to become addicted to the substance, and the body will start to tell its owner in some very damaging ways.
Additionally, stopping caffeine is a hard habit to break. Caffeine beverages, like coffee, have a tendency to waken us quickly out of our slumber, but it can also keep us awake when it is not as needed (ex. bedtime).
To be fair to this argument, the benefits of caffeine need to be discussed. Caffeinated beverages have polyphenols and antioxidants that are also around in many vegetables and fruits. It has been proven to help prevent issues in the body like diabetes, depression, and even cancer.
Another benefit from caffeine is the social atmosphere you experience, when you drink a cup of joe. Going to a coffee or tea shop in the morning is a great way to boost your mentality, with the buzz these stores can provide, to help start the day.
Caffeine Impacts on the Thyroid
With many people in our world today taking in caffeine multiple times per day, it important to know all the ways caffeine can be consumed and the impacts it has on the human body.
Of course, many people think of coffee off the bat when caffeine is brought up. However, there are many other forms, too, like soda, tea, and even in chocolate. With so many people working to get healthy and manage stress, minimally using caffeine should be something to consider as well.
One of the main issues with caffeine connected with the thyroid is that fact that hypothyroidism can become prevalent in the body. Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland produces hormones that are faulty for what the body truly needs.
The most widespread issue comes in the form of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This autoimmune condition causes fatigue to set in, and this happens most often with women who are over the age of 40. Because of this, caffeine has been proven to change hormonal estrogen patterns, too.
In a 1983 study published by “Pediatric Research,” it concluded that thyroid hormonal production was lessened in rats 4 hours after being given caffeine.
Furthermore, other research reported that caffeine mixed with levothyroxine, a medication to help thyroid irregularities, interfered with the body’s natural dealings to keep it on track. Many people might think they need to add medication to help them along, but pushing away from caffeine is the best way to go.
How Bad is Caffeine?
Now, people are capable of limiting their caffeine intake, but others are truly addicted to the substance. When they are addicted to caffeine, it not only impacts the thyroid, but other systems of the body as well. When consuming caffeine, metabolism in the body is actually heightened to normally unseen levels in the body. Since the thyroid is responsible for regulating metabolism, caffeine comes in and takes works away from what the thyroid should normally do on its own.
Hearing this, you may think that “uping” metabolism in the body would be a positive thing. When metabolism is increased, then more weight can be lost, right? And since we all want to look better, this seems like a no brainer. This could not be further from the truth.
As caffeine is consumed more and more in the body, it also affects the adrenal glands. Since caffeine is classified as a stimulant, adrenaline is produced when consuming the substance. Normally, adrenaline is pushed into the body during the “fight or flight” response.
The adrenal glands continue to release more norepinephrine and epinephrine hormones than normal, as caffeine enters the body. This unnatural phenomenon eventually wears on the adrenal glands and can cause a lot of destructive problems. Of course, this does not happen overnight, but the problem continues to mount as large amounts of caffeine are consumed during childhood years. Research has even shown negative properties in adults, who drank caffeine at a young age, even though they do not consume caffeine currently.
Parents need to understand that giving their children soda on a daily basis can be detrimental, as the child ages. Now, parents should not feel horrible about themselves if they are guilty of this, but they should be aware of what they give to their children; education can help fuel knowledge with this problem.
Rule of thumb: do not give caffeine to a baby, and limit the amount of caffeine you give to your children.
According to the Mayo Clinic, 2-4 cups of coffee per day will not cause major issues, but the side effects will be plentiful moving forward. Some of the harmful effects include an upset stomach, trouble sleeping, irritability, and nervousness.
A faster heartbeat also happens to some people who ingest too much caffeine.
Caffeine’s Effect on Adrenal Glands
Another thing that happens with the adrenal glands, when caffeine enters the body, is it releases cortisol. This process normally happens when sugary substances are eaten or drank.
When the adrenal glands release cortisol, the glands are weakened to a point where the body lacks energy. People start to feel tired and exhausted. Over a long period of time, the adrenal glands will deteriorate, communicating to the body that more caffeine is needed to keep the body working properly. This is when caffeine addiction happens, and the body only functions with more and more of the element to keep the body going.
Thyroid Cancer Linked with Caffeine
A recent study on rats looked at the problem that the thyroid has when caffeine is involved. When caffeine was given to rats, also with a deficiency of iodine, had a much higher chance of having thyroid cancer than other rats who did not have caffeine. An educated assumption is plausible that the same thing would happen with humans as well, especially if they have an iodine deficiency, which already affects the thyroid negatively.
Additionally, other risks happen because of an excess amount of caffeine. Osteoporosis is also an issue when there is an excessive amount of caffeine, which causes the bones to become brittle and break. Since caffeine excretes calcium from the body, other issues like hyperthyroidism and/or Grave’s Disease can increase this risk tenfold.
Ways to Break Free of Caffeine Dependence
The first thing that people need to know is that they do not need to steer clear from caffeine all together. Cutting caffeine out “cold turkey” does not need to happen right away because most people will not last without caffeine this way anyways.
The same can be said about allergies to gluten, dairy, or peanuts. Avoiding these substances altogether is not the solution. There are medications and other ways to help people, who are dealing with these issues, that are much more successful. Now, people do need to be aware of these issues and limit their usage.
Much of this has to do with the health of the adrenal glands. If caffeine can be limited even for a few months, the glands can return back to their original working form.
Weaning off caffeine is one of the best ways to go. If you are someone who drinks a few soda cans per day, or a similar amount of coffee, try reducing slowly the amount you consume. As mentioned earlier, “cold turkey” is an option, but the first few days are absolutely brutal. No matter what you decide, remember that you need to make the decision that is best for you and no one else.
Alternatives to Massive Amounts of Caffeine
There are many options to consider when looking to find other ways to energize your body. Definitely look into herbal teas. Selections like a Roasted Chicory Latte, or other fruity substances, are a great substitute. Also, there are many possibilities that do not even have caffeine in them. Check out the list below:
- Coconut Water – Think of this beverage as the world’s athletic drink that comes straight from nature itself. It has potassium and minerals packed inside every sip. Add some fruit to make this drink taste extra yummy.
- Kvass – This drink is very popular in places like Russia and other European countries. It has a similar consistency as beer, due to its fermentation, but there is no alcohol involved in this drink. Also, fruits and veggies can be added to this drink for best drinking results. Kvass has seen great results for preventing cancer in the human body.
- B Vitamins – These types of vitamins are ones that are often overlooked, but they should not be. They help provide energy and help metabolic functioning. Specifically, people should consume over 2 mcg of vitamin B-12.
- Kombucha – Like Kvass, this drink is fermented. This pro-biotic tea helps to heal the body and provides an added boost to any day. Talk to medical professionals for more information on this product because pregnant women should not consume this product until they birth their child.
- Acai Berry – This berry has become more and more popular over the years. Acai berry has vitamin B, protein, and potassium. Look for it to bring energy to your life, help you to lose weight, and be packed with a limited amount of sugar.
- Ginseng – This herb is perfect for helping relieve stress in your daily life. Stamina will be boosted, if you consume over 200 milligrams of it per day. You can find ginseng most often in energy drinks, but steer clear of the ones with loads of sugar.
In conclusion, caffeine can affect the thyroid gland and other bodily functions because of its potency. Whether you drink or eat your caffeine intake, be weary of when it is best to cut it out of your life for a time or all together.
Each and every person is different in how caffeine reacts to their body, so be aware of its strength. Lastly, medical professionals can be a great resource to help talk through ways to regulate caffeine intake. Good look achieving your health dream!